scientific name: Hymenaea courbaril
other common names: Courbaril, pois confiture, stinking toe, azucar huayo, West Indian locust
growing areas: Native to Peru and Brazil; also grows in Central America
physical description: This tree can reach 60 feet or higher and has a trunk that can be .over 6 feet in diameter. The base of the tree emits an odorless resin that is found in great quantities around the roots. Its fruit is reddish and oblong with a difficult-to-crack, woody surface. The pulp of the fruit is described by Julia Morton as "odorous, sweet, dry, mealy, buff-colored."
traditional uses: In the Virgin Islands, Hymenaea courbaril is reported to be used as an infusion with blood-purifying properties. Julia Morton reports that it is used in Central America as a vermifuge, as a remedy for hypertension and rheumatism, and as a substitute for quinine, apparently to fight malaria. She reported that the bark decoction has been used to treat diarrhea, dysentery, stomach ulcers, and chest ailments. Fumes of the burning resin, Morton says, have been used in Mexico to relieve asthma and "hysteria."
The fruit is also eaten as a food, and the wood is hard enough to use in carpentry, said Morton.
availability and dosage: Available as a cut-and-sifted bark powder. Dosages vary. Herbalists recommend a half cup of the decoction three times daily.
contraindications: None noted.
special precautions: Consult your physician before beginning any use of an ethnobotanical substance for medicinal purposes. medical research: According to Morton, the high tannin content of the leaves has shown activity against a form of lung cancer in mice during experiments.