Commercial Timbers

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H. G. Richter and M. J. Dallwitz

Copaifera officinalis L. (Copaiba)

Nomenclature etc. FABACEAE-CAESALPINIOIDEAE. Trade and local names: copaíba, palo de aceite. Not protected under CITES regulations.

Description based on 5 specimens. Tree. Geographic distribution: Mexico and Central America and tropical South America.

General. Growth ring boundaries indistinct or absent. Heartwood basically brown red, without streaks. Sapwood colour similar to heartwood colour, or distinct from heartwood colour (sapwood pinkish grey or nearly white). Density 0.59–0.7 g/cm³.

Vessels. Wood diffuse-porous. Vessels in multiples, commonly short (2–3 vessels) radial rows. Average tangential vessel diameter 105–152 µm. Average number of vessels/mm² 4–7. Average vessel element length 343–449 µm. Perforation plates simple. Intervessel pits alternate, average diameter (vertical) 10–13 µm, vestured. Vessel-ray pits with distinct borders, similar to intervessel pits. Helical thickenings absent. Tyloses in vessels absent. Other deposits in heartwood vessels present (yellowish or red-brown).

Tracheids and fibres. Fibres of medium wall thickness. Average fibre length 1081–1278 µm. Fibre pits mainly restricted to radial walls, simple to minutely bordered. Fibres non-septate.

Axial parenchyma. Axial parenchyma banded. Axial parenchyma bands marginal (or seemingly marginal), fine, up to three cells wide or coarse, more than three cells wide. Axial parenchyma paratracheal. Paratracheal axial parenchyma vasicentric, or aliform, or confluent. Aliform parenchyma lozenge. Axial parenchyma as strands. Average number of cells per axial parenchyma strand 2–4.

Rays. Rays 7 per tangential mm, multiseriate (also if only few), 2–3 cells wide. Rays composed of a single cell type (homocellular); homocellular ray cells procumbent.

Storied structures. Storied structure absent.

Secretory structures. Intercellular canals present, axial type, in long tangential lines.

Mineral inclusions. Crystals present, prismatic, located in axial parenchyma cells. Crystal-containing axial parenchyma cells chambered. Number of crystals per cell or chamber one. Silica not observed.

Physical and chemical tests. Heartwood fluorescent, or not fluorescent (light yellow). Water extract fluorescent (blue green); basically colourless to brown or shade of brown, or red or shade of red. Ethanol extract fluorescent (blue green). Colour of ethanol extract colourless to brown or shade of brown to red or shade of red. Froth test positive, or negative.

Illustrations. • Transverse section. Copaifera officinalis. IC. IC. IC. IC. Note axial intercellular canals (IC) included in parenchyma band. • Tangential section. Copaifera officinalis. Note difference in ray size and shape in different specimens. • Radial section. Copaifera officinalis.


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. http://delta-intkey.com’.

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