Tree, to 25 m tall and 40 (90) cm dbh; buttresses weak; bark smooth to coarse, thin, usually coarsely lenticellate, sometimes deeply fissured; inner bark and wood white instantly after slashing, turning tan within seconds and brown within a few minutes; sap with sweet aroma; younger stems and branches, leaves, calyces, pedicels, and axes of inflorescences sparsely to densely stellate-pubescent; nodes of stems often swollen and inhabited by ants. Leaves alternate; petioles to 3.5 cm long; blades +/- elliptic, acuminate, usually obtuse at base, usually 7-18 cm long, 3-8 cm wide. Cymes irregular, loosely spreading, terminal, the primary branches to ca 20 cm long; flowers bisexual, short-pedicellate, ca 12 mm wide, with a sweet, moderately strong aroma; calyx tubular, ca 5 mm long, 10-ribbed, with 5 small teeth; corolla tube mostly enclosed by calyx, the lobes 5, +/- spreading at anthesis; stamens 5, slightly shorter than lobes; filaments fused to tube, the free part curved inward and pubescent so as to block entrance to nectary; style exserted from tube but held well below anthers, its branches 4, directed laterally and forming an H-shaped structure above mouth of tube; nectar stored within base of corolla tube. Fruits 1-seeded nuts, cylindrical, ca 6 mm long, persisting within corolla, the corolla soon turning brown and also persisting. Croat 8104. Common in most parts of the forest, particularly abundant in the younger forest. Flowers throughout the dry season, chiefly in February and March. The fruits develop quickly and are dispersed mostly in April and May. Plants begin to lose their leaves at the beginning of the rainy season (May) after most fruits have fallen, remain leafless for 1 or 2 months, and produce new leaves by August or September. The species is unusual in that it loses its leaves during the early part of the rainy season when most species are actively vegetating. This phenomenon has as yet been unexplained. Despite this apparent handicap, the species is nevertheless a successful competitor. The fruits are dispersed when the dried, buoyant flower is released and blown away. Throughout the American tropics. In Panama, a common invader (Holdridge, 1970) and characteristic of premontane moist, tropical moist, and premontane wet forests (Tosi, 1971); known from tropical moist forest in the Canal Zone, all along the Atlantic slope, and from Los Santos to Darien on the Pacific slope and from tropical wet forest in Colón (west of the Canal Zone).