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Useful Tropical Plants

Cecropia palmata

Willd.

Urticaceae

+ Synonyms

Ambaiba palmata (Willd.) Kuntze

Cecropia bureauiana V.A.Richt.

Common Name: Snakewood Tree

Cecropia palmata
Flowering plant
Photograph by: Ricardo A. S. Pontes
Creative Commons License

General Information

Snakewood tree is an evergreen tree usually growing to about 10 metres tall, but exceptionally to 30 metres[
422
Title
Fruits of the Guianan Flora
Publication
 
Author
van Roosmalen. M.G.M.
Publisher
Institute of Systematic Boyany, Utrecht University; Netherlands.
Year
1985
ISBN
90-9000988-4
Description
Terse descriptions of over 1,700 species from the Guianas that bear fruits - not necessarily edible! Often mentions if the fruit is edible, plus gives brief description of habit and habitat.
].
The tree is harvested from the wild for its edible fruit and leaves. It is sometimes grown as an ornamental, being valued for its large, umbrella-shaped canopy that casts little shade and so allows other plants to be grown right up to its trunk[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].

Known Hazards

The branches and leaf petioles of Cecropia species are often hollow and can harbour stinging ants. The trees attract the ants by means of producing a honey-like sap and the ants respond by working to keep the tree free of leaf-eating pests - which can include humans[
318
Title
Raintree Nutrition - Tropical Plant Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.rain-tree.com/plants.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Detailed information on the medicinal uses of more than two hundred rainforest plants, mainly from S. America, with basic descriptions of the plants, their other uses etc.
].

Botanical References

200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
422
Title
Fruits of the Guianan Flora
Publication
 
Author
van Roosmalen. M.G.M.
Publisher
Institute of Systematic Boyany, Utrecht University; Netherlands.
Year
1985
ISBN
90-9000988-4
Description
Terse descriptions of over 1,700 species from the Guianas that bear fruits - not necessarily edible! Often mentions if the fruit is edible, plus gives brief description of habit and habitat.

Range

S. America - Bolivia, Brazil, French Guiana, Surinam.

Habitat

Old secondary forest and open patches in primary rainforest[
422
Title
Fruits of the Guianan Flora
Publication
 
Author
van Roosmalen. M.G.M.
Publisher
Institute of Systematic Boyany, Utrecht University; Netherlands.
Year
1985
ISBN
90-9000988-4
Description
Terse descriptions of over 1,700 species from the Guianas that bear fruits - not necessarily edible! Often mentions if the fruit is edible, plus gives brief description of habit and habitat.
]. Often found along riverbanks[
318
Title
Raintree Nutrition - Tropical Plant Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.rain-tree.com/plants.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Detailed information on the medicinal uses of more than two hundred rainforest plants, mainly from S. America, with basic descriptions of the plants, their other uses etc.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitEvergreen Tree
Height15.00 m
Growth RateFast
Self-fertileNo
Cultivation StatusOrnamental, Wild

Cultivation Details


Succeeds in a sunny position in a well-drained soil[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
A fast-growing, though short-lived species[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
318
Title
Raintree Nutrition - Tropical Plant Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.rain-tree.com/plants.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Detailed information on the medicinal uses of more than two hundred rainforest plants, mainly from S. America, with basic descriptions of the plants, their other uses etc.
].
A dioecious species, both male and female forms need to be grown if fruit and seed are required.

Edible Uses

Fruit - raw or cooked[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
]. The ripe fruits have the consistency and somewhat the flavour of figs[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
]. They can be used as a filling for cakes[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
].

Young buds - cooked and eaten as a potherb[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
]. The report does not specify if it is the flower or the leaf buds[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

Medicinal

The leaves are valued in traditional medicine for their anti-inflammatory properties and are often used to treat conditions such as rheumatism, kidney and lung inflammations. A tea made from the leaves is used to treat asthma and other upper respiratory complaints, as well as for diabetes[
318
Title
Raintree Nutrition - Tropical Plant Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.rain-tree.com/plants.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Detailed information on the medicinal uses of more than two hundred rainforest plants, mainly from S. America, with basic descriptions of the plants, their other uses etc.
].
Applied externally, the tea has been used for sores on the mouth and tongue[
318
Title
Raintree Nutrition - Tropical Plant Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.rain-tree.com/plants.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Detailed information on the medicinal uses of more than two hundred rainforest plants, mainly from S. America, with basic descriptions of the plants, their other uses etc.
].
A poultice of the large leaves is wrapped around bone fractures, bruises and wounds[
318
Title
Raintree Nutrition - Tropical Plant Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.rain-tree.com/plants.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Detailed information on the medicinal uses of more than two hundred rainforest plants, mainly from S. America, with basic descriptions of the plants, their other uses etc.
].

The plant is known to contain glycosides, lipids, alkaloids, flavonoids, tannins, cardenolids, triterpenes, polyphenols, steroids, and resins[
318
Title
Raintree Nutrition - Tropical Plant Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.rain-tree.com/plants.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Detailed information on the medicinal uses of more than two hundred rainforest plants, mainly from S. America, with basic descriptions of the plants, their other uses etc.
].
Ambain (a glycoside) and cecropin (an alkaloid) are said to have cardiotonic and diuretic properties[
318
Title
Raintree Nutrition - Tropical Plant Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.rain-tree.com/plants.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Detailed information on the medicinal uses of more than two hundred rainforest plants, mainly from S. America, with basic descriptions of the plants, their other uses etc.
].
The flavonoids and proanthocyanidins have been shown to exhibit hypotensive activity by promoting vasodilation and acting as a diuretic[
318
Title
Raintree Nutrition - Tropical Plant Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.rain-tree.com/plants.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Detailed information on the medicinal uses of more than two hundred rainforest plants, mainly from S. America, with basic descriptions of the plants, their other uses etc.
].
Leaf extracts have demonstrated pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory, and antispasmodic activities[
318
Title
Raintree Nutrition - Tropical Plant Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.rain-tree.com/plants.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Detailed information on the medicinal uses of more than two hundred rainforest plants, mainly from S. America, with basic descriptions of the plants, their other uses etc.
].
Water extracts of the leaf have been shown to lower blood sugar levels[
318
Title
Raintree Nutrition - Tropical Plant Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.rain-tree.com/plants.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Detailed information on the medicinal uses of more than two hundred rainforest plants, mainly from S. America, with basic descriptions of the plants, their other uses etc.
].
The leaf has been reported to have in vitro antibacterial activity against various bacteria (such as Staphylococcus, E. coli, Pseudomonas, Salmonella, and Shigella). Water extracts seemed to have much more biological activity against bacteria than methanol or ethanol extracts in vitro[
318
Title
Raintree Nutrition - Tropical Plant Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.rain-tree.com/plants.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Detailed information on the medicinal uses of more than two hundred rainforest plants, mainly from S. America, with basic descriptions of the plants, their other uses etc.
].
An ethanol extract of the leaf and stem was reported to have in vitro antifungal activity, but water extracts were inactive (which suggests that antibacterial actions are derived from different chemicals than those providing antifungal actions)[
318
Title
Raintree Nutrition - Tropical Plant Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.rain-tree.com/plants.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Detailed information on the medicinal uses of more than two hundred rainforest plants, mainly from S. America, with basic descriptions of the plants, their other uses etc.
].

The plant is widely used in modern herbalism, especially in the Americas. It is considered to be analgesic, antiasthmatic, antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, cardiotonic, diuretic, emmenagogue, hypoglycaemic, hypotensive, mildly laxative and vasodilator[
318
Title
Raintree Nutrition - Tropical Plant Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.rain-tree.com/plants.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Detailed information on the medicinal uses of more than two hundred rainforest plants, mainly from S. America, with basic descriptions of the plants, their other uses etc.
]. It is used for all types of respiratory complaints including asthma, bronchitis, coughs, whooping cough, and pneumonia; oedema, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, kidney disorders, high blood pressure, and to increase the contraction strength of the heart muscle; to facilitate childbirth and menstruation[
318
Title
Raintree Nutrition - Tropical Plant Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.rain-tree.com/plants.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Detailed information on the medicinal uses of more than two hundred rainforest plants, mainly from S. America, with basic descriptions of the plants, their other uses etc.
].

The latex is considered corrosive and astringent. It is used topically against warts, calluses, herpes (and other venereal diseases), and skin ulcers[
318
Title
Raintree Nutrition - Tropical Plant Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.rain-tree.com/plants.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Detailed information on the medicinal uses of more than two hundred rainforest plants, mainly from S. America, with basic descriptions of the plants, their other uses etc.
].

The bark is used to reduce mucus[
318
Title
Raintree Nutrition - Tropical Plant Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.rain-tree.com/plants.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Detailed information on the medicinal uses of more than two hundred rainforest plants, mainly from S. America, with basic descriptions of the plants, their other uses etc.
].

The roots are used to treat bile complaints[
318
Title
Raintree Nutrition - Tropical Plant Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.rain-tree.com/plants.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Detailed information on the medicinal uses of more than two hundred rainforest plants, mainly from S. America, with basic descriptions of the plants, their other uses etc.
].

The fruit is considered emollient[
318
Title
Raintree Nutrition - Tropical Plant Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.rain-tree.com/plants.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Detailed information on the medicinal uses of more than two hundred rainforest plants, mainly from S. America, with basic descriptions of the plants, their other uses etc.
].

Agroforestry Uses:

With their sparse canopy and attractive foliage that is green above and silver-felted below, members of this genus generally provide a dramatic canopy but only cast a very light shade, allowing other plants to be grown right up to the base of their trunk[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Many members of the genus can be used as pioneer species when developing a new woodland[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

Other Uses

None known

Propagation

Seed - best sown in a sunny seedbed as soon as it is ripe[
419
Title
Brazilian Trees. Volume 1. 4th Edition.
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil.
Year
2002
ISBN
85-86714-17-8
Description
Information on 350 species of Brazilian trees. Stunning photographs of each species, brief details on the plant, its uses and how to grow it from seed. A superb work, with the minor irritation that the translation from Portuguese is not of the best.
]. The seed usually starts to sprout within 25 - 40 days, though germination rates are low[
419
Title
Brazilian Trees. Volume 1. 4th Edition.
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil.
Year
2002
ISBN
85-86714-17-8
Description
Information on 350 species of Brazilian trees. Stunning photographs of each species, brief details on the plant, its uses and how to grow it from seed. A superb work, with the minor irritation that the translation from Portuguese is not of the best.
]. Pot the seedlings up into individual containers when they are 5 - 6cm tall[
419
Title
Brazilian Trees. Volume 1. 4th Edition.
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil.
Year
2002
ISBN
85-86714-17-8
Description
Information on 350 species of Brazilian trees. Stunning photographs of each species, brief details on the plant, its uses and how to grow it from seed. A superb work, with the minor irritation that the translation from Portuguese is not of the best.
].
Greenwood cuttings in a frame[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
Cite as: Tropical Plants Database, Ken Fern. tropical.theferns.info. 2018-10-18. <tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Cecropia+palmata>

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