USDA Forest Service
Forest Products Laboratory
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Wood Technology Transfer Fact Sheet

Bowdichia spp.


Family: Leguminosae

Other Common Names: Alcornoque (Venezuela), Sapupira, Sucupira parda (Brazil).

Distribution: B. nitida occurs in the forests of the Rio Negro and lower Amazon region. B. virgilioides has a greater range from Venezuela and the Guianas to southeastern Brazil.

The Tree: On favorable sites it is a medium-sized to large tree, up to 150 ft high and diameters to 4 ft. Over part of its range it is a savanna tree of small size and poor form.

The Wood: General Characteristics: Heartwood dull chocolate to reddish brown, with parenchyma striping; sharply demarcated from whitish sapwood. Luster low; texture coarse with harsh feel; grain irregular and interlocked; without distinctive odor or taste.

Weight: Basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) averages 0.74. Air-dry density about 56 pcf.

Mechanical Properties: (2-cm standard)

Moisture content Bending strength Modulus of elasticity Maximum crushing strength

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

Green (30) 18,150 2,270 10,140

15% 20,450 NA 11,560

Air-dry Amsler toughness 396 in.-lb (2-cm specimen).

Drying and Shrinkage: No information on drying characteristics. A kiln schedule similar to T5-B2 has been suggested. Shrinkage green to ovendry: radial 5.0%; tangential 7.8%; volumetric 13.4%.

Working Properties: Difficult to work because of its high density and interlocked and irregular grain, but can be finished fairly smoothly. Glues well.

Durability: Heartwood reported to be very durable; railroad ties in the Netherlands showed no sign of decay after 17 years of service.

Preservation: No information available.

Uses: Suggested for heavy durable construction, railway ties, and other uses not requiring much fabrication.

Additional Reading: (22), (30), (56)

22. Farmer, R. H. (Editor). 1972. Handbook of hardwoods. H. M. Stationery Office, London.

30. Instituto de Pesquisas Tecnologicas. 1956. Tabelas de resultados obtidos para madeiras nacionais. Bol. Inst. Pesqu. tec. Sao Paulo No. 31.

56. Record, S. J., and R. W. Hess. 1949. Timbers of the new world. Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn.

From: Chudnoff, Martin. 1984. Tropical Timbers of the World. USDA Forest Service. Ag. Handbook No. 607.