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Guapinol / Hymenaea courbaril

Local Names
Brazilian Cherry, Courbaril, Brazilian Copal, Locust, Algarrobo, Jatahy, Kawanari, Rode lokus, Estoraque, Azucar Huayo.
Distribution & Tree
Southern Mexico, throughout Central America and the West Indies (including Cuba, Jamaica and Trinidad) to northern Brazil, Bolivia, and Peru. The slow-growing species occurs in tropical dry forest, transition to premontane moist forest, and tropical wet forest as well as subtropical moist forest, preferring sandy-loamy soils. The tree’s best development is on ridges or slopes and high riverbanks. Jatoba grows to heights of over 40 meters with trunk diameters of 80 cm. Boles are well formed, often clear for up to 24 meters, and basally swollen or buttressed in large trees.
Wood Appearance
Heartwood is salmon-red to orange-brown when fresh, becoming russet to reddish-brown when seasoned, often marked with dark streaks. Sapwood is usually wide, gray, or pinkish. Texture is medium to coarse and grain mostly interlocked; luster is golden.
Processing Properties
The wood is moderately difficult to saw and machine because of its high density. Carbide- and stellite-tipped blades are indicated to reduce dulling. It can be planed to a smooth surface, although planing may be somewhat difficult if grain is interlocked. It is easy to glue and finish satisfactorily; steam-bending properties are comparable to white oak. Shrinkage is low for a wood of its density and the wood is moderately stable.
Strength & Durability
Exceptionally stiff, strong, and hard, the wood very resistant to brown-rot and white-rot fungi; actual field exposure trials also rate the wood as very durable. Heartwood is also rated very resistant to dry-wood termites (except sapwood); little resistance to marine borers.
Wood Uses
Furniture and cabinet work, sliced veneer, residential, container, truck and industrial flooring, house frames, exterior paneling, ship building, tool handles and other applications where good shock resistance is needed, mouldings, naval construction, steam-bent parts, turnery, railroad crossties, tree-nails, gear cogs, wheel rims, musical instruments, sculpture, athletic equipment, and other specialty items.
Ecological & Social Importance
Tree exudes a yellow or red rosin-like gum known commercially as South American copal. This substance can be found buried under trees and is used as an oily, weather-proofing varnish. Seed nods contain an edible pulp whose flavor is slightly reminiscent of bananas although with a starchy texture. Indeed, the word guapinol is a variant of Nahuatl signifying “tree pinol,” a reference to this pulp which indeed is still traditionally prepared as such (a pinole or atole is a thick cornmeal drink consumed across Mexico and Central America). The protein value of jatoba flour is similar to that of corn. It can and is sometimes fermented into a liquor similar to beer. Jatoba bark tea is popular among lumberjacks working in the forests in Brazil, because it is a natural energy tonic. Besides being used to give energy and stamina, jatoba tea has been used for centuries as a tonic for the respiratory and urinary systems by the indigenous people of the Amazon Basin. The bark, sap and resin are known for their ability to fight fungus and yeast such as Candida albicans, bronchitis and are used for diarrhea.
Reference Species
Technical CharacteristicsJatobaIpêTeak
Janka Hardnesskgf1,2191,592500
Bending Stiffness (Modulus of Elasticity)GPa18.922.113.7
Bending Strength (Modulus of Rupture)MPa155.2177.097.1
Crushing StrengthMPa81.293.854.8
Shrinkage, Radial%4.2%5.9%2.6%
Shrinkage, Tangential%8.0%7.2%5.3%
Shrinkage, Volumetric%12.1%12.4%7.2%
T/R Ratio1.91.22.0
Values determined at 12% humidity - Provided for reference only







Values are for reference only and cannot be guaranteed. Wood is a natural material and physical and mechanical properties may vary depending on age, genetics, and other factors. We encourage customers to consult the references provided in the bibliography. For further explanations of wood’s key technical characteristics, an excellent resource is the Wood Database with articles on Density (average dried weight); Janka hardness; Elastic Modulus; Rupture Modulus; Crushing Strength; Radial, Tangential and Volumetric Shrinkage.

ReferencesView Source
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"Maderas de Colombia." GFTN. WWF
Algorrobo. Laboratorio de Productos Forestales. Universidad Nacional de Colombia. 2018.
Catálogo virtual de flora del Valle de Aburrá, Universidad EIA
Courbaril. Wood Technology Transfer Fact Sheets. Forest Products Laboratory. USDA Forest Service.
Cuapinole. "Catalogo de Arboles." Red de Viveros de Biodiversidad (México).
Francis, J. Hymenaea courbaril (L.) Algarrobo, locust. Leguminosae. Legume family. Caesalpinioideae. Cassia sub-family. USDA Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station, Institute of Tropical Forestry; 5 p. (SO-ITF-SM; 27). 1990.
Francis, John K; Lowe, Carol. Bioecología de arboles nativos y exóticos de Puerto Rico y las Indias Occidentales. International Institute of Tropical Forestry (Río Piedras, San Juan, P.R.). 2000.
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Hymenaea courbaril. Cordero, J. Boshier, D. "Arboles de Centroamerica: Un manual para extensionistas." Oxford/Catie. 2003
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Hymenaea courbaril. World Agroforestry Database.
Jatoba. "Especies de madera, por nombre comercial, recogidas en la Guía." Directorio de la Madera 2016. AEIM.
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Jatoba. Hout Database
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Jatoba. The Wood Database.
Kaiser, J. Wood of the Month: Brazil's Jatoba Denser than Teak. Woodworking Network. August 14, 2011.
Laboratorio de Ecología de Poblaciones y Comunidades Tropicales, UNAM
Little, Jr., Elbert; Wadsworth, Frank H. "Common Trees of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands." 1964.
Longwood, F. R. "Present and potential commercial timbers of the Caribbean." Agriculture Handbook No. 207. U.S. Department of Agriculture. 1962.
Standley, PC. Williams, LO. Gibson, DN. "Flora of Guatemala." Volume 24. Field Museum of Natural History. 1974.
Vázquez-Yanes, C., A. I. Batis Muñoz, M. I. Alcocer Silva, M. Gual Díaz y C. Sánchez Dirzo. 1999. Árboles y arbustos potencialmente valiosos para la restauración ecológica y la reforestación. Reporte técnico del proyecto J084. CONABIO - Instituto de Ecología, UNAM.
Vignote Peña "Principales Maderas Tropicales Utilizadas en España." Universidad Politécnica de Madrid