Large umbraculiform tree to as much as 60 m tall, the crown to 80 m broad, covering 1/5 hectare, trunk to 1.5 m DBH, unarmed, with gray rough furrowed bark. Leaves alternate, evergreen, bipinnate, 25–40 cm long, with 2–6 pairs of pinnae, each of which bears 6–16 paired stalkless leaflets, with a glandular dot between each pair. Flower heads clustered near the end of twigs, each cluster on a green hairy stalk 7–10 cm long, with many small tubular pinkish-green flowers, calyx and corolla 5-toothed. The many stamen united to form a tube near their bases, seed pods oblong, flat, arcuate, black, 20–30 cm long, with a raised border, each with several oblong reddish-brown seeds ca one cm long.
Leaves fold at night and during rain to allow water to pass through the canopy, yet spread open in higher light to maximize light reception.
Native from the Yucatan Peninsula and Guatemala to Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil. Widely planted and naturalized elsewhere in continental tropical America from Mexico southward, throughout the West Indies (except Bahamas), and in Old World tropics. Grown also in southern Florida (Little and Wadsworth, 1964).
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