top of page

Simarouba glauca - Bitterwood


Native to:



Central and southern Central America, Florida and the Caribbean.

Humid, tropical climates. 15 meter tall tree, up to 900 meters above sea level.

Simarouba glauca -  Bitterwood

Ecological value:

Important food source for birds. Attracts pollinators such as bees. Fast growth - 2 m per year. Drought tolerant. Prevents erosion due to extensive root-system.
Shade-tolerant, understory tree.

Material uses:

Oil can be used to make quality soaps, lubricants, paints, polishes, pharmaceuticals.
Shells from the seed can be used for particleboards. Lightweight wood, slightly brittle, used for interior construction, furniture, veneers, plywood and particle board. Used as fuelwood.

Edible uses:

Seeds: 60-70% edible oil. One tree can produce 15-30 kg of seeds, equivalent to 2.5-5 kg of oil annually. Oil cake as cattle feed or fertilizer. Juice from fruit used for the fermentation industry.

Medicinal use:

Bark and leaves are used to treat malaria, fevers and dysentery, and as an astringent to stop bleeding. The medicinal properties are due to chemicals called quassinoids.

Other details:

Common names include Paradise Tree, Aceituno, and Bitterwood. Inter-cropped with mango, avocado, royal palm and as shade tree for coffee. Does poorly in degraded sites. Found in shallow soils on slopes and ridges or deeper ravine soils and alluvial plains.


Jennifer Yaing/Christine Facella


“Simarouba Glauca DC. | Plants of the World Online | Kew Science.” n.d. Plants of the World Online. Accessed November 18, 2023.
‌“Simarouba Glauca - Useful Tropical Plants.” n.d. Accessed November 18, 2023.
Chudnoff Martin., ‘Tropical Timbers of the World. Ag. Handbook No. 607’, USDA Forest Service. Wisconsin., 1984
Image sources: C. Facella and Vinayaraj.

bottom of page