Wax, honey

Species that support apiculture

Cabbage bark, Andira inermis

Family: Fabaceae

Native to: Southern Mexico through Central America to northern South America.

Habitat: Alluvial forests, evergreen tropical to dry savannah. Roadsides and riverbanks up to 900 m above sealevel.

Ecological value: Andira inermis is a nitrogen-fixing tree attracts many pollinating insects.Important source of nectar for bees. Bats eat the fruits. Tolerates periods of inundation. Drought tolerant when established. 

Material uses: The tree's wood is used for lumber. The wood is very hard, heavy (0.77g/cm³), and very resistant to attack by fungi and termites. Lumber used for bridges, railroad tracks, waterfront docks and  furniture.

Edible: Edible fruits, but seeds are toxic. 

Medicinal value: Treats snakebites, used as narcotic, as laxative and a vermifuge.

Other: It is used as a shade tree in coffee plantations, in soil conservation projects to protect watersheds and cultivated as ornamental. Flowers more frequently in dryer climates. Insecticide and piscicide properties. Prunings used as firewood.  Prunes well.

Research: Mengmeng Chen/Christine Facella


1. Behrendt, G., J.D. Brazier., and G.L. Franklin. 1968. Maderas nicaraguenses. Características y usos potenciales. FAO y Min. de Ag. y Ganaderia. Honduras. pp 21-22.

2. Berendsohn, W.G. 1989. Listado básico de la flora salvadorensis. Dicotoyledonae. Familia 118:Leguminosae. Cuscatlania (El Salvador) I(2):118-8.

3. Faria. S.M., J. Sutherland, and J. Sprent. 1986. A new type of infected cell in root nodules of Andira spp. (Leguminosae). Plant Science 45:143-147.

4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andira_inermis

Image Credit/Source:  S.Pereira-Nunes, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flowering_Indira_Inermis.JPG

Arrabidaea corallina


Family: Bignoniaceae

Native to:  Central and South America

Habitat:  Dry forests and creek banks where the soil is sandy.

Ecological value:   The flowers of this plant attract honey bees.  

Material uses: The durable hard-wood is commonly used in the construction of a tropical cottage design. Traditionally used in Panama for baskets, used to catch shrimp.

Edible:  They are toxic plants that can cause diarrhea. 

Other:  In Brazil in the municipality of Boqueirão the plant created an outbreak, poisoning 550 goats, and killing 6 of them. Used as an ornamental.

Research: Lucia Palacio/Christine Facella


1. https://biogeodb.stri.si.edu/bioinformatics/croat/specie/Arrabidaea%20corallina,e,n

2. Morales et al, 'Plantas de uso folklorio y Tradicional en Panama'

3. Image credit/Source: Dick Culbert,  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fridericia_dichotoma_(as_Arrabidaea_corallina)_(14092859767).jpg

Achiote, Bixa orellana


Family: Bixaceae

Native to:  American tropics, coastal South America

Habitat: Naturally found in grasslands, shrub-lands and forests. Cultivated in urban areas and supervised plantations. From sea level up to 2200 m in elevation.

Ecological value:  Pollinated by bees.

Material uses: Natural colorant used to red and yellow pigment. Used in cooking, 

cosmetic and pharmaceutical situations. Color fades when exposed to light and air. Gum from bark. Fiber for cord from bark. Dye is rich in carotenoid pigments. 80% consists of bixin (red) and norbixin/orelline (yellow). 

Edible: Used in food coloring for its flavorless profile and intense color pay-off. 

Medicinal value: Rich in Vitamin C and anti-oxidants. Used in indigenous medicine to treat a plethora of ailments related to stomach, viral, skin and heart issues in addition to snake bites. Bixin from seed shell used as an insect repellent.

Other: Also grown as ornamental. Can be heavily pruned therefore suitable as a hedge or live fence. Used as body and hair paint amongst indigenous tribes. 

Panama rubber tree, Castilla elastica

Family: Moraceae

Native to: Tropical areas of Mexico, Central America, and northern South America.

Habitat: Grows in well-developed but disturbed gallery forest, rain forest regrowth and on old farmland.

Ecological value: Ruderal species, fast growing. Rich source of nectar for honey bees, wool-carder bees and lepidoptera. Birds such as goldfinches, linnets and greenfinches feed on seeds.

Material uses: This tree was the main source of latex for Mesoamerican cultures in pre-Columbian times and is still used for this purpose today. Mature tree of 8-10 years old, can product up to 25 kg of latex per year. Latex can be used as/in bouncing balls, waterproofing fabrics etc. Can be tinted with natural dyes. Bark is fibrous, used to make cord, mats, blankets and clothing. Wood, light in weight, mainly used for fuel. 

Edible: The Gum tree does grow sweet fruit but is not know for it.

Medicinal value: Treats rheumatic joints, bleeding piles, sore jaws.

Other: Thrives in nitrogen-rich soil. Erosion Control - 2’ taproot. Lateral roots make it difficult to grow other crops under tree. 

Cedar wood, Cedrela odorata


Family: Meliaceae

Native to: Pacific coast of Mexico, throughout Central America and the Caribbean

Habitat: American tropics:  Wet primary and secondary forests. Lower montane forests, up to 1900 meters above sea level. 

Ecological value: Attracts pollinators such as bees, source of nectar for honey production. Fast growth rate. Pioneer species naturally termite- and rot-resistant, lightweight attractive wood.

Material uses: Used in beekeeping structures, instruments, household articles and furniture to store clothing. Bark used for twine. Good fire wood. Excellent timber.

Medicinal value: Treats feavers and headaches, earaches. Decoction for abortion. 

Other: Cedrela odorata is the most commercially important and widely distributed species in the genus Cedrela. Listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of  Threatened Species, from over exploitation. Economically important timber species. Used as windbreak or shade tree in coffee or cocoa production. Susceptible to Hypsipyla attack (root borer) and should  be intercropped with Leucaena leucocephala, Cordia spp.  Anthocephalus Chinensis or under the light shade of Eucalyplus delgupta.  Good choice for reforestation schemes. Planted as ornamental.

Research: Xiliang Chen/Christine Facella


1.Gillies, A. C., Cornelius, J. P., Newton, A. C., Navarro, C. , Hernández, M. and Wilson, J. (1997), Genetic variation in Costa Rican populations of the tropical timber species Cedrela odorata L., assessed using RAPDs. Molecular Ecology, 6: 1133-1145. doi:10.1046/j.1365-294X.1997.00287.x

2.Root endophyte interaction between ectomycorrhizal basidiomycete Tricholoma matsutake and arbuscular mycorrhizal tree Cedrela odorata, allowing in vitro synthesis of rhizospheric “shiro”

Mycorrhiza, 2013, Volume 23, Number 3, Page 235

Hitoshi Murata, Akiyoshi Yamada, Tsuyoshi Maruyama, Show All (7)

Image Credit/Source: Forest & Kim Starr, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Starr_030807-0045_Cedrela_odorata.jpg

Kapok, Ceiba pentandra


Family: Malvaceae

Native to: Mexico, Central America, Caribbean and northern South America

Habitat: Secondary forests.

Ecological value: Flowers important to bees, bats and moths. Fast growing.

Material uses: Prior to the heightened usage of synthetic fibers in clothes, the Kapok fibers were used in products such as pillows, clothes, stuffed toys and upholstery. Kapok fibers are labor intensive to produce and extremely flammable but are also water resistant and buoyant. The raw version of the fiber is used in darts for nearby tribes. Ash is rich in potash and can be used for making soap. Construction timber. Used to make canoes. 

Edible: A vegetable oil can be pressed from kapok seeds. Wood ash as salt substitute.

Medicinal value: Ceiba pentandra bark decoction has been used as a diuretic, aphrodisiac, and to treat headache, as well as type II diabetes. It is used as an additive in some versions of the hallucinogenic drink Ayahuasca.

Other: Pioneer species. Economical life: 60 years. A single tree can bear 300-400 pods per year, yielding up to 20 kg of fiber from about 5 to 50 years of age. Responds well to coppacing. rooting system can cause damage to buildings and roads. Used in reforestation programs, inter-cropped as shade tree for coffee and cacao.

Research: Amy Feng/Christine Facella


1. http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?

2. id=Ceiba+pentandrahttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceiba_pentandra

Image Credit/Source: Phil Stone, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kapok-Ceiba_pentandra_03.JPG

Spanish elm, Cordia alliodora​

Family: Boraginaceae

Native to: South and Central America, Caribbean

Habitat: Both wet and dry forests, up to 1000m and as high as 2000m. 

Ecological value: Pioneer species, attracts pollinators (lepidoptera, bees), tolerant of high winds. Fast growing. Coppices well. 

Material uses: A renowned timber-producing species. The wood is usually straight grained, easy to work to a smooth finish, with little dulling of cutting edges. The wood is used for building construction, flooring, furniture and veneer manufacture, boat timbers, oars, rail sleepers, turnery, scientific equipment, and a wide variety of carvings and artists’ equipment. The wood is resistant to decay; it has some resistance to marine borers and is outstandingly resistant to termite attack. Perfume from oil from flowers. Fire wood.

Edible: Fruits are edible, not tasty.

Medicinal value: A decoction of the leaves is used as a tonic and a stimulant, especially in cases of catarrh and lung infection. Pulverized seeds are used in the treatment of cutaneous diseases.

Other: Good tree for combining with crops as a shade tree. It has been incorporated with pasture, often in mixture with woody species of Erythrina. It has also been grown with sugarcane. When grown as a shade tree, it has shown to reduce yield in crops, but income generated from timber compensates for this yield reduction.

Clam cherry, Cordia nitida/Cordia laevigata


Family: Boraginaceae

Native to: South America, Central America, Caribbean

Habitat: Thickets and forests in coastal and limestone regions.

Ecological value: Attracts butterflies and bees. Used in apiculture. 

Material uses: Highly valued timber in Jamaica. It is used for furniture, flooring, doors, beds, interior finish, carriage building, posts. The wood is used chiefly for posts. 

Other:  The tree makes an attractive ornamental.

Research: Adrian Chiu/Christine Facella


1. http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Cordia+laevigata

Image Credit/Source:  P. Acevedo, https://www.gbif.org/occurrence/1317845516

Bala de canon, Couroupita nicaraguensis

Family: Lecythidaceae

Native to: Central and South America

Habitat: Semi tropical areas, semi-deciduous forest, swampy areas.

Ecological value: Pollen is very attractive to bees and other pollinators. 

Material uses: Wood is lightweight but not durable. Susceptible to termites and fungi. Used for musical instruments.

Edible:  Fruits are edible but not widely sought after because of pungent scent.

Medicinal value: Used to treat hypertension, tumors, pain, inflammation, common cold, skin conditions, wounds, malaria, and toothaches. Pulp is rubbed on dogs to treat mange.

Other: Listed as near threatened on IUCN redlist.

Research: Peaches Harrison/Christine Facella


1. Trade Winds Fruit. (2013) “Couroupita Nicaraguensis”  

2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Couroupita_guianensis

3. Mitré, M. (1998). “Couroupita icaraguensis” 

Image Credit/Source: Christopher Hu, https://www.flickr.com/photos/33762731@N03/3436367117/

Tapica, Crataeva tapia

Family: Capparaceae

Native to: Central and South America

Habitat: Low elevations in dry or wet forests, common in grassland and dry areas and also found in swampy flooded locations and flooded areas. 

Ecological value: Pollen is very attractive to bees and other pollinators. 

Material uses: Wood is lightweight but not durable. Susceptible to termites and fungi. Used for musical instruments.

Edible:  Fruits are edible but not widely sought after because of pungent scent.

Medicinal value: Used to treat hypertension, tumors, pain, inflammation, common cold, skin conditions, wounds, malaria, and toothaches. Pulp is rubbed on dogs to treat mange.

Other: Listed as near threatened on IUCN redlist.

Research: Peaches Harrison/Christine Facella


1. Trade Winds Fruit. (2013) “Couroupita Nicaraguensis”  

2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Couroupita_guianensis

3. Mitré, M. (1998). “Couroupita icaraguensis” 

Image Credit/Source: Christopher Hu, https://www.flickr.com/photos/33762731@N03/3436367117/

Cynometra hemitomophylla

Family: Fabaceae

Native to: Central America

Habitat: Moist lowland tropics, growing on well drained hillsides and valleys as well as along the sandy coastline up to 500m elevation. 

Ecological value: Pollinated by honeybees.

Material uses: Very dense and hard wood, resistant to elements. 

Edible:  Fruits are edible but not widely sought after because of pungent scent.

Other: Would make good ornamental shade tree. On UICN endangered plant list. Species in this family are often able to fix atmospheric nitrogen.  

Research: Peaches Harrison/Christine Facella


1. Ken Fern. (2014) Useful Tropical Plants Database “Cynometra Hemitomophylla”

2. The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (2017)

Image Credit/Source: Reinaldo Aguilar, http://tropical.theferns.info/image.php?id=Cynometra+hemitomophylla

Genipa americana


Family: Rubiaceae

Native to: Northern South America, the Caribbean, Southern Mexico

Habitat:  Often found in fields, forest margins, and cultivated farms, flood prone forests, including seasonal swamps

Ecological value: The tree grows very quickly (fruits in 3 years), which makes it a very sustainable source of nourishment for surrounding wildlife. Attracts hummingbirds, bats, bees. Heavy leaf-fall improves surrounding soil.

Material uses: Contains tannins, a blue-black dye from the fruit’s pulp, used for dying clothes and pottery. Fiber from bark to make rough clothing. Wood hard and strong, not durable- prone to termites. Used for light construction, such as furniture.

Edible: Produces a sweet fruit, which can be made into drinks, jelly etc. 

Medicinal value: Known for curing candiru (fish) attacks, while the juice of the fruit is known to have helpful astringent effects. Brewed into tea as a remedy for bronchitis. 

Other: Fruit juice stains the skin black, so natives used to use it for going into battle and for decoration purposes. Tree can be inter-cropped with cassara or cotton as shade tree. Wood can be used for fuel. Ornamental.

Research: Zac Pepere/Christine Facella


1. http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Genipa+americana

Image Credit/Source: Alejandro Bayer Tamayo, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jagua_(Genipa_americana)_(14557582148).jpg

Quickstick, Gliricidia sepium

Family: Fabaceae

Native to: Central America.

Habitat: Sand dunes, riverbanks, flood plains. Could be planted up to 1000m to 1500m above sea level.

Ecological value: Easy to establish by cuttings. Fast growing, can be aggressive pioneer species, can be coppiced, Fixes nitrogen, used for erosion control.

Material uses: Timber. Important fuelwood.

Edible: Flowers, cooked.

Medicinal value: Anti-fungal, used in various folk-medicines.

Other: Live fence, fodder, green manure, shade tree for cocoa crops, honey production, firewood, ornamental. 

Research: Adrian Chiu/Christine Facella


1.  http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Gliricidia+sepium

Image Credit/Source: Forest & Kim Starr, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Starr_070111-3193_Gliricidia_sepium.jpg

Roughbark, Guaiacum officinale


Family: Zygophyllaceae

Native to:  The Caribbean and the northern coast of South America

Habitat:  Lowland dry forests, woodlands and thickets, coastland areas.

Ecological value: This small tree is very slow growing, reaching about 10 m in height with a trunk diameter of 60 cm. The tree is essentially evergreen throughout most of its native range. Drought tolerant (up to 6 months of dry periods). Attracts bees. Tolerant of salty winds, and moderate levels of salt in soil.

Material uses: Guaiac, a natural resin extracted from the wood, is a colorless compound that turns blue when placed in contact with substances that have peroxidase activity and then are exposed to hydrogen peroxide. Very hard wood, used in ship propellers.

Medicinal value: Guaiac cards are impregnated with the resin and are used in determining whether stool contains blood. The heme portion of hemoglobin contains peroxidase and will catalyze the oxidation of guaiaconic acid when hydrogen peroxide is placed on the Guaiac card if blood is present in the stool.

Other: It is the official national flower of  Jamaica. Ornamental. Endangered from over-exploitation. Expensive and valuable timber. 

Research: Marian Farrell/Christine Facella


1. Americas Regional Workshop (Conservation & Sustainable Management of Trees, Costa Rica, November 1996). 1998. 

2. Guaiacum officinale. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 1998: e.T33701A9802341.

Image Credit/Source: Dinesh Valke, https://www.flickr.com/photos/dinesh_valke/2477708305/in/photostream/

Guabita cansaboca, Inga vera


Family: Fabaceae

Native to: Tropical South America, North to the Caribbean and through Central America to Mexico

Habitat: Tropical Moist forest, along riverbanks and sheltered ravines. Prefers damp/wet soil. Up to 1,000 meters above sea level.

Ecological value: This is a fast growing tree that flowers and produces fruits year round making it good for pollinating. They promote and maintain soil fertility due to a symbiotic relationship between the tree and a bacteria in the soil. The nodules from the bacteria release nitrogen helping both the tree and neighboring plants.

Material uses: The heavy wood is a good source of fuel and is used for charcoal. The timber is also good for building as it is hardwood. The bark is used for tannins and natural dyes.

Edible: Seeds of this tree are found within a sugary edible pulp while providing flowers for bees to make honey out of year round. 

Medicinal value: The bark is used for anaemia. The root is used to treat gallstones and the pulp is good for constipation.

Associated plant community: Planted on coffee and cacao plantations to provide shade.

Research: Aria Shehas/Christine Facella


1. Tropical Plants Database, Ken Fern. tropical.theferns.info. 2018-09-05. <tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Inga+vera>

2. World of Forestry. “Inga Vera”. Agroforestry Database 4.0 (Orwa et al. 2009) < http://www.worldagroforestry.org/treedb/AFTPDFS/Inga_vera.PDF>

Image Credit/Source: David J. Stang, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Inga_vera#/media/File:Inga_vera_20zz.jpg

Licania arborea


Family: Fabaceae

Native to: Tropical South America, North to the Caribbean and through Central America to Mexico

Habitat: Tropical Moist forest, along riverbanks and sheltered ravines. Prefers damp/wet soil. Up to 1,000 meters above sea level.

Ecological value: Dense foliage houses wildlife. Flowers are pollinated by bees and other insects.

Material uses: The tree is cultivated for its seed, which contains oil that we use for making paints. The trees wood is durable and is thus used for rural construction, such as houses and fences etc. Oil is also used to make soap and candles.

Medicinal value: The bark and leaves are used in folk medicine to cure hemorrhoids and kidney problems.

Other: Seeds contain up to 30% oil, and burn easily. Disagreeable flavor, color, and oder.

Sweetgum, Liquidambar styraciflua

Family: Hamamelidaceae

Native to: Central America, North America, southern Mexico

Habitat: Grows in rich moist soil but tolerates a variety of conditions. Grows best in a well drained habitat. Grows in bottom land sites that provide space for root development.

Ecological value: Eaten by eastern goldfinches, purple finches, sparrows, mourning doves, northern bobwhites, wild turkeys, chipmunks, and squirrels. Pollinated by bees. Fast growing pioneer and long lived. Controls erosion. 

Material uses: Used for lumber, veneer, plywood, railroad ties, fuel, and pulpwood.  Resin can be used in perfumery, soap, and as an adhesive. Wood also used locally as fuel wood.  

Edible: Chewing gum resin.

Medicinal value: The gum resin can treat rheumatic pain. When the sap is boiled and cooled it creates a balm that treats skin problems. 

Other: Used as a windbreak because of its rapid growth and tolerance. Potential to be used as a pioneer species for reforestation programs. 

Research: Senna Lau/Christine Facella


1. Gilman, Edward. 1993. Liquidambar Styraciflua Sweetgum. http://hort.ufl.edu/database/documents/pdf/tree_fact_sheets/liqstya.pdf (accessed on 08 September 2017).

2. USDA NRCS National Plant Materials Center. N/A.  Sweetgum Liquidambar styraciflua L.. https://plants.usda.gov/factsheet/pdf/fs_list2.pdf (accessed on 08 September 2017).

3. Gilani, Natasha. N/A. Uses for a Sweet Gum Tree. http://homeguides.sfgate.com/uses-sweet-gum-tree-44350.html (accessed on 08 September 2017).

4. USDA NRCS National Plant Materials Center. N/A.  Sweetgum Liquidambar styraciflua L.. https://plants.usda.gov/factsheet/pdf/fs_list2.pdf (accessed on 08 September 2017).

Image Credit/Source: Luis Fernández García, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Liquidambar_styraciflua_20131017a.jpg

Spanish lime, Melicoccus bijugatus

Family: Sapindaceae

Native to: South America

Habitat: Often found in moist, lowland jungles and limestone woodlands up to 600 meters in elevation

Ecological value: The Flowers of the plant are rich in nectar, so bees are attracted by it. Fleas are attracted to the leaves. Slow growth rate. 

Material uses: The trunk of the Melicoccus bijugatus is hard and heavy and suitable for cabinet work and construction.

Edible: Pulp in pies, jams, jellies or as a juice. The seeds are roasted and used make bread. 

Medicinal value: Treats diarrhea, parasites and fevers. 

Other: The slow growing tree is rich in sugars, flavonids and phenolic acids. Intolerant of pruning. 

Research: Lucia Palacio/Christine Facella



2. http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Melicoccus+bijugatus

Image Credit/Source: Hans B, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Melicoccus_bijugatus.jpg

Strawberry tree, Muntingia calabura


Family: Muntingiaceae

Native to: Southern Mexico to western South America.

Habitat: Lowland areas from sea level to 1000 m of elevation. Needs sheltered position - branches break easily in strong winds.

Ecological value: Thrives in poor soil, tolerates acidic and alkaline conditions and drought, but doesn’t grow on saline conditions. Pioneer - Potential as a useful species for restoration of disturbed areas and to stop soil erosion. Shelter and food source for wildlife ( ca. 60 species of birds and mammals). Attracts pollinators. Rapid growth.

Material uses: Wood for lumber. Fiber from bark for making ropes and baskets - not suitable for textiles. Wood valued in paper-making. Soft wood for general carpentry.

Edible: Edible berries, mostly consumed by native birds and bats. Can be grounded to jam and the leaves are used in tea. 

Medicinal value: leaves treat headaches, prostate problems, reduce gastric ulcers, bark used as antiseptic, flowers used as/for antiseptic, reducing swelling, antispasmodic and fruits  used to treat respiratory problem and diarrhea.

Other: Introduced and naturalized in Southeast Asia.

Sometimes grows as an ornamental or a shade tree. Can become invasive. Withstands air pollution in city. Soft wood is valued as fuel and lights fast. 

Malabar chestnut (Money tree) , Pachira aquatica

Family: Malvaceae

Native to: Central and South America

Habitat: The tree grows well as a tropical ornamental in moist, frost-free areas, and can be started from seed or cutting.  Prefers flooded sites, river estuaries.

Ecological value:  Cultivated as an ornamental and as a cropper. Fast growing tree. Pollinated by bats, honeybees and sphingid moths.

Material uses: Fiber obtained from inner bark can be used in paper-making. Oil can be extracted from seed. Yellow dye from bark. Red dye. The oil can be potentially used in soap making. Wood low quality. Used in paper manufacturing (36% cellulose paste).

Edible: The nut can be eaten raw or roasted, or  ground into a flour for baking bread. The young leaves and flowers may be cooked and used as a vegetable. Seeds yield 58% of a white fat, suitable for cooking.

Medicinal value: Used to treat hepatitis. Seeds can be used as an anesthetic.

Other: Planted as a street tree and ornamental garden tree. Known as the Money Tree.

Research: Hyunjung Kim/Christine Facella


1. http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Pachira+aquatica

Image Credit/Source:  Hans Hillewaert, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pachira_aquatica_(inflorescense).jpg

Avocado, Persea americana


Family: Lauraceae

Native to: Mexico, Central America, and Parts of South America

Habitat: Humid lowland forests or limestone formation up to 2,800 meters elevation. Requires a position sheltered from strong winds. Usually salt intolerant.

Ecological value: Pollinated by honeybees.

Material uses: Oil can be extracted from seed. Seed makes a red/ brown dye. Soft, not durable wood susceptible to termites. Used in light construction, furniture, good quality veneer and plywood. 

Edible: Very popular fruit around the world. Oil can be used for cooking. Leaves can be dried and used for infusions, teas, and extracts. 6-8 years to produce fruit.

Other: Wood is seldom used and is mainly grown for fruit. Ground up seed with cheese is used as a rat poison.

Macawood, Platymiscium


Family:  Fabaceae 

Native to: Central and South America

Habitat: Remnant dry forest and woodlands on flat ground, including disturbed or secondary forest. Scattered in dry deciduous forest, on dry hillsides. From sea level to 900m.

Ecological value: This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria that  form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby. Flowers are very attractive to bees, butterflies. Slow growing tree.

Material uses: Furniture, cabinetry, house construction, veneer, musical instruments, turned objects, and small specialty wood items.

Other: Endangered, thrives in nitrogen-rich soil. Shade in coffee plantations. The species is scarce. Individual often show signs of genetic degradation. 

Purple mombin, Spondias mombin


Family: Anacardiaceae

Native to: It is native to the tropical Americas, including the West Indies, besides Brazilian Northeast, it's rarely cultivated

Habitat: Open forest, secondary growth, common live fence, pastures, up to 1700 m. 

Ecological value: Flowers attract honeybees. Fast growing.

Material uses: Seed has oil content of 31.5%. Bark contains tannin. Low quality wood, prone to attack by termites but used in small utensils (not turning) and for matches. Exudes latex used for glue. Substitute for cork. Woody tubercles on trunk cut off and used for bottle stoppers and to make seals for wax etc. Ashes from burnt fuel wood used in indigo dyeing.  Bark used in dying. Bark thick, used for carving figures. Ashes used in soap making.

Edible:  Fruit processed into jellies, juice or pickle. Young leaves as vegetable.  

Medicinal value: Fruit as febrifuge and diuretic. Leaves and roots treat pain, coughs, kills parasites, treats mouth sores, diarrhea and dysentery, stop bleeding, induce labor and abortion, contraceptive. Vitamin B1 and C. Bark used for carving figures. 

Other: Used as live fence. Fruits to feed livestock. Fuel wood. Showy flowers. Fruit after 5 years. Shallow root system. Occasionally used as shade for coffee.

Research: Christine Facella/Adrian Chiu


1. Eromosele and Paschal, Characterization and viscosity parameters of seed oils from wild plants, Bioreseource Technology, 2003

2. Ayoka  et al, Medicinal and Economic Value of Spondias mombin, African Journal of Biomedical Research, May 2008


Image Credit/Source: 

Dinesh Valke, https://www.flickr.com/photos/dinesh_valke/3098187264

Peruvian almond (Sura, Guayabon), Terminalia oblonga 

Family: Combretaceae

Native to: South and Central America

Habitat: Canopy species, floodplain. Well drained alluvial soils and coastal plains. Up to 500 meters in elevation. 

Ecological value: Fast growing pioneer species. Attracts pollinators (Bees).

Material uses:  Timber - heavy. Moderately resistant to fungi and termites. High quality furniture, cabinetry, ship building, veneers. 

Research: Christine Facella



Image Credit/Source: Reinaldo Aguilar, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/

Hog plum/ Tallow Wood,  Ximenia americana 


Family: Olacaceae.

Native to: Tropics.

Habitat: Open country, forest, savannah, understory of dry forests, coastal areas, river banks. Up to 2000m.

Ecological value: Pollinated by bees.

Material uses: Seed produces oil that can be used as soap and lubrication(67.4% oil from seed). Essential oil from flowers. Bark and crushed fruit rind keep fleas away. Bark for tanning (contains tannins),and used to strengthen indigo dyes. Yellow-red to brown orange wood, hard and durable-used for small items such as handles. Fire wood. 

Edible: The fruits have a plum-like flavor.  Young leaves can be cooked as a vegetable, but need to be thoroughly cooked as they contain cyanide. Eat in limited quantities. Flower petals edible. Oil from seed-used as substitute for ghee. 

Medicinal value: Can be some effective against the parasite that causes sleeping sickness and anaemia in livestock. Treats headaches, skin problems, snakebites and sore muscles. 

Other: Grown as a hedge. 

Research: Xiliang Chen/Christine Facella


1. “Ximenia americana”. Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 7 August 2015.

2.Raulerson, L., & A. Rinehart. Trees and Shrubs of the Mariana Islands. 1992.

3.^ Low, T., Wild Food Plants of Australia, 1991. ISBN 0-207-16930-

4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ximenia_americana

Image Credit/Source: J.M.Garg, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ximenia_americana_leaves_%26_fruit_at_Chilkur_near_Hyderabad,_AP_W2_IMG_7288.jpg

© 2021 MODEST