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YELLOW IPÊ ​

Cortez / Handroanthus chrysanthus

Local Names
Golden Trumpet-Tree, Yellow Ipê, Guayacan, Yellow Mayflower, Coyote, Amapa, Lapacho, Pau d’Arco, Roble Morado, Tahuari, Araguaney, Ironwood, Brazilian Walnut, 决明状蚁木
Distribution & Tree

Yellow ipê is distributed throughout continental tropical America and some of the Lesser Antilles. The tree grows on a variety of sites, from ridge tops to riverbanks and marsh forests. Grows to 37 meters in height with trunk diameters of 150 cm. The tree is showy and handsome, blooming when devoid of leaves, in the spring months. Multiple, closely-related species of the Handroanthus genus are referred to as ipê commercially and sold interchangeably (e.g. H. Guayacan, H. impetiginosa, H. serratifolia). The group was classified as part of the Tabebuia genus until 2007.

Wood Appearance
Heartwood olive-brown to blackish, often with lighter or darker striping, often covered with a yellow powder; sharply demarcated from the whitish or yellowish sapwood. Texture fine to medium; luster low to medium; grain straight to very irregular; rather oily-looking. Veneers obtained are similar to a golden-brown Ceylon satinwood.
Processing Properties
Moderately difficult to work especially with hand tools; has a blunting effect on cutting edges, finishes smoothly except where grain is very roey. The fine yellow dust produced in most operations may cause dermatitis in some workers. Dries well with minimum checking and warping. Stellite-tipped and tungsten-carbide cutting tools recommended. Sawdust may cause dermatitis.
Strength & Durability
One of the hardest woods in our forests, ipê’s heartwood is very resistant to attack by decay fungi and termites; not resistant to marine borers but applications in fresh water and brackish marine environments. Very dimensionally stable under variable environmental conditions. Class A fire rating.
Wood Uses
Decking, railroad crossties, heavy construction, tool handles, turnery, industrial and container flooring, stairs, textile mill items, furniture (including outdoor and solid wood), cabinetwork, ship-building, turnery, decorative veneers, specialty items (billiard cues, walking sticks, archery bows, etc.).
Ecological & Social Importance
The Cathedral of Panama Vieja contained beams of cortez which were reported to be perfectly sound after having been exposed to the weather since the destruction of the city, some 300 years ago. Ipê has proven the preeminent decking species and indeed was utilized for the Atlantic City and Coney Island boardwalks. Serious sustainability questions have emerged due to its unsustainable exploitation in the Amazon. The bark of pink ipê contains lapachol and is used in home remedies to treat inflammation, allergies and tumors and to promote scar tissue (although it may be dangerous if ingested). Lapachol has strong antibiotic and disinfectant properties with potential for topical applications.
Reference Species
Technical CharacteristicsIpêCumaruHickory (Shagbark)
Densitykg/m31,1001,041800
Janka Hardnesskgf1,5921,411853
Bending Stiffness (Modulus of Elasticity)GPa22.122.314.9
Bending Strength (Modulus of Rupture)MPa177.0175.1139.3
Crushing StrengthMPa93.895.563.5
Shrinkage, Radial%5.9%5.3%7.0%
Shrinkage, Tangential%7.2%7.7%10.5%
Shrinkage, Volumetric%12.4%12.6%16.7%
T/R Ratio1.21.51.5
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
"Catálogo de Arboles." Red de Viveros de Biodiversidad.
"Fruit Trees and Useful Plants in Amazonian Life." Non-Wood Forest Products 20. Shanley, P et al (Eds). FAO/CIFRPPI.
"Maderas de Panama: Catálogo Maderas de Panamá" WWF.
“Cortes: Tabebuia Guayacán.” Ficha Técnica No. 8. Proyecto PD 8/92 Rev. 2 (F) Estudio de Crecimiento de Especies Nativas de Interés Comercial en Honduras. PROECEN. 1999.
Cortes. Guias Silviculturales de 23 Especies Forestales del Bosque Humedo de Honduras. Proyecto PD 022/99 Rev 2. PROECEN, ESNACIFOR, OIMT.
Ipê. Data Sheets. “The main technological characteristics of 245 tropical wood species.” Tropix 7. CIRAD.
Ipê. FSC Denmark. Lesser Known Species.
Ipê. ITTO Lesser Known Species.
Kaiser, J.A. “Ipe.” Wood Explorer. The Woodworking Network. 14 August 2011.
Keating, T. “An Estimate of Tropical Rainforest Acres Impacted for a Board Foot of Imported Ipê.” 6th in the Rainforest Relief Reports Series of Occasional Papers. July 1998
Roman, F. et al. Guia para la Propagacion de 120 Especies de Arboles Nativos de Panama y el Neotropico. ELTI, PRORENA, STRI, Yale FES. 2012.
Standley, PC. Williams, LO. Gibson, DN. "Flora of Guatemala." Volume 24. Field Museum of Natural History. 1974.
Tabebuia crysantha. Cordero, J. Boshier, D. "Arboles de Centroamerica: Un manual para extensionistas." Oxford/Catie. 2003
Tabebuia impetiginosa. ITTO Lesser Known Species.
Tabebuia serratifolia. ITTO Lesser Known Species.
Tabebuia serratifolia. World Agroforestry Database.
Tabebuia Spp. Wood Technology Transfer Fact Sheets. Forest Products Laboratory. USDA Forest Service.