Degame is native to Cuba, Central America, Colombia and Ecuador. In its native distribution it reaches a height of 100 feet, with a trunk 3 feet in diameter. The bark peels in strips, producing attractive combinations of white, gray and red. The leaves are up to 4 inches long and are grouped towards the ends of the branches. The flowers are small but very abundant, some produce a long and broad blade that help cover the tree in white. Fruits are small capsules that open to liberate many winged seeds. It flowers in the fall but the white blades persist until spring. The generic name refers to the blade that grows from the calyx of some flowers. The species name means whitest, in reference to the color of the flowers.

The photographed tree is east of the new Agricultural Sciences greenhouses. There are several other trees in the campus; for example, across from the de Diego building, in front of the Chancellor’s house, on the northwest corner of the Ángel Espada Gym, and east of the Steffani Building. The photographed tree and the one near the gym were planted by Hipólito Irizarry in 1951 and 1953, respectively.

Calycophyllum candidissimum (Rubiaceae)