Botanical name: Cavanillesia platanifolia (Bombacaceae)
THE RESPECTFUL GIANT TREE AS AN EAGLEíS NEST
The massive and handsome Cuipo can be recognized in the green jungle from far away. Coming from Tropical America, Cuipo is an endangered species. Wood of Cuipo has been used to replace balsa in construction and has been the material used for constructing canoes and making food containers. The bark of a young tree is sometimes used to make ropes. However, the endangerment of Cuipo is not due to the demand for the wood, but more the lack of habitat, since the rainforests are being chopped down massively.
Cuipo can grow 60 m (197 ft) tall and the trunk can reach 2.5 m (8 ft) in diameter. The age of a fully grown tree can be hundreds of years. The long and unbranched trunk ends in a beautiful, round top. The trunk is greyish and resembles an elephant foot and toes. Cuipo can be easily recognized by the rings seen every one or two meters on its trunk. The endangered national bird of Panama; the great Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja) usually builds its nest at the top of the Cuipo tree.
THE FLOWERS AND THE FRUIT Ė NUT TASTING FIREWORK IN THE SKY
Cuipo sheds its leaves during the dry season from January to April. The tree usually blooms in March or April and the fruit ripens in mid-April. The beautiful, reddish-brown and treelike flowers bloom on the branch ends. The huge fruits resemble an apple core and can be up to 15 cm (6 inch) long! The green fruits change to pink, with pink tone, as they ripen. When bearing fruit, the tree looks magnificent. Oily Cuipo seeds are eatable and taste like peanuts.
THE TREE HEALS GENTLY
The Cuna indians believe that Cuipo can be used as a cure for underweight. When the patient bathes in an infusion made of Cuipo bark for sixteen concurrent days, the weight of the patient should increase. The inhabitants of the jungle use the Cuipoís rubbery resin to heal infected wounds.