Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the March 24, 2008 Newsletter written in the community of 28 de Junio, in the Central Valley 8 kms east of Pujiltic, Chiapas, MÉXICO
about 800 meters in elevation, ± LAT. 16° 18'N, LONG. -92° 28'W

Throughout much of hot, dry, scrubby Mexico right now a tree growing to 30 feet tall is fruiting so prolifically and conspicuously that you can hardly miss it. It's the Alvaradoa, sometimes called Mexican Alvaradoa in the US, where it may barely extend across the border into southern Arizona. It's ALVARADOA AMORPHOIDES of the mostly tropical Quassia Family, the Simarubaceae. In North America the best-known Quassia-Family member is the invasive Ailanthus, or Tree-of-Heaven, introduced from eastern Asia. You can see a fruiting branch of an Alvaradoa near my dwelling below:


With its pinnately compound, Black-Locust-like leaves at first glance it looks like a member of the Bean Family. However, its fruits, instead of being legumes containing beans, are dry samaras like ash fruits. A samara is a winged fruit that doesn't split open -- it's " indehiscent." Alvaradoa's male and female flowers grow on separate trees, so the trees are "dioecious."

Plantas Medicinales de México reports the use of a tea brewed from the bark to cure the itch, and a tea of its interior wood used as a stomach tonic.