Anacahuita . Also known as panama, panama or camoruco tree ( Sterculia apetala ). It is a large tree native to Central America and northern South America , it belongs to the mallow family . It is considered the National Tree of Panama .


[ hide ]

  • 1 Taxonomy
    • 1 Scientific name
      • 1.1 Authors
    • 2 Basonym
      • 2.1 Basonym combinations
    • 3 Synonymy
    • 4 Common name
  • 2 Distribution and habitat
  • 3 Botanical Description
  • 4 Uses
  • 5 Cultivation
  • 6 Characteristics of wood
  • 7 References
  • 8 Sources


Scientific name

  • Sterculia apetala (Jacq.) H. Karst. [1] [2] [3] [4]


  • Karsten, Gustav Karl Wilhelm Hermann
  • Published in: Florae Columbiae terraumque adjacentium specimina selecta in peregrinatione duodecim annorum observata delineavit et descripsit 2: 35, pl. 118. 1862. [5]


  • Helicteres apetala Jacq.

Sterculia apetala


Basonym combinations

  • Clompanus apetalus (Jacq.) Kuntze [7]


  • Chichaea acerifolia C. Presl
  • Chichaea hilariana C. Presl
  • Clompanus apetalus (Jacq.) Kuntze
  • Clompanus chichus (A. St.-Hil. Ex Turpin) Kuntze
  • Clompanus haenkeanus Kuntze
  • Clompanus punctatus (DC.) Kuntze
  • Helicteres apetala Jacq.
  • Opsopea foetida Raf.
  • Sterculia acerifolia (C. Presl) Hemsl.
  • Sterculia capitata G. Karst. ex F. Seym.
  • Sterculia carthaginensis Cav.
  • Sterculia chicha A. St.-Hil. ex Turpin
  • Sterculia convoluta St.-Lag.
  • Sterculia elata Ducke
  • Sterculia helicteres Pers.
  • Sterculia punctata DC. [8]
  • Mateatia curious Vell.
  • Mateatia robusta K. Schum.
  • Sterculia curious (Vell.) Taroda [9]

Common name

Anacagüita, anacahuita, camaruca [10] , panama, panama tree, or camoruco.

Distribution and habitat


It is a tree adapted to the humid tropics and sub-humid tropics. It extends from southern Mexico and Central America to Peru and Brazil . It has been naturalized in Jamaica and Trinidad and has been planted in southern Florida, the United States , Cuba , Hispaniola, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands .

It grows along roadsides, in paddocks, hills, flat terrain, steep slopes and relict jungle. Where it reaches its maximum development is along the rivers . It thrives both in shallow soils derived from limestone, as well as in deep lateritic soils derived from ancient alluviums; reaching its maximum development in this type of soil: deep clayey, black with abundant rocks, sandy, clayey-red with basalt. It is tolerant to poorly drained soils. It has good behavior and rapid growth in dry areas.


It is considered an ecologically speaking primary species. It grows at low elevations from 0 to 800 meters above sea level, in a humid to dry climate with a strong summer, with rainfall between 800 and 3000 mm per year. It prefers deep soils, although it also occurs in shallow soils, with different types of texture. In Guatemala it is found preferably from 0 to 300 masl. In Venezuela and BoliviaIt grows well in humid soils, in warm forests, with the exception of the drier ones, and sometimes forms groups or “camurocales”. In Mexico it is part of the high evergreen and sub-evergreen forests, both in superficial soils derived from limestone, as well as deep lateritic ones derived from ancient alluviums, and it is in the latter where it reaches its best development.

This tree grows with associated vegetation such as Lonchocarpus guatemalensis, Enterolobium cyclocarpum, Bursera simaruba, Sabal mexicana, Brosimum sp., Terminalia amazonia, Dialium guianense, Didimopanax morototoni, Zanthoxylum kellermanii, Croton glabelus, Inga spuria, Conostegia hiertella.

Botanical Description


It is a large, deciduous tree (loses its leaves in the dry season), usually 15-25m but can reach heights of 30 to 40m, with a diameter at chest height of up to 2 meters. It has straight, conical or cylindrical stems, with well-developed or prominent narrow and flattened shrimp or tabular roots, taller than they are wide, originating high up in the trunk.

It has horizontal branches. Smooth or scaly bark, green to dark gray, yellowish brown or pinkish brown, with large round whitish lenticels. Whitish internal crust, which darkens on contact with air. Transparent, somewhat sticky sap. Crust thickness: 15 to 25 mm.


The fruits of the tree are large, ellipsoid, black and shiny seeds, 2.5 by 1.5 cm. They contain fat. They are spherical, composed of five carpels up to 15 cm long, woody, dehiscent by a single suture, brown on the outside, red on the inside, with mushrooms that easily penetrate and irritate the skin. Seeds: ellipsoid, glossy, black and oily, about 2cm long, covered with not noticeable stinging hairs. Compounds of up to 5 pendulum follicles on peduncles up to 30 cm long; sessile follicles covered, 6 by 3 to 12 by 6 cm, green yellowish to brownish, opening on the ventral surface; the interior with abundant erect and very fine hairs that easily dig into the skin and irritate it.


It is a tree used for reforestation or restoration, since it is a species with potential for productive reforestation in degraded jungle areas. It is used in agroforestry systems, as it can be applied in multi-layer cropping systems, forage alleys, wind curtains and improved fallows.

The seed is edible raw, cooked or roasted, when they are roasted they have a peanut or cashew flavor, ground they are used to prepare a refreshing drink. They are high in starch and fat. Its consumption can cause diarrhea if you drink water after being ingested. In the forest they are eaten by monkeys.

The seeds contain almost 50% non-drying oil that is used to grease watch parts, fine machinery and in the soap industry. The flowers , bark and leaves are used in home remedies. The infusion of the leaf and the bark is a remedy for breast affections and to mitigate the discomfort of a cold. The decoction of the flower is drunk for cough and insomnia and with the flower syrup is made for the flu, bronchitis, chronic cough and asthma . The decoction of the leaf is drunk for rheumatism and the tonic of the cooked seed is drunk as a stimulant.

A substance has been found in the root that serves as raw material for obtaining cortisone, a compound used to combat arthritis and rheumatism.


The opening of the fruit indicates the time of harvesting, leaving the seed imprisoned inside the fruit, which favors the harvest. To handle the fruits and seeds during harvesting, drying and cleaning, protective glasses, respiratory filters and gloves should be used.

The seed has a high capacity to absorb water, so it is recommended to store in airtight packaging and / or low relative humidity. Reports of number of seeds per kilogram range from 400 to 900.

Wood Characteristics

This tree produces light to moderately light wood (0.30-0.45), very soft, fluffy. The freshly cut trunk shows an abrupt contrast between the yellow sapwood and the reddish or dark brown heartwood . In dry wood sapwood turns pale yellow and heartwood light brown or reddish yellow. It has no characteristic odor or taste.

Straight grain, coarse texture and medium to high luster. It is easy to work with but fades very easily. Molding, drilling and sanding are satisfactory. However, mortising is regular and turning poor. It is moderately easy to dry and preserve. Its natural durability is low.

This wood is traditionally used in rural indoor construction, fence posts (treated), to make canoes, formwork, packing boxes, match sticks, ice cream and candy handles, medical spatulas, particle board, and plywood. , firewood. Also for furniture and shoe heels . Farmers in South America use it to make canoes, hollowing out the logs


Leave a Comment