Reproductive phenology of Mauritia flexuosa L. (Arecaceae) in a coastal restinga environment in northeastern Brazil

Abstract The buriti, Mauritia flexuosa, is the most common palm in Brazil, where it has considerable ecological and economic importance. However, few data are available on the phenology of the species, mainly in coastal restinga ecosystems. The present study monitored the reproductive phenology of M. flexuosa in the restinga of Barreirinhas, in the Brazilian Northeast, and investigated the relationship between phenophases and climatic variables. The presence/absence of flowers and fruits was recorded monthly in 25 individuals of each sex between August, 2009, and October, 2012. There was no difference in the phenology of male and female specimens, with flowering and fruiting occurring exclusively in the dry season. We believe that the specific abiotic characteristics of the study environment, such as the intense sunlight and availability of water in the soil, contribute to the reproductive success of M. flexuosa in the dry season, with consequent germination and establishment of seedlings occurring during the subsequent rainy season.