Herbs & Plants

Helicostylis tomentosa

Botanical Name: Helicostylis tomentosa
Family: Moraceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Rosales
Genus: Helicostylis
Species: H. tomentosa

Synonyms: Greeneina affinis (Steud. ex Tr?cul) Kuntze Greeneina poeppigiana (Mart.) Kuntze Helicostylis affini

Common Names: Letterhout, Letter Wood, Kaptinhoedoe, Manletterhout, Lettre rubane, Oempatapoe, Paya, Paya-lebi, Poeringa, Puma, Satine, Sokone

Habitat: Helicostylis tomentosa is native to Brazil, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, and Suriname. It grows in rainforests at elevations from sea level to 1,600 metres

Helicostylis tomentosa is an evergreen Tree growing to 20 m (65ft) by 20 m (65ft) at a medium rate. Branchlets brownish-puberulous to -velutinous to -tomentose to -tomentellous. Stipules 0.3-1 cm long, subsericeous, caducous; petiole 4-17 cm long; blade subcoriaceous, narrowly elliptic, sometimes narrowly obovate, 5-32 x 2-15 cm, apex acuminate to mucronate, base acute to obtuse, margin entire, occasionally denticulate towards the apex, puberulous to hispidulous and tomentose to puberulous on the primary veins above, puberulous to hirtellous to tomentose to tomentellous beneath; veins prominent beneath, secondary veins 8-17 pairs, tertiary venation often partly scalariform. Staminate inflorescences up to 15 together, or 1 or 2 accompanying a pistillate one, 0.3-0.8 cm in diam.; peduncle 0.3-1.5 cm long; perianth often 4-parted, sometimes 4-lobed; stamens 4 (or 2). Pistillate inflorescences solitary, sometimes accompanied by 1 or 2 staminate ones, 0.5-0.8 cm in diam.; peduncle up to 0.5 cm long; flowers 5-12; perianth 4-parted; stigmas 2.5-5 mm long, often twisted. Infructescences subglobose to globose, 2.5-5 cm in diam.


Young plants require the dappled shade of the woodland, but become more tolerant of light as they grow larger, eventually accepting full sun[625 ]. A dioecious species, both male and female forms need to be grown if fruit and seed are required.

Edible Uses: Fruits are eaten raw. A delicious flavour. The yellow, more or less globose fruit can be around 3cm in diameter.

Medicinal Uses:
The red, milky sap from the bark is drunk as an hallucinogen in order to contact the spirits. The rasped bark, mixed with alcohol, is used as a remedy for stomach cramps and pain accompanying a high fever. Extracts prepared from the inner bark have been pharmacologically evaluated and are reported to elicit central nervous system depressant effects; and certain of the effects are described as being similar to those expected with Cannabis sativa. Because of the close taxonomic relationship of this species to Cannabis, one might expect similar types of chemical constituents in both genera. Whether or not the effects are due to the presence of cannabinoids remains to be determined.

Other Uses:
: The tree contains a yellow latex. The heartwood is dark brown, somewhat streaked or variegated with black and yellow; it is sharply demarcated from the wide band of golden, lustrous sapwood. Lustre is medium in the heartwood; texture medium; grain straight to roey; without distinctive odour or taste. The wood is moderately heavy, with very good mechanical properties, durable and resistant to wood-eating insects. It is rated fair to good in all machining operations but does cause excessive dulling of cutting edges; takes a high natural polish. Easy to work, it is used in general construction for purposes such as scantlings, beams, door and window frames, floors etc; also for lathe work and making furniture

Known Hazards: The latex of this tree is considered to be toxic when ingested

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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