January 02, 2021


Yagrumo hembra (Cecropia peltutu), also called trumpet-tree, is a rapidly growing neotropical tree, an important secondary species that is common in Puerto Rico. It is an early invader of forested areas subject to natural or human disturbances and is con- spicuous due to its spreading crown and large peltate leaves 30 to 50 cm (12 to 20 in) in diameter, with silver-white lower surfaces.


As a dominant secondary species, yagrumo hembra is invaluable in regeneration of the forest following disturbance. As it rapidly forms a dense stand, nutrients may be conserved and the environment beneath ameliorated sufficiently to allow species characteristic of a later stage of succession to ger- minate and grow. In this manner the soil may be stabilized following a disturbance such as a landslide. Its broad canopy protects the soil from excessive erosion and reestablishes shade conditions to the forest floor.

With a specific gravity of 0.29, the wood of yagrumo hembra is only slightly heavier than local balsa. The wood is used in the finish of “puertorrican cuatros,” a local guitarlike musical instrument. Prin- cipal uses for wood in Puerto Rico once included excelsior. The wood also was shredded and mixed with cement to form a building or insulation board (4). Elsewhere, yagrumo hembra is used to produce paper pulp. Fiber yield per cord of fresh material is low, but it cooks rapidly, giving unbleached pulps that approach the best northern deciduous neutral sulfite pulps, e.g., aspen, in quality. A yield of 56 kg (123.5 lb) of pulp per 100 kg (220.5 lb) of wood has been estimated (17). The wood may be substituted for use in products made from heavier grades of balsa. It is also used for boxes, crates, and matchsticks (19). The hollow branches are often split and used for gutters or troughs, and entire branches are used for pipe floats, life preservers, and tam- borines.

Various substances have been extracted from yagrumo hembra for medicinal use (19), including one that increases cardiac muscular contraction and acts upon the kidneys as a diuretic. A substance extracted from the roots is said to heal wounds, and the leaves are often used as a poultice to reduce swelling and as an abrasive (27).