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


Wood Technical Fact Sheet


 Dacryodes excelsa


Candle Tree

Family: Burseraceae

Other Common Names: Tabonuco (Puerto Rico), Gommier blanc (Guadeloupe), Gommier montagne (Martinique).

Distribution: Puerto Rico and Lesser Antilles from St. Kitts to Grenada. Generally in small groups along upper slopes, but forms almost pure stands at high elevations in Dominica.

The Tree: Reaches a height of 100 ft or more and diameters of 3 to 5 ft; straight well-formed clear boles; unbuttressed.

The Wood:

General Characteristics: Heartwood is a uniform pale brown with a purplish cast when first cut, turning to a lustrous pinkish brown when seasoned, resembling mahogany; clearly demarcated from narrow grayish sapwood. Texture fine to medium; grain more or less roey with attractive ribbon stripe; odor and taste lacking. Silica content of 0.50% is reported.

Weight: Basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) 0.52; air-dry density 40 pcf.

Mechanical Properties: (2-in. standard)

Moisture content Bending strength Modulus of elasticity Maximum crushing strength

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

Green (48) 9,330 1,200 4,530

12% 13,030 1,530 7,150

Janka side hardness 690 lb for green material and 900 lb at 12% moisture content.

Drying and Shrinkage: The wood air-seasons easily with only minor degrade in the form of slight warp and end checking and with no apparent surface checking. No dry kiln data available. Shrinkage green to ovendry: radial 4.1%; tangential 6.4%; volumetric 10.5%.

Working Properties: A moderately good machining wood; cuts and saws easily but, because of an abundance of silica, rapidly dulls saw teeth and other cutting edges. The wood finishes smoothly and is easy to lacquer or varnish.

Durability: The heartwood is only slightly resistant to attack by decay fungi when in ground contact and is very susceptible to attack by dry-wood termites; not resistant to marine borer attack.

Preservation: The heartwood and sapwood are difficult to treat with preservatives by either pressure or non-pressure methods. incising improves absorption of sapwood.

Uses: Furniture and cabinet work, possible veneer wood, general construction. The trees are scarred near the base to obtain a fragrant resin exudate used to make candies and for medicinal purposes.

Additional Reading: (45), (46), (56)