Tilo (Ocotea foetens) in Terra Chã (Azores).
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Magnoliids
Order: Laurales
Family: Lauraceae
Genus: Ocotea

Over 200, see text


Bellota Gay
Mespilodaphne Nees
Oreodaphne Nees & Mart.
and see text

Ocotea is a genus of flowering plants belonging to the family Lauraceae. The genus includes over 200 species of evergreen trees and shrubs, distributed mostly in tropical and subtropical regions of Central and South America, the West Indies, also with a few species in Africa and Madagascar, and one, O. foetens (Til or Tilo), native to the islands of Macaronesia.

There is no standard common name for the genus as a whole; some more or less ambiguous terms are used instead which all refer to Ocotea wood's aromatic, sometimes even nauseatingly pungent smell. Sweetwood is perhaps the best term, as it is hardly ever used for other plants[1]. "Camphorwood" is usually Cinnamomum camphora (a close relative of Ocotea), whereas "rosewoods" are normally Dalbergia or related Fabaceae (which are not closely related to Ocotea). "Stinkwood" can refer to any number of quite unrelated trees with bad-smelling wood. Common names of some species refer to their similarity to other Lauraceae such as laurel or sassafras.


Ecology and uses

Ocotea species are characteristic plants of many montane habitats in the Tropics. Climatically they are generally subtropic rather than fully tropic, occurring in the warmest parts of the Earth preferentially at higher altitudes. They are characteristic members of ecological communities like many Afromontane biomes, Araucaria moist forests, Knysna-Amatole montane forests, Laurisilva and Talamancan montane forests, but also Madagascar lowland forests.

Caterpillars of the enigmatic hawkmoth Adhemarius dariensis are suspected to feed on O. atirrensis, O. dendrodaphne and O. veraguensis. The chalcid wasp Aprostocetus bahiensis is found on and about O. opoifera; it may be that its larvae feed on the tree, but it is more likely that they are parasitoids of some undetermined pest of the tree.

Use by humans

Plants of the genus produce essential oils, and Peruvian Rosewood (O. cernua), Brazilian Sassafras (O. odorifera) and East African Camphorwood (O. usambarensis) are traded internationally. Dried fruit cupules of Ishpingo (O. quixos) are used in Ecuador to flavor beverages, such as Colada Morada.

These oils are rich in camphor and safrole; a common trade name for South American produce is "Ocotea cymbarum oil", which has led to confusion whether that name is a junior synonym of Brazilian Sassafras or a distinct species with different properties. This oil is used as a source of safrole in the production of the party drug Methylenedioxymethamphetamine ("Ecstasy").

A few species are harvested for commercial timber, including O. puberula of Central and South America and Black Stinkwood or True Stinkwood (O. bullata) of South Africa.

Sweetwoods make useful honey plants. Most frequently Brazilian Sassafras and O. kuhlmanni are employed for this purpose.

Selected species[2]

Twig of Ocotea obtusata with unripe fruit
Dried Ishpingo (O. quixos) cupules can be used as spice
Flowers of Ocotea spixiana
Unidentified Ocotea species from Cacuri (Ventuari River, Venezuela) with unripe fruit

Delimitation to Nectandra and other close relatives is problematic. Povedadaphne may belong into the present genus.

Formerly placed here

See also


  1. ^ USDA (2008b)
  2. ^ USDA (2008a)


External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Ocotĕa — Ocotĕa, 1) O. Αubl., Pflanzengattung aus der Familie der Laurineae Oreodaphneae, 9. Kl. 1. Ordn. L.; Arten: südamerikanische Bäume, zum Theil schön belaubt, mit lederartigen Blättern; Ocotea cymbarum (Alseodaphne cymb. Kost.), wird fast 100 Fuß… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Ocotĕa — Aubl., Gattung der Laurazeen, Bäume oder Sträucher mit lederartigen, fiedernervigen, abwechselnden Blättern, meist polygamdiözischen Blüten und nach der Blütezeit anschwellendem Blütenboden. Etwa 200 Arten. O. bullata Benth. in Südafrika und O.… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • ocotea — ● ocotea nom masculin Arbre (lauracée) d Amérique tropicale et d Afrique australe, dont plusieurs espèces fournissent des bois commerciaux (canelo, greenheart, grignon franc, camphorwood, etc.) …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Ocotea —   Ocotea Oc …   Wikipedia Español

  • Ocotea — ID 56789 Symbol Key OCOTE Common Name sweetwood Family Lauraceae Category Dicot Division Magnoliophyta US Nativity N/A US/NA Plant Yes State Distribution PR, VI Growth Habit N/A Du …   USDA Plant Characteristics

  • Ocotea foetens — Conservation status Near Threatened ( …   Wikipedia

  • Ocotea bullata — Conservation status …   Wikipedia

  • Ocotea catharinensis — Conservation status Vulnerable (IUCN 2.3) Scientific classification …   Wikipedia

  • Ocotea usambarensis — Scientific classification Kingdom: Plantae (unranked): Angiosperms (unranked): Magnoliids …   Wikipedia

  • Ocotea kenyensis — Conservation status Vulnerable (IUCN 2.3) Scientific classification K …   Wikipedia

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