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Brosimum utile - (Kunth) Pittier

Common Name Cow Tree, Palo De Vaca
Family Moraceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Rainforests[317 ]. Evergreen forest formations at elevations below 400 metres[369 ].
Range S. America - Amazon basin to Ecuador, north through Colombia and Venezuela to Costa Rica.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Brosimum utile Cow Tree, Palo De Vaca

Brosimum utile Cow Tree, Palo De Vaca


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Brosimum utile is an evergreen Tree growing to 25 m (82ft) by 20 m (65ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Brosimum allenii Woodson Brosimum galactodendron D.Don ex Sweet Brosimum humboldtii Carr. Galactodendrum utile Kunth Common Name: Cow Tree

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Sap  Seed
Edible Uses: Drink  Milk

A nutritious, milky sap, or latex, flows out of incisions made in the bark[307 ]. The nourishing white liquid, which is slightly viscous and resinous, is consumed like milk[307 , 317 ]. The sap is also said to taste like cream when fresh and is sometimes used to lighten coffee. It can also be used to create a 'cheese' that is made from the thread-like curds that form on the surface of the liquid when it is exposed to the air[307 ]. The latex has been used as a base for chewing gum[46 ]. The fleshy fruit with the nutritious seeds are eaten boiled and salted[317 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Analgesic  Antitussive

The latex is used as an analgesic and is drunk as a medication for colds and whooping cough[348 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

The Bookshop: Edible Plant Books

Our Latest books on Perennial Plants For Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens in paperback or digital formats.

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
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Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
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Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

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Other Uses

Fibre  Furniture  Latex  Lighting  Paper  Wood

The fibrous bark has been used for making cloth, blankets and sails[46 ]. The latex is rich in wax-like substances and has been used to make candles[317 ]. The heartwood is a uniform yellowish white to yellowish brown or light brown with golden shades; it is not distinctly demarcated from the sapwood. The texture is medium; the grain straight to widely and shallowly interlocked; the lustre high; when seasoned there is no odour or taste. The wood is of moderate weight; soft to moderately hard; not very durable, being susceptible to fungi, dry wood borers and termites. It seasons normally, with only a slight risk of checking or distortion; once seasoned it is poorly stable in service. The wood works well with ordinary tools, however they need to be kept sharp otherwise the interlocked grain and the tension wood which is sometimes prevalent can cause fuzzy grain and burning of saws due to pinching; it takes stains and finishes readily; takes nails and screws well; presents no gluing problems. It is used for purposes such as light carpentry, light construction, flooring, furniture components, plywood, particleboard, fibreboard, pulp and paper products, and mouldings[316 , 848 ].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Industrial Crop: Hydrocarbon  Management: Standard  Regional Crop  Staple Crop: Balanced carb  Staple Crop: Protein

A tropical rainforest tree.

Carbon Farming

  • Industrial Crop: Hydrocarbon  Materials, chemicals and energy include bioplastics, rubber, biomass products gasoline, jet fuel, diesel, butane, propane, biogas. Plants are usually resprouting plants and saps.
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Regional Crop  These crops have been domesticated and cultivated regionally but have not been adopted elsewhere and are typically not traded globally, Examples in this broad category include perennial cottons and many nuts and staple fruits.
  • Staple Crop: Balanced carb  (0-15 percent protein, 0-15 percent oil, with at least one over 5 percent). The carbohydrates are from either starch or sugar. Annuals include maize, wheat, rice, and potato. Perennials include chestnuts, carob, perennial fruits, nuts, cereals, pseudocereals, woody pods, and acorns.
  • Staple Crop: Protein  (16+ percent protein, 0-15 percent oil). Annuals include beans, chickpeas, lentils, cowpeas, and pigeon peas. Perennials include perennial beans, nuts, leaf protein concentrates, and edible milks.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

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Plant Propagation

Seed - Greenwood cuttings.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Cocal, Margis, Mastate, Palo de Vaca, Sande

Native Plant Search

Search over 900 plants ideal for food forests and permaculture gardens. Filter to search native plants to your area. The plants selected are the plants in our book 'Plants For Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens, as well as plants chosen for our forthcoming related books for Tropical/Hot Wet Climates and Mediterranean/Hot Dry Climates. Native Plant Search

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Bolivia, Central America, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guiana, Guianas, Guyana, India, Panama, South America, Sri Lanka, Suriname, USA, Venezuela.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

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Brosimum parinarioidesLeite de amapa, BrosimumTree32.0 10-12 MLMHNM323
Brosimum rubescensBloodwood CaciqueTree30.0 10-12 MLMHFSM024

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment


(Kunth) Pittier

Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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