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Tinto

Logwood / Haematoxylon campechianum

Local Names
Brasiletta, Palo de Brasil, Campeachy, Bloodwood Tree, Bois Campeche, Ek, Palo de Campeche, Palo de Tinta, Palo Negro.
Distribution & Tree
Tinto–referred to alternatively as logwood—is found in southern Mexico and the Peten and Izabal departments of Guatemala as well as parts of Belize and Honduras. It was introduced into various Caribbean islands where it became naturalized. It grows abundantly in swampy areas that are flooded for part of the year, often appearing in single-species blocks, and produces sweetly fragrant yellow flowers. The tree reaches up to 15 meters with diameters reaching up to 60 cm. Its truck tends to be extremely crooked and is irregularly fluted, like a cluster of stems fused together. A closely related species, brasileto, resembles tinto but is distributed in arid regions. Its scientific name means literally bloodwood.
Wood Appearance
The heartwood is bright red when cut with a fresh odor of violet. The wood darkens with exposure. The grain is irregular and somewhat interwoven with a fine texture. The color is imparted by the ingredient haematoxylin which is extracted for a variety of pharmaceutical, textile and histology purposes.
Processing Properties
It is very strong and hard to cut. It finishes smoothly and takes a beautiful polish.
Strength & Durability
It is very hard and heavy with a specific gravity above 1.0. It is also highly durable, withstands humidity well and can be in contact with the ground.
Wood Uses
Furniture, decorative pieces, and tools. Outdoor uses, including posts. Increasing popularity as slabs or cookies, sometimes with epoxy resin.
Ecological & Social Importance

The Maya name is ec and has been used by the Maya for its red pigment through pre-Hispanic times for paint and dye and today is being “rediscovered” as a natural, organic dye. The Lacandon people of western Peten used the wood for arrow shafts.  Indeed, tinto is among the most important species in the history of Mesoamerica. Along with mahogany, it was the primary reason for the British to claim Belize as a colony. In Europe it became prized as the source of a brilliant red dye and offered an extremely lucrative trade. By the 18th century, 95% of blue and black-dyed silk, cotton, wool and leather were colored with tinto’s extract. Pirates targeted shiploads of the wood, along with gold and silver, from Spanish vessels departing from Campeche (the species is sometimes called Palo de Campeche). Later, settlements appeared in what is today Belize to cut tinto directly. It was notoriously dangerous work often conducted waist-deep in water. Mosquitos, crocodiles, hunger and pirate attacks were constant threats. Slaves were brought in from Africa to cut wood. 

The tree grows rapidly and easily from seed and regenerates when cut, making it a candidate for restoration. Today its primary commercial use is in histology as a stain for viewing cell nuclei. Microscopic descriptions of multiple diseases have been established using the dye. It can be used to dye a variety of fabrics, fur, paper, and metal. With anti-inflammatory properties, it has potential medical uses.

Reference Species with Similar Density & Hardness
Technical CharacteristicsTintoHonduran RosewoodMeranti
Densitykg/m38811,025850
Janka HardnesskgfNA997726
Bending Stiffness (Modulus of Elasticity)GPaNA22.017.0
Bending Strength (Modulus of Rupture)MPaNANA122.3
Crushing StrengthMPaNANA70.9
Shrinkage, Radial%NANA5.5%
Shrinkage, Tangential%NANA10.1%
Shrinkage, Volumetric%NA9.0%15.7%
T/R RatioNA2.51.8
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
Armstrong, WP “Logwood and Brazilwood: Trees That Spawned 2 Nations.” Pacific Horticulture 53: 38-43. Spring 1992.
Cordero, J. Boshier, D. "Arboles de Centroamerica: Un manual para extensionistas." Oxford/Catie. 2003
Haematoxylum campechianum. Vozzo, J.A. (ed) "Manual de Semillas de Arboles Tropicales." 2010.
Ortiz-Hidalgo, C. et al. “Hematoxylin: Mesoamerica’s Gift to Histopathology. Palo de Campechy (Logwood Tree), Pirates’ Most Desired Treasure, and Irreplaceable Tissue Stain.” International Journal of Surgical Pathology
2019, Vol. 27(1) 4–14.
Sistema de Especies Forestales. CONAFOR.
Standley, PC. Williams, LO. Gibson, DN. "Flora of Guatemala." Volume 24. Field Museum of Natural History. 1974.
Tinto. "Catalogo de Arboles." Red de Viveros de Biodiversidad (México).
World Agroforestry Centre database.