Guapinol / Hymenaea courbaril
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.
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.
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.
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.
|Bending Stiffness (Modulus of Elasticity)||GPa||18.9||22.1||13.7|
|Bending Strength (Modulus of Rupture)||MPa||155.2||177.0||97.1|
|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.