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Enterolobium cyclocarpum - Devil's ear


Native to:



Central and northern South America.

Sunny pastures, dry forest zones. 0-1200 meters above sea level. 25 meters tall.

Enterolobium cyclocarpum - Devil's ear

Ecological value:

Popular tree for roadsides and urban areas. Sidewalks/roads or foundations may be cracked/raised by the roots. One of the largest fast–growing trees in Central America. Established plants drought tolerant. Re-sprouts vigorously after coppacing. Suitable as a live fence. Attracts bees.

Material uses:

Wood, walnut brown, light in weight, durable in water, resistant to termites and fungi, warps little. Used for furniture, cabinets, floors, doors, frames, washboards, canoes. As good as cedar for construction. Paper pulp. Good fuel wood. Fruit contain tannins. Gum - substitute for gum arabic.

Edible uses:

The young seedpods and seeds are cooked and eaten as a vegetable. Ideal shade tree in agroforestry systems.

Medicinal use:

A syrup obtained from the bark is used in the treatment of colds. A gum obtained from the trunk is used as a remedy for affections of the chest.

Other details:

Has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria which form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. National tree of Costa Rica. Seeds ignored by fauna but believed to have been a food source of Pleistocene mega fauna now extinct, such as ground sloths and giant bison.


Hyunjung Kim/Christine Facella


“Enterolobium Cyclocarpum (Jacq.) Griseb. | Plants of the World Online | Kew Science.” n.d. Plants of the World Online. Accessed November 26, 2023.
‌“Enterolobium Cyclocarpum - Useful Tropical Plants.” n.d.
Uphof. J. C. Th., ‘Dictionary of Economic Plants’, Weinheim, 1959
Barwick. M., ‘Tropical and Subtropical Trees - A Worldwide Encyclopaedic Guide’, Thames & Hudson, London, 2004
Image source: C. Facella

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