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Cordia alliodora - (Ruiz & Pav.) Oken

Common Name Ecuador laurel, Cypre, Onion Cordia, Laurel Blanco
Family Boraginaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Dry and wet forest[ 310 ]. A pioneer plant, it is found in a wide range of habitats from sea level up to 1,000 metres, occasionally to 2,000 metres[ 310 ].
Range S America - Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, the Guyanas; C. America - Panama to Mexico; Caribbean.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Cordia alliodora Ecuador laurel, Cypre, Onion Cordia, Laurel Blanco

Dick Culbert flickr
Cordia alliodora Ecuador laurel, Cypre, Onion Cordia, Laurel Blanco


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A fast-growing tropical tree that grows up to 12 m in height, Cypre or Cordia alliodora has a compact crown and straight stem, and is capable of self-pruning. The trunk is smooth and light coloured. Other common names are Ecuador laurel and Spanish elm. The ellipsoid fruits are edible but not scrumptious. The bark is used as condiment. The leaves are used medicinally particularly in the treatment of catarrh and various lung ailments. Seeds are pulverised and used as treatment for skin conditions. Cypre is wind resistant and readily inhabits bare soil making it an ideal pioneer species. The wood is moderately durable, resistant to fungus and termites attacks, and produces an attractive finish.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Cordia alliodora is a deciduous Tree growing to 30 m (98ft) by 20 m (65ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Lepidoptera (Moths & Butterflies), bees. The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Cerdana alliodora Ruiz & Pav. Cordia cerdana (Ruiz & Pav.) Roem. & Schult. Lithocardium alliodorum (

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Inner bark
Edible Uses: Condiment

The fruits are edible[ 46 , 301 ]. Not very tasty[ 310 ]. The ellipsoid fruit is 5 - 7mm long and about 2mm wide[ 485 ]. The bark is used as a condiment[ 301 ].

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.
Skin  Stimulant  Stomachic  Tonic

The leaves are stimulant, stomachic and tonic[ 46 , 411 ]. A decoction is used in the treatment of catarrh and lung conditions[ 46 , 411 ]. An ointment made from the pulverised seeds is used in the treatment of skin diseases[ 46 , 411 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Charcoal  Fuel  Furniture  Pioneer  Soil conditioner  Wood

Agroforestry Uses: Cypre is a pioneer species that is very wind resistant and readily colonizes bare soils[ 310 ]. Fast growing, it can be used to commence the process of restoring native woodland to an area[ K ]. Because of its tall, straight stem, self-pruning habit and compact crown, combined with the ease with which it regenerates naturally on cleared sites and its positive effect upon soil conditions, it is commonly grown in association with many agricultural crops and in numerous agroforestry systems, eg as a shade tree in coffee and cocoa plantations and in pastures, often in combination with Erythrina poeppigiana[ 310 , 317 ]. Other Uses: The heartwood is dark brown; it is not clearly demarcated from the thick layer of slightly lighter coloured sapwood. The texture is medium; the grain is slightly interlocked; lustre is medium; odour and taste are indistinct. The wood is moderately durable, being resistant to fungus attacks and with good resistance to termites. It is easy to season and work, and produces an attractive finish (pale golden-brown to brown with darker streaks). It has dimensional stability when dry, satisfactory mechanical characteristics. Of high quality, the wood is used in construction for making doors, window frames, panelling, flooring etc; it is also used for furniture, cabinet work, turnery, carving, scientific instruments, boats (including bridge decking), oars, sleepers and veneer[ 46 , 310 , 363 , 411 ]. Smaller branches are used for making barrel hoops[ 411 ]. The wood is used for fuel and making charcoal[ 310 ].

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Coppice  Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A tree of the lowland tropics, normally at elevations below 1,000 metres but occasionally found as high as 2,000 metres[ 310 ]. It grows best in areas where the annual rainfall exceeds 2,000mm, but will also perform reasonably well with an annual rainfall as low as 750mm[ 310 ]. It prefers a mean annual temperature of around 24°c[ 310 ]. Plants are tolerant of a range of soil types, preferring moist but freely draining fertile soils[ 310 ]. It is particularly suitable for calcareous soils in the more humid tropics[ 310 ]. Growth on degraded soils and on sites with poor drainage is reduced[ 310 ]. Requires a position in full sun[ 200 ]. Plants are fairly tolerant of very windy conditions, showing less damage when exposed to hurricane winds than most species[ 310 ]. The tree has been introduced into several areas for forestry. Its seeds are carried by the wind and the plant has escaped from cultivation in some of these areas and is showing every sign of becoming a problem[ 305 ]. The crushed leaves and the fresh bark smell of garlic[ 307 , 411 ]. A fast-growing tree, on suitable sites, with good management, an annual height increase of 2 metres, coupled with 2 cm increase in diameter may be obtained during the first 10 years[ 310 ]. A height of 30 - 40 metres and diameter of 40 - 55 cm at breast height are predicted for rotations of 20 - 25 years[ 310 ]. Seedlings develop a strong taproot. Later, spreading roots also develop which may grow into buttresses[ 310 ]. Flowering may start when the trees are only 2 years old, but more commonly between 5 - 10 years after planting[ 310 ]. Plants can flower all year round when growing near the equator, but become seasonal when growing further away[ 325 ]. Because of its abundant nectar, bees are strongly attracted to this plant[ 307 ]. The tree has a high degree of self-incompatibility[ 310 ]. The mature fruit is shed with the withered flower still attached, which acts as a parachute during fruit fall, possibly assisting wind dispersal[ 310 ]. When harvesting seed for propagation it is important to only harvest mature seed. This is best done by shaking the branches to allow mature seed with a high viability rate to drop off[ 310 ]. Young to middle-aged trees coppice readily and suckers are sometimes abundant[ 310 ]. The bole is generally straight and cylindrical and often clear of branches 50 - 60% of the total tree height, even in open, uncrowded conditions[ 310 ]. When grown as a shade tree in plantations, this species reduces the yield of the main crop, such as cocoa, but the extra income generated from the timber eventually compensates for this yield reduction[ 310 ].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - the hard seed needs scarifying by lightly abrading the seedcoat before sowing[ 307 ]. Germination usually takes place in 5 - 20 days with up to 80% of the seed germinating[ 310 ]. The seed can be sown in trays, transplanting the seedlings when they are about 3 weeks old to nursery beds[ 325 ]. They are planted out into their permanent positions about 6 months later[ 325 ]. The seed has a short viability under natural conditions; but dried to below 10% moisture it may be stored at 2°c for up to 10 years[ 310 ]. Cuttings.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Cypre or Cordia alliodora. Also known as: Ecuador laurel, cordia; cypre; salmwood; Spanish elm. Spanish: ajo ajo; canalete; capa prieto; cypre; laurel. French: bois soumis; boise de rose; burel blanco; chne caparo; cordia; onion cordia; salmwood. Portuguese: freijorge. Belize: bohun; corallilo; laurel blanco; salaam; salmwood. Bolivia: ajo; auxemma; lanza blanca; partago; picana; picana negra. Brazil: louro; louro amarello; uruazeiro. Central America: laurel. Colombia: canalete de humo; laurel negro; moho; nogal; nogal cafetero; solera. Costa Rica: dze-u’; laurel negro. Cuba: var’a; var’a amarilla; var’a colorada; var’a prieta. Dominica: laurier. Dominican Republic: cap‡; cap‡ de olor; cap‡ de sabana; cap‡ prieto; guacimilla. Ecuador: chaquine; laurel; laurel de monte; laurel de puna; laurel macho; laurel negro; laurel prieto; uurushi numi (murushinim). Guadeloupe: bois de Rhodes; bois de rose; bojon. Guatemala: chevel. Guyana: brown silver balli. Haiti: bois soumis; chne caparo. Honduras: laurel negro. Jamaica: smokewood; Spanish elm. Martinique: bois cypre; bois et roge. Mexico: aguardientillo; amapa; amapa asta (amapa hasta); amapa blanca; amapa bola; asca; boj—n; botoncillo; d'ou lemon; hochi; hormiguero; momiguilla; soleria (solerillo); solerito; suchil; suchil sabanero; tambor hormiguero. Nicaragua: cinchado; laurel macho; laurel negro. Peru: ajahatsa (ahahsatsa); anallo caspi; bolaina; chullachaqui blanco; tama palo santo. Puerto Rico: cayly; cypre; mu–eco. Trinidad and Tobago: cyp; cypre; cypress. Venezuela: mataatiyo; pardillo; tacura’; utaatigo.

Native Range

NORTHERN AMERICA: Mexico (Sinaloa, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacán de Ocampo, Oaxaca, Tabasco, Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave) SOUTHERN AMERICA: Antigua and Barbuda (Antigua), Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Montserrat, Martinique, United States (Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, U.S.), St. Vincent and Grenadines (Saint Vincent), Virgin Islands (British), Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru

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.

Can be invasive in Tonga and Vanuatu.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Cordia alliodora (Manjack): Status: Least Concern.

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Cordia bicolorMunecoTree15.0 10-12 FLMHNM104

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


(Ruiz & Pav.) Oken

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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