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Guazuma ulmifolia - Lam.

Common Name Bastard Cedar. West Indian elm, Guasimo
Family Malvaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Colonizes recently disturbed areas and is also found growing along stream banks and in pastures. It is a common species in secondary forest[303 ].
Range S. America - Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia, north throughout S. America and Central America to Mexico
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Guazuma ulmifolia Bastard Cedar. West Indian elm, Guasimo

Guazuma ulmifolia Bastard Cedar. West Indian elm, Guasimo
wikimedia.org Dick Culbert from Gibsons, B.C., Canada


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Physical Characteristics

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Guazuma ulmifolia is a deciduous Tree growing to 30 m (98ft) by 30 m (98ft) at a fast 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 and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Guazuma guazuma (L.) Cockerell Guazuma polybotrya Cav. Guazuma tomentosa Kunth Theobroma guazuma L.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Seed
Edible Uses:

The seeds are edible, fresh or cooked[303 , 325 ]. The seeds are about 3mm long[303 ]. Fruits - raw or cooked[301 ]. Eaten green the fruits can be crushed in water to make a beverage or used to flavour other foods[301 ]. Fruit - honey scented318].

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.
Dysentery  Leprosy  Urinary

The plant is antibacterial, antiinflammatory, antifungal, antitussive, antiviral, astringent, blood purifier, cardiac, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, febrifuge, haemostatic, hypotensive, oxytocic, vulnerary[318 ]. The bark is a rich source of tannins and antioxidant chemicals called proanthocyanidins[318 ]. One in particular, procyanidin B-2, has been shown in various studies to help promote hair growth and alleviate baldness[318 ]. Other independent research indicates that procyanidin B-2 also has antitumor and anticancer effects (even against melanoma) as well as lowers blood pressure and protects the kidneys[318 ]. The bark also contains a chemical called kaurenoic acid which has been documented with antibacterial and antifungal properties in many studies over the years[318 ]. The leaves of mutamba contain caffeine, however none has been found in the bark of the tree[318 ]. Other studies have shown that the plant lowers heart rate and blood pressure, relaxes smooth muscles and stimulates the uterus[318 ]. Various studies using leaf and bark extracts have clinically demonstrated remarkable antibacterial activity against several disease-causing pathogens, including Bacillus, Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, E. coli, and Neisseria gonorrhea[318 ]. One of the recent 2003 studies also confirmed its antioxidant effects[318 ]. In a 1995 in vitro study, mutamba also demonstrated antiviral activity[318 ]. The bark is the part most used. It is used as to induce perspiration, as a tonic and a blood cleanser[318 ], and is employed to treat a wide range of disorders including; digestive tract problems such as gastrointestinal pain, liver problems, diarrhoea and dysentery; urinary and reproductive tract problems such as kidney problems, uterine pain, prostate problems, venereal disease and as an aid to childbirth; respiratory tract problems such as asthma, bronchitis, coughs and pneumonia; fevers and haemorrhages[318 ]. Applied externally, it is used to bathe wounds, rashes and sores; to treat skin problems, including dermatosis, elephantiasis and leprosy; it is applied to the scalp to arrest hair loss and combat parasites of the scalp[318 , 739 ]. The fruit (in Mauritius), the roasted seeds (in Java), and the bark (in India) are officinal remedies against elephantiasis)[317 ]. An infusion of the crushed, seed soaked in water, is used to treat diarrhoea, dysentery, colds, coughs and venereal diseases. It is also used as a diuretic and astringent[303 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses


Agroforestry Uses: A natural pioneer species that colonizes recently disturbed areas, it is fast-growing, tolerant of full sunlight and provides food for the native fauna. It can be used as a pioneer species when restoring native woodland, but is best not used outside of its native range[325 , 419 ]. Other Uses The tough, fibrous bark and young stems are used to make rope and twine[303 , 419 ]. The mucilaginous sap is used sometimes in sugar fabrication to clarify syrup[301 , 317 ]. The heartwood is pinkish to brownish; it is not clearly demarcated from the light brown sapwood[303 ]. The texture is coarse; the grain is straight to interlocked; lustre is medium; there is no distinctive taste or aroma. The fibrous wood is light in weight; it is not durable, being very susceptible to attack by dry-wood termites. It is easy to work and finishes well. It is used for posts, interior carpentry, light construction, furniture, boxes and crates, shoe horns, tool handles etc[46 , 303 , 363 , 418 ]. The tree can be used for fuel and to make charcoal[303 , 325 ]. The charcoal is of high quality[419 ].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Agroforestry Services: Living fence  Fodder: Bank  Fodder: Mast  Management: Coppice  Management: Standard  Regional Crop

A plant of the dry to moist tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 1,200 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 22 - 32°c, but can tolerate 10 - 36°c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 700 - 1,500mm, but tolerates 500 - 1,700mm[418 ]. The plant can tolerate up to 2,500mm annual rainfall[303 , 325 ]. Prefers a sunny position[303 , 325 ]. The plant is widely adapted, found growing in both alluvial and clay soils[303 ]. Succeeds on a variety of soils but is most common where pH is higher than 5.5[325 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 6 - 7, tolerating .5 - 7.5[418 ]. The plant can escape from cultivation and become a weed tree in areas outside its native range[418 ]. A fast-growing tree[419 ]. The tree can flower all year round in the more equatorial part of its range[325 ].

Carbon Farming

  • Agroforestry Services: Living fence  Simply managed rows of shrubs and trees.
  • Fodder: Bank  Fodder banks are plantings of high-quality fodder species. Their goal is to maintain healthy productive animals. They can be utilized all year, but are designed to bridge the forage scarcity of annual dry seasons. Fodder bank plants are usually trees or shrubs, and often legumes. The relatively deep roots of these woody perennials allow them to reach soil nutrients and moisture not available to grasses and herbaceous plants.
  • Fodder: Mast  Fruits and seeds of shrubs, woody vines, trees, cacti, and other non-herbaceous vegetation available for animal consumption.
  • Management: Coppice  Cut to the ground repeatedly - resprouting vigorously. Non-destructive management systems maintaining the soil organic carbon.
  • 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.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - requires scarification before planting[303 ]. Pour boiling water over the seeds, let them soak for 30 seconds and then drain[303 ]. With fresh seed, germination occurs in 7 - 14 days at a rate of 60 - 80%[303 ]. Seedlings are ready for out-planting when they reach a height of 30 - 40cm (about 15 weeks)[303 ]. The plant can also be established by direct seeding[303 ]. Cuttings[303 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Bay cedar, Bucha, Chico-magro, Debodaru, Embiru, Guacimo, Guasima, Guasimo, Mutamba, Mutambo, Nepaltunth, Nipaltunth, Pohon jati belanda, Pohon jatilondo, Radraksha, Rudrakscha chettu, Rudrasum, Tenbachai, Thene-chettu, Thenmaram, Tubakki, Udrikpatta, Uttharasham

Africa, Antigua and Barbuda, Antilles, Argentina, Asia, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil*, Caribbean, Central America, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, East Africa, Ecuador, El Salvador, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guiana, Guianas, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Hawaii, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Malaysia, Martinique, Mauritius, Mexico*, Montserrat, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nicaragua, North America, Northeastern India, Pacific, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru*, Puerto Rico, Reunion, SE Asia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South America, St. Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, USA, Venezuela, West Africa, West Indies

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.

The plant can escape from cultivation and become a weed tree in areas outside its native range[418 ].

Conservation Status

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

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

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.


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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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