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


Wood Technical Fact Sheet


 Pithecellobium saman



Family: Leguminosae

Other Common Names: Dormilon (Puerto Rico), Algarrobo (Cuba, Mexico, Guatemala), Cenicero (El Salvador, Costa Rica), Samaguare (Colombia), Lara, Carabali (Venezuela Huacamayo-chico (Peru), Monkeypod (Hawaii).

Distribution: Native to southern Mexico (Yucatan Peninsula) and Guatemala southward to Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil. The tree is widely planted and naturalized throughout the West Indies, Mexico southward, and in other tropical regions of the world; make its best growth on well-drained fertile soils.

The Tree: Attains heights of 100 to 125 ft and trunk diameters of 3 to 4 ft; when grown in the open, develops a massive wide-spreading crown and a short thick trunk.

The Wood:

General Characteristics: Heartwood dark walnut to dark chocolate brown which turns light to golden brown with darker streaks when seasoned; sapwood is thin and yellowish and clearly differentiated from the heartwood. Texture medium to coarse; luster medium; either straight or cross grained; without distinctive odor or taste.

Weight: Basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) 0.48; air-dry density 35 pcf.

Mechanical Properties: (2-in. standard)

Moisture content Bending strength Modulus of elasticity Maximum crushing strength

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

Green (46) 8,100 910 3,760

12% 8,860 1,100 5,070

Janka side hardness 750 lb for green material and 850 lb at 12% moisture content. Forest Products Laboratory toughness average for green and dry material is 99 in.-lb. (5/8-in. specimen).

Drying and Shrinkage: Reported to air-season rather poorly with little or no checking but moderate to severe warp. No data available on kiln schedules. Shrinkage green to ovendry: radial 2.0%; tangential 3.4%; volumetric 6.0%; exceptionally low for a wood of this density.

Working Properties: The wood saws and machines easily but may develop torn and fuzzy grain when working pieces with interlocked grain; takes an excellent finish.

Durability: The wood is rated durable to very durable in resistance to attack by a white-rot and brown-rot fungus and rated resistant to attack by dry-wood termites.

Preservation: No information available.

Uses: Fine furniture and cabinet work, millwork, decorative veneer, joinery. The tree is highly favored for its shade and nutritious pods eaten by cattle, hogs, and goats.

Additional Reading: (45), (46), (73)