Dioecious shrub or small tree, usually to 5 (15) m tall; trunk slender, to 20 cm dbh; outer bark peeling; branchlets with thin, grayish periderm, sparsely puberulent, rarely short and tapered to a sharp spine at apex. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules inconspicuous, lanceolate, less than 1 mm long; petioles 4-9 mm long; blades elliptic to obovate, cuspidate-acuminate, tapering to base and usually subcordate, 6-12 cm long, 2-6 cm wide, glabrous but with axillary tufts below and puberulence on major veins. Inflorescences glomerulate; flowers small, cream to white, apetalous, the disk fleshy; staminate flowers pedicellate, the pedicels 4-7 mm long, puberulent; calyx lobes 4 or 5, elliptic, reflexed, ca 2.5 mm long; stamens mostly 13-16 but to more than 20, forming a +/- globular mass; filaments connate into a short column terminated by a pistillode; pistillate flowers on glabrate pedicels 2-7 cm long in fruit; calyx lobes 6, +/- lanceolate, 3-6.5 mm long; ovary densely pubescent; styles free or connate basally, spreading, fimbriate-lacerate. Capsules prominently trilobate, 7-11 mm diam, about two-thirds as long as broad, pubescent, the valves woody, dehiscing explosively into 6 parts, leaving a persistent columella; seeds 3, globose, smooth, black and shiny, glaucous. Croat 9347, 13160. Frequent along the shore and in the young forest. Flowers from December to February. Fruits from late January to early April. Known only from Costa Rica and Panama. In Panama, known from tropical moist forest in the Canal Zone, Bocas del Toro, Panama, and Darien. Reported from premontane wet forest in Costa Rica (Holdridge et al., 1971).