Brucea javanica leaves




pronounced: sim-uh-roo-BAY-see-eye

the simarouba family

Simarouba is the native Guiana vernacular name for the paradise tree, Simarouba glauca. French explorers came across this tree in 1713, finding its bark, in particular, much used in traditional central American medicine. From 1718 to 1725 the bark was exported to France to treat a widespread and serious outbreak of dysentery. In recent decades, the family has been subject to much taxonomic debate, and several small families have been split off from it. Another well-known member of the family is the Tree of Heaven, Ailanthus altissima, which is often planted as a street tree because it is smoke- and insect-resistant. Female trees are preferred, as the flowers of the male trees release a disagreeable odour. Many members of the Simaroubaceae have a bitter taste. The leaves may be simple or pinnate, and the stalks are often jointed. The flowers are small and regular, and the fruit is often drupe-like.



Photograph © Donald Simpson 2012