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Tabebuia rosea is a neotropical tree that grows up to 30 m (1,181 in) and can reach a diameter at breast height of up to 100 cm (3 ft). The name Roble de Sabana, meaning "savannah oak", is widely used in Costa Rica in Spanish, probably because it often remains in heavily deforested areas, where people appreciate its intense flowering periods and because of the resemblance of its wood to that of oak trees. The name Maquilishuat (Spanish pronunciation: [ma.kiˈlis.wat]) is used by the inhabitants of El Salvador to designate the Tabebuia rosea; it's also their national tree.
This species is distributed from southern México, to Venezuela and Ecuador. It has been found growing from sealevel to 1,200 m (3,937 ft), in temperatures ranging from 20°C to 30°C on average, with annual rainfall above 500 mm, and on soils with very variable pH.
The tree crown is wide, with irregular, stratified ramification and only few thick branches. The bark can be gray to brown, in varying darkness and may be vertically fissured. Leaves are compound, digitate and deciduous. Each leaf has five leaflets of variable size, the middle one being the largest. Flowering occurs mainly in January and February, and is generally associated with dry periods; although flowering has also been observed in August, September, April and May. Flowers are large, in various tones of pink to purple, and appear while the tree has none, or very few, leaves. Pollination occurs probably by insects, although the flowers are visited by many birds such as tanagers, hummingbirds and orioles. The long and slender fruit capsules can measure up to 35 cm (14 in) and appear from February through April. After the drying fruit dehisces, the anemochorous, hyaline-membrane-winged seeds are released. There are an average of 45,000 seeds per kg with up to 13% water content. Germination of seeds is extremely easy and efficient, reaching almost 100%. It is a fairly fast growing tree.
This tree is often seen in Neotropical cities, where it is often planted in parks and gardens. In the rainy season it offers great shade[original research?] and, in the dry season, abundant flowers are present on the defoliated trees.
Preparations of the cortex of the tree are consumed to eliminate intestinal parasites, malaria and uterine cancer. A decoction of the cortex is recommended for anemia and constipation. A decoction of the flowers, leaves and roots has been used to reduce fevers and pain, cause sweating, to treat tonsil inflammation and various other disorders.
Among the various active phytochemicals in the tree is lapachol, a natural organic compound isolated from various other Tabebuia species Chemically, it is a derivative of naphthoquinone, related to vitamin K.
Once studied as a possible treatment for some types of cancer, lapachol's potential is now considered low due to its toxic side effects. Lapachol also has antimalarial and antipanasomal effects.
- Hernan Rodriguez Navas. 2007. La Utilidad de las Plantas Medicinales en Costa Rica. EUNA, Heredia, Costa Rica. 213pp.
- Record, Samuel J. Lapachol. Tropical Woods (1925), 1 7-9.
- Felício AC, Chang CV, Brandão MA, Peters VM, Guerra Mde O (2002). "Fetal growth in rats treated with lapachol". Contraception 66 (4): 289–93. doi:10.1016/S0010-7824(02)00356-6. PMID 12413627.
- Oral toxicology studies with lapachol. Morrison, Robert K.; Brown, Donald Emerson; Oleson, Jerome J.; Cooney, David A. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology (1970), 17(1), 1-11.
- Guerra Mde O, Mazoni AS, Brandão MA, Peters VM (2001). "Toxicology of Lapachol in rats: embryolethality". Brazilian journal of biology = Revista brasleira de biologia 61 (1): 171–4. PMID 11340475.
- de Cássia da Silveira E Sá R, de Oliveira Guerra M (2007). "Reproductive toxicity of lapachol in adult male Wistar rats submitted to short-term treatment". Phytotherapy research : PTR 21 (7): 658–62. doi:10.1002/ptr.2141. PMID 17421057.
- Gupta, M. 1995. 270 Plantas Medicinales Iberoamericanas. Santa Fe de Bogata. Convenio Andres Bello.
- Tabebuia rosea at Atta, INBio
- Tabebuia rosea at Tropical Tree Seed Manual
- Tabebuia rosea at BIMs, INBio