Orejero | Elephant Ear Tree
Scientific Name: Enterolobium cyclocarpum
Common Names: Guanacaste, Earpod Tree, Monkey Ear Tree
Description: The Earpod Tree, scientifically known as Enterolobium cyclocarpum, is a large and majestic tree native to the American tropics. It has a distinctive appearance with a broad and spreading crown, giving it a resemblance to an umbrella. The tree can reach heights of up to 30 meters, and its compound leaves consist of numerous small leaflets, providing a lush and dense canopy.
Distribution: The Earpod Tree is found in various countries throughout Central and South America, including Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela.
Habitat: It thrives in tropical and subtropical climates, commonly found in lowland rainforests, riparian areas, and open savannas. The Earpod Tree is adaptable to different soil types and can withstand periodic flooding.
Culinary Use: While the tree itself is not consumed, it provides essential ecosystem services, including providing shade and shelter for various wildlife species, including birds and insects. The fallen leaves and fruits contribute to nutrient cycling and serve as food sources for decomposers and herbivores.
Medicinal Use: In traditional medicine, some parts of the Earpod Tree, such as the bark and leaves, are used to treat various ailments. It is believed to have anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties and is used to make remedies for skin conditions and respiratory issues.
Fun Fact: The Earpod Tree is culturally significant in the regions where it grows. In Costa Rica, it is the national tree and is proudly depicted on the country's coat of arms. The tree's large and spreading canopy provides welcome shade in the tropical heat, making it a favorite gathering spot for locals and visitors alike. Its striking appearance and ecological importance have made the Earpod Tree a cherished symbol of biodiversity and environmental conservation in the American tropics. It is named "Elephant Ear Tree" due to the shape and size of its leaves, which resemble the ears of an elephant. The tree is highly valued for its shade, as its broad canopy provides respite from the sun. It is also an important species for the ecosystems it inhabits, providing habitat and food for various animals.