Photo: R. Pérez
Description: A medium-sized tree with a straight, cylindrical trunk, often branched near the base. Leaves are simple, alternate, on long, pubescent petioles. Leaves are heart-shaped, usually with three pointed lobes but sometimes unlobed.
photos: fruit... leaf-fruit... leaf... flower... leaf-flower...
Drawing: R. Pérez
Flowers and fruits: Flowers are white, produced in the dry season. Fruits are tiny capsules covered with soft red hairs that split open to release small seeds; seeds are wind-dispersed.
Distribution: Rare in the Canal area. Most often seen in clearings and disturbed areas in the cloud forest at Altos de Campana.
How to recognize: Resembles the balsa in leaf form, but Heliocarpus is not seen in the lowland, roadside habitat where the balsa is so abundant. Lk triubo Triumfetta is also similar to Heliocarpus, but much smaller -- barely a small tree. It has denser pubescence on the leaves.
Uses: Fibers extracted from the bark are sometimes used for making rope.