Commercial Timbers


H. G. Richter and M. J. Dallwitz

Astronium spp. (Gonçalo alves, muiracoatiara, urunday)

Nomenclature etc. ANACARDIACEAE. A. graveolens, A. fraxinifolium. Trade and local names: gonçalo alves (BR); gateado (VE); jobillo (MX). Not protected under CITES regulations.

Description based on 10 specimens. Tree. Geographic distribution: Caribbean, or Mexico and Central America to tropical South America.

General. Heartwood basically brown red (russet brown, orange brown or reddish brown when fresh, changing upon exposure to brown, red, or dark reddish brown), with streaks. Sapwood colour distinct from heartwood colour (sapwood dingy greyish or brownish-white). Odour indistinct or absent. Density 0.69–0.95 g/cm³. Wood of commercial potential.

Vessels. Wood diffuse-porous. Vessels in multiples, commonly short (2–3 vessels) radial rows. Average tangential vessel diameter 80–170 µm. Average number of vessels/mm² 7–13. Average vessel element length 320–750 µm. Perforation plates simple. Intervessel pits alternate, average diameter (vertical) 8–11 µm. Vessel-ray pits with reduced borders or apparently simple, rounded or angular. Tyloses in vessels present or absent.

Tracheids and fibres. Fibres of medium wall thickness to very thick-walled. Average fibre length 910–1710 µm. Fibre pits mainly restricted to radial walls, simple to minutely bordered. Fibres exclusively septate.

Axial parenchyma. Axial parenchyma paratracheal. Paratracheal axial parenchyma vasicentric, aliform, and confluent. Aliform parenchyma winged. Axial parenchyma as strands. Average number of cells per axial parenchyma strand 3–4.

Rays. Rays 6–11 per tangential mm, multiseriate (also if only few), 2–3 cells wide. Rays composed of two or more cell types (heterocellular). Heterocellular rays with square and upright cells restricted to marginal rows, mostly 1 marginal row of upright or square cells or mostly 2–4 marginal rows of upright or square cells.

Storied structures. Storied structure absent.

Secretory structures. Intercellular canals present, radial type.

Mineral inclusions. Crystals present, prismatic, located in ray cells, axial parenchyma cells, and tyloses. Crystal-containing ray cells upright and/or square or procumbent. Crystals in procumbent ray cells not in radial alignment. Crystal-containing axial parenchyma cells not chambered. Number of crystals per cell or chamber one. Crystal containing cells of normal size. Cystoliths absent. Crystals in procumbent ray cells and in axial parenchyma less frequent and small; in tyloses only sporadic and mostly very large. Silica not observed.

Physical and chemical tests. Heartwood fluorescent, or not fluorescent. Water extract fluorescent, or not fluorescent (green-blue); basically colourless to brown or shade of brown, or red or shade of red. Ethanol extract fluorescent, or not fluorescent. Colour of ethanol extract colourless to brown or shade of brown, or red or shade of red. Splinter burns to full ash. Ash bright white.

Illustrations. • Macro images. Astronium fraxinifolium. Transverse. Tangential. Radial. • Transverse section. Astronium fraxinifolium. • Tangential section. Astronium fraxinifolium (left), dark coloured wood with high concentration of extractives; A. graveolens (right), light coloured wood. Note: Septate fibres (SF), radial canals (RC). SF. RC. RC. • Radial section. Astronium graveolens. • Crystals and septate fibres. Astronium graveolens. Note: Crystals in marginal ray cells; all fibres septate. • Miscellaneous. Astronium graveolens. Large crystals and dark extractives in tyloses. Radial interellular canal with epithelial cells.

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., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2000 onwards. Commercial timbers: descriptions, illustrations, identification, and information retrieval. In English, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish. Version: 25th June 2009.’.