USDA Forest Service
Forest Products Laboratory
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53705-2398
Wood Technology Transfer Fact Sheet
Tabebuia spp. (Lapacho group)
Ipe, Bethabara, Lapacho
Other Common Names: Amapa (Mexico), Cortez (Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica), Guayacan (Panama), Guayacan polvillo (Colombia), Flor Amarillo (Venezuela), Greenhart (Surinam), Madera negra (Ecuador), Tahuari (Peru), Ipe (Brazil), Lapacho negro (Paraguay, Argentina).
Distribution: Throughout continental tropical America and some of the Lesser Antilles. The tree grows on a variety of sites, from ridge tops to riverbanks and marsh forests.
The Tree: May grow to 140 to 150 ft in height with trunk diameters of 6 ft. Frequently to heights of 100 ft and diameters of 2 to 3 ft. Boles are clear to 60 ft and more, with or without buttresses.
General Characteristics: Heartwood olive brown to blackish, often with lighter or darker striping, often covered with a yellow powder; sharply demarcated from the whitish or yellowish sapwood. Texture fine to medium; luster low to medium; grain straight to very irregular; rather oily looking; without distinctive odor or taste.
Weight: Basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) 0.85 to 0.97; air- dry density 66 to 75 pcf.
|Moisture content (%)||Bending strength (Psi)||Modulus of elasticity (1,000 psi)||Maximum crushing strength (Psi)|
Drying and Shrinkage: Generally reported to air-dry rapidly with only slight checking and warping. Kiln schedule T3-C1 is suggested for 4/4 stock. Shrinkage green to ovendry: radial 6.6%; tangential 8.0%; volumetric 13.2%. Movement after manufacture is rated as small.
Working Properties: Moderately difficult to work especially with hand tools; has a blunting effect on cutting edges, finishes smoothly except where grain is very roey The fine yellow dust produced in most operations may cause dermatitis in some workers.
Durability: Heartwood is very resistant to attack by decay fungi and termites; not resistant to marine borers. T. guayacan however, is reported to have good resistance in Panama waters.
Preservation: The wood is reported to be extremely resistant to preservation treatments.
Uses: Railroad crossties, heavy construction, tool handles, turnery, industrial flooring, textile mill items, decorative veneers.
Additional Reading: (24), (44), (46), (73)