Virola surinamensis, a nutmeg relative, is native to the subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and swamps of Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela.
The tree is harvested for its wood. It is also a source of traditional medicinal remedies for intestinal worms. The Amazon Indians Waiãpi living in the West of Amapá State of Brazil, treat malaria with an inhalation of vapor obtained from leaves of Viola surinamensis.
The seed oil is the oil extracted from the seed. It contains 13% lauric acid, 69% myristic acid, 7% palmitic acid, and traces of oleic acid and linoleic acid. Myristic and lauric acids comprised 91.3 mole % of the total fatty acids. Additional saturated fatty acids such as decanoic acid and stearic acidare minor components.
The butter of ucuhuba has a high-melting point (53 °C) and saponification value (220 mg KOH / g oil). These values exceed those of beef tallow, making the oil a valuable raw material which could replace oils of animal origin in products such as fine soaps. The oil also gives soap a better consistency and durability. The seeds are rich in fat (60%–70%), and 70% of the fat is composed of trimyristin, a triglyceride of myristic acid which is an aromatic essential oil used in the cosmetic, pharmaceutical, and food industries. Currently, this essential oil is extracted from nutmeg, which has a concentration of about 80%.