Herbs & Plants

Aspidosperma album

Botanical Name: Aspidosperma album
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Gentianales
Family: Apocynaceae
Subfamily: Rauvolfioideae
Tribe: Aspidospermateae
Genus: Aspidosperma

*Cufodontia Woodson
*Macaglia Rich. ex Vahl, rejected name
*Paralyxia Baill.
*Peltospermum DC.
*Thyroma Miers

Common Names: Guatambu

Habitat: Aspidosperma album is native to S. America – Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, the Guyanas. It grows in the dense forests.

Aspidosperma album is a tall evergreen tree, grow to a height 10-30 m with a 30-60 cm bole diameter. The flowers are pollinated by Insects.
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 and can tolerate drought. The plant is not wind tolerant.
It is commonly harvested from the wild for medicinal purposes and high class timber called Araracanga.


A very variable species, especially in leaf form. This is possibly as a result of hybridisation with other members of the genus, possibly A. Spruceanum or A. Fendleri.

Propagation: Through seeds.

Medicinal Uses:
The bark is antifungal, astringent, febrifuge. A decoction is used in the treatment of diarrhoea, fevers and malaria. Juice from the macerated inner bark is applied to affected area as a treatment for dermatosis.

Other Uses:
The orange-brown wood has a waxy feeling. It is used for heavy construction, and is recommended for high class end uses in cabinet making etc. This tree yields a timber known as ‘araracanga’. We do not have any more specific information, but a general description of araracanga is as follows:- The heartwood is vermillion or deep reddish brown, sometimes with large pink veins, and constitutes about two-thirds of the bole; it is clearly demarcated from the 3 – 8cm wide band of almost white to light brown sapwood. The texture is medium; the grain straight or interlocked. The wood is very heavy, very hard and very durable when in contact with the soil, being very resisant to fungi and dry wood borers, and moderately resistant to termites. It is somewhay slow to season, with a high risk of checking and distortion; once dry it is poorly stable in service. It has a fairly high blunting effect and is hard to work – power tools that are stellite-tipped and tungsten carbide are recommended; nailing and screwing are good, but pre-boring is required; gluing is correct for interior purposes only. The wood has various applications, being used for purposes such as heavy bridges, railroad ties, house posts, heavy carpentry, industrial flooring, hydraulic works in fresh water etc.

Known Hazards:
The freshly cut wood and sap of Aspidosperma species causes irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, with general malaise. The sawdust, on contact with abraded skin, produces local burning and a vesicular eruption with general symptoms of muscular weakness and cramps, sweating, dryness of the mouth, and faintness. Once the wood is thoroughly dry it loses its toxicity unless polishes or dyes in organic solvents are used on it.

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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