USDA Forest Service
Forest Products Laboratory
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53705-2398
(608) 231-9200


Wood Technical Fact Sheet


 Copaifera spp.


Family: Leguminosae

Other Common Names: Copaiba (generally in Latin America), Camiba, Cabino blanco (Panama), Cabimo, Palo de aceite (Venezuela), Canime, Copaiba (Colombia), Copaibarana, Copahyba (Brazil), Cupay (Paraguay), Timbo-y-ata (Argentina).

Distribution: Varies with species and ranges from Panama southward to Argentina and Paraguay. C. reticulata has wide distribution in the Amazon region and is the source of copaiba balsam.

The Tree: May reach a height of 100 ft and a trunk diameter of 4 ft.

The Wood:

General Characteristics: Heartwood reddish brown, variable often with a coppery hue and sometimes streaked; not very sharply demarcated from the pinkish gray or nearly white sapwood. Luster rather silky and golden; grain usually straight; texture medium; oily exudations sometimes present, the woods of all species contain gum or oil canals. Dry material without distinctive odor or taste.

Weight: Basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) varies with species from 0.46 to 0.64; air-dry density 34 to 49 pcf.

Mechanical Properties: (First set of data based on the 2-in. standard, the second the 2-cm standard, and the third on the 1-in. standard.]

Moisture content Bending strength Modulus of elasticity Maximum crushing strength

(%) (Psi) (1,000 psi) (Psi)

Green (75) 12,980 2,270 6,070

12% 21,200 2,650 10,700

Green (30) 8,580 1,350 3,900

15% 11,300 NA 5,980

12% (41) 12,900 NA 6,500

Janka side hardness 1,390 lb for green material, 1,740 lb at 12% moisture content. Forest Products Laboratory toughness average for green and dry material is 204 in.-lb. (5/8-in. specimen).

Drying and Shrinkage: Reported to have a slow to moderate rate of drying. C. aromatica air-dried with bow being the only degrade. No information available on kiln schedules. Shrinkage green to ovendry: radial 4.4%; tangential 9.2%; volumetric 14.6%.

Working Properties: The wood is easy to work and finishes very smoothly; a small amount of material showed fuzzy grain after planning.

Durability: C. officinalis is reported to be vulnerable to attack by decay fungi, insects, and dry-wood termites. C. aromatica and other species are reported to be highly durable.

Preservation: C. officinalis heartwood as well as other species difficult to very difficult to preserve using pressure-vacuum systems; good absorption and penetration of sapwood is reported.

Uses: Carpentry, general construction, interior trim, furniture, turnery, suggested for particleboard and excelsior cement board. Trees are highly valued for their gum or balsam.

Additional Reading: (30), (41), (44), (75)