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Wood Technology Transfer Fact Sheet

Bulnesia arborea


Maracaibo Lignum-Vitae

Family: Zygophyllaceae

Other Common Names: Guayacan, Guayacan de bola (Colombia), Bera, Cuchivaro, Vera aceituna (Venezuela).

Distribution: Coastal region of Colombia and Venezuela, common on the dry foothills between Porto Cabello and Lake Maracaibo.

The Tree: Occasionally 100 ft tall but usually 40 to 50 ft with a trunk diameter of 14 to 20 in.; boles slender, straight, and of rather good form, free of branches for 15 to 20 ft.

The Wood:

General Characteristics: Heartwood more or less striped and banded, varying in color from light olive green to chocolate brown; surface of fresh wood often turns dark green upon exposure. Sapwood is mostly thin and light yellow in color. Fine textured; cross-grained; oily appearance and feel; mildly and pleasantly scented when warmed.

Weight: Basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) 1.00; air-dry density 78 pcf.

Mechanical Properties: No data available.

Drying and Shrinkage: Owing to its high density and the resinous nature of the timber, the wood dries slowly and needs careful handling to avoid splitting; also prone to ring shake. No shrinkage data available.

Working Properties: When seasoned, it is not easy to work either with machine or hand tools but does turn well in the lathe.

Durability: Heartwood is very durable under exposure and will last indefinitely in the ground.

Preservation: Not treatable.

Uses: Because of its high density and self-lubrication, has many uses similar to that of Guaiacum but is not considered as suitable for propeller-shaft bushings. Used as steps and collars for water turbines, mallet heads, pulley wheels, brush backs, locally for railway crossties.



Additional Reading: (54), (56), (79)

54. Record, S. J. 1921. Lignum-vitae: A study of the woods of the Zygophyllaceae with reference to the true lignum-vitae of commerce-its sources, properties, uses, and substitutes. Yale University, School of Forestry Bull. 6. New Haven, Conn.

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

79. Wood [U. K.]. 1957. Specimen woods No. 256. Verawood (Bulnesia arborea). Suppl. to Wood 22(4).

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