Research Article
Research Article
A remarkable new species of Brunfelsia (Solanaceae) from the eastern Andes of Central Peru
expand article infoJames G. Graham, John P. Janovec§
‡ Field Museum, Chicago, United States of America
§ Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina, Lima, Peru
Open Access


Brunfelsia cabiesesiana J. G. Graham, sp. nov. (Solanaceae), a new species from montane cloud forests of Ucayali and Pasco Departments, Peru, is described and illustrated. The new species differs from all other members of the genus Brunfelsia by its cauline inflorescences. A key to the Peruvian species of Brunfelsia is presented.


Brunfelsia cabiesesiana J. G. Graham, sp. nov. (Solanaceae), descrita e ilustrada aquí, constituye una nueva especie de los bosques nublados de los departamentos de Ucayali y Pasco, Perú. La nueva especie difiere de todas las demás especies de Brunfelsia por sus inflorescencias caulinas. Se presenta aquí también una clave para las especies peruanas de Brunfelsia.


Brunfelsia , Solanaceae , Peru, Cordillera El Sira, Cordillera Yanachaga

Plabras clave

Brunfelsia , Solanaceae , Cordillera El Sira, Cordillera Yanachaga


During the course of botanical exploration in the Cordillera El Sira (see Figure 1), we encountered an interesting species of Brunfelsia with a unique combination of features differing from all other members of the genus. After reviewing specimens of Brunfelsia deposited in herbaria at F, HOXA and MOL (Thiers 2016), and digitized specimens available at JSTOR Global Plants (, we describe a unique new species. Illustrations, photographs, a discussion of affinities, and a key to Peruvian species of Brunfelsia is presented.

Figure 1. 

Location of known specimens of Brunfelsia cabiesesiana.

The Solanaceae (nightshade family) are widely distributed across the globe, including ca. 96 genera and approximately 2800 species of herbs, shrubs, trees, vines, lianas and epiphytes, with its greatest concentration of species found in the New World. The most recent taxonomic classification by Barbosa et al. (2016) recognizes five subfamilies and 14 tribes.

Brunfelsia is a neotropical genus known from the Caribbean and South America as far north as Panama. Its taxonomic history has been well documented by Plowman (1974, 1998), beginning with a short description, diagnosis and illustration by Plumier (1703), named (and misspelled) Brunsfelsia in honor of German herbalist Otto Brunfels. Linnaeus included Brunfelsia in the second edition of Genera Plantarum (1742), based on Plumier’s description; the valid publication of the genus dates from 1753, when he published Brunfelsia americana in Species Plantarum. Tribal placement of Brunfelsia has fluctuated. Beginning with Bentham’s (1835) assignment of the genus to tribe Salpiglossideae, reassignment to tribe Francisceae (Don 1837), back to Salpiglossideae again (Endlicher 1839, Bentham 1846), until Miers (1849) placed the genus in tribe Brunfelsiae. Bentham and Hooker (1873) moved it back to Salpiglossideae, where it was conserved by Baillon (1888), van Wettstein (1895), Baehni (1946), and Plowman (1974). Hunziker (2001) placed Brunfelsia as the sole genus in Tribe Fracisceae, and Olmstead et al. (2008), considering chloroplast DNA sequences, placed the genus in tribe Petunieae. The most recent taxonomic treatment of Solanaceae by Barbosa et al. (2016) places the genus with those taxa lacking clear relationships, i.e. Incertae sedis. It is interesting to note that the Petuniae of Olmsead et al. (2008), and Plowman’s Salpiglossideae share nearly half of their genera (four of nine- Brunfelsia L., Hunzikeria D’Arcy, Leptoglossis Benth. and Plowmania Hunz. & Subils).

Plowman (1974, 1998) considered Brunfelsia to be a distinct genus, not readily confused with other genera. Its closest relatives were considered to be the genera Browallia and Streptosolon; these are easily distinguished because the the woody habit and indehiscent capsules of Brunfelsia are not present in Browallia, nor is the twisted corolla tube and bright red-orange limb of Streptosolon found in Brunfelsia.

Plowman (1978, 1998) recognized three subgeneric sections, Brunfelsia sect. Guianensis Plowman; B. sect. Franciscea (Pohl) Griseb., and B. sect. Brunfelsia L., based on differences in floral morphology and distinct and mostly allopatric areas of distribution. This classification has been tested by recent molecular work of Filipowicz and Renner (2012). Their sequence data supported two clades, an Antillean clade consisting of all Brunfelsia sect. Brunfelsia and a second clade consisting of Brunfelsia sect. Guianensis and Plowman’s B. sect. Franciscea. Their molecular work resulted in the description of a new species (B. plowmaniana N. Filipowicz & M. Nee) (Filipowicz et al. 2012), recovered from the Bolivian/Argentine members of B. uniflora (Pohl) D.Don.

All Brunfelsia species reported from Peru (i.e., B. chiricaspi Plowman, B. grandiflora D.Don, and B. mire Monach.) have showy violet flowers that fade in color as they mature, each with a distinctive white eye at the throat. No fewer than five species are recorded from Andean regions of South America and ours is readily distinguishable from all members of the genus, including its nearest neighbors, by the presence of cauline inflorescences.

Taxonomic treatment

This new species is distinguished by its unique cauline inflorescence not encountered in any other member of the genus. A key to distinguish other known Peruvian species is provided.

Key to the Peruvian species of Brunfelsia (adapted from Plowman 1998)

1 Inflorescences terminal, subterminal or axillary 2
Inflorescences cauline (borne along the main trunk or on tertiary vertical branchlets) B. cabiesesiana
2 Corolla lobes spreading at anthesis; leaves less than 8 cm wide 3
Corolla lobes deflexed at anthesis; leaves greater than 8 cm wide B. chiricaspi
3 Leaves more or less two ranked, scattered along branchlets, with 5-9 lateral nerves; inflorescences lax, often short-branched; corolla tube 15-40 mm long B. grandiflora
Leaves crowded towards apex of stem, subverticillate, to about six per whorl, with 8-13 lateral nerves; inflorescences dense, capituliform; corolla tube 25-38 mm long B. mire

Brunfelsia cabiesesiana J.G.Graham, sp. nov.

Figures 2, 3, 4, 5, 6


PERU. Ucayali: Prov. Coronel Portillo, Dist. Iparia, Reserva Comunal El Sira, 1500 m, 9°27.8'S, 74°33.5'W, 24 Oct 2007, J. G. Graham 5970 (holotype: MOL; isotypes: F, NY).


Brunfelsia cabiesesiana distinguitur ab omnibus aliis speciebus Brunfelsia possidendo cauliflorus inflorescentiis.


Pachycaulescent shrub to few-branched, sprawling small tree to 3 m. Trunk solitary, terete, to 5 cm in diameter near base. Bark brownish-gray and rough at stem base, becoming dark green and smooth on upper stem; glabrous. Branches lacking, or, if present, terete, to 2 cm diameter, tending to arch over with age, with vertically ascending branchlets. Leaves crowded toward apex of stem, subverticillate, up to seven per whorl, simple, often in terminal whorls on single stem, occasionally in multiple whorls 20–30 cm apart; petioles sub-terete, often canaliculate above, up to 1cm long, 3–5 mm wide, brownish when dry, blades elliptic to broadly obovate, 15–35 cm long, 6–15 cm wide, glabrous, dull, dark green above, pale green beneath, young leaves purplish, smooth, subcoriaceous, glabrous, the base narrowly decurrent, the apex cuspidate to lightly acuminate, the margins entire; the midvein prominent below, the secondary veins 6–8-nerved, spaced up to 2 cm apart, arcuate-ascending, with light collective vein on margin, the tertiary venation reticulate. Inflorescences cauline, corymbiform, flowering branches stunted, woody at base, persistent, leafless, densely bracteate, to 3 cm long, with 1–7 branchlets up to 5 mm long, few flowered, usually only 1 flower per branchlet. Bracts spirally arranged, lanceolate, lightly keeled below, 0.7–1.3 mm long, tan to brown, lightly pubescent at base and along margins. Flowers showy violet fading with age, with 5-angled white spot at mouth. Pedicels 4–10 mm long, slender, 1.5–2 mm in diameter, glabrous. Calyx tubular-campanulate, weakly inflated, 2–2.3 cm long, 6–8 mm in diameter, ellipsoid to ovoid in bud, yellow-green to green, lightly punctate, firmly membranaceous, connate at base, 5-lobed at apex, the lobes subequal, ovate-lanceolate, 4–8 mm long, acute to acuminate and glandular at apex; calyx to 2.2 cm in fruit, coriaceous, smooth, partially enclosing the fruit, calyx and pedicel often with raised lenticels at maturity. Corolla tube terete, curved and inflated slightly at apex, then constricted at throat, gradually widening from base, 2.5–4 cm long, 2 mm diameter at base, to 5 mm diameter at apex, glabrous; estivation quincuncial and imbricate, the limb spreading to 5.5 cm diameter, the lobes rounded, subequal, uppermost slightly larger, subtruncate to rounded at apex, overlapping at sides, narrowing lightly at base. Stamens four, in two pairs, included in upper portion of corolla tube; filaments ligulate, curved at apex, 2–3 mm long; anthers reniform, to 2 mm long. Ovary ovoid-conical, 2–3 mm long, glandular at base; style slender, curved and thickened at apex, 3–3.5 cm long; stigma weakly/briefly bifid, lobes equal, oval, 1–2 mm long, 8–10 mm in diameter. Fruit a capsule, globose to ovoid, 1.5–2 cm long, 1.2–1.8 cm wide, partially enclosed by accrescent calyx, slightly acute at apex with conspicuous scar where corolla tube was attached, medial septicidal suture present, not dehiscing along suture, dark green when fresh, light brown and lightly veined when dry, smooth, glabrous, pericarp thin walled, 1–2 mm thick, drying crustaceous, exocarp coriaceous, lenticelate. Seeds 10–20 per fruit, oblong-ellipsoid, 5–7 mm long, ca. 3 mm in diameter, dark reddish-brown with brilliant prismatic reflection, reticulate pitted, glabrous.

Habitat and ecology

Known from central Peru in the Departments of Ucayali and Pasco where it is of extremely limited distribution but locally abundant at the type locality in the El Sira Communal Reserve. This understory species inhabits rocky slopes and ridge tops in cloud forests on the eastern slopes of the Cordillera El Sira, between 1100–1600 m, and has been found as a rare element in cloud forests on the northwestern slopes of the Cordillera Yanachaga, at ca. 2300 m.


Flowering in B. cabiesesiana appears to be photomorphogenic in nature, associated with highest annual light intensities. Flowering observed in the El Sira populations is closely associated with the dry season, from August to October. Fruits appear to mature relatively slowly and are persistent, having been found green on the plant two or more months following anthesis.


The species epithet honors Dr. Fernando Cabieses Molina, noted neurosurgeon, ethno-pharmacologist, author and educator. Dr. Cabieses was cofounder of the Museo de la Nación of Peru and founding rector of the Universidad Científica del Sur. He served as director of the Peruvian Museum of Health Sciences and the Peruvian National Institute of Traditional Medicine. Dr. Cabieses had profound interest in tropical biodiversity -both its history and utilization- and he was a tireless supporter of biodiversity conservation efforts in Peru.

Conservation status

This species is of extremely limited distribution (see Figure 1), although it appears to be locally abundant as evidenced by preliminary density studies along an elevational transect near the type locality, where 18 individuals were recorded in 2000 sq. m area. Three of these had reached maturity, as evidenced by stunted, persistent inflorescence branches (see Figure 2). This species appears to be extremely rare in the Cordillera Yanachaga, ca. 125 km SW from the type location and nearly 800 m higher in elevation.

Given the extremely limited known area of occupancy of Brunfelsia cabiesesiana, and the fragmented nature of the occurrence of the two known subpopulations in Pasco and Ucayali, we estimate the Pasco subpopulation to be critically endangered and the Ucayali population to be endangered, using International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red Book guidelines (IUCN 2012). Both of the Pasco collections were located in fragmented forests near to roads. Given that anthropogenic activity in this region continues to expand, and that only two collections have ever been made, it is considered to face an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. The Ucayali subpopulation, with the benefit of larger species densities, as well as a more favorable location inside a reserved zone, faces less threat of extinction.

Figure 2. 

Inflorescences of Brunfelsia cabiesesiana. Left, cauline corymbiform inflorescences showing limb of corolla at anthesis. Right, stem with bracteate inflorescence branches.

Figure 3. 

Fruits of Brunfelsia cabiesesiana. Below, dried, dehiscent capsules with seeds. Above left, developing fruits.

Figure 4. 

Estivation of Brunfelsia cabiesesiana. A calyces in bud. (day 1–3) B emerging flower. (day 4–5) C petals unfold (day 6–7).

Figure 5. 

Profile of a flower of Brunfelsia cabiesesiana at anthesis.

Figure 6. 

Two habit forms of Brunfelsia cabiesesiana found in the El Sira Mountains (drawing by JGG).

Specimens examined

PERU. Ucayali: Dist. Iparia, Reserva Comunal El Sira, 9°28'S, 74°34'W, 1550 m, 24 Oct 2007, J. G. Graham 4968 (F, MOL, NY); Pasco: Dist. Oxapampa, 10°37'S, 75°20'W, 2100 m, Villa Rica - Oxapampa, 4 Jan 1984, R. Foster et al. 7788 (F); Dist. Oxapampa, 10°30'S, 75°20'W, 4 Aug 2009, forest remnant at the edge of a road, R. Vasquez et al. 36203 (HOXA).


Brunfelsia cabiesesiana sp. nov. has a combination of characters that clearly separate it from other species of Brunfelsia: its strictly cauliflorous habit distinguish it from all other members of the genus, including the verticillate-leaved (Brunfelsia mire Monachino, Brunfelsia hydrangeiformis (Pohl) Benth.) members of the genus, as well as those with one central trunk (Brunfelsia densifolia Krug & Urb., Brunfelsia mire, Brunfelsia chiricaspi Plowman).

There is a clear divergence in elevational range between the Yanachaga and El Sira populations of B. cabiesesiana. A similar elevational-displacement phenomenon has been recorded for other organisms in the Cordillera El Sira. Terborgh and Weske (1975) noted a downward-displacement in elevation for species ranges of birds in the Cordillera El Sira, compared with the Cordillera Vilcabamba, with displacements of approximately 800 m. A similar pattern of elevational range displacement between the Cordilleras Yanachaga and El Sira, in both vascular plants and bryophytes, has been observed during our own field research.


Our sincere gratitude is extended to Carlos Reynel at Herbario Forestal, La Molina, Lima, Peru (MOL) for his enthusiastic support over the years. Rodolfo Vasquez and Robin Foster provided helpful discussions regarding their Yanachaga collections of B. cabiesesiana. Mike Nee offered useful advice on our Brunfelsia collections. Michael O. Dillon provided valuable comments on the manuscript, his efforts are highly appreciated. We also wish to thank the Jefatura of the El Sira Communal Reserve, including (in chronological order) Hector Sueyo, Rosa Mishari, Luis Saavedra and Alfredo Neyra. Furthermore, we extend our warmest regards to the indigenous communities of the buffer zone of the Communal Reserve, including Sharara, Puerto Nuevo, Dos de Mayo, Juancito de Sipiria, Amaquiria and Selva. Many thanks for the support of Field Museum colleagues, especially Botany Department staff including Chris Niezgoda, Anna Balla and Darlene Dowdy. The meticulous work of Tim Plowman on Brunfelsia including the ample collections compiled and annotated by him during his tenure at the Field Museum has been an invaluable resource.


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