Scientific Name: Leptolobium panamense (often listed under older genus classifications, such as Sweetia or Acosimum)
Distribution: From Mexico down to northern South America
Tree Size: 100-130 ft (30-40 m) tall,
2-3 ft (.6-1 m) trunk diameter
Average Dried Weight: 62.7 lbs/ft3 (1,005 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .80, 1.01
Janka Hardness: 2,150 lbf (9,560 N)
Modulus of Rupture: 21,900 lbf/in2 (151.1 MPa)
Elastic Modulus: 2,957,000 lbf/in2 (20.39 GPa)
Crushing Strength: 9,960 lbf/in2 (68.7 MPa)
Shrinkage: Radial: 5.3%, Tangential: 10.1%,
Volumetric: 14.8%, T/R Ratio: 1.9
Color/Appearance: Heartwood ranges from medium brown to darker reddish brown, sometimes with streaks. Contrasting sapwood is a pale yellow color.
Grain/Texture: Grain is usually interlocked and/or roey. Medium texture and good natural luster.
Rot Resistance: Rated as very durable, with good insect resistance.
Odor: No characteristic odor.
Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, chichipate has been reported to cause skin irritation. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.
Pricing/Availability: Infrequently imported as flooring planks or surfaced lumber. Expect prices to be moderate for an imported hardwood.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, and is reported by the IUCN as being a species of least concern.
Common Uses: Flooring, furniture, turned objects, and veneer, as well as heavy exterior construction applications not requiring much machining, such as railroad ties, bridges, and beams.
Comments: In addition to the previous botanical names (previously classified in the Sweetia and Acosmium genera), this wood is known by a myriad of different regional common names, including bilihuete, chichipate, coyote, guayacan, huesillo, huesito, palo de vaca, Billy Webb, visapolollo, carboncillo, guayacan corriente, malvecino, rejo, vera de agua, balsamo amarillo, cencerro, chakte, corteza de Honduras, quina silvestre, and yacti.
Another very closely related wood that sometimes also bears the name sucupira is tatabu (Diplotropis purpurea). Despite being from two different genera, the two woods are very similar and are sometimes represented interchangeably (e.g., CIRAD’s Tropix project).
Images: Drag the slider up/down to toggle between raw and finished wood.
(The first sample pictured shows striped / streaked heartwood, while the second has a more uniform coloration.)
Porosity: diffuse porous
Arrangement: some pores are exclusively solitary, but radial multiples of two to three pores are much more widespread
Vessels: large to very large, few to very few; brown deposits occsaionlly present
Parenchyma: diffuse-in-aggregates, vasicentric, winged, lozenge, and confluent
Rays: narrow to medium width; normal spacing
Lookalikes/Substitutes: Brownheart (Vouacapoua americana) and partridgewood (Andira inermis) are two other South American hardwoods with similar density and appearance. Separating them from sucupira can be difficult, but in general, these woods will have much more widespread confluent parenchyma throughout most of the pores, while sucupira will, on average, have a more conservative amount of confluent parenchyma.
Notes: Tatabu (Diplotropis purpurea) is a closely related species with nearly identical properties. Given the available macroscopic features, there aren’t enough consistently unique elements to reliably distinguish between the species of Diplotropis and Bowdichia.
The Bowdichia genus contains only two recognized species, B. nitida and B. virgilioides, both of which are represented here on this page. However, two very closely related genera are Diplotropis and Leptolobium, whose circumscription is still in revision based on genetic testing.Cardoso, D., de Lima, H. C., Rodrigues, R. S., de Queiroz, L. P., Pennington, R. T., & Lavin, M. (2012). The Bowdichia clade of Genistoid legumes: Phylogenetic analysis of combined molecular and … Continue reading