Cecropia: Wikis


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Red Cecropia, Cecropia glaziovii
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Subclass: Rosidae
(unranked): Eurosids I
Order: Rosales
Family: Urticaceae
Genus: Cecropia

About 25, see text

Cecropia is a genus of about 25 species of trees in the nettle family (Urticaceae). They are native to the tropical Americas, where they form one of the most recognisable components of the rainforest. The genus is named after Cecrops I, the mythical first king of Athens. A common local name is yarumo or yagrumo, or more specifically yagrumo hembra ("female yagrumo") to distinguish them from the similar-looking but unrelated Schefflera (which are called yagrumo macho, "male yagrumo"). In English, these trees are occasionally called pumpwoods (though this may also refer to C. schreberiana specifically) or simply cecropias.

In the past, they were commonly placed in a distinct family Cecropiaceae or in the mulberry family (Moraceae), but the modern Angiosperm Phylogeny Group system places the "cecropiacean" group in the Urticaceae.

The genus is easily identified by the large, circular, palmately lobed leaves, about 30–40 cm in diameter and deeply divided into 7-11 lobes.


Ecology and uses

These tree are a characteristic feature of many American tropical rainforest ecosystems and may be among the dominant tree species in some places. Being aggressive, rapid growth trees, whose succulent fruits are readily sought by various animals, they tend to be among the first pioneer species to occupy former forest areas cleared for pasture or altered by human activity[1].Cecropia hololeuca, known in Brazil as "silver cecropia", has broad, silver-hue leaves that make it to be used as an ornamental plant for landscaping projects, as is the case also with the similar species C. pachystachya [2].

Cecropia species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including the arctiid moth Hypercompe icasia; the Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia) is a North American species however, and thus allopatric with the plant genus. The leaves and buds are also eaten by sloths [3]. as their main source of food. But many herbivores avoid these plants: most Cecropia are myrmecophytes, housing dolichoderine ants of the genus Azteca, which will vigorously defend their hostplant against getting eaten. This symbiosis has been studied extensively by biologists such as Daniel Janzen.

Cecropia fruit, known as snake fingers, are a popular food of diverse animals however, including bats like the Common Fruit Bat (Artibeus jamaicensis) or Carollia species, the Central American Squirrel Monkey (Saimiri oerstedii), and birds like the Green Aracari (Pteroglossus viridis), the Keel-billed Toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus), the Peach-fronted Conure (Aratinga Aurea), the Bare-throated Bellbird (Procnias nudicollis)[4] and particularly nine-primaried oscines[5]. The seeds are not normally digested and thus these animals are important in distributing the trees. Some birds – e.g. the Lesser Potoo (Nyctibius griseus) – nest in Cecropia trees. The Elfin-woods Warbler (Dendroica angelae) is notable for using Cecropia leaves as nesting material, which no other New World warbler (family Parulidae) seems to do.

Red Cecropia (C. glaziovii) shows antidepressant-like activity in rats[6]. Native peoples use Cecropia for food, firewood, and in herbalism; some species also have cultural significance. On Trinidad and Tobago, Shield-leaved Pumpwood (C. peltata) root is chewed and given to dogs that have been bitten by poisonous snakes as an emergency remedy. Cecropia leaves can be used as a substitute for sandpaper[7]. In western South America, Cecropia leaf ash is used in the traditional preparation of ypadu, a mild coca-based stimulant. Cecropia bark can be used in rope making as well as in tannery[8]. Cecropia wood is used in the manufacture of boxes, toys, aeromodelling models and rafts[9].

Selected species

Cecropia insignis foliage
Ambay Pumpwood, Cecropia pachystachya


  1. ^ Backes & Irgang (2004), pg.168
  2. ^ Backes & Irgang (2004), pgs.170 & 171
  3. ^ Backes & Irgang (2004), pg.168
  4. ^ Frisch & Frisch (2005), pg.358
  5. ^ E.g. Puerto Rican Tanager (Nesospingus speculiferus), Caquetá Seedeater (Sporophila murallae), Puerto Rican Spindalis (Spindalis portoricensis) and Montezuma Oropendola (Psarocolius montezuma)
  6. ^ Rocha et al. (2007)
  7. ^ Backes & Irgang (2004), pg.168
  8. ^ Backes & Irgang (2004), pg.168
  9. ^ Backes & Irgang (2004), pg.168


  • BACKES, Paulo & IRGANG, Bruno - Mata Atlântica: as árvores e a paisagem. Porto Alegre, Paisagem do Sul, 2004.
  • FRISCH, J.D. & FRISCH, C.D. - Aves Brasileiras, 3rd. edition, S.Paulo, 2005, ISBN 85-85015-07-1
  • Rocha, F.F.; Lima-Landman, M.T.R.; Souccar, C.; Tanae, M.M.; De Lima, T.C.M. & Lapa, A.J. (2007): Antidepressant-like effect of Cecropia glazioui Sneth[sic] and its constituents – In vivo and in vitro characterization of the underlying mechanism. Phytomedicine 14(6): 396-402. doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2007.03.011 (HTML abstract)

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From LoveToKnow 1911

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Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies


Classification System: APG II (down to family level)

Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiospermae
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: core eudicots
Cladus: Rosids
Cladus: Eurosids I
Ordo: Rosales
Familia: Urticaceae
Genus: Cecropia
Species: C. adenopus - C. glaziovii - C. hololeucan - C. insignis - C. longipes - C. maxima - C. maxonii - C. membranacea - C. multiflora - C. myrtluca - C. obtusifolia - C. pachystachia - C. palmata - C. pastasana - C. peltata - C. polyphlebia - C. telealba - C. schreberiana - C. sciadophylla - C. tubulosa - C. utcubambana - C. velutinella


Cecropia Loefl.

Vernacular names

Deutsch: Ameisenbäume
Lietuvių: Delnuotė
Português: Imbaúba
Runa Simi: Chila

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