Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur

Sitio realizado por aficionados a la observación de aves desde 10 de enero 2006

Rosewood - Tipuana tipu

Family: Fabaceae (Faboideae)

Tipuana tipu is native to the northwestern of Argentina. It is large and its decurrent crown provides good shade. Leaves fall during a short period around October. When it becomes green again it gets completely covered with bright yellow flowers, which form a yellow mat when they fall on the ground. They flower in summer for a second time but less intensely.

Tipa/RosewoodIt is valued for its shade© Carlos Gonzalez Ledo


Flowers grow in racemes. © Roberto Ares


© Cora Rimoldi


The fruit has the form of a flattened wing and the seed in one of the extremes. This type of fruit rotates in a spiral way and is dragged by the wind far from the parent tree. © Cora Rimoldi


© Alberto Gurni


Compound leaf© Cora Rimoldi


Dark grey bark with longitudinal fissures© Cora Rimoldi

Spittlebugs are insects associated to this tree.

It rains under the rosewoods (Tipuana tipu)When November comes and rosewoods become green again an unusual phenomenon is witnessed for only a couple of weeks - it rains under the rosewoods no matter if it is a sunny or a cloudy day.This is caused by an insect, the spittlebug, whose nymph feeds on this tree's sap. The nymph produces a spittle mass around the stalks which is a good cover against predators and keeps it humid. The foam is the waste product eliminated after sap nutrients have been absorbed, into which air bubbles are introduced through a breathing tube which is at the end of the abdomen of the nymph.
Chicharrita de la espuma/Spittlebug© Carlos Gonzlez LedoNymphs are under the foam Chicharrita de la espuma/Spittlebug© Roberto AresI came across it when I enlarged the photo© Roberto Ares
When the spittle masses become too heave they disintegrate into drops. This is known as "the weeping of the rosewoods". If dripping is intense puddles are formed on the ground.
Chicharrita de la espuma/Spittlebug© Roberto Ares Chicharrita de la espuma/Spittlebug© Cora Rimoldi
This phenomenon may be experienced under the rosewoods planted on the streets. Palermo is a neighbourhood with lots of rosewoods. But this phenomenon may well pass unnoticed since "the weeping of the rosewoods" is confused with "the weeping of the balconies".

Dark-billed cuckooCoccyzus melacoryphus
Cuclillo canela/Coccyzus melacoryphus
Cuclillo canela/Coccyzus melacoryphus
Cuclillo canela/Coccyzus melacoryphusAmelia and Pablo tell us that they were watching this Dark-billed Cuckoo feed for a long time. It moved about the tree, jumping form one branch to the other in search for the spittle masses, caught the bug and ate it.Last November I wrote something on the biology of the spittlebug (See Rosewood). In this opportunity it is a link in the food chain, being predated by this cuckoo. What surprises me most is how malleable the spittle is that it kneads into a spaghetti-like string and keeps sticky without breaking. Photos © Amelia Besana