Cupania laevigata Rich.
Cupania laxiflora Benth.
Cupania micrantha Mart.
Ephielis fraxinea Willd.
Ephielis guianensis (Aubl.) Pers.
Ephielis patrisiana Spreng.
Matayba steinbachii Melch.
Fruits opening to reveal the black seeds
Photograph by: Antonio Sergio
Matayba guianensis is a semideciduous tree with a wide, dense crown; it can grow from 6 - 24 metres tall although in more open areas such as the savannah it is likely to be smaller and may be more shrub-like. The bole is generally short and crooked, around 30 - 60cm in diameter[
The tree is sometimes harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and source of materials. It can be grown as a pioneer species when restoring native woodland[
The fruit is considered poisonous and, if eaten, is said to make a person mentally unbalanced[
S. America - Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, the Guyanas.
Rainforests, semideciduous forests and savannah; found in a variety of sites in both open and more closed situations[
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Succeeds in full sun to fairly dense, dappled shade[
Young plants have a rapid rate of growth[
The fruit is a popular food for birds[
The bark is used in the treatment of cuts and wounds. It is scratched until whitish and then placed with 'aceite de castilla' over the affected area[
A fast-growing tree that is tolerant of growing in open areas and also supplies food for the native fauna; it can be used as a pioneer species when restoring native woodland[
The outer part of the fruit is rich in saponins. It is made up into a soapy lather for washing purposes[
Children use the seeds in playing games. They can also be used in spinning the top (trompo)[
The wood is medium-textured, irregular-grained, moderately heavy, easy to cut, slightly susceptible to the attacks of wood-eating insects. It can be used in general construction, mainly as boards[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a partially shaded position in a nursery seedbed. A germination rate in excess of 80% can be expected, with the seed sprouting within 15 - 25 days[
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