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Curatella americana - Sandpaper tree


Native to:



Central America, the Caribbean, northern South America.

Dry, open hillsides, savannas and savanna forests. 90-1000 meters above sea level. 5 meter tall tree.

Curatella americana - Sandpaper tree

Ecological value:

Local source of food for both humans and animals. Slow growth rate. Drought tolerant. Prefers full sun and can succeed in dry soils. Attracts pollinators. Grown as an ornamental plant. Commonly known as Wild Cashew or Sandpaper tree.

Material uses:

The heartwood is used to make furniture, cabinets, saddle frames, etc. The
wood is used for fuel and is made into charcoal. The leaves can be used as a substitute for
sandpaper to clean or polish wood or metal. The bark is used for tanning leather.

Edible uses:

Edible seeds and fruits. The seeds are used to flavor chocolate.

Medicinal use:

The bark has a sedative effect. A decoction of the macerated bark is drunk to
prevent ulcers and to treat jaundice and hepatitis. An infusion of the leaves is used as an astringent.

Other details:

Hard to split apart and polish. The fruits have small hairs that can cause severe skin irritations. Belongs to the Curatella genus, and is the sole species.


Goksu Piskinpasa / Pichayaporn Lohasiriwat / Christine Facella


“Curatella Americana L. | Plants of the World Online | Kew Science.” n.d. Plants of the World Online. Accessed November 27, 2023.
“Curatella Americana - Useful Tropical Plants.” n.d.
‌Lorenzi. H., ‘Brazilian Trees. Volume 2. 4th Edition’, Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil, 2002
Uphof. J. C. Th., ‘Dictionary of Economic Plants’, Weinheim, 1959
Rech, André, Jeff Ollerton, and Marlies Sazima. n.d. “REPRODUCTIVE BIOGEOGRAPHY of CURATELLA AMERICANA in BRAZIL.” Accessed November 27, 2023.
Image source: João Medeiros

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