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close this bookNitrogen Fixing Trees Highlights (Winrock, 1990-1997, 100 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentAcacia koa - Hawaii's most valued native tree
View the documentAcacia leucophloea - shade and fodder for livestock in arid environments
View the documentAlnus acuminata: valuable timber tree for tropical highlands
View the documentAlbizia saman: pasture improvement, shade, timber and more
View the documentCasuarina junghuhniana: a highly adaptable tropical casuarina
View the documentEnterolobium cyclocarpum: the ear pod tree for fasture, fodder and wood
View the documentErythrina variegata: more than a pretty tree
View the documentInga edulis: a tree for acid soils in the humid tropics
View the documentPithecellobium dulce - sweet and thorny
View the documentPterocarpus indicus - the majestic n-fixing tree
View the documentRobinia pseudoacacia: temperate legume tree with worldwide potential
View the documentAcacia nilotica - pioneer for dry lands
View the documentAcacia saligna - for dryland fodder and soil stabilization
View the documentAcacia senegal: gum tree with promise for agroforestry
View the documentAcacia seyal - multipurpose tree of the Sahara desert
View the documentAcacia tortilis: fodder tree for desert sands
View the documentAlnus nepalensis: a multipurpose tree for the tropical highlands
View the documentCasuarina equisetifolia: an old-timer with a new future
View the documentCasuarina glauca: a hardy tree with many attributes
View the documentChamaecytisus palmensis: hardy, productive fodder shrub
View the documentDalbergia latifolia: the high-valued Indian rosewood
View the documentDalbergia melanoxylon: valuable wood from a neglected tree
View the documentErythrina edulis: multipurpose tree for the tropical highlands
View the documentErythrina sandwicensis - unique Hawaiian NFT
View the documentHippophaƫ rhamnoides: an NFT valued for centuries
View the documentLeucaena diversifolia - fast growing highland NFT species
View the documentLeucaena: an important multipurpose tree
View the documentOlneya tesota - a potential food crop for hot arid zones
View the documentHoney mesquite: a multipurpose tree for arid lands
View the documentPongamia pinnata - a nitrogen fixing tree for oilseed
View the documentGuazuma ulmifolia: widely adapted tree for fodder and moreli
View the documentFaidherbia albida - inverted phenology supports dryzone agroforestry
View the documentGleditsia triacanthos - honeylocust, widely adapted temperate zone fodder tree
View the documentAndira inermis: more than a beautiful ornamental tree
View the documentErythrina poeppigiana: shade tree gains new perspectives
View the documentAlbizia procera - white siris for reforestation and agroforestry
View the documentAlbizia odoratissima - tea shade tree
View the documentAdenanthera pavonina: an underutlized tree of the humid tropics
View the documentAcacia mangium: an important multipurpose tree for the tropic lowlands
View the documentAcacia auiculiformis - a multipurpose tropical wattle
View the documentPentaclethra microphylla: a multipurpose tree from Africa lwith potential for agroforestry in the tropics
View the documentMyroxylon balsam and much more
View the documentOugeinia dalbergioides: a multipurpose tree for sub-tropical and tropical mountain regions
View the documentProsopis alba and prosopis chilensis: subtropical semiarid fuel and fodder trees
View the documentSesbania sesban: widely distributed multipurpose NFT
View the documentProsopis cineraria: a multipurpose tree for arid areas
View the documentJuliflorae acacias: new food source for the sahel
View the documentSesbania grandiflora: NFT for beauty, food, fodder and soil improvement
View the documentAcacia aneura - a desert fodder tree

Guazuma ulmifolia: widely adapted tree for fodder and moreli

Guazuma uimifolia

A small to medium-sized tree, Guazuma ulmifolia is widely distributed throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central andSouth America The wood is used for posts, general carpentry, light construction and charcoal. It is an important source of livestock fodder in many areas, particularly during the dry season when pasture grasses are unavailable.

Common names include guma gumo (Spanish); tablote, majagua de toro (Mexico); tapaculo (Guatemala, El Salvador); cualote (Guatemala Honduras, El Salvador, Colombia); contamal (Guatemala); chicharrEl Salvador); kamba aka guasa (Paraguay); iumanasi papayillo (Peru); coco (Bolivia); cambcuazuma (Argentina); bacedar, bastard cedar (Jamaica, Trinidad); bois d'orme, West Indian Elm (Trinidad); pigeon wood (Tobago); bay cedar, caulote, pixoy (Belize); bois d'orme. orme d'Amque (French); mutamba fruta-de-macaco. embira pojrazil) (Little and Wadsworth 1964, Lopez et al. 1987, Lorenzi 1992).


Synonyms include Guazuma guazuma (L.) Cockerell, G. tomentosa H.B.K., G. polybotrya Cav., and Theobroma guazuma (L.) Poveda.

Guazuma ulmifolia Lam, family Sterculiaceae, grows to 30 m in height and 30 40 cm in diameter with a round-shaped crown. The alternate. ovate to lance-shaped leaves are 5-7 cm long and 2-5 cm wide. with finely saw-toothed margins. The flowers are brownish-yellow and form in clusters at the base of the leaves. The seeds are black, round to elliptic, 1.5-3 cm long, and hard. Seed capsules contain 5 cells which open at the apex and contain many seeds, 3-5 mm in diameter (Little and Wadsworth 1964, Lopez et al. 1987).

Young twigs are covered with rust-brown or light-gray starshaped hairs. The bark is gray or gray-brown and becomes furrowed and rough or slightly shaggy (Little and Wadsworth 1964).


Guazuma ulmifolia is widely adapted, growing in alluvial and clay soils, and in humid and dry climates. A pioneer species that grows best in full sunlight, it colonizes recently disturbed areas and is also found growing along stream banks and in pastures. It is a common species in secondary forest growth.

Guazuma ulmifolia grows mainly at elevations below 400 m with mean annual temperatures often above 24°C (Dunsdon et al. 1991). It is occasionally found growing up to 800 m in Brazil (Lorenzi 1992), 1000 m in Costa Rica (Vallejo and Oviedo 1994) and 1200 m in Guatemala (Witsberger et al. 1982). In its natural habitat annual rainfall is 600-1500 mm, but it grows well in areas with annual rainfall as high as 2500 mm (Dunsdon et al. 1991).

Leaves remain on the tree all year except in very dry areas where the leaves drop at the end of the dry season. In Puerto Rico, G. ulmifolia flowers from March to October and produces seed all year (Little and Wadsworth 1964). In Paraguay, it flowers in January and produces seed from July to August (Lopez et al. 1987). In Brazil, it flowers from January to September and produces seed in August and September (Lorenzi 1992).


Guazuma ulmifolia is found in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America and Colombia Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. It has been cultivated in India for over 100 years. It has been introduced recently to Indonesia.



The wood is used for posts, interior carpentry, light construction, boxes and crates, shoe horns, tool handles, fuelwood. and charcoal. The sapwood is light brown and the heartwood is pinkish to brownish. The wood is easy to work. with a specific gravity of 550-570 km/m³ (Little and Wadsworth 1964,Lopezetal. 1987).


In dry areas throughout its native range, G. ulmifolia is an important source of fodder for livestock, particularly at the end of the dry season when pasture grasses are not available. Naturally regenerated trees are left scattered in pastures to provide shade. Trees are also planted as live posts for fences around pastures. In Puerto Rico, immature fruits and leaves are fed to horses and cattle, and fruits are fed to hogs (Little and Wadsworth 1964). Guazuma ulmifolia is a preferred fodder tree in Jamaica Farmers feed the leaves and fruit to cattle, usually during the dry season (Morrison et al. 1996). Crude protein content of young leaves and stems ranges from 16-23% and 7-8%, respectively. In vitro dry matter digestibility for young leaves and stems ranges from 56-58% and 31-36%, respectively (Araya et al. 1994, Medina et al. 1994). Basal leaves contain 2.4% tannins (dry matter) (Araya et al. 1994).

In a study in Honduras. G. ulmifolia pruned four times in one year produced 10 kg/tree dry matter (leaves and young stems). Of the dry matter, 38% was edible (Medina et al. 1994).

A study in Guatemala compared the weight gain of young goats fed fodder of G. ulmifolia, Cordia dentata, and Panicum maximum. The average weight gain with G. ulmifolia was 71 g/day, compared to 60 g/day with C. dentata, and 42 g/day with P. maximum (Medina 1994).

Medicinal uses.

A beverage of crushed seeds soaked in water is used to treat diarrhea, dysentery, colds, coughs, contusions, and venereal disease. It is also used as a diuretic and astringent (Vallejo and Oviedo 1994).

Other uses.

The seeds are edible, fresh or cooked. The tough, fibrous bark and young stems are used to make rope and twine. Honey bees forage on the flowers (Little and Wadsworth 1964).



Guazuma ulmifolia can be established by direct seeding or by planting cuttings, root-stumps or bare-root seedlings. Seeds require scarification before planting. Pour boiling water over seeds, let them soak for 30 seconds and then drain the water (Dunsdon et al. 1991). For fresh seeds, germination occurs in 7-14 days at a rate of 60-80%. Seedlings are ready for outplanting when they reach a height of 30-40 cm (about 15 weeks). For root stumps, plants are left in the nursery for 5-8 months or until they reach a stem diameter of 1.5-2.5 cm. There are between 100,000 and 225,000 seeds per kilogram (Vallejo and Oviedo 1994, Lorenzi 1992. Dunsdon et al. 1991).


Hilje et al. (1991) reviews pests of G. ulmifolia in Central America Phelyypera distigma is a common defoliating insect. Arsenura armida and Epitragus sp. are defoliators that cause problems occasionally. Automeris rubrescens. Hylesia lineata, Lirimiris truncata and Periphoba arcaei are
defoliating insects that have been observed at least once. A stem borer Aepytus sp. is an occasional problem.


Araya, J., J. Benavides, R. Arias. and A. Ruiz. 1994. Indentificaci caracterizacie oles y arbustos con potential forrajero en Puriscal, Costa Rica. In: J. E. Benavides (ed), Arboles y arbustos forrajeros en America Central. Volumen 1. Serie Tica Informe Tico N° 236. Centro Agrono Tropical de Investigaci Ensena(CATLE). Turrialba, Costa Rica p. 31-63.

Dunsdon, A.J., J.L. Stewart, and C.E. Hughes. 1991. International trial of Central American dry zone hardwood species. Species descriptions and biomass tables. Oxford Forestry Institute. UK. p. 39-41.

Hilje, L., C. Araya and F. Scorza 1991. Plagas y enfermedades forestales en America Central: guia de campo. Serie Tica, Manual Tico N°4., CATIE. Turrialba, Costa Rica p. 185.

Little, E.L., and F.H. Wadsworth. 1964. Common trees of Puerto Rico and the Virgen Islands. Agricultural Handbook No. 249. USDA Forest Service. Washington, D.C., USA. p. 338-340.

Lopez J.A., E.L. Little, G.F. Ritz J.S. Rombold, and W.J. Hahn. 1987. Arboles comunes del Paraguay. Peace Corps. Washington, D.C., USA. p. 364-365.

Lorenzi. H. 1992. vores Brasileiras. Manual de identifica e cultivo de plantas arbs nativas do Brasil. Editora Plantarum LTDA. Nova Odessa, SP, Brasil. p.327.

Medina, J.M. 1994. Observaciones sobre el consumo de follaje de gumo (Guazuma ulmifolia), Tiguilote (Cordia dentata), y Pasto Guinea (Panicum maximum) por cabras semi-estabuladas. In: Arboles y arbustos forrajeros en America Central. Volumen 1. p. 249-256. See Araya et al. 1994.

Medina J.M., B. Rouyer, M. Tejada M. Layus, and B. Boiron. 1994. Evaluatireliminar de la produccie biomasa de especies les bajo crecimiento natural en la zone Sur de Honduras. In: Arboles y arbustos forrajeros en America Central. Volumen 1. p. 181 -188. See Araya et al. 1994.

Morrison, B.J., M.A. Gold., and D.O. Lantagne. 1996. Incorporating indigenous knowledge of fodder trees into small-scale silvopastoral systems in Jamaica. Agroforestry Systems 34: 101-117.

Witsberger, D., D. Current, and E. Archer. 1982. Arboles del Parque Deininger. Direccie Publicaciones, Ministerio de EducatiSan Salvador, El Salvador. p. 248-249.

Vallejo, M.A., and F.J. Oveido. 1994. Caracteristicas botanical, usos y distribucie los principales arboles y arbustos con potencial forrajero de America Central. In: Arboles y arbustos forrajeros en America Central. Volumen 2. Serie Tica. Informe Tnico N° 236. Centro Agrono Tropical de Investigaci Ensenanza (CATIE). Turrialba, Costa Rica p. 676-677.

NFTA 95-06 September 1995