Schnella Raddi

First published in Mem. Mat. Fis. Soc. Ital. Sci. Modena, Pt. Mem. Fis. 18: 411 (1820)
This genus is accepted
The native range of this genus is Mexico to Tropical America.


Legumes of the World. Edited by G. Lewis, B. Schrire, B. MacKinder & M. Lock. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. (2005)

Liana or scandent shrub with tendrils.
Most species are found in wet tropical rainforest, including vàrzea and terra firme forest, although some are also found in seasonally dry forest such as caatinga, and savannah habitat such as cerrado. The species occupy a range of elevations and have been found at 1000m above sea level. Three species (S.glabra, S.guianensis and S.rutilans) have been shown by Hokche and Ramirez (1990) to be pollinated by a range of insects, including 'skipper' moths and various species of Hymenoptera. Hummingbirds were also shown to be pollinators of S.guianensis and S.rutilans.
Schnella is a Neotropical genus that ranges from Cuba and Mexico in the North, to Paraguay and northern Argentina in the south. Brazil is the most species rich country with 34 species. Mesoamerica contains 9 species, whilst 2 species are present in the Caribbean, 13 in Colombia, 10 in Venezuela, 12 in the Guianas, 4 in Ecuador, 15 in Peru and 6 in Bolivia. S.microstachya is the only species that exists as far south as Paraguay and northern Argentina.
The genus Schnella was described by Raddi in 1821. It was later reduced to a section of Bauhinia by Bentham (1865). It was reinstated at the generic level by Britton and Rose (1930) on morphological grounds which were supported by later palynological studies by Schmitz (1973). Bentham's (1865) placement of Schnella as a section of Bauhinia was subsequently resurrected by Wunderlin et al. (1978). Recently, molecular evidence lead Lewis and Forest (2005) to include Schnella as part of the Bauhinia segregate Phanera, though they suggested that it may later prove to be distinct. This latter view was corroborated by further molecular evidence produced by Sinou et al. 2009. Wunderlin (2010) formally reinstated Schnella at the generic level based primarily on differences in stamen number from the old world Phanera species. Recent palynological studies by Banks et al. (2013) also support the position of Schnella at the generic level.


S.herrerae is utilised for fibre and construction materials throughout its geographical range. In Belize it also has medicinal and ritualistic uses. In Venezuela S.glabra is used as a fibre to produce rope and also is said to have anti-syphilitic properties. Panamanian S.hymenaeifolia var. hymenaeifolia also yields a good fibre, and children use the pods as windmills known as 'runrun'.


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