Trees, Shrubs, and Palms of Panama

Trees, Shrubs, and Palms of Panama

Spondias mombin L.

Family: Anacardiaceae

Common names: Jobo

Photo: R. Condit

Description: A medium-sized, occasionally large, tree, with long compound leaves. Each leaf has an odd number of leaflets, from 9-19, usually __. The leaves are alternate, but bunched toward the end of the branches, emanating like spokes of a wheel in all directions from the branch. The leaflets are opposite except for the terminal one. Particularly on young plants, the leaf stalk tends to be reddish toward the outer leaflets. Crushed leaves have a faint turpentine-like smell. The trunk and bark is gray, and sometimes has distinctive, blunt, gray spines (often more like warts than spines); however, not all trees have many warts or spines at all, and the really big trees do not.

photos: leaf... trunk... fruit... leaf-fruit... leaf-fruit... leaf-fruit... venation... leaf-flower... seedling... leaf-flower... seedling...

drawings: leaf-fruit...

scans: leaf...

Drawing: R. Pérez

Flowers and fruits: Deciduous, losing its leaves around February or March, but growing them back before the rains begin. The small, while flowers appear in dense bunches just after the new leaves. The fruits are yellow, produced from July to October.

Distribution: This is one of the most abundant trees in farmlands and towns throughout Panama, where it is generally only a small or medium-sized tree. It is abundant along roads, and its familiar yellow fruits often pile up on streets and sidewalks in the Canal area. It is also very common within forests around Panama City and Gamboa, but considerably less common in mature forests of Barro Colorado, Soberania, and Fort Sherman. In the forest, its juveniles only survive in natural clearings, where there is lots of light. But giant trees occur sporadically in old-growth forest, reaching diameters over 1 m.

How to recognize:

Uses: Jobo is commonly used for living fences in farmland of Panama, since cut branches readily root. The fruits are edible and sometimes called monkey-plum, but the wood is low-quality and seldom used. In the provinces of Herrerra and Los Santos, the bark is used for carving figures, and leaves and roots are occasionally used as medicine.