Protium nodulosum   Family: Burseraceae    Kichwa: Shirkillu; Wao Tededo: Wimonkawe


Collected by William Balée, Tod Swanson, Gabriela Zurita, and Juan Ruiz. Geyepade, Río Curaray, Pastaza Province, Ecuador,  9/2019.  Specimen # 679. "Historical Ecology of Waorani Ridgetops" project funded by National Geographic. 

Photo: Tod Dillon Swanson

Protium nodulosum sap used as a medicine for speeding up childbirth.

Kichwa women primarily collect the sap of Protium nodulosum for use as pottery glaze.  However the form in which the sap coagulates suggests its use as a medicine.  When the sap oozes out it cools  into a rounded form that resembles the belly of pregnant woman.  These belly shaped balls of sap are called "the children" of the tree.  Because these "children" are born so easily shirquillu trees are understood to be women with a gift of giving birth easily.   When consumed by a pregnant woman the sap works as a medicine to speed up childbirth.   Because the tree is a human woman she must be asked politely to bestow her gift.