Cataia, also known as tapir bark, bark d’anta, bitter cinnamon, pau-pra-tudo, melambo and caa-pororoca, is a large plant, which flowered up to 27 meters. However, due to the great success that the so-called caiçara whiskey (a medicinal cachaça of Cataia) has achieved, many explorers are tearing the leaves and stems of this plant before their time. Due to this intense exploration, it came to be considered just a bush. Its name derives from the Tupi-Guarani language, and means “leaf that burns”. Certainly its taste and smell are really spicy and bitter.

It is natural in cold and high altitude climates, the so-called marshes. Its leaves are used for the manufacture of cachaça and as seasonings and spices. Cathay barks are also used, mainly in a way more focused on natural medicine. It is rich in eugenol, a compound with an antiseptic and anesthetic content. It has antispasmodic, tonic, antiscorbic, expectorant, carminative, stomatal and sudorific properties. Its uses are related to the treatment of injuries and stomach problems such as heartburn, diarrhea and stomach pain. There are reports of the use of cataia to treat sexual impotence, as some say it acts as an aphrodisiac, thus increasing libido.

Cataia Infusion or Tea

  • Infusion – Put boiling water (as much as you like) over the skins, smother and leave for about 15 minutes. Then strain and drink.
  • Tea – Cook the skins with a little water for, on average, ten minutes. Strain, wait for it to warm and drink.


It is indicated with support to treatments for anemia, bronchitis, malaria, nausea, colic, dysentery, fever, intestinal pain, gastritis, dyspepsia and convalescence. It is also considered beneficial for the treatment of nervous system problems, although the effects are controversial, changing with each metabolism. There are people who claim that tea is calming, promoting a feeling of relaxation and that it even acts as a sleeping pill. There are also reports that claim this liquid causes excitement, acts as an invigorating and even energizing.


Due to the great success of this plant and the cachaça that pleased the tastes of many Brazilians and tourists, the exploitation has been carried out, many times, in a criminal manner, disrespecting the times of growth of Cataia. Many residents of the region and even researchers are afraid of extinction. That’s because incorrect management has already drastically transformed the ability to reach the ideal 27 meters, and it is now devastating the bushes, killing them instead of just harvesting leaves. In the ambition to sell more and more of this cachaça, many do not see that in the end, they may have nothing.