Other Common Names: Cedro espino (Honduras, Nicaragua), Saquisaqui (Venezuela), Ceiba tolua (Colombia).
Distribution: Common in the more open forests of western Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. Also on the Atlantic side of Panama and in Colombia and Venezuela. Abundant throughout its range, mostly on well-drained, often gravelly soils on the upper slopes of low hills and ridges.
The Tree: Medium-sized to large tree, not infrequently 3 ft and sometimes 5 or 6 ft. in diameter; reaches a height of 100 ft. Wide-spreading crown of heavy branches; somewhat irregular bole; generally buttressed. Trunk and larger branches armed with hard sharp prickles.
General Characteristics: Heartwood is uniform pale pinkish or pinkish brown when freshly cut, becoming light to dark reddish brown on exposure; sharply demarcated from yellowish sapwood. Grain straight to slightly interlocked; texture medium; luster rather low. Heartwood without distinctive odor but sometimes with a slightly astringent taste.
Weight: Basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) averages 0.45. Air-dry density about 34 pcf.
Mechanical Properties: (2-in. standard)
Moisture content Bending strength Modulus of elasticity Maximum crushing strength
(%) (Psi) (1,000 psi) (Psi)
Green (74) 7,560 1,260 3,440
12% 10,490 1,400 5,660
12% (71) 12,110 NA 6,480
Janka side hardness 650 lb for green material and 720 lb for dry. Forest Products Laboratory toughness average for green and dry material is 103 in.-lb (5/8-in. specimen).
Drying and Shrinkage: Air-seasons very slowly, required almost a year to dry 8/4 stock to a moisture content of 20%. Warp and checking slight. Shrinkage green to ovendry: radial 3.4%; tangential 6.2%; volumetric 10.0%.
Working Properties: The wood has been reported as easy to work, finishing smoothly; also easy to nail.
Durability: The heartwood is rated as durable in its resistance to white-rot fungi, very durable in resistance to brown rots. Susceptible to attack by both dry-wood and subterranean termites. Good resistance to marine borers reported in Panama waters.
Preservation: Heartwood is very difficult to treat with very poor absorption and penetration. Sapwood can absorb 10 to 20 pcf of preservative using either hot and cold bath or pressure systems; penetration though is irregular.
Uses: Used locally for general construction, interior finish, millwork, furniture stock, veneer and plywood, particleboard, and pulp and paper products.
Additional Reading: (56), (71), (74)
56. Record, S. J., and R. W. Hess. 1949. Timbers of the new world. Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn.
71. Villamil G., F. (Editor). 1971. Maderas colombianas. Proexpo, Bogota.
74. Wangaard, F. F., and A. F. Muschler. 1952. Properties and uses of tropical woods, III. Tropical Woods 98:1-190.
From: Chudnoff, Martin. 1984. Tropical Timbers of the World. USDA Forest Service. Ag. Handbook No. 607.