day-flying Arctiidae moth

glueberry tree


Cordia dichotoma

G.Forst. 1786

pronounced: KOR-dee-uh dy-KOT-om-uh

(Boraginaceae — the comfrey family)


common names: glueberry, snotty-gobble

Cordia is named for Euricius Cordus (1486-1535) and his son Valerius Cordus, (1515-1544) German physicians and botanists; dichotoma is Greek, διχοτομος (dichotomos), cut in half, divided equally.

There is much taxonomic confusion between this plant and Cordia myxa. Some authorities seem to consider them the same plant, and others as separate species. I believe the plants pictured are C. dichotoma, but others may disagree with me, and reckon this to be C. myxa.

The tree originates from the area stretching from the eastern Mediterranean region to eastern India, and was introduced long ago into tropical Africa, tropical Asia and Australia, and more recently also to the Americas. The trees photographed are in the patch of trees between the road and the footpath in Sooning Street, Nelly Bay, opposite the Post Office.

The fruit of this tree has long been valued for its sticky mucilaginous pulp, which is eaten to suppress coughs and chest complaints, and to treat sore throats. The pulp is also applied as an emollient to abscesses, to calm rheumatic pain, and to purge parasitic intestinal worms. In Tanzania the fruit pulp is applied to ringworm. In Mali and the Côte d’Ivoire the leaves are applied to wounds and ulcers. A macerate of the leaves is taken to treat the effects of tsetse fly bites, and also applied to the bites externally.

The sticky pulp, especially from the unripe fruits, has widespread use as bird lime. Ripe fruits are eaten raw, while tender young fruits are eaten fresh or pickled as a vegetable. Mashed fruits enter into the preparation of sorghum beer. The kernel is also edible. In India the leaves are prepared as a vegetable. In Burkina Faso the ash obtained by burning young branches is used to make soap. In South-East Asia the leaves are used as cattle fodder.

This is a fairly fast-growing species. It matures in 50–60 years, by when its DBH can be 1–1.5 m. Its main trunk is generally straight and cylindrical, attaining a height of up to 4 m. The branches spread in all directions; by virtue of this, its crown can be trained into a beautiful inverted dome like an umbrella. When fully grown, the tree can, in the right conditions, reach a height of 15 m. The bark is greyish brown with longitudinal and vertical fissures.

The leaves are broad, ovate, alternate and pedicellate, 7 – 15 cm by 5 – 10 cm. They are glabrous above and pubescent below.

The tree is monoecious. The inflorescence is a lax terminal or short lateral panicle, 3 – 8 cm long, many-flowered, without bracts. The flowers are regular, white to creamy, the pedicel 1 – 2 mm long. The male flowers have a campanulate calyx about 5 mm long, 3-lobed; the female has a tubular-campanulate calyx a little longer than that of the male, irregularly 3–4-toothed.

The fruit is a globular to ovoid drupe 2 – 3.5 cm long, apiculate, enclosed at the base by the accrescent calyx; it is yellow, apricot or blackish when ripe, the pulp almost transparent, mucilaginous, sweet-tasting. The pyrene is broadly ellipsoid to globose, just over 1 cm long, deeply wrinkled, 1 – 2 seeded.

The timber is moderately hard, tough, fairly strong, and seasons well, but is rather prone to insect attack. There is little distinction between the heartwood and the sapwood, both being yellow to olive-grey and greyish brown. The grain is straight to shallowly interlocked, with fairly distinct growth rings. It is used for packing cases, low quality furniture, and, in parts of India, for boat-building and agricultural implements. It can also be used for woodcarving and for charcoal-making.

The moth in the flower photograph is Nyctemera secundiana, a day-flying Arctiidae moth. The caterpillars of the Kou Leafworm Ethmia nigroapicella and the Common Aeroplane Phaedyma shepherdi use the tree as a food plant.


Information about medicinal qualities of plants, or about their use as medicines, is for interest only, and is not intended to be used as a guide for the treatment of medical conditions.


Photographs taken in Nelly Bay 2009-2013
Page last updated 26th November 2018