Cuipo tree (Cavanillesia platanifolia)

The trunk of the Cuipo Tree has a swollen baseThe Cuipo (pronounced “kwee-po”) tree is a very dominant and easily detected tree because it extends high above the other trees – above the canopy. Its height ranges from 45 to 60 meters (149 to 198 feet) and the trunk appears to be “swollen” at the base. It has leaves only at the top and is bare 11 months out of the year. The leaves are almost round on mature trees and nearly square on juvenile trees.  It has rings on its bark that extend to the top to make it easily recognizable. Its smooth bark is reddish or gray in color. Its roots are light reddish-brown or yellowish-brown.

Cuipo Tree leaves are nearly round in mature trees but squarer in young treesWhere to Find: The cuipo tree is located primarily in Central American tropical rain forests in mountainous areas.

Edible Parts: To get water from this tree, cut a piece of the root and clean the dirt and bark off one end, keeping the root horizontal. Put the clean end to your mouth or canteen and raise the other. The water from this tree tastes like potato water.  The large oily seeds are edible (taste like peanuts) and the gum that exudes from the cut trunk can be eaten.

Other Uses: Use young saplings and the branches’ inner bark to make rope.  The wood is very light and in some places has been used to replace balsa wood in construction.

Large Cuipo Tree extending above the canopy

The trunk base of a Cuipo Tree

Round Cuipo Tree leaves

Cuipo Tree

Cuipo Tree buds

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