top of page

Guazuma ulmifolia - West Indian elm


Native to:



Central and northern and central South America.

Secondary forests, along stream banks. Up to 1800 meters above sea level. Tree, 30 meters tall.

Guazuma ulmifolia - West Indian elm

Ecological value:

Food source for local fauna. Fast growing: Colonizes recently disturbed areas. Should not be used outside of it's native range (might become aggressive). Prefers full sun. Common in secondary forests. Flowers year round.

Material uses:

The bark and stem can be used as rope or twine. The sap can be used in sugar fabrication. The wood can be used light construction, it is not durable. The charcoal from the tree is high quality.

Edible uses:

Seeds are edible. The fruits have a honey scent and can be eaten raw or cooked. Leaves contain caffeine.

Medicinal use:

The plant is antibacterial, anti inflammatory, anti-fungal, astringent, diuretic, and febrifuge. The bark is used to induce perspiration, as a tonic, and blood cleanser. Treats elephantiasis.

Other details:

Grows in rich, medium moisture, well drained soil. Often planted as a shade tree. Extract from plant is used as a skin protector. Long history of medicinal uses. Planted as an ornamental. Bark contains the antioxidant chemicals (proanthocyanidins and kaurenoic).


Senna Lau/Christine Facella


“Guazuma Ulmifolia Lam. | Plants of the World Online | Kew Science.” n.d. Plants of the World Online. Accessed November 26, 2023.
“Guazuma Ulmifolia - Useful Tropical Plants.” n.d. Accessed November 9, 2023.
‌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
Image source: Franz Xaver.

bottom of page