Hyeronima alchorneoides

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Local names:
English (bully tree,suradan pilon), Portuguese (urucurana mirim,urucurana de leite,aricurqua,sangue-de-boi,licurana,mará-goncalo,marconcal,aricurana,muiragonçalo), Spanish (pilón,cargamanto,casaco,nancitón,pantano,zapatero,sangre de toro,trompillo,palo c

Hyeronima alchorneoides is a tall dioecious tree of lowland tropical forests up to 50 m tall and diameter of 1-1.2 m with multiple, orthotropic branches that form a dense crown. The bole tend to be straight, robust, with very little taper, and un-branched up to a height of 20 m or more. Bark smooth, distinctive deep reddish-brown on the outside, pinkish on the inside and bitter-tasting.

Leaves simple, alternate, petiolate, entire, 5-9 cm long, very variable in shape, with large, leafy stipules and abundant peltate hairs on both surfaces. Young leaves green, later turning yellow and nearly red before shedding.

Flowers small and inconspicuous, yellow-green, zygomorphic, arranged on 5 cm long axillary-branched panicles

Fruit a small, one-seeded drupe, 2.5-5.5 mm in diameter, red or dark purple at maturity

Seed very small, surrounded by the stony endocarp, endosperm oily and large embryo.

H. alchorneoides is one of 36 species in the genus Hyeronima (also known as Hieronyma), all of which are indigenous to Central and South America. The species exhibits a wide range of intra-specific variation. Two of the characters most commonly used to identify the tree include leaf size and the presence or absence of stipules. This varies among individuals and even within the same individual, depending on shoot phenology and age.


H. alchorneoides is a massive canopy emergent tree of lowland humid and very humid mixed tropical forests, which are sometimes waterlogged during the rainy season.

Native range
Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, St Lucia, Surinam, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela

Tree management

Site preparation prior to stand establishment usually involves site clearing. Potted seedlings transplanted with their nursery substrate and fertilizer applied to the bottom of the planting hole perform better. In Costa Rica, a spacing of 3 x 3 m is used to establish a plantation but 2 x 2 m can also be used. Fertilizer application and weeding in the first 12 months after planting out from the nursery have significant positive effects. First pruning is recommended at 9-12 months while thinning after 3-4 years. Thinned stumps are known to re-sprout, but the resulting root systems tend to be weak.

Trees show good growth and form, and have ability to self-prune. A high shade tolerance by lower leaves make the species compatible for planting in mixed species plantations, where H. alchorneoides forms the lower stratum in a stratified canopy. In monocultures, H. alchorneoides achieves 90% interception of incoming solar radiation at 2 years of age suppressing understorey regeneration.

It is best to collect the fruits from the tree by cutting down branches. The fruits are small and therefore it is useful to put tarpaulins on the ground under the tree. The fruits are collected when they have changed from green to red, indicating maturity. Once mature, the fruits start to fall and often there are only 3-4 days to carry out the collection

The fruits can be de-pulped although this is not done in many places. The seed storage behaviour is intermediate. The seeds are tolerant to desiccation and low temperatures, and should be stored at low moisture content in airtight bags in a cold. There are about 26000 seeds/kg.

H. alchorneoides is a massive canopy emergent tree of lowland humid and very humid mixed tropical forests, which are sometimes waterlogged during the rainy season.

H. alchorneoides is usually propagated by seeds and pseudo-cuttings. Best germination can be achieved by washing seeds in water and lightly sanding them or by applying gibberrellic acid. Germination begins after 25-30 days and is complete in about 60 days after sowing. The seeds of this species are sensitive to light and do not germinate in a cabinet with artificial light. Under greenhouse conditions, the seeds are sown in boxes filled with sand and after germination the seedlings are transferred to polytubes and placed in the shade. Transplanting must be done carefully as the roots are fragile.

The preparation of pseudo-stakes is done using seedlings once their stems are sufficiently lignified. Seedlings are uprooted, and the roots and shoots pruned back to 15 and 10 cm, respectively. Pseudo-stakes require 5-6 months in the nursery before they are ready for planting. Plantation establishment using pseudo-stakes requires managing of re-sprouts in the early phase of establishment.

H. alchorneoides is among several species that have shown potential for growth on a variety of soils, indicating its suitability for use in re-vegetation of degraded lands. This species has a relatively high allocation to fine roots, making it less likely to experience nutrient limitation under low-fertility conditions. In addition to its tolerance to infertile soils, it grows on acid soils and has a high tolerance for exchangeable aluminium.

Timber: H. alchorneoides has a reddish-brown heartwood, and sapwood with a lighter colour and pinkish hue. The wood specific gravity ranges from 0.59-0.86. It is suitable for heavy construction, including railway sleepers, bridges, columns and beams, fence posts, stakes, piles and in marine construction. In addition, it is used for furniture, cabinetwork, flooring, decorative veneers, turnery and joinery. It is durable and fairly resistant to termites but difficult to impregnate and prone to decomposition, especially below ground

Medicine: The seeds of H. alchorneoides contain oil that is effective against intestinal parasites (anti-helminthic). In Guyana, a decoction of the bark is used for its anti-tussive properties.

Soil improver: H. alchorneoides has a role in soil amelioration that may lead to an increase in soil organic carbon from to its large litter production