Fruits, bark, seeds.
The fruits of peumo tree have important health benefits and have been used for a long time in medicine. They provide a strong mix of vitamins and minerals that boosts immunity and the development of tissues. The peumo is particularly rich in antioxidants. Like many other fruits, it provides a significant dose of vitamin C, which improves immune response and protects against colds and other infections. The peumo seeds are also important due to their oil content. They can be consumed raw but have also been cooked when no other food was available. The seeds can even be turned into an alcoholic drink. Traditional medicine mainly used the bark prepared as an infusion, as a counter for liver problems but also to speed up the healing of wounds and treat rheumatism. Seeds were transformed into a powder and employed against vaginal infections. Various parts of the peumo plant also have an antiseptic action. Extracts from the fruit can stop the growth of food bacteria, of both gram positive and gram negative types. Extracts from the leaves were less effective, inhibiting only one strain of Staphylococcus aureus. The oil that can be extracted from the seeds is valuable. It is edible, with a high content of linoleic and oleic acid. It is rich in both polyunsaturated and saturated fatty acids, while being a great natural source for beta-sitosterol and tocopherols. Cryptocarya alba is mainly cultivated for its edible berries, the peumos. However, the attractive look also makes it a very popular ornamental plant. When the fruits are ripe, the tree is a spectacular sight, with thousands of small berries with a vivid red color that resemble a coral reef. The broad evergreen leaves also contribute to the ornamental value of the species. Peumo tree has several other industrial uses. It can be fed as fodder to various animals, while the wood has a hard essence and resists water. The bark can be turned into an orange pigment or used in tanneries.
Cryptocarya alba is a very resilient tree, which makes it easy to cultivate. Despite being an evergreen species, it survives frosts as low as -8 �C. It can also tolerate periods of snow of up to two weeks per year. The trees grow best when located in a position with full sun exposure. They enjoy water and can grow with their roots permanently submerged. The peumo tolerates cold climates and wet ones. It can survive drought but usually likes moist environments. Mountain areas are very favourable, especially slopes located from 500 to 2000 m high. Cultivation is easily done using the viable seeds, which germinate readily. It doesn't require much attention afterwards and can survive frost and being completely covered by snow for up to two weeks.
The fact that the leaves, fruits and bark have a content of resins and tannins has been known for a long time, ever since Gautier first investigated its phytochemistry. The leaves have a strong aroma and the essential oil extracted from them has important medical properties. Because it was known to have the ability to kill germs, the oil was studied by three or more separate teams of researchers. They found a high concentration of monoterpenoids like terpin-1-en-4-ol, ?-terpinene, 1,8-cineole (eucalyptol), p-cymene, ?- and ?-pinene. Numerous other bioactive compounds have been identified in the plant. Back in 1995, a study isolated chlorogenic acid and ten flavonoids in the fruits and aerial parts. The methanol extracts were found to be antioxidant in nature. Two types of ?-pyrones are found in the fruits after they become ripe: cryptofolione and 6-(4,6-dimethoxy-8-phenylocta-1,7-dienyl)-4-hydroxytetrahydropyran-2-one. Cryptofolione is active against Trypanosoma cruzi and Leishmania species, as well as mildly cytotoxic.
No side effects have ever been reported after eating the berries. However, any natural product has a small chance to trigger an allergic reaction in some people. If you notice any problems, ask for medical advice.