If you would like to support this site, please consider Donating.
Useful Tropical Plants

Simarouba amara

Aubl.

Simaroubaceae


The generic name is sometimes spelt Simaruba[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

+ Synonyms

Quassia simaruba L.f.

Simarouba opaca (Engl.) Radlk. ex Engl.

Zwingera amara (Aubl.) Willd.

Common Name:

Simarouba amara
Tree growing in native habitat
Photograph by: Reinaldo Aguilar
Creative Commons License
Simarouba amara Simarouba amara Simarouba amara Simarouba amara Simarouba amara Simarouba amara Simarouba amara Simarouba amara Simarouba amara

General Information

Simarouba amara is a large, evergreen tree with a broad crown that can reach a height of 42 metres tall, though is usually smaller. The straight, cylindrical, unbuttressed bole is up to 50 - 60cm in diameter, strongly tapered and frequently unbranched for 20 - 27 metres[
316
Title
Tropical Timbers of the World. Ag. Handbook No. 607.
Publication
 
Author
Chudnoff. Martin.
Publisher
USDA Forest Service. Wisconsin.
Year
1984
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details on the properties of the wood of almost 400 species of trees from the Tropics.
,
378
Title
Present and Potential Commercial Timbers of the Caribbean
Publication
USDA Agricultural Handbook No. 207
Author
Longwood.F.R.
Publisher
USDA Forest Service; Washington, DC.
Year
1962
ISBN
 
Description
Quite detailed information on more than 60 species of Caribbean timber trees, giving species descriptions, habitat, detailed info on the wood and some info on other uses. Available for download on the internet.
,
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.
].
A true multipurpose tree, gathered from the wild it is highly valued for its medicinal purposes and useful oil, also supplying an edible fruit and useful wood. The bark is sold in local markets and internationally. The tree is also cultivated for erosion control.

Known Hazards

The residual cake left after processing the crude fat from the seed contains a toxin[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

Botanical References

331
Title
Flora of Guatemala
Publication
 
Author
Standley P.C. & J. A. Steyermark
Website
http://www.archive.org/
Publisher
 
Year
1946 - 1976
ISBN
 
Description
A superb reference, though somewhat dated. Gives lots of plant uses as well as information on plant habit and habitat. The entire flora (13 volumes) can now be downloaded from http://www.archive.org/

Range

S. America - Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyanas; C. America - Panama to Guatemala; Caribbean - Trinidad - Leeward Islands.

Habitat

An understorey tree in moist thickets or wet forests at elevations up to 850 metres[
331
Title
Flora of Guatemala
Publication
 
Author
Standley P.C. & J. A. Steyermark
Website
http://www.archive.org/
Publisher
 
Year
1946 - 1976
ISBN
 
Description
A superb reference, though somewhat dated. Gives lots of plant uses as well as information on plant habit and habitat. The entire flora (13 volumes) can now be downloaded from http://www.archive.org/
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Rain and savannah forests[
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.
]. Found in both dense, primary forest and also in the more open and secondary growth areas[
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.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *  *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *  *
HabitEvergreen Tree
Height25.00 m
Growth RateFast
Cultivation StatusWild

Cultivation Details

A plant of the moist, lowland tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 800 metres[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It grows best in areas where the mean annual temperature ranges between 22 - 29°c, but can tolerate a range of 18 - 34°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 2,000 - 3,000mm, but tolerates 1,200 - 4,000mm, growing in areas with a distinct dry season and where there is no dry season[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Shade tolerant[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Prefers sandy soils in the wild[
341
Title
South American Timbers: the Properties, Uses and Characteristics of 190 Species.
Publication
 
Author
Bolza. E. & Christensen. F.J.
Publisher
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization
Year
1979
ISBN
0 643 02582 0
Description
A very useful guide.
,
378
Title
Present and Potential Commercial Timbers of the Caribbean
Publication
USDA Agricultural Handbook No. 207
Author
Longwood.F.R.
Publisher
USDA Forest Service; Washington, DC.
Year
1962
ISBN
 
Description
Quite detailed information on more than 60 species of Caribbean timber trees, giving species descriptions, habitat, detailed info on the wood and some info on other uses. Available for download on the internet.
]. In the wild, it is found on rocky, shallow calcareous soils of mountain slopes and ridges, as well as on the deeper soils of the ravines and alluvial plains[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. The plant develops a shallow root system, often suitable to mountain soils[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Prefers a pH in the range 6 - 8, tolerating 5.5 - 8.5[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
A fast-growing tree[
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.
].

Edible Uses

The seeds contain 60 - 75% edible oil that can be extracted by conventional methods. Each well-grown tree yields 15 to 30 Kg nutlets equivalent to 2.5-5 kg oil and about the same quantity of oilcake. This amounts to 1000-2000 kg oil/ha/year and about the same quantity of oilcake. The oil is largely used in the preparation of bakery products in Central America. In India too it can be used in the manufacture of vanaspati, vegetable oil and/or margarine. The oil is free from bad cholesterol[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

The fruit pulp, rich in sugars (about 11%) can be used in the preparation of beverages[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

Medicinal

The leaves and bark have a long history of medicinal use in the tropics, particularly in the treatment of malaria, fevers and dysentery; as an astringent to stop bleeding; and as a tonic[
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.
]. They are also used as a digestive, emmenagogue and to treat parasites both within and on the body[
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.
].
Research has discovered a range of medically active compounds in the plant. The main active compounds are a group of triterpenes called quassinoids. The antiprotozoal and antimalarial properties of these chemicals have been documented for many years. Several of the quassinoids found in simarouba, such as ailanthinone, glaucarubinone, and holacanthone, are considered the plant's main therapeutic constituents and are the ones documented to be antiprotozoal, anti-amoebic, antimalarial, and even toxic to cancer and leukaemia cells.
Studies have shown that the plant is over 90% effective against amoebic dysentery[
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, and/or its three main quassinoids, have been shown to be an effective treatment against malaria, including strains that have become resistant to drug treatment[
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.
].
Research has also shown that the bark has good antiviral properties, effective against herpes, influenza, polio, and vaccinia viruses[
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 quassinoids responsible for the anti-amoebic and antimalarial properties have also been shown to possess active cancer-killing 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 bark is used as a bitter tonic[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
]. It is known as 'Jamaica Bark' or 'Orinoco Simaruba Oil'[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
]. A decoction is taken internally in the treatment of anaemia, diarrhoea, dysentery, malaria, fevers, haemorrhages, intestinal parasites and colitis[
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.
,
739
Title
Medicinal Plants of Brazil
Publication
 
Author
Mors W.B.; Rizzini C.T.; Pereira N.A.
Publisher
Reference Publications; Michigan.
Year
2000
ISBN
0-917256-42-5
Description
An extremely concise book, listing approximately 1,500 species and varieties of plants with their botanical name, common name in Brazil, regions in Brazil where the plant is found, a brief list of uses and any medically active compounds in the plant.
].

The leaves are used in the treatment of rheumatism, or are applied in the form of a lotion for body pain, bruises or skin itch[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

The fruit is a strong stimulant with a pleasantly bitter taste, it is an effective treatment for dysentery[
348
Title
Medicinal Plants of the Guianas
Publication
 
Author
DeFilipps, R. A.; Maina, S. L.; & Crepin, J.
Website
http://botany.si.edu/bdg/medicinal/index.html
Publisher
Smithsonian Museum
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A down-loadable PDF document of a book in pre-publication awaiting illustration. An excellent, if rather terse, guide to the traditional medicinal uses of the plants of the region
].

Agroforestry Uses:

A fast-growing tree that tolerates full sun; provides food for the native fauna; supplies a range of commodities for humans; and has various soil improving actions - it is an excellent choice as part of a mixed planting when restoring native woodland and also for establishing woodland gardens[
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.
,
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].
The tree has a well-developed root system and an evergreen, dense canopy - it efficiently checks soil erosion, supports soil microbial life, and improves groundwater availability[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
It is shade tolerant and occurs as an under-storey tree, particularly under the canopy of large fruit trees where birds perch and deposit the seeds. It is found as an associated species of the subtropical moist forest, sharing a position with other common trees of the home and humid perennial gardens, such as mango (Mangifera indica), royal palm (Roystonea borinquena), avocado (Persea americana) and plantain (Musa x paridisiaca)[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
The oilcake being rich in nitrogen (8%), phosphorus (1.1%) and potash (1.2%), is good organic manure[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
The pulp and leaf litter can be economically used in the manufacture of vermicompost (about 8 tons/ha/year)[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

Other Uses

An oil obtained from the seed can be used for industrial purposes in the manufacture of bio-fuels, soaps, detergents, lubricants, varnishes, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals etc[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

The seed shells can be used in the manufacture of particleboard, activated charcoal or as fuel[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

Freshly cut, the heartwood is whitish or cream coloured with occasionally a yellow or greenish cast - when dry it becomes a uniform cream colour with occasional oily streaks; it is not differentiated from the sapwood. The texture is medium to coarse, and uniform; the grain usually straight; lustre is rather high; there is no odour but there is a bitter quinine-like taste. The wood is very light in weight; very soft; not very strong; somewhat brittle; not durable outdoors and is very susceptible to dry-wood termite attack and prone to blue stain. It seasons rapidly, with little chance of distortion or checking; once dry it is stable in service. It works easily and machines to a smooth clean surface; it is easy to finish, though filling is recommended in order to obtain a good surface; nailing and screwing are poor; gluing is correct. The wood is used as the sounding board for string instruments, for interior construction, turnery, boxes and crates, matches, furniture components, veneer and plywood, pattern making, millwork, particleboard and fibreboard[
316
Title
Tropical Timbers of the World. Ag. Handbook No. 607.
Publication
 
Author
Chudnoff. Martin.
Publisher
USDA Forest Service. Wisconsin.
Year
1984
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details on the properties of the wood of almost 400 species of trees from the Tropics.
,
378
Title
Present and Potential Commercial Timbers of the Caribbean
Publication
USDA Agricultural Handbook No. 207
Author
Longwood.F.R.
Publisher
USDA Forest Service; Washington, DC.
Year
1962
ISBN
 
Description
Quite detailed information on more than 60 species of Caribbean timber trees, giving species descriptions, habitat, detailed info on the wood and some info on other uses. Available for download on the internet.
,
848
Title
Tropix 7
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://tropix.cirad.fr/en
Publisher
CIRAD
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line guide to the timbers of 245 species of trees.
].

Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a partially shaded position in a nursery seedbed or in individual containers. A moderate rate of germination can usually be expected, with the seed sprouting within 20 - 40 days[
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.
]. When the seedbed-sown seedlings are 4 - 6cm tall, pot them up into individual containers and they should be ready to plant out 4 - 5 months later[
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.
].
Cite as: Tropical Plants Database, Ken Fern. tropical.theferns.info. 2018-10-18. <tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Simarouba+amara>

Add a Comment:

If you have any useful information about this plant, please leave a comment. Comments have to be approved before they are shown here.