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Gyrocarpus americanus - Propeller tree


Native to:



Central America and northern South America, parts of Africa, India, Australia and South Asia.

Hot lowland forests, secondary grassland. 5-1000 meters above sea level. Up to 15 meters tall.

Gyrocarpus americanus - Propeller tree

Ecological value:

Prefers full sun and well-drained peat soil. Belongs to a small genus of five species that are found in the tropical Americas and Africa. Attracts bees.

Material uses:

The bole is used for canoes. The seeds are used for jewelry purposes. The wood is soft and light. It is used for toys, light furniture, insulation, crates, veneer, pulpwood, plywood, and firewood.

Edible uses:

Drink made out of the bark.

Medicinal use:

The bark is used to treat swelling after childbirth, stomach aches, and filariasis. The decoction of the root is used to wash wounds and the powder is used to cover wounds.

Other details:

Sap may cause blindness. Often found with species of Euphorbia, Pandanus and/or Ficus. Pantropical species. American (English) common names include helicopter tree, propeller tree and stinkwood. Extinct in Cocos islands.


Senna Lau / Alex Anez Folla / Christine Facella


“Gyrocarpus Americanus Jacq. | Plants of the World Online | Kew Science.” n.d. Plants of the World Online. Accessed November 26, 2023.
“Gyrocarpus Americanus - Useful Tropical Plants.” n.d.
“Gyrocarpus Americanus | Species.” n.d. India Biodiversity Portal. Accessed November 26, 2023.
Image source: Forestowlet

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