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Xylopia aromatica - Monkey Pepper


Native to:



Southern Central America and South America, the Caribbean.

Scrubland, lowland forest. 10 meter tree, up to 1220 meters above sea level.

Xylopia aromatica - Monkey Pepper

Ecological value:

Grows best in full sun, succeeds in poor, dry soils. Established plants are drought tolerant, slow growth rate, pioneer species, but less suitable for reforestation schemes due to slow growth rate. Small beetles are important pollinators of the generally small Annonaceae flowers.

Material uses:

Essential oil can be extracted from the flowers. The wood is soft and light, and is of low durability although it is easy to work with. Few suitable applications, but used in crafting light boxes and fence posts. Used for fuelwood.

Edible uses:

Seeds can be used as a substitute for black pepper.

Medicinal use:

A weak tea made from the plant is used as a diuretic to treat swelling in thelegs. The fruit is also used to reduce fever (febrifuge).

Other details:

A possible pioneer species within its native range. Prefers sandy-loam soils at lower elevations. There are approximately 160 species of Xylopia in Asia, Africa and the Americas.


Jin Lee / Christine Facella


“Xylopia Aromatica (Lam.) Mart. | Plants of the World Online | Kew Science.” n.d. Plants of the World Online. Accessed November 19, 2023.
‌“Xylopia Aromatica - Useful Tropical Plants.” n.d. Accessed November 19, 2023.
Uphof. J. C. Th., ‘Dictionary of Economic Plants’, Weinheim, 1959
Lorenzi. H., ‘Brazilian Trees. Volume 1. 4th Edition’, Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil, 2002
Pinheiro Saravy et al, “Diversity of Insect Flower Visitors of Xylopia Aromatica (Magnoliales, Annonaceae) in a Brazilian Savanna.” Diversity 13, 2021.
‌Image source: João Medeiros and Denis A. C. Conrado

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