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updated: 01/19/11 

Macrocarpaea apparata
- named after Harry Potter's adventures
(Gentianaceae: Helieae: Macrocarpaea: Macrocarpaea apparata)

Common name:  Apparating moon-gentian.

Latin name: Macrocarpaea apparata J. R. Grant & Struwe (2003)  
(pdf file of article)

Distribution: Macrocarpaea apparata only grows in a very small area in southern Ecuador. It occurs in Parque Nacional Podocarpus, which is one of the hotspots of Macrocarpaea biodiversity.

Habitat:  Wet, montane rainforests, road sides.

Characteristics (photos): A small, 4-5 m tall sturdy tree, with short hairs on all plant parts.  Leaves broadly to narrowly ovate to elliptic, 27--60 cm long, with acute apex, with robust petioles a unique strong open vagination nearly equaling the length of the petiole, ie. about 60--100 mm long. Inflorescence 23--40 cm long with 14--30 flowers per branch. Flowers pedicellate, erect to horizontal to oriented in all directions in the inflorescence. Calyx narrowly campanulate, 7--10 mm long, medium to dark green; calyx lobes dividing calyx to one third, rounded at apex. Corolla funnel-shaped, 39--53 mm long, whitish-green, rugose to smooth on surface; corolla lobes ovate, apex rounded. Mature capsules and seeds not seen.

Macrocarpaea apparata has the largest leaves known to date within the genus Macrocarpaea (27--60 cm long and 14--31 cm wide). The tobacco-like leaves are broadly ovate to narrowly ovate to elliptic, and sterile plants typically similar to the coffee-family (Rubiaceae) or sunflower-family (Asteraceae). Even when it isn't flowering as sterile it is easy to recognize by its winged, vaginated petioles, a feature that is rare among gentians, and known only in species of Anthocleista, Fagraea, and Macrocarpaea.

Evolution and related plants: This species belongs to the Macrocarpaea genus in the plant family Gentianaceae.  It is a gentian that is related to many other tropical gentians in the tribe (subgroup) Helieae.  All plants in the Helieae occur in tropical America and many are very rare and endangered.

Economic uses:  No indigenous uses are known for this plant.

Notes: This species is named after how it was discovered (see press release).  Jason Grant and Lena Struwe were doing field work in southern Ecuador in 2001 in Parque Nacional Podocarpus. This is one of the largest National Parks in the Andes. They were traveling along a road in the rain forest when they suddenly found a very strange looking plant without flowers.  Since the plant had no flowers or fruits they could not be sure is was a gentian, and if it was, it was a very unique-looking one.  They continued on the road and about the time they were ready to give up due to rain and impending darkness, a flowering tree of this plant suddenly appeared, or 'apparated'. Apparating is used in the Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling for the sudden appearance and transfer of a person or object from one place to another. From this event, the species got the name 'apparata'.
      For information on more plant or animal species named after unusual characters and things, click here.

For more images, click here


References and publications

Grant, J. R. & L. Struwe. 2003. De Macrocarpaeae Grisebach (ex Gentianaceis) speciebus novis III: Six new species of moon-gentians (Macrocarpaea, Gentianaceae: Helieae) from Parque Nacional Podocarpus, Ecuador. Harvard Papers in Botany 8 (1): 61-81. (pdf)

Text:  J. R. Grant & L. Struwe, 2003

All photos are copyrighted by the photographer - if you want to use them for any purpose you need to get permission for each photo. Contact the photographer directly; Gentian Research Network does not give out permission for use of photos posted on this site.

Gentian Research Network, 2002-2011.
For corrections and additions, contact Lena Struwe at