Reproductive consequences of variation in flowering phenology in the dry forest tree Enterolobium cyclocarpum in Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Oscar J. Rocha, Carlos Gómez, James L. Hamrick, Dorset W. Trapnell, Peter E. Smouse, Gabriel Macaya

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4 Scopus citations


Premise of the Study: Flowering initiation, duration and magnitude, and degree of flowering synchrony within a population can affect the reproductive fitness of individuals. We examined the flowering phenology within a population of the tropical dry forest Guanacaste tree (Enterolobium cyclocarpum) to gauge the impact of phenological variation among trees on fruit production and progeny vigor. Methods: We monitored the flowering phenology of 93 trees weekly during 2005, 2006, and 2007, using a scale based on the percentage of the crown with open flowers. We also monitored fruit production for each tree in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008. Finally, we evaluated the relationship between phenological variation and progeny performance. Key Results: Ten measures of flowering phenology and synchrony among flowering trees, based on the number of weeks when anthesis of the crown exceeded 50%, were used to develop four phenological profiles. These profiles were correlated with significant differences in fruit production and progeny vigor. Trees with flowers in >50% of their crown for at least 2 weeks produced more fruits and more vigorous progeny than trees with other profiles. Trees also tended to produce the same phenological profile among years than predicted by chance. Conclusions: Guanacaste trees vary significantly in the initiation of anthesis, duration and magnitude of flowering, and degree of synchrony among trees. Trees also tend to maintain the same flowering profile among years. Finally, the flowering behavior of E. cyclocarpum leads to significant differences in fruit and seed production, germination, and early progeny growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2037-2050
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Journal of Botany
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


  • Mimosoideae
  • anthesis
  • flowering behavior
  • flowering profile
  • flowering synchrony
  • fruit production
  • progeny performance
  • reproductive fitness


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