Cumaru (Dipteryx odorata)

Cumaru (Dipteryx odorata)

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Common Name(s): Cumaru, Brazilian Teak

Scientific Name: Dipteryx odorata

Distribution: Northern South America

Tree Size: 130-160 ft (40-50 m) tall, 3-5 ft (1-1.5 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 68 lbs/ft3 (1,085 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .86, 1.09

Janka Hardness: 3,330 lbf (14,800 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 25,390 lbf/in2 (175.1 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 3,237,000 lbf/in2 (22.33 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 13,850 lbf/in2 (95.5 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: 5.3%, Tangential: 7.7%, Volumetric: 12.6%, T/R Ratio: 1.5

Color/Appearance: Heartwood tends to be a medium to dark brown, sometimes with a reddish or purplish hue; some pieces may have streaks of yellowish or greenish brown.

Grain/Texture: Grain is interlocked, with a medium texture and a waxy feel.

Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; solitary and radial multiples; large pores in no specific arrangement, few; heartwood mineral/gum deposits present; parenchyma lozenge, aliform, confluent, and sometimes marginal; narrow rays, spacing fairly close.

Rot Resistance: Cumaru has excellent durability and weathering properties. The wood is rated as very durable regarding decay resistance, though it may be susceptible to some insect attacks.

Workability: Tends to be difficult to work on account of its density and interlocked grain. If the grain is not too interlocked, Cumaru can be surface-planed to a smooth finish. However, the wood contains silica and will have a moderate blunting effect on tool cutters. Due to its high oil content and density, Cumaru can present difficulties in gluing, and pre-boring is necessary when screwing or nailing the wood.

Odor: Cumaru has a faint, vanilla or cinnamon-like odor when being worked.

Allergies/Toxicity: Besides the standard health risks associated with any type of wood dust, no further health reactions have been associated with Cumaru. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Should be inexpensive for an import. Cumaru, much like Jatoba, represents a great value for those seeking a low-cost lumber that has excellent strength and hardness properties.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Flooring, cabinetry, furniture, heavy construction, docks, railroad ties, bearings, handles, and other turned objects.

Comments: Wood of the species Dipteryx odorata is most commonly called Cumaru among most woodworkers, though it is sometimes referred to as Brazilian Teak as well: primarily when used as hardwood flooring. (Brazilian Teak is not related to the wood that is most commonly called Teak, Tectona grandis.)

Cumaru is also called by the name Tonka Bean, and the tree is commonly cultivated for its vanilla-cinnamon scented seed—the tonka bean—which contains a chemical compound called coumarin.

Cumaru lumber is extremely stiff, strong, and hard, lending itself well to a variety of applications. It is sometimes used in place of the much more scarce Lignum Vitae.

The heartwood fluoresces under a blacklight, which can help distinguish it from Ipe.

Related Species:

None available.

Related Articles:


Cumaru (sanded)

Cumaru (sanded)

Cumaru (sealed)

Cumaru (sealed)

Cumaru (endgrain)

Cumaru (endgrain)

Cumaru (endgrain 10x)

Cumaru (endgrain 10x)


  1. Richard October 9, 2018 at 1:13 pm - Reply

    I’m interested in building my mailbox post.out of Cumaru as I really want something different than treated pine.
    Does anyone have any experience with this species concerning ground contact? I will have to bury the post at least 28″ to get below the frost line.

  2. Miko May 17, 2018 at 9:33 pm - Reply

    Any advantages to sealing? What sealant can I use?

  3. Steve May 14, 2018 at 9:24 am - Reply

    This wood can no longer be cut in Costa Rica.
    The seeds feed the macaws and provide nesting sites.
    The trees are a habitat to 1000s of creatures.

    I have worked with this wood over the years.
    Used for structural beams and flooring.

    It doesn’t like water.
    Will go black if not sealed.
    I have seem termites attack it.

    Some workers are allergic to it.
    Over exposure can bring on allergic reactions.

    The best wood comes from the east coast.
    West coast is softer and not the same quality.

    Why they call it Brazilian teak is beyond me.
    Nothing close to teak.

    It is one of my favorite hardwoods.
    Jotoba has more character though.

    I began replanting this tree and giving starter trees to anyone that would plant them.

    • Frank June 1, 2018 at 3:11 am - Reply

      Hey Steve! I’m in Costa Rica, the species you talk about is locally known as Almendro, which is slightly different to this one and its scientific name is Dipteryx Panamensis. I, for one, would absolutely love to plant one of these, but I doubt it would grow this far from the coast (Moravia).
      I agree the comparison to Teak is absurd, as Almendro is easily twice as hard and quite a bit heavier, plus it’s richer in color and an absolute pain to work, I get some mean tearout when trying to plane it even with new sharp blades. It’s still one of my favorites because the end result is near indestructible as far as wood goes, and the vanilla smell is amazing in the shop. I would not use it as flooring or for construction, as I regard that as a waste of a valuable and limited resource that can be replaced for plantation grown alternatives. I once saw a whole rustic restaurant with fresh purplewood flooring and it really annoyed me because of this… Anyway…
      Although it can’t be cut, MINAE does allow the use and distribution from dead and fallen trees, of which we get a whole bunch during hurricane season, and there’s even a distributor in Alajuela who specializes in Almendro.

  4. Laurynas February 3, 2018 at 7:13 am - Reply

    I have this dark cumaru, and It’s very hard wood, and have very hard and sharp splinters. Not a pleasure to work with, but looks amazing. Chech this pattern

  5. Panatrees Inc May 14, 2016 at 1:36 pm - Reply

    We supply Cumaru in round logs and squared logs

  6. Leonardo Silva Tapia December 12, 2013 at 8:34 am - Reply

    just to add some data, Cumaru is also called “Almendrillo” here in South America, I bought it by that name and thanks to this site I knew it was also called Cumaru.

    • Kyokahn April 9, 2017 at 12:09 am - Reply

      Hi there, for you or anyone else interested, cumaru isn’t exactly the same as Almendrillo (almendro), which is actually Dipteryx Panamensis growing from the south of Nicaragua to Colombia.
      Almendro tends to have darker grain and growth rings, and seems a bit less oily, at least in the pieces I’ve had my paws on. Hardness should be quite similar (my table saw doesn’t appreciate cutting 8/4 of it in 1 pass) but workability seems reasonable. It makes crazy sharp splinters and crazy fine dust that smells like vanilla and dry cacao. I’ll try to send information to complete the page on Almendro here.

      • Leonardo Silva Tapia April 9, 2017 at 9:15 am - Reply

        really interesting, the place where I buy this wood they call it “almendrillo” the people who work there, in the online page they refer to it as “Cumaru”

        I’ve had pieces with the vanilla/cacao scent and some others with a more cinnamon scent.

        rememember also this is a wood rax that sells american oak and ash under the name of “american oak”

        sometimes is very confusing, I also got another wood rax that have “Jatoba” named “Paquio” as well.

        • Kyokahn May 1, 2017 at 4:09 am - Reply

          Hahah, here in Costa Rica, Jatoba is called “Guapinol”. I’ve found most of them don’t really care for these amazing species they have, cause they stock them as “semi-hard” lumbers and they’re more often used for construction and beams… such a waste… they do know teak, which is plantation grown here (sucks for the environment), pine (from Chile) and laurel (horrible stuff). Furniture is ironically mostly made out of pine here, where the best woods grow, it’s also common to see spanish cedar and monkeypod, sold as just “normal wood”. Odd markets we have.

  7. Mark November 10, 2013 at 11:45 pm - Reply

    Some years ago, I somehow got a sample piece of cumaru flooring and it sat in a corner for a while. This last week I cut and stacked some rounds from it to turn on my lathe the result was quite interesting to look at. This is one wood that I think I would like to play with some more if I can afford to.

  8. martin August 3, 2013 at 3:28 pm - Reply

    Hello from Berlin, Germany,
    I wanted to simply express my gratitude for this site being available.
    Last winter I found over two dozen pieces, ( 38 cm in Length)that looked to be old stairtreads, (Fluted on both sides), in the back of the building where I have my studio. Some were used to support pallets of metal scraps. I thought they were Teak and salvadged them and let them sit inside for over four months. I was amazed, with the exception of some cracks and the natural greying, the wood had not decayed at all and had only a few surface holes from un wise insects. At any rate, I realized that it wasnät Teak and wanted to know what it was and this site hip nme the fact that it is Cumaru, (Brazillian Teak). I’ve found supplyers that show the exact same Tread as I found. To make a long story short. I’m almost finished with making a pair of Bongos from this beautiful and pleasing to smell and work with wood.
    Because of it being exposed to the elements for so long, hte wood is still dense, but a lot of the oils have evaporated, wich makes it easier to work with hand tools, (I don’t have maschines). Ok, that all, maybe when i finish the Bongos I can post a foto or two of them.
    Thanks again!


    • Carl December 5, 2016 at 2:37 pm - Reply

      Do you need to put felt pads on chair legs? Will this wood dent or dimple from a wheel rolling office chair?

      • ejmeier December 5, 2016 at 5:00 pm - Reply

        The wood itself will probably be fine, but I would still do felt pads if possible. Even when you use a super strong wood, the finish on top of the wood can still get messed up. It’s generally a good policy to try to protect any type of wood finish as best you can.

  9. Dan May 26, 2013 at 10:40 am - Reply

    I understand Cumaru to be Class 1 fire rated, as is IPE. That’s the same as steel and concrete.

  10. ehab April 3, 2013 at 11:37 pm - Reply

    is this wood fire resistant, if so for how many hours

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