BOTANICAL NAME: Hymenaea Courbaril

COMMON NAMES: Brazilian cherry, alga, algarrobo, azucar huayo, copal, copinol, courbaril, jutaby, jatahy, jutai, kawanari, pie de venado, West Indian locust, guapinal, jutai, rode locus

NOTE: although this is commonly called "Brazilian cherry" its only similarity to cherry is in the color; it is much harder and denser than cherry and much more difficult to work.

TYPE: hardwood

COLOR: heartwood is salmon to reddish brown and darkens with age, sapwood is usually white to yellow but may be gray or pinkish and is wide and well defined. Heartwood may have brown streaks.

GRAIN: straight or interlocked

TEXTURE: medium to coarse

PROPERTIES / WORKABILITY: very strong, hard and tough, high shock resistance. Moderately difficult to work due to its high density. Moderate blunting effect on cutters. Nails poorly, but holds screws well. Glues well. Very difficult to plane. My own experience is that it is very difficult to work due to density and interlocked grain.

DURABILITY: heartwood is extremely durable and very resistent to termites but also extremely resistent to preservative treatment. sapwood has very poor durablity.

FINISH: takes only a medium natural polish but finishes very nicely with chemical agents. Occasional reports say it takes a high natural polish but those reports are rare, and my experience agrees with the "medium natural polish".

STABILITY: medium movement in service

BENDING: very good bending characteristics, reportedly comparable to white oak.

ODOR: no specific smell or taste

SOURCES: Southern Mexico, throughout Central America and the West Indies to northern Brazil, Bolivia, and Peru.  The tree's best development is on ridges or slopes and high riverbanks. Throughout West Indies from Cuba and Jamaica to Trinidad and Tobago. Also from central Mexico to Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, and French Guiana. Sometimes planted in southern Florida.

USES: agricultural implements, bridge beams, bedroom suites, bent Parts, boat building, broom handles, cabinetmaking, canoes, chairs, chests, concealed parts (Furniture), crossties, desks, dining-room furniture, domestic flooring, dowells, drawer sides, factory flooring, fine furniture, flooring, furniture, handles, kitchen cabinets, lifeboats, living-room suites, musical insturments, office furniture, parquet flooring, sporting goods, tables, tool handles, turnery, utility furniture, wheel rims

The bark is used to produce "Copal", which is marketed as an ingredient in varnishes and paints.

TREE: grows to about 80 feet with diameters from 2 feet to 4 feet

WEIGHT: heavy; 56 pounds per cubic foot

DRYING: Drying is rapid and difficult. Tendency for moderate surface checking, warping and case hardening. Slow drying is recommended.


COST: moderate; $7 to $8 per board foot

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After drying, care in storage is necessary, as the cut boards can warp and crack easily. End sealer before working is recommended.

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Laboratory evaluations rate Jatoba very resistant to brown-rot and white-rot fungi; actual field exposure trials also rate the wood as very durable. Heartwood is also rated very resistant to dry-wood termites; little resistance to marine borers.