USDA Forest Service
Forest Products Laboratory
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53705-2398
Wood Technical Fact Sheet
Other Common Names: Polio (Puerto Rico), Lengua de vaca (Dominican Republic), Mano de oso, Palo santo (Mexico), Nagua blanca, Vaquero (Panama), Quesito, Pama (Venezuela) Banco (Colombia], Maria molle (Brazil).
Distribution: Common and widespread in tropical America, West Indies, Mexico, and southward to Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, and Bolivia. Frequently used for shade in coffee plantations.
The Tree: Typically a small tree, rarely up to 75 ft in height with a trunk diameter up to 25 in.; wide-spreading crown.
General Characteristics: There is no color differentiation between heartwood and sapwood; cream colored to grayish yellow. Grain is straight; texture medium and uniform; luster low to medium; without distinctive odor or taste.
Weight: Basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) 0.40; air-dry density 31 pcf.
Mechanical Properties: (First set of data based on 2-in. standard; second set on 1-in. standard.]
Moisture content Bending strength Modulus of elasticity Maximum crushing strength
(%) (Psi) (1,000 psi) (Psi)
12% (44) 10,400 1,640 NA
12% (41) 9,300 NA 4,400
Janka side hardness at 12% moisture content 725 lb for Panama material and 530 lb for Venezuela material.
Drying and Shrinkage: The wood air-dries rapidly without developing degrade due to checking or warping. No kiln schedule data available. Shrinkage green to ovendry: radial 5.1%; tangential 8.3%; volumetric 13.8%.
Working Properties: The wood is easy to work but tends to develop fuzzy grain during planing. A poor wood for turnery. Easy to cut into veneer.
Durability: The wood is very susceptible to attack by decay fungi and insects, also prone to blue stain.
Preservation: The wood is easy to treat with pressure-vacuum systems to get complete penetration and absorptions up to 20 pcf.
Uses: Boxes and crates, general carpentry and interior construction, utility furniture, millwork, veneer and plywood, particleboard.
Additional Reading: (26), (41), (44)