Regional medicine: Trumpet tree

The trumpet tree or embauba is widely used in traditional medicine throughout Central and South America.

Virtually every part is used – bark, roots, sap, leaves and fruit – to treat a diversity of ailments. Each country has different uses for extracts of this plant, such as treatment for bronchitis and snakebites in Trinidad and a cure for diabetes and hypertension in Guatemala.

Recent scientific research on the trumpet tree has shown potential for treating obesity, as well as bacterial infections and cancer. The tree is regularly used throughout the world by herbalists for treating respiratory disorders and diabetes.

Crawling with ants

In the wild, these trees are almost always inhabited by biting Azteca ants. The tree and ants form a mutually beneficially relationship where the ants, living in hollow steps and leaf surface, defend the tree from attackers such as leaf-cutter ants and other herbivores. Meanwhile, the ant benefits from shelter and a sugary food produced by the tree on the underside of leaf stalks.

2 comments on 'Regional medicine: Trumpet tree'

  1. Dr. Yunus Lubega Butanaziba says:

    1. Cecropia peltata and Prunus Africanas

    This is very good article that depicts innovative ideas on the biological uses of Cecropia peltata, which may become our focus and real breakthrough in treating and stopping cancer related diseases, diabetes, etc. We have now the task of studying how animals use both Cecropia peltata and Prunus Africanas to prevent and cure cancer and others.
    2. Composition of Cecropia peltata
    What is the composition of Cecropia peltata, and how does it function against cancer or diabetes?

  2. Brenda says:

    I am a gringa living in Costa Rica. I have many Cecropia trees on my property. The old Costan Ricans have said the Cecropia leaves have many herbal medicine uses, yet, I cannot find much information about these leaves.
    I am interested in making an herbal tea of some sort w these leaves, but am a bit shy on being a test subject as well. Can anyone help with this?

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At a glance

Distribution and Habitat

Native to Central America and northern South America, but has naturalised and become invasive in Malaysia, Ivory Coast, and Cameroon. It is a ‘pioneer’ tree, rapidly growing in disturbed areas in rainforest openings and along forest edges


Up to 20m (65’) tall with leaves up to 50cm (20’’) wide


A variety of important local medicines

Scientific name

Cecropia peltata

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