Vachellia polypyrigenes (Greenman) Seigler & Ebinger, Phytologia 87:  165.  2005.
syn. Acacia polypyrigenes Greenman in Combs. Trans. Acad. Sci. St. Louis. 7:  419 and plate 33.  1897.

Synonymy and types

Basionym:  Acacia polypyrigenes Greenm. in Combs, Trans. Acad. Sci. St. Louis  7: 419 and plate 33.  1897.  Poponax polypyrigenes (Greenm.) Britton & Rose, N. Amer. Fl.  23: 89.  1928. - TYPE:  CUBA.  SANTA CLARA:  District of Cienfuegos, not common, in open woods near long beach, near the entrance of the Bay of Cienfuegos, Faro Villa Nueva, E., 18 Sep 1895, R. Combs 602 (holotype:  GH; isotypes:  F, MO, NY, US).

Acacia cupeyensis León in León and Alain, Contr. Ocas. Mus. Hist. Nat. Colegio "De La Salle"  9: 8.  1950. - TYPE:  CUBA.  ORIENTE:  Puerto Padre, playa de El Cupey, 24 Feb 1930, M. Curbelo 512 [holotype: HAC - Herb. J. Roig 5075 (Bässler 1998); isotype:  NY].

Acacia curbeloi León in León and Alain, Contr. Ocas. Mus. Hist. Nat. Colegio "De La Salle"  10: 241.  1951. - TYPE:  CUBA.  ORIENTE:  Puerto Padre, playa de El Cupey, 1929, M. Curbelo 60 [lectotype:  HAC - Herb. J. Roig 5075  (Bässler 1998)].

Formal description

Shrub or small tree to 5 m tall.  Bark reddish brown to gray, smooth.  Twigs dark reddish, flexuous, glabrous.  Short shoots commonly present above the stipular spines, to 2 mm long, covered with acuminate stipules and old leaf bases.  Leaves alternate, also commonly clustered on the short shoots, 3-23 mm long.  Stipular spines light to dark reddish-brown, symmetrical, terete, slightly recurved, subulate, to 11 x 1.1 mm near the base, glabrous to lightly puberulent toward the base.  Petiole adaxially grooved, 2.3-5.1 mm long, glabrous to lightly puberulent; petiolar gland solitary (rarely a second just below the first pair of pinnae), located near the middle to upper third of the petiole, stalked to rarely subsessile, circular, 0.3-0.5 mm across, apex depressed, glabrousRachis adaxially grooved, 0-18 mm long, sparsely puberulent, a subsessile to sessile, circular, small gland between the terminal and occasionally other pinna pairs, and sometimes a few very small sessile glands scattered along the rachisPinnae (1)2-4(5) pairs per leaf, 3-12 mm long, 3-9 mm between pinna pairs.  Petiolules 0.5-1.2 mm long.  Leaflets 7-16 pairs per pinna, opposite, 0.4-0.9 mm between leaflets, oblong to elliptic-oblong, 1.3-2.7 x 0.5-0.8 mm, glabrous, lateral veins not obvious, only one vein from the base oblique, margins very sparsely ciliate, apex obtuseInflorescence a densely flowered globose head, 4-6 mm across, solitary (rarely 2) from the short shoots.  Peduncles 7-11 x 0.3-0.5 mm, sparsely puberulent.  Involucre 4- to 5-lobed, located at the base of the globose head, glabrous to lightly puberulent, persistent.  Floral bracts narrowly spatulate, 0.7-0.9 mm long, sparsely puberulent, deciduous.  Flowers sessile, pale yellow; calyx 5-lobed, 0.7-0.9 mm long, glabrous or nearly so; corolla 5-lobed, 1.4-1.7 mm long, glabrous; stamens 30-50, filaments 2.2-2.6 mm long, distinct; ovary glabrous, on a stipe to 0.2 mm long.  Legumes dark reddish-brown to dark brown, straight to slightly curved, elliptic in cross section, not constricted between the seeds, oblong or nearly so, 30-60 x 6-11 mm, woody, not striate but with a wrinkled longitudinal band along theoutside in the center of each valve, glabrous, eglandular, tardily dehiscent; stipe absent; apex obtuse.  Seeds uniseriate to biseriate to irregularly arranged, surrounded by a hard, white pulp, light to dark brown, circular to ovoid, slightly flattened, 2.8-4.5 x 2.5-3.5 mm, smooth; pleurogram oval, 1.3-2.2 mm across.  Flowers in June to October. Chromosome number:  Not determined.


Thorn-scrub vegetation in south central and western Cuba.

Additional info

Endemic to Cuba, Vachellia polypyrigenes is poorly known, but undoubtedly closely allied to other members of the V. farnesiana species group.  It may be distinguished from other acacias from the Caribbean by the small leaflets that are 1.3-2.7 mm long and 0.5-0.8 mm wide, pinnae with mostly 2-4 pairs per leaf, and the slightly recurved spines to 11 mm long.  Like many members of the V. farnesiana group, the primary leaves that develop from between the spines are larger and with more pinna pairs than the smaller leaves that develop from short shoots.

In the original description Combs (1897) it is noted that Vachellia polypyrigenes is most closely related to either V. farnesiana or V. tortuosa.  The assignment of V. polypyrigenes to the Vachellia farnesiana species group is made on the basis of the involucral bracts at the base of the globose head, subulate stipular spines, leaves with mostly 2-4 pairs of pinnae, and leaflets fewer than 17 pairs per pinna.  Also, the thick fruits with a woody pericarp and uniseriate to biseriate arranged seeds indicates a relationship to the V. farnesiana species group. Vachellia polypyrigenes is apparently not edaphically specialized, the type locality not being noted for either serpentine or limestone outcrops.  The type collection was found to be cyanogenic, as were the other specimens examined.

In most characteristics, the types of Vachellia polypyrigenes and V. cupeyensis are nearly identical.  Most variation appears to be the result of ecological factors, particularly moisture, the type of A. cupeyensis being more robust with longer leaves and larger leaflets.  The only characteristic consistently found in V. polypyrigenes and not the type of V. cupeyensis is the presence of the small, sessile glands found scattered along the rachis of V. cupeyensis.  This is probably a local variation.  Only one specimen of Vachellia polypyrigenes other that the type collections was available for analysis.

Flowering time

June to October.

Representative specimens


Las Tunas Province: