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.
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.