Astianthus is a monotypic genus of flowering plants in the Bignoniaceae family. The sole species is Astianthus viminalis. It is known by the common names achuchil in Mexico and chilca in Guatemala and Honduras.
Astianthus is native to Mesoamerica, from southern Mexico to Nicaragua. It is a shrub, or if larger, a tree of varying height, occurring mostly along streambanks from sea level to 1,200 m (3,900 ft) in elevation. Its leaves are unusually long and slender, resembling those of a willow, possibly because it is a rheophyte.
- Trees or shrubs, 2-20m tall.
- Leaves in whorls of 3, simple, linear, 6–30 cm long and 0.3-1.4 cm wide; midrib prominent; secondaries numerous, strongly ascending.
- Inflorescences terminal, paniculate, the lateral branches in whorls of 3.
- Calyx campanulate, 5-dentate, the teeth 1-3mm long.
- Corolla yellow, 4-5.5 cm long, tubular to infundibuliform, base of corolla narrowly tubular.
- Stamens didynamous.
- Gynoecium 2.5–3 cm long; the ovary glabrous, its base surrounded by a nectariferous disk.
- Fruit fusiform, terete, glabrous, 3–8 cm long; the septum perpendicular to a false septum, the combined structure cruciform in cross section.
- Seeds small, borne perpendicular to the septum and parallel to the false septum, the seed body sharply demarcated from the wing.
The genus Astianthus was erected by David Don in 1823, in the Edinburgh Philosophical Journal. Don named its sole species Astianthus longifolia. He was apparently unaware that Karl Sigismund Kunth had previously named this species Bignonia viminalis in 1819. (The authority for this name is often cited as "HBK" instead of "Kunth". It is not clear why Alwyn Howard Gentry gives the date of the name as 1819.)
The name Astianthus viminalis is often accredited to Henri Ernest Baillon in volume 10 of his Histoire des Plantes, but the reason for the citation is not self-evident upon viewing page 44 of this work.
Older works have usually placed Astianthus in the tribe Tecomeae, but the circumscription of that tribe was greatly revised in 2009. Astianthus is now usually placed in Bignoniaceae incertae sedis. Alwyn Howard Gentry called Astianthus "a very isolated genus with no obvious affinities" and further wrote that "the superficial resemblance to Chilopsis is apparently due to parallel evolution for the same type of riparian site".
Where Astianthus approaches its largest size, useful lumber can be produced from it, but it is rarely harvested by lumberjacks.
As with almost every plant, medicinal value has been alleged, but no verifiable evidence of efficacy has been observed. Isolated compounds and a crude extracts from Astianthus have failed to show any antimicrobial activity. They also showed no cytotoxicity for tumor cells.
- Paul C. Standley and Louis O. Williams. 1974. Flora of Guatemala; Fieldiana 24:volume X part 3.
- Eberhard Fischer, Inge Theisen, and Lúcia G. Lohmann. 2004. "Bignoniaceae". pages 9-38. In: Klaus Kubitzki (editor) and Joachim W. Kadereit (volume editor). The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants volume VII. Springer-Verlag: Berlin; Heidelberg, Germany. ISBN 978-3-540-40593-1
- David J. Mabberley. 2008. Mabberley's Plant-Book third edition (2008). Cambridge University Press: UK. ISBN 978-0-521-82071-4
- Alwyn H. Gentry. 1992. "Bignoniaceae: Part II (Tribe Tecomeae)". Flora Neotropica Monograph 25(part 2):1-373.
- Astianthus in International Plant Names Index. (see External links below).
- David Don. 1823. "Description of five new genera of plants, [Chilopsis, Astianthus, Delostoma, Stenolobium, Jacaranda], belonging to the natural order Bignoniaceae". Edinburgh Philosophical Journal 9:262.
- Karl Sigismund Kunth. 1818. Bignonia viminalis page 132. In: "Bignoniaceae" pages 132-159. In: Nova genera et species plantarum :quas in peregrinatione ad plagam aequinoctialem orbis novi collegerunt /descripserunt, partim adumbraverunt Amat. Bonpland et Alex. de Humboldt ; ex schedis autographis Amati Bonplandi in ordinem digessit Carol. Sigismund. Kunth ... volume 3. (See External links below).
- William B. Hemsley. 1882. Biologia Centrali-Americana; or, Contributions to the Knowledge of the Fauna and Flora of Mexico and Central America. edited by Frederick Ducane Godman and Osbert Slavin. Botany. volume 2, page 497. published by R.H. Porter. London. (See External links below).
- Henri Ernest Baillon. 1888. Histoire des Plantes 10:44. (See External links below).
- Richard G. Olmstead, Michelle L. Zjhra, Lúcia G. Lohmann, Susan O. Grose, and Andrew J. Eckert. 2009. "A molecular phylogeny and classification of Bignoniaceae". American Journal of Botany 96(9):1731-1743. doi:10.3732/ajb.0900004
- Samuel J. Record and Robert W. Hess. 1940. "American timbers of the family Bignoniaceae". Tropical Woods 63:9-38.
- Laura Alvarez, Margarita Núnez, Ma. del Carmen Pérez, Maria Luisa Villareal, and Guillermo Delgado. 1994. "Chemical and Biological Study of Astianthus viminalis". Planta Medica 60(1):98.
- Astianthus At: Plant Names At: IPNI
- page 178 In:
- Bignonia In: volume 3 Of: Nova genera et species plantarum At: N At: Titles At: Biodiversity Heritage Library
- electronic BIOLOGIA CENTRALI-AMERICANA
- page 497 In: Botany, volume 2 At: About this title At: Biologia Centrali-Americana At: B At: Titles At: Botanicus.org
- Astianth (sic) page 44 In: volume 10 Of: Histoire des Plantes
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