Calycophyllum spruceanum, a species with a number of common names, is a large tree found in the Amazon basin region of Brasil, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, and Bolivia.
It grows in primary lowland rainforest as well as areas of secondary forest that are subject to seasonal flooding when rivers overflow in the rainy season. Calycophyllum is a member of the Coffee Family, Rubiaceae. In habitat it is logged for its moderately strong wood.
Its colorful pealing bark, used in traditional medicine, contains compounds associated with antiseptic and anti-aging properties. The tree has a striking and graceful appearance, and is occasionally planted as a landscape ornamental in its native countries.
Popular names for the species, such as Capirona Negra and Mulateiro reflect its distinctive, dark red, orange, golden, or chocolate-brown bark color.
It’s thought that the bark undergoes color changes and sloughs off to rid the tree of potential pests and epiphytes. Perhaps the high concentrations of antiseptic compounds also inhibit disease organisms.