• arboreal soil;
  • ectomycorrhiza;
  • Guiana Shield;
  • Guyana;
  • heart rot;
  • Neotropics;
  • Phellinus;
  • tropical rain forest


The tropical monodominant tree Dicymbe corymbosa reiterates via epicormic shoots and roots, resulting in multistemmed trees with complex pseudotrunks and root mounds. In 2 ha of primary forest on the Guiana Shield, we quantified the reiterative structure and aboveground soil development of 307 D. corymbosa individuals ≥ 10 cm dbh and investigated the potential adaptive significance of reiteration in terms of genet persistence and root exploitation of aboveground soil accumulations. We also investigated the incidence of the heart rot fungus Phellinus robustus in D. corymbosa and examined its relationship to the reiteration process. Large trees contained more and larger reiterations, greater trunk, root mound, and organic soil volumes, and a higher incidence of Phellinus than smaller trees. Roots and ectomycorrhizas were abundant in aboveground soils on the trees, occurred at higher densities than those of the surrounding forest floor, and may be important in recycling mineral nutrients. Stem turnover and reiteration were associated with Phellinus heart rot and appeared to be cumulative over time, resulting in persistent, structurally complex trees of indeterminate lifespan. Dicymbe corymbosa provides a rare example of a tree species that exploits both persistence and recruitment niches, as it successfully recruits through mast fruiting.