See on the previous post on this species.

When I first realized this common local tree, known as ‘taipoca branca’, belongs to the family Bignoniaceae, I had to wait almost a year before being able to observe it in flower for the first time. I had seen its typical bignon fruit for quite a while, but never its flowers. As it turns out, the flowers open early in the morning and last only a few hours, while my botanizing walks take place early in the afternoon, when the sun goes comfortable and skin damage is not a concern, between 2-3 pm in the winter time (March to October) and after 3 pm in the summer. Then one late December day in 2009 when taking a rare early morning walk I spotted some flowers at anthesis on lower branches of one of the trees held in observation. I took some pictures of them, collected several specimens for pressing and eventual deposit at the Herbarium of the State University at Feira de Santana (HUEFS), Bahia, Brazil, where all my collections are to be found. A quick check of my few reference books led me to believe I was dealing with Tabebuia cassinoides. I contacted a Brazilian bignon specialist, asking her to confirm my determination, and received a short reply that it was ‘likely’ the case (A lesson learned: never make ID suggestions when dealing with specialists, allowing them for quick and non-committal replies). From that time on I was thinking of this bignon tree as Tabebuia cassinoides. Until the moment I posted on Flickr a series of its images (, representing the prominent features, and some botanists in São Paulo, having examined them, decided it couldn’t be T. cassinoides but rather T. obtusifolia, or T. stenocalyx. A mutual friend on facebook wrote to me to apprise of their findings, and eventually an email exchange with the bignon specialist studying this particular tribe led to the updated determination as Tabebuia stenocalyx Sprague & Stapf. When I then checked for any determination updates on my collections at the HUEFS, available through the SpeciesLink (, I discovered that it had been recently determined as T. stenocalyx by a visiting bignon specialist. My own failure to check one important reference source published in the Flora Neotropica monographs in 1992 as volume 25(2), when the digital versions of it became available, is inexcusable. When I finally got to see the species description in Gentry’s Bignoniaceae—Part II (Tribe Tecomeae), I realized the extent of my negligence: I could have done this taxonomic determination work by myself, using this wonderful source. I have been using Gentry’s Field Guide to the Families and Genera of Woody Plants of Northwest South America (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru) all along as my first aid when trying to identify sterile material, plants not in flower, or fruit.


You may be wondering why this species with white flowers (though with a touch of yellow) should have a Latin name that clearly refers to yellow, more precisely golden-yellow.

So did I, after a famous Brazilian specialist in Bignoniaceae determined my species, examining images of the plant I sent her. Here’s her answer, slightly edited:

“The problem with this species is that Gentry (the last specialist working with the family) synonimized a series of species of Tabebuia with glabrous leaves under Tabebuia aurea. However, several field biologists have come to realize that there is a lot of variation within T. aurea and that it probably contains several taxa in one. Unfortunately, this is the name that we have available at the moment for this species complex and will have to be used for all morphs of Tabebuia aurea until someone produces a revision of the group.”

The species is now in flower (and setting fruit).

See also a set of my images of Tabebuia aurea on CalPhotos (