Commercial Timbers

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H. G. Richter and M. J. Dallwitz

Couroupita spp. (Cannon-ball tree, castanha de macaco)

Nomenclature etc. LECYTHIDACEAE. C. guianensis Aubl., C. nicaraguensis DC., Couroupita spp. Trade and local names: bala de cañón (CU); coco de mono (PA); canon ball tree (GB, GY); bosch kalabas (NL, SR); castanha de macaco (BR); "Brasilianische Wildkirsche" (DE). Not protected under CITES regulations.

Tree. Geographic distribution: Mexico and Central America, Caribbean, and tropical South America.

General. Heartwood basically white or grey white or grey to brown. Sapwood colour similar to heartwood colour. Density 0.4–0.6 g/cm³.

Vessels. Vessels present. Wood diffuse-porous. Vessels arranged in no specific pattern, in multiples, commonly short (2–3 vessels) radial rows or radial rows of 4 or more. Average tangential vessel diameter 160–220–330 µm. Average number of vessels/mm² 2–3(–7). Perforation plates simple. Intervessel pits alternate, average diameter (vertical) (9–)10–12 µm. Vessel-ray pits with distinct borders or with reduced borders or apparently simple, similar to intervessel pits, horizontal to vertical, of uniform size or type. Helical thickenings absent. Tyloses in vessels present, thinwalled.

Tracheids and fibres. Fibres very thin-walled, or of medium wall thickness. Fibre pits common in both radial and tangential walls, simple to minutely bordered. Fibres non-septate.

Axial parenchyma. Axial parenchyma banded or not banded. Axial parenchyma bands marginal (or seemingly marginal), fine, up to three cells wide. Axial parenchyma apotracheal, or paratracheal. Apotracheal axial parenchyma diffuse-in-aggregates. Paratracheal axial parenchyma scanty. Axial parenchyma as strands. Average number of cells per axial parenchyma strand (3–)4–6(–8).

Rays. Rays 6–10 per tangential mm, multiseriate (also if only few), 2–4 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.

Storied structures. Storied structure absent.

Secretory structures. Intercellular canals absent. Laticifers or tanniniferous tubes absent.

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.

Illustrations. • Transverse section. Couroupita guianensis. • Tangential section. Couroupita nicaraguarensis. • Radial section. Couroupita guianensis.


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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