Cecropiaceae is a family of flowering plants that includes trees and shrubs found primarily in the tropical regions of the Americas. It was previously classified as a separate family, but recent phylogenetic studies have placed it within the larger family Urticaceae (the nettle family).
The Cecropia genus is the most well-known and largest genus within this group, with over 60 species of trees that can grow up to 40 meters tall. These trees are characterized by their lightweight wood, large leaves, and hollow stems that often contain colonies of ants. The ants provide protection for the tree from herbivores, while the tree provides shelter and food for the ants in return.
Cecropiaceae plants have simple, alternate leaves with stipules at the base of the petiole. They produce small flowers that are arranged in clusters or spikes, and their fruits are typically small and dry. Some species of Cecropia are used in traditional medicine for various purposes, such as treating skin conditions, diarrhea, and fever. However, more research is needed to confirm the safety and efficacy of these uses.