Amyris elemifera

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Amyris elemifera
Amyris Elenifera Ypey73.jpg

Secure (NatureServe)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Sapindales
Family: Rutaceae
Genus: Amyris
Species: A. elemifera
Binomial name
Amyris elemifera

Amyris elemifera is a species of flowering plant in the citrus family, Rutaceae. Its common names include sea torchwood, smooth torchwood,[1] candlewood, sea amyris, tea, cuabilla, and bois chandelle.[2] It is native to Florida in the United States, the Caribbean, and the Central American countries of Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador. It is also known from northern South America.[1] The species name elemifera is from the Greek, meaning "resin bearing".[3]


Sea torchwood attains a maximum height of 4 to 12 metres (13 to 39 ft).[2] The smooth, gray bark matures into a rough and furrowed surface with plates. The wood is close-grained.[4] The species has a vertical branching habit. It has a weak taproot, but the lateral roots are stiff and strong. The yellow-gray twigs turn gray with age. The hanging foliage is fragrant. The compound leaves are opposite or sub-opposite. A 3 cm (1.2 in) petiole supports three to five oval or lance-shaped leaflets. The fragrant, globose drupe is black and contains a single brown seed. The tiny, fragrant white flowers and fruit attract wildlife such as birds.[3]


Sea torchwood tolerates full sun to light shade. In Florida, it often grows along the edges of hammocks.[4] It tolerates many soil types, including soil over rock and coastal sand.[2] It grows in well-drained sites,[4] but it tolerates 750 to 2,000 mm (29.53 to 78.74 in) of yearly precipitation in Puerto Rico.[2] Young plants linger in the understory until gaps allow further growth.[2]

In Florida, sea torchwood is a food source for the endangered Schaus' Swallowtail (Papilio aristodemus ponceanus).[5][2]


This species has been used for fences, fuel, and honey production.[2] The fine-grained, fragrant wood is resistant to dry wood termites. It is too scarce for common use.[2] The plant has yielded taxaline, an oxazole with antibiotic activity against Mycobacterium.[2]


  1. ^ a b Amyris elemifera. NatureServe. 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Francis, J. K. "Amyris elemifera L." (PDF). United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2007-12-03. 
  3. ^ a b "Torchwood (Amyris elemifera)". School of Forest Resources and Conservation. University of Florida. Archived from the original on 17 November 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-03. 
  4. ^ a b c "Common torchwood (Amyris elemifera)". Natives for Your Neighborhood. Institute for Regional Conservation. Retrieved 2007-12-03. 
  5. ^ "Schaus swallowtail butterfly". Conservation Management Institute. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Retrieved 2007-12-03.