Introduction

This is the first of a two part monograph of the New World Lecythi-daceae. The family has about 200 neotropical species in eleven genera. This first part presents introductory material about their morphology, biology and ecology and treats taxonomically 64 species in the five genera with actinomor-phic or slightly zygomorphic androecia. The second part will treat the remaining six genera which have highly zygomorphic androecia.

The Lecythidaceae is an important woody element of the lowland rainforest areas of the neotropics. The section on ecology points out their abundance in this habitat and their relative scarcity in other neotropical habitats.

The authors began work on the family independently at about the same time. After several years of work we decided to join forces, and the present monograph was completed during a two year period in which we worked together at The New York Botanical Garden. The order of authorship of this monograph will be reversed in the second part, thereby reflecting the equal partnership of the authors in their studies of neotropical Lecythidaceae. The introductory material has been compiled jointly and is based on work done together and separately, both in the field and laboratory. The taxonomic treatments of Gustavia and Grias were prepared by Mori and those of Asteranthos, Allantoma and Cariniana by Prance.

Although species of Lecythidaceae are ecologically important in lowland neotropical forests, they have never previously been subjected to a detailed field study. Consequently, many taxonomic problems have arisen because of the difficulty in matching flowering and fruiting material of the same species and in interpreting the stage of fruit maturity from herbarium material. In addition, lack of field studies has limited the knowledge of the biology of the family. The present study is based on extensive field work by both authors throughout the range of the family in the neotropics. This has resulted in much new biological and ecological information which is incorporated in this monograph. The authors have seen well over half of the species in the field.

We are also grateful to the additional collaborators and contributors to this monograph who are acknowledged elsewhere. The team approach to the systematic treatment of a family helps to broaden the coverage of the monograph. We are especially grateful to Dr. Jan Muller of Leiden, Holland for contributing the chapter on pollen and to Dr. Carl de Zeeuw of Syracuse, New York, who is studying the wood anatomy of the family which will be published in Part 2. Discussions with both these collaborators has been extremely helpful to us.

'Vice President, Director of Botanical Research, The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York 10458.

2Associate Curator, The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York 10458.

Our studies of the genera of Lecythidaceae with zygomorphic androecia are advanced but not complete. Consequently, names of all species in these genera appearing in the introductory chapters are subject to change. All such changes will be reported in the second part of this monograph. As a matter of convenience we have also chosen to treat the Lecythidaceae as one family subdivided into four subfamilies. However, pending future study, especially of cytology and anatomy, we may decide to realign these groupings. We are especially concerned with the relationship of Asteranthos to the remainder of the family.

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