several species of tropical tree of the family Cecropiaceae common to the understory layer of disturbed forest habitats of Central and South America. It is easily recognized by its thin, white-ringed trunk and umbrella-like arrangement of large leaves at the branch tips. These extremely fast-growing trees are colonizers of forest gaps or clearings. They usually live about 30 years and grow to less than 18 metres (60 feet), producing a very soft wood in the process. Trees are either male or female, with the female producing nearly one million seeds every time it fruits. Flowers are very small and borne on elongated, hanging structures called catkins.
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