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Ten genera comprising 400 species of trees and shrubs are found in tropical and sub-tropical regions. The family was formerly included in the Rosaceae.

A West Indian species, Chrysobalanus icaco L., bears edible fruit known as the coco plum. The seeds and fruits of some Parinari Aubl. species are also edible.

Timber derived from one species has been thought capable of inducing dermatitis.

Hirtella L.

Three species of Hirtella have been reported to provide nesting sites for ants in pouches on their leaves. The ants are small and unaggressive.

Parinari Aubl.
[syns Parinarium Juss., Ferolia Aubl.]

This genus comprises some 60 species of trees and shrubs which occur in the tropics. The early literature favoured the use of the generic name Parinarium, but subsequently Parinari became the preferred name according to the ICBN rules. However, not all species have been renamed in the prescribed manner and hence the generic name Parinarium is still valid for a number of species.

Parinarium curatellaefolia Planch.
Mobola Tree

The trees are malodorous, smelling like an unwashed human body; only some individuals can detect an odour from the tree (Menninger 1967). The fruit is known as the mobola plum.

Parinari guyanense Lemée
[syns Ferolia guianensis Aubl., Parinarium guyanense Fritsch, Ferolia variegata Lam., Parinarium variegatum — of no botanical standing]
Atlaswood, Guyana Satinwood, Antilles Satinwood

Oppenheim & Balban (1910) reported dermatitis from the wood of Guyana and Antilles satinwoods.

Timbers described as satinwood may be derived from other botanical sources in the genera Chloroxylon DC. and Zanthoxylum L. (fam. Rutaceae).


  • Menninger EA (1967) Fantastic Trees. New York: Viking Press [WorldCat] [url]
  • Oppenheim and Balban (1910). Cited by Sandermann & Barghoorn (1956)
  • Sandermann W, Barghoorn A-W (1956) Gesundheitsschädigende Hölzer. (Ein Übersichtsbericht). [Harmful woods. (An overview report)]. Holz als Roh- und Werkstoff 14(3): 87-94 [doi] [url]

Richard J. Schmidt

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