CITESwoodID: descriptions, illustrations, identification and information retrieval

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H. G. Richter, K. Gembruch, G. Koch

Bulnesia sarmientoi Lorentz ex Griseb. (Palo santo) - CITES II

Nomenclature. Family: ZYGOPHYLLACEAE. Other trade relevant species: Bulnesia arborea (Jacq.) Engl. (the wood of this species, commonly traded as "vera", cannot be distinguished from B. sarmientoi as regards colour, weight and macro structure. However, it is available in higher quantities and more common in the market). Further trade and local names: ibiocaí (AR); Paraguay lignum-vitae (trade). Code according to DIN EN 13556: none. Internal code: PAL.

CITES(EU) status of protection. Listed in Annex III(C) (Argentina). Similar woods: Guaiacum spp., Chlorocardium rodiei, Tabebuia spp.

Geographic distribution. Tropical South America. Chaco region in N-Argentina, Paraguay and S-Bolivia.

Growth rings, colour, grain, etc. Growth ring boundaries distinct (indicated by more and larger vessels in earlywood), or indistinct or absent. Heartwood basically brown, green (varying from light olive green to chocolate brown; often turning dark olive green upon exposure); with streaks (blackish green, rarely conspicuous), or without streaks. Sapwood distinct from heartwood colour (yellowish). Odour indistinct or absent. Wood heavy and hard (0,92–1,1 g/cm³). Surface oily. Interlocked grain present.

Hardwood vs softwood. Vessels (pores) present (= hardwood).

Vessels (pores). Wood diffuse-porous. Vessels (pores) arranged in a radial pattern, or a diagonal pattern; in multiples; commonly in radial rows of 4 or more and in clusters. Vessels small, or medium (45–60–100 µm); moderately numerous to very numerous (35–115). Tyloses absent. Other deposits in heartwood vessels (pores) present (dark brown to black), or absent (in case sapwood is mistaken for heartwood).

Axial parenchyma. Axial parenchyma not visible.

Rays. Rays narrow. Large rays commonly less than 1 mm high.

Storied structure. Storied structure present. Tiers regular (horizontal or slightly inclined); 8–12 per axial millimetre.

Resin canals. Normal resin canals absent.

Physical and chemical tests. Heartwood not fluorescent. Water extract not fluorescent; colourless to brown, or yellow. Ethanol extract fluorescent (light blue to purple); yellow. Froth test negative. Splinter burns to full ash; colour of ash bright white. As regards these physical-chemical properties, Bulnesia arborea yields results identical to those obtained for B. sarmientoi; even based on this set of properties, the two species cannot be differentiated.

Additional information. • pal.jpg. Transverse section ca. 10x. Bulnesia sarmientoi (Palo santo). Tangential surface, natural size. For comparison with Bulnesia arborea (not protected) see the following image. • ver.jpg. Bulnesia arborea (Vera). Transverse section ca. 10x. Radial surface, natural size. • pal-gre.jpg. Despite the similar external appearance the timbers of Bulnesia sarmientoi and Chlorocardium rodiei can be easily distinguished. As opposed to Chlorocardium rodiei the vessels of Bulnesia sarmientoi are much smaller and almost exclusively arranged in radial to diagonal groups; the wood rays of Chlorocardium rodiei are not storied. • pal-pck.jpg. Bulnesia spp. and Guaiacum spp. are externally (colour, weight) very similar. However, Bulnesia spp. has smaller and much more numerous vessels grouped in radial to diagonal multiples and clusters. Moreover, Bulnesia spp. have a less oily wood surface. • pal-lap.jpg. Tabebuia spp. (Ipé, Lapacho).


The interactive key allows access to the character list, illustrations, full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting specified attributes, summaries of attributes within groups of taxa, and geographical distribution.

Cite this publication as: ‘Richter, H.G., Gembruch, K., and Koch, G. 2014 onwards. CITESwoodID: descriptions, illustrations, identification, and information retrieval. In English, French, German, and Spanish. Version: 16th May 2014. delta-intkey.com’.

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