- n Thespesia a small genus of tropical trees including the portia tree
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n thespesia A genus of plants, of the order Malvaceæ and tribe Hibisceæ. It is characterized by flowers with three to five small bractlets, a club-shaped or but slightly divided style, and a five-celled ovary. There are about 6 species, natives of tropical Asia, the Pacific islands, and Madagascar. They are trees or tall herbs, with entire or angulate leaves, and handsome flowers, commonly yellow. Two species, T. Lampas and T. populnea, are remarkable for their black-dotted seed-leaves. The latter is a tree sometimes 50 feet high, planted for shade in India, and known as umbrella-tree and bendy tree, and in Guiana as seaside mahoe. It bears a dense head of foliage, and large yellow flowers with a purple center, changing before evening to purple throughout, and perishing. Its flowers and fruits yield a dye, its seeds a thick deep-red oil known as Portia-nut oil, and its bast a useful fiber made into sacks and wrappings; its wood is used to make boats and furniture.