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Cordia alliodora - Spanish elm


Native to:



Central America, northern and central South America, the Caribbean.

Both wet and dry forests. Up to 1800 meters above sea level. 30 meter tall tree.

Cordia alliodora - Spanish elm

Ecological value:

Pioneer species, can colonize bare soil. Attracts pollinators - is very attractive to bees. Tolerant of high winds. Fast growing. Coppices well.

Material uses:

Renowned timber-producing species, high quality wood. Wood, moderately durable, resistant to fungi and wood-boring insects. Used for building construction, flooring, furniture, veneers, etc. Some resistance to marine borers. Perfume from oil from flowers. Fire wood.

Edible uses:

Fruits are edible, not tasty. Bark used as condiment. Grown in agroforestry systems.

Medicinal use:

A decoction of the leaves is used as a tonic and a stimulant, especially in cases of catarrh and lung infection.

Other details:

Has been incorporated with pasture, often in mixture with woody species of Erythrina. When grown as a shade tree, it has shown to reduce yield in crops, but income generated from timber compensates for this yield reduction. Cultivated as an ornamental for its white fragrant flowers.


Adrian Chiu/Christine Facella


“Cordia Alliodora (Ruiz & Pav.) Oken | Plants of the World Online | Kew Science.” n.d. Plants of the World Online. Accessed November 27, 2023.
“Cordia Alliodora - Useful Tropical Plants.” n.d. Accessed November 7, 2023.
‌Facciola. S., ‘Cornucopia II’, Kampong Publications, California, 1998
Williams. R. O. & Williams. R. O. Jnr, ‘The Useful and Ornamental Plants of Trinidad and Tobago’, Self Published in Trinidad and Tobago., 1951
Image sources: Alejandro Bayer and Dick Culbert

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