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Brosimum gaudichaudii Mama Cadela Chewing gum of the Cerrado

Brosimum gaudichaudii Mama Cadela Chewing gum of the Cerrado

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Mama-cadela is a lactascent shrub, which can reach up to 8 m in height and is very common in the Cerrado (dry bush lands) of the Brazilian Center-East region.

It has many popular names; one of them, ibapinima, comes from the Tupi-Guarani and means “spotted fruit” or myrá-pinima, meaning “spotted wood”, both common features of this species.

It belongs to the Moraceae family, has coriaceous elliptical or oblong leaves, smooth on top and pubescent on the bottom and of varying sizes in one plant. It has cylindrical dark and striped (ESTRIADOS) branches. The flowers are discrete and united in inflorescences, which form between June and August. The fruits are about 2cm in diameter, compound, orangey-yellow, with fibrous but juicy pulp, the flavor of which is sweet and very pleasant. They mature between September and November and have only one seed. Even though they are small and have a sticky pulp, they are very popular, especially among children, and usually sucked, slurped and chewed like gum until only a spent, flavorless residue is left. Pimentel Gomes even states that mama-cadela is a type of “natural chewing gum”. The residue has a consistency and appearance that recalls cotton, a sponge or a tow, which is why other common names include “algodãozinho” (little cotton) and “algodão-doce” (sweet cotton).

It is little known outside of its areas of occurrence and not cultivated much. Its conservation and diffusion of the population is very important for conserving the species, as it is native to an area that is threatened by the advancing borders of agricultural and cattle rearing land. According to official data, the Cerrado has already lost 50% of its vegetated surface.

The skins/shells, roots, leaves and green fruits are mentioned in literature as quite significant in treating a wide variety of ailments, like the flu, colds, gastric ulcers and, most importantly, skin problems like dermatitis, allergies and vitiligo. The skin/shell is sold in herbalist’s shops of the region. It is among the plants cited by 90% of the herbalists involved in an ethnobotanical project taking place in the region of Goiânia. Along with its medicinal uses, the roots are also used to scent tobacco smoked in pipes or cigarro de palha (a type of cigarette wrapped in a dried leaf)

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