Copaifera spp.
Family: Leguminosae
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Other Common Names: Copaiba (generally in Latin America), Camiba, Cabino blanco (Panama), Cabimo, Palo de aceite (Venezuela), Canime, Copaiba (Colombia), Copaibarana, Copahyba (Brazil), Cupay (Paraguay), Timbo-y-ata (Argentina).


Distribution: Varies with species and ranges from Panama southward to Argentina and Paraguay. C. reticulata has wide distribution in the Amazon region and is the source of copaiba balsam.


The Tree: May reach a height of 100 ft and a trunk diameter of 4 ft.


The Wood:

General Characteristics: Heartwood reddish brown, variable often with a coppery hue and sometimes streaked; not very sharply demarcated from the pinkish gray or nearly white sapwood. Luster rather silky and golden; grain usually straight; texture medium; oily exudations sometimes present, the woods of all species contain gum or oil canals. Dry material without distinctive odor or taste.


Weight: Basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) varies with species from 0.46 to 0.64; air-dry density 34 to 49 pcf.


Mechanical Properties: (First set of data based on the 2-in. standard, the second the 2-cm standard, and the third on the 1-in. standard.]


Moisture content   Bending strength   Modulus of elasticity   Maximum crushing strength

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

Green (75)                   12,980             2,270                           6,070


12%                             21,200             2,650                           10,700


Green (30)                   8,580                           1,350                           3,900


15%                             11,300             NA                              5,980


12% (41)                     12,900             NA                              6,500



Janka side hardness 1,390 lb for green material, 1,740 lb at 12% moisture content. Forest Products Laboratory toughness average for green and dry material is 204 in.-lb. (5/8-in. specimen).


Drying and Shrinkage: Reported to have a slow to moderate rate of drying. C. aromatica air-dried with bow being the only degrade. No information available on kiln schedules. Shrinkage green to ovendry: radial 4.4%; tangential 9.2%; volumetric 14.6%.

Working Properties: The wood is easy to work and finishes very smoothly; a small amount of material showed fuzzy grain after planning.


Durability: C. officinalis is reported to be vulnerable to attack by decay fungi, insects, and dry-wood termites. C. aromatica and other species are reported to be highly durable.


Preservation: C. officinalis heartwood as well as other species difficult to very difficult to preserve using pressure-vacuum systems; good absorption and penetration of sapwood is reported.


Uses: Carpentry, general construction, interior trim, furniture, turnery, suggested for particleboard and excelsior cement board. Trees are highly valued for their gum or balsam.


Additional Reading: (30), (41), (44), (75)


30.  Instituto de Pesquisas Tecnológicas. 1956. Tabelas de resultados obtidos para madeirs nacionais. Bol. Inst. Pesqu. téc. Sčo Paulo No. 31.

41.  Laboratorio Nacional de Productos Forestales. 1974. Caracterísicas, propiedades, y usos de 104 maderas de los altos llanos occidentalis. Universidad de Los Andes, Merida.

44.  Llach, C.L. 1971. Properties and uses of 113 timber-yielding species of Panama. Part 3. Physical and mechanical properties of 113 tree species. FO-UNDP/SF PAN/6. FAO, Rome.

75.  Wangaard, F.F., W.L. Stern, and S.L. Goodrich. 1955. Properties and uses of tropical woods, V. Tropical Woods No. 10:1-139.



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