Amyris elemifera

Amyris elemifera L.

Common Names: White Torch, Torchwood, White Candle Wood

Family: Rutaceae

Habit: Amyris elemifera grows as a shrub to small tree up to 6 meters in height.  The compound leaves are arranged oppositely (occasionally sub-opposite) with 3-5 leaflets (typically 3).  The leaflets are to 7 cm in length, ovate to rhombic, with an acute leaf apex and an entire or crenulate leaf margin. The leaflets have pellucid punctate dots and are aromatic when crushed.

The complete, perfect, actinomorphic flowers are arranged in terminal cymes.  The calyx has 4 unfused, green sepals. The corolla has 4 unfused, white petals.  There are 8 stamens.  The ovary is superior with 2 locules and numerous seeds although only one is fertilized.  The fruit is a drupe that turns dark blue to black at maturity.

Habitat: Amyris elemifera grows in Dry Broadleaf Evergreen Formation – Forest/Woodland/Shrublands (coppice and scrublands).

Distribution: Amyris elemifera occurs on all island groupings within the Lucayan Archipelago as well as Florida, the Caribbean region and Central America.

Medicinal/Cultural/Economic usage: Amyris elemifera is used in the Bahamas to treat colds and flu and the fruits are edible.

Bahamians would cut branches and fray the ends and then light them on fire to use as a light source while crabbing or fishing.

Oils can be extracted that have been used in the pharmaceutical industry.

The caterpillars of the Bahamian Swallow Tail forage on Amyris elemifera.