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


Wood Technical Fact Sheet


 Tetragastris spp.



Family: Burseraceae

Other Common Names: Masa, Palo de aceite (Puerto Rico), Kerosen (Nicaragua), Palo de cerdo, Aguarras (Colombia), Haiawaballi (Guyana), Gommier, Encens rouge (French Guiana), Almesca (Brazil).

Distribution: West Indies, Central America, and northern South America. Widely distributed and locally frequent in the high forests of Surinam.

The Tree: Varies with species but may reach a height of 100 ft with diameters up to 28 in. Boles with a few buttresses, of moderately good form, and clear for 30 to 40 ft.

The Wood:

General Characteristics: Heartwood orange brown; rather sharply demarcated from the yellowish-brown sapwood. Luster medium to rather high; texture fine; grain mostly irregular to distinctly roey; without distinctive taste, but with fragrant balsamic scent. A silica content of 0.13% is reported.

Weight: Basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) varies with species from 0.63 to 0.78; air-dry density 48 to 61 pcf.

Mechanical Properties: (First two sets of data based on the 2-in. standard, the third set on the 1-in. standard.)

Moisture content Bending strength Modulus of elasticity Maximum crushing strength

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

Green (74) 12,380 1,650 5,460

12% 16,090 1,890 8,380

Green (25) 12,300 1,940 6,800

12% 15,200 2,180 8,300

12% (24) 19,400 2,410 10,200

Janka side hardness at 12% moisture content 1,770 to 2,170 lb. Forest Products Laboratory toughness average for green and dry material 223 in.-lb (5/8-in. specimen).

Drying and Shrinkage: Seasoning properties vary with species from rapid drying with little or no degrade to rather slow drying with a tendency to check and split. No data available on kiln schedules. Shrinkage green to ovendry: radial 4.4%; tangential 8.5%; volumetric 13.9%.

Working Properties: Reported to be moderately difficult to moderately easy to machine, varying with species. Steam-bending characteristics are fair to good.

Durability: Heartwood is rated durable to very durable in its resistance to both brown-rot and white-rot fungi, but only somewhat resistant to attack by dry-wood termites.

Preservation: Heartwood is highly resistant to preservation treatments; however sapwood is reported as responsive.

Uses: Heavy construction, flooring, furniture, interior trim, slack cooperage, railroad crossties. Suggested as a substitute for birch and maple.

Additional Reading: (24), (25), (72), (74)