Tree Species (Scientific Name)
Virola sebifera
Peru Common Name
Cumala oscura, Cumala blanca
Tree Family
Average Leaf Size (cm)
Tree Height
Small (10–20m)
Elevational Range (m)
0 3000
Native to Peru

Native to

Latin America
Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guyana, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela

Coffee Agroforestry Information

Coffee System
Coffee Impact
Beneficial to coffee
Not Common in Coffee Agroforestry
Tree Management
Planted by seeds and are dispersed by mammals and large birds, mainly monkeys, toucans and turkeys. Seeds have limited viability and should be planted fresh in individual partially shaded containers. The fruits (1 seed each) are abundant but do not ripen at the same time. They are collected directly from the tree with sticks and left to open in the sun to manually separate the pulp that covers the seeds (approx. 2 thousand per kg). Without pregermination treatment, an average of 12% germination is obtained, which occurs between 55 and 132 days after planting. Seeds stored at 20ºC lose viability in less than 1 month. Growth in nursery is slow and seedlings can reach 25-30 cm in height in a time of 8 months. They require shade during their initial development. Trees of this species maintain their foliage permanently. It has a low incidence of pests.

Tree Benefits and Uses

Farmer Uses
  • Lumber
  • Medicinal
  • Ornamental
  • Product
  • Ceremonial
It is easy to work with any type of tool, leaving a good polish because the surface is shiny, and it is used to make furniture and plywood. Indigenous people of the Amazon in South America prepare a hallucinogen from the bark, which is used in religious ceremonies. The oil is used for the manufacture of candles and soap. Used to make broomsticks.
Farm Services
  • Coffee Shade
  • Soil Improvement
  • Reforestation
Coffee Shade: provides sparse to medium shade in a cone shape
Biodiversity Benefits
The flowers are visited by bees and other insects. The seeds are dispersed by animals, mainly monkeys, toucans and turkeys that feed on the aril. Insectivorous birds and birds in the families Trogonidae, Motmotidae, Ramphastidae, Cotingidae, and Turdidae use the tree.



WFO (2022): Virola sebifera Aubl. Accessed on: 24 Jun 2022. Published on the Internet;

Tropical Plants Database, Ken Fern. 2022-06-24.;

Virola sebifera Aubl. in GBIF Secretariat (2021). GBIF Backbone Taxonomy. Accessed on 2022-07-06. Checklist dataset;

Howe, Henry F. "Dispersal of a neotropical nutmeg (Virola sebifera) by birds." The Auk 98.1 (1981): 88-98. Gradstein, S.R. 2022-7-12.;

Virola sebifera Aubl. En Bernal, R., S.R. Gradstein & M. Celis (eds.). 2015. Catálogo de plantas y líquenes de Colombia. Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá.;

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute: Virola sebifera (Aubl.). Accessed 12 July 2022. Published on the Internet:;

Román, Francisco, et al. Guía para la propagación de 120 especies de árboles nativos de Panamá y el neotrópico. 2012.;

Mendoza, A. L. M., & Guerrero, M. H. (2010). Catálogo de los árboles y afines de la Selva Central del Perú. Arnaldoa, 17, 203-242.