Didymopanax morototoni

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Related Links
Provenance trial at four years, near Belterra, Santarem, Brazil
© Anthony Simons
Close-up of flowers, Brazil
© Anthony Simons

Local names:
English (mountain trumpet,match-wood), French (bois de mai,bois de Saint Jean,cordovan), Portuguese (bois de mai,mandiocí,marupauba-flasco,morototó,mucututú,pará -pará,pau-caixeta,paxixica,sambacuim), Spanish (yagrumo macho,Mucututú,anonillo,Marupá,Pixix

Didymopanax morototoni is a medium-sized tree 8-30 m in height, with a cylinder-shaped bole that is straight and may reach up to 80 cm in diameter at the base; crown small with ramification only at the apex; branches not numerous; has scars on the leaf peduncles. Bark whitish and has a smooth surface.

Leaves large, compound, digitate, 15-40 cm long, alternate; petiole long, 30-60 cm, with well-developed stipules, inserted obliquely on the stem; 10-11 folioles, with elliptical lance-shaped limb, acuminate, undulate, sinuate on the margin, semi-coriaceous, dark-green on the upper surface, brown-red and heavily pilose underneath.

Flower clusters (panicled umbels) lateral, about 20-60 cm long and broad, with branches grey and finely hairy. Flowers very numerous in numerous small, rounded clusters (umbels) less than 1.3 cm across, on spreading flower stalks 1.6-4.7 mm long. The pentamerous, finely brownish and grey hairy flower about 4.7 mm across has a minute basal tube (hypanthium) less than 1.6 mm long enclosing the inferior ovary and bearing the minute 5-toothed calyx; petals 5, white, pointed, more than 1.6 mm long; stamens 5 and styles 2.

Fruit a fleshy berry, grey and covered with a bloom, about 4-9 mm long and 6-12 mm broad; slightly flattened, with 2 styles at apex. It contains 2 oblong, flat brown seeds 4.7 mm long.


Frequently found in the upland forests and in old open woodlands. In Peru, it is common on the savannah margins. It prefers open forests with abundant light. Widespread in the wet forests of tropical America.

Native range
Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Surinam, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela

Tree management

At 3 years of age, better growth in height has been obtained at a 3 x 2 m spacing and the larger diameter at a 4 x 4 m spacing. Production of 15-18 cubic m/ha per year in uniform stands can be expected.

D. morototoni demands strong light and is abundant in openings, secondary forests and on roadsides. These locations are susceptible to fire in dry periods, and the species is favoured essentially due to its fire-resistant seeds.

Seed storage behaviour is orthodox; no loss in viability following 11 months of storage at 12 deg. C with seeds in equilibrium with 30% r.h. There are approximately 45 400 seeds/kg.

Frequently found in the upland forests and in old open woodlands. In Peru, it is common on the savannah margins. It prefers open forests with abundant light. Widespread in the wet forests of tropical America.

The seedlings are easy to transplant, and the trees may also reproduce by coppicing. Soon after field burning, which practically cleans the soil, the seeds germinate.

Fibre:  The use of D. morototoni in the pulp and paper industry is increasing.

Timber:  Its moderately heavy wood is coloured light cream with some grey, with regular grain; medium texture, shiny and smooth surface and is easily worked with a fine finish. In Puerto Rico, the wood is little used, although it is especially suitable for boxes and crates. Where the trees are more abundant and larger in size, uses include for general carpentry, interior construction and boxes. In Trinidad and British Guyana, the wood is made into matchsticks and matchboxes. Other possible uses are utility grade plywood, toys, and as a substitute for heavier grades of balsa. 

Medicine:  The leaves have been known to serve as home remedies.

Ornamental: D. morototoni is a tree with ornamental possibilities due to its rapid growth and handsome aspects.