Fruits of Trichilia cuneata (Meliaceae), a common tree in drier forests of Central America, are eaten by a number of birds. The fruits are 10 to 12 mm in diameter, covered by a yellowish-brown, capsular exocarp, and contain three to six seeds distributed among three locules. Each seed is covered by an orangish-red aril that averages 59.7 percent lipid and 15 1 percent protein, which makes this species one of the most nutritious known. The fleshy tissue of only 15 of 59 other species for which we found data contained at least 10 percent protein (dry wt.). Only nine species of 57 had fleshy tissue containing more than 40 percent lipid (dry wt.). Between 1971 and 1972, weights of whole fruits decreased by 36 percent, perhaps in response to a severe drought in the area. The decrease was not equally distributed among component tissues of the fruit. Exocarp decreased by 36 percent, aril by 4 percent, and seeds by 62 percent. However, the reduction in weight per seed was not so dramatic, for two reasons. First, the number of seeds per fruit decreased by 26 percent. Secondly, many seeds did not develop. Thus, the decrease in weight per normally developed seed was only 18 percent. The fruit of Trichilia cuneata was attractive to both specialized (4 species) and opportunistic (11 species) frugivorous birds and is intermediate ("a generalist") in several dispersal-related characteristics.
|Title||Nutritional value of the aril of Trichilia cuneata, a bird-dispersed fruit|
|Authors||Mercedes S. Foster, Roy W. McDiarmid|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Patuxent Wildlife Research Center|