We depend on donations from users of our database of over 8000 edible and useful plants to keep making it available free of charge and to further extend and improve it. In recent months donations are down, and we are spending more than we receive. Please give what you can to keep PFAF properly funded. More >>>

Follow Us:


Ptychopetalum uncinatum - Anselmino.

Common Name Muira Puama
Family Olacaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Not known
Range Northern S. America - Brazil.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (4 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Ptychopetalum uncinatum Muira Puama

Ptychopetalum uncinatum Muira Puama


Translate this page:


Ptychopetalum uncinatum or also known as Muira Puama is a flowering small tree in northern South America that grows about 5 m in height. It is native to the Amazon rainforest. It is used as medicinal plant especially for the treatment of sexual impotence, nervous system disorders, erectile dysfunction, paralysis, influenza, rheumatism, etc. It has analgesic effects and it improves libido.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Ptychopetalum uncinatum is an evergreen Tree growing to 5 m (16ft) by 5 m (16ft) 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


No synonyms are recorded for this name.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

None known

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.
Adaptogen  Analgesic  Antirheumatic  Aphrodisiac  Cardiac  Hypotensive  Stimulant  Tonic

Muira Puama has a long history of medicinal use by the native peoples of the Amazon region. Many of these uses were adopted by the Europeans when they arrived in S. America and have subsequently been verified by modern research. The plant is commonly used in many areas of S. America, and this use is spreading to other areas of the world[318 ]. The main plant chemicals found in muira puama include: alpha-copaene, alpha-elemene, alpha-guaiene, alpha-humulene, alpha-muurolene, alpha-pinene, alpha-resinic acid, alpha-terpinene, arachidic acid, allo-aromadendren, behenic acid, beta-bisabolene, beta-caryophyllene, beta-pinene, beta-resinic acid, beta-sitosterol, beta-transfarnesene, borneol, campesterols, camphene, camphor, car-3-ene, caryophyllene, cerotic acid, chromium, coumarin, cubebene, delta-cadinene, dotriacontanoic acid, elixene, ergosterols, eugenol, essential oils, gamma-muurolene, hentriacontanoic acid, heptacosanoic acid, lignoceric acid, limonene, linalool, lupeol, melissic acid, montanic acid, muirapuamine, myrcene, nonacosanoic acid, para-cymene, pentacosanoic acid, phlobaphene, stigmasterols, trichosanic acid, and uncosanic acid. One of the early studies into the plant showed that muira puama was effective in treating disorders of the nervous system and sexual impotence, and that ?permanent effect is produced in locomotor ataxia, neuralgias of long standing, chronic rheumatism, and partial paralysis.?[318 ]. The benefits of treating impotence with muira puama have been studied in two human trials in France, which reported that muira puama was effective in improving libido and treating erectile dysfunction[318 ]. In another study, muira puama extracts have been reported to have adaptogenic, antifatigue, antistress, and beneficial effects on the central nervous system[318 ]. Researchers in Brazil have documented a definite central nervous system effect of the bark[318 ]. The bark of muira puama also has demonstrated a mild, short-lived, hypotensive effect[318 ]. The root was found to inhibit stress-induced ulcers[318 ]. The leaf has demonstrated an analgesic effect[318 ]. Brazilian researchers reported in 2003 that an alcohol extract of muira puama facilitated memory retrieval and noted it may be beneficial for Alzheimer's patients. Their next study published in 2004 reported that an alcohol extract of muira puama protected and increased the viability of brain cells (partly through an antioxidant effect) which may be beneficial for stroke victims[318 ]. Traditionally, the stems and roots from young plants are used as a tonic to treat neuromuscular problems; a root decoction is used in baths and massages for treating paralysis and beriberi; whilst a root-and-bark tea is taken to treat sexual debility, rheumatism, influenza, and cardiac and gastrointestinal weakness. The plant is also valued there as a preventive for baldness[318 ]. In modern herbalism, muira puama is a highly-regarded sexual stimulant with a reputation as a powerful aphrodisiac. It is used as a neuromuscular tonic to treat weakness and paralysis, dyspepsia, menstrual disturbances, sexual impotency, influenza, and central nervous system disorders[318 ]. It is applied externally to treat chronic rheumatism[318 ]. To achieve the libido and potency effects of this particular plant, proper preparation methods must be employed. The active constituents thought to be responsible for muira puama's potency and libido effect are not soluble in water - taking bark or root powder in capsules or tablets will not be effective because these chemical cannot be digested or absorbed. High heat for at least 20 minutes with alcohol is necessary to free the volatile and essential oils, terpenes, gums, and resins found in the bark and root which have been linked to muira puama's beneficial effects[318 ].

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.
Edible Tropical Plants

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.
Edible Temperate Plants

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

PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital media.
More Books

PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital formats. Browse the shop for more information.

Shop Now

Other Uses

Other Uses: None known

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Closely related to Ptychopetalum olacoides, it can be used interchangeably with that species, though is believed to be slightly less effective[318 ].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:



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).

Shop Now

Plant Propagation

Seed -

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

marapuama, muira puama, muira-puama, potency wood, ptychopetalum uncinatum.

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


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

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Ptychopetalum olacoidesMuira Puama, marapuamaTree5.0 10-12 MLMHNM040

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.


Print Friendly and PDF

Expert comment



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.

Readers comment

Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at [email protected]. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Ptychopetalum uncinatum  
© 2010, Plants For A Future. Plants For A Future is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. Charity No. 1057719, Company No. 3204567.