Endemic Plant Facts - January 2011 - Alchorneopsis portoricensis

 Ink drawing of the Alchorneopsis portoricensis/Palo de Gallina

Ink Drawing: USDA Forest Service Collection

Information compiled by Alan Mowbray, USDA Forest Service, El Yunque National Forest – 2011.

Palo de Gallina (Sp.), (No English common name), Alchorneopsis portoricensis(Sci.), native plant, species, Luquillo mountains (El Yunque National Forest), Carite and Toro Negro State Forests, northeastern Puerto Rico.


General Information:

Class-Magnoliopsida, Order-Malphigiales, Family-,Euphorbiaceae, Genus-Alchorneopsis, Species-A. portoricensis: First described in 1898 by German botanist Ignatz Urban in his nine volume botanical collection SymbolaeAntillanae seu fundamenta Florae Indiae Occidentalis.         


A. portoricensis is an erect, small to medium sized evergreen tree, from 20 to 50 feet (6 to 15 meters) in height with a trunk diameter near 1 ½ feet (3.8 centimeters). The outer bark is smooth, slightly grooved and gray in color. Branches are light-brown with fine hairs when immature. Elliptically shaped leaves, pointed at each end, are thin, slightly shiny, and light-green to yellow-green in color, with prominent veins and wavy edges. It has small, greenish or yellow-green flowers bunched together on extremely short stalks – they are dioecious – male and female flowers occur on different trees. Brown seed capsules 3/16 Inch (0.5 centimeters) in diameter each contain three whitish seeds, 1/8 inch (0.3 centimeters) long. The Palo de Gallina flowers and bears fruit throughout the year.


Palo de Gallina is known from both the upper and lower northeastern mountains of Puerto Rico. A “light demanding” tree, it is usually found in the openings of the forest canopy, often in or beside wet, swampy areas.


A. portoricensis is currently listed as “Non-threatened”by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

 Additional Information:

Tropical Vegetation Specialist; USDA Forest Service, El Yunque NF; HC-01, Box 13490,, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico 00745; Tel: 787 888 1810

Little, Elbert L. and Frank H. Wadsworth. (1974). Trees of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands (second printing–1989). Agriculture Handbook No. 349, US Department of Agriculture – Forest Service, Washington DC; p. 368 (Text), p. 369 (illustration).

Urban, I. (1898-1928). Symbolae Antillanae, Vol. 1-9. Berlin, Leipzig, Germany

Liogier, A.H. (1985-1997). Descriptive Flora of Puerto Rico and adjacent islands. Spermatophyta. Vols. 1-5. Editorial Universitaria, Universidad de Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico

Liogier, A.H. and L.F. Martorell. (1982). Flora of Puerto Rico and adjacent islands: a systematic synopsis. Editorial de la Universidad de Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico.

Otero, J.I., R.A. Toro and Pagán de Otero. (1945). Catalogo de los nombres vulgares y científicos de algunas plantas puertorriqueñas. 2nd. ed. Universidad de Puerto Rico.


 Ink drawing of the Alchorneopsis portoricensis/Palo de Gallina
Alchorneopsis portoricensis