Unona concolor Willd.
Unona xylopioides Dunal
Uvaria aromatica Lam.
Xylopia grandiflora A.St.-Hil.
Xylopia longifolia A.DC.
Xylopia xylopioides (Dunal) Standl.
Common Name: Monkey Pepper
Ripe fruit opening to reveal the seed
Photograph by: Vojt?ch Zavadil
Monkey pepper is a semideciduous tree with a pyramidal crown; it can grow 4 - 6 metres tall[
]. It grows up to 25 metres tall in the Guyanas[
]. The short, cylindrical bole can be 15 - 25cm in diameter[
The seeds are sometimes gathered from the wild and used locally as a flavouring in food. A tree with an attractive form, it can be used in street plantings and for landscaping[
The seeds are poisonous[
S. America - Paraguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, the Guyanas; Caribbean - Cuba, Trinidad; Central America - Panama to Honduras.
]. Wet, lowland forest in Peru[
]. Sandy loam among shrubs and low trees of second growth at elevations around 400 metres[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
A plant of mainly low elevations in the tropics, though it is at times found at elevations over 1,500 metres.
Grows best in a sunny position[[
]. Succeeds in poor, dry soils[
]. Established plants are drought tolerant[
Freshly planted young trees are slow to establish and grow away slowly[
The seeds are used as a substitute for black pepper (Piper nigrum) to flavour cooked foods[
]. They have a similar taste and smell to black pepper[
]. One report says that the seeds are poisonous and are used to kill rats[
The flowers are carminative and tonic[
The shoots, stem-bark and seeds are aromatic and tonic[
A weak tea made from the plant (part not specified) is used as a strong diuretic to treat cases of swellings of the legs[
]. The tea should be administered with great caution[
The fruit, called 'Frutta de Burro' is a valuable febrifuge[
The essential oil in the fruits contains alpha and beta pinene, myrcene, limonene, ocimene, citronellol and carvone[
]. The non-volatile constituents include diterpenes[
An essential oil with a pepper-like aroma is obtained from the plant (the flowers?)[
A pioneer species within its native range, growing in fields, poor soils etc. However, it is quite slow growing which makes it less suitable for use as a pioneer[
The heartwood is a pale or reddish brown, usually well defined from the sapwood that varies in colour from yellowish or greyish to pale pinkish brown[
]. The wood is light, soft, flabby textured, of low durability but easily worked. It is only suitable for purposes such as linings and the manufacture of light boxes[
Seed - germination rates and time are improved if the seed is scarified by lightly abrading the seedcoat prior to sowing. Sow the seeds in a nursery seedbed. Seedlings are quite slow growing and it will take 9 - 11 months from germination until they are ready to plant into their permanent positions[
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