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Panamawood

Castaño / Sterculia apetala

Local Names
Bellota, Anacaúita, Chiapas, Sunsún, Camajurú, Chicha, Mani, Camajura, Cacao de Monte, Huarmi-Caspi, Mayagua, Zapote Silvestre.
Distribution & Tree
Panamawood is a widely distributed tropical tree species found from southern Mexico to Brazil, Bolivia and Peru. It is Panama’s national tree. Consequently, it’s known by a variety of local names, including chichá in Brazil and chiapas in Mexico. In Guatemala, it’s called castaño (literally, “chestnut”), likely due to its pleasant-tasting seeds. It’s been introduced elsewhere in the tropics as a useful shade tree with abundant flowering and edible seeds. It can reach heights up to 40 meters and diameters up to 200 cm. In Colombia, pilot plots have been established to evaluate commercial potential for plantation production due to favorable growth rates.
Wood Appearance
The heartwood is a light to reddish or even yellowish brown. The wood has a medium luster and texture, and the grain is straight to irregular.
Processing Properties
Panamawood is easy to work with hand and machine tools. It can be wooly after planing. Sharp cutters are recommended. It nails, screws and glues well.
Strength & Durability
It’s a moderately light wood. The wood is not highly resistant to fungi or insects, and is prone to blue stain. However, it is easy to treat and achieves deep and even penetration.
Wood Uses
It’s used for boxes and crates, indoor construction, paneling, furniture, and joinery, and millwork. Formwork. Veneer for face or interior of plywood. Ice-cream sticks, medical tongue depressors, and coffins.
Ecological & Social Importance
The seeds are edible raw, boiled or roasted. The flavor of roasted seeds is compared to cashew or peanut. The oil rendered from the seeds can be used to lubricate fine machinery as well as for soapmaking. The flowers, bark and leaves are used as a home remedy for cough, bronchitis, and colds. The roots have been used to synthesize cortisone for use against arthritis and other inflammatory illness. It’s an important flowering tree for honey bees.
Reference Species
Technical CharacteristicsPanamawoodAmerican ElmRed Cedar
Densitykg/m3432560530
Janka Hardnesskgf400376408
Bending Stiffness (Modulus of Elasticity)GPa12.19.26.1
Bending Strength (Modulus of Rupture)MPa100.081.460.7
Crushing StrengthMPa51.938.141.5
Shrinkage, Radial%5.3%4.2%3.1%
Shrinkage, Tangential%11.2%9.5%4.7%
Shrinkage, Volumetric%11.9%14.6%7.8%
T/R Ratio2.12.31.5
Values determined at 12% humidity - Provided for reference only

DENSITY

JANKA HARDNESS

BENDING STIFFNESS

BENDING STRENGTH

CRUSHING STRENGTH

SHRINKAGE

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
Comvalius, L.B. "Surinamese Timber Species: Characteristics and Utilization." Djinipi N.V. 2001.
“Catálogo virtual de flora del Valle de Aburrá.” Universidad EIA.
Árbol de Bellote. "Catalogo de Arboles." Red de Viveros de Biodiversidad (México).
Camajón. "Maderas de Colombia." GFTN. WWF
Camajón. Laboratorio de Productos Forestales. Universidad Nacional de Colombia. 2018.
Chicha. Data Sheets. “The main technological characteristics of 245 tropical wood species.” Tropix 7. CIRAD.
Chichá. FSC Denmark. Lesser Known Species.
Chichá. ITTO Lesser Known Species.
Chichá. Wood Technology Transfer Fact Sheets. Forest Products Laboratory. USDA Forest Service.
Gérard, J. Guibal, D. et al. "Tropical Timber Atlas: Technological characteristics and uses." ITTO. Éditions Quæ, 2017.
Panamá. "Maderas de Panamá: Catálogo Maderas de Panamá" WWF.
Sterculia apetala. Cordero, J. Boshier, D. "Arboles de Centroamerica: Un manual para extensionistas." Oxford/Catie. 2003