Commercial Timbers


H. G. Richter and M. J. Dallwitz

Samanea saman Merr. (Saman, rain tree)

Nomenclature etc. FABACEAE-MIMOSOIDEAE. Syn.: Pithecellobium saman Benth. Trade and local names: saman (trade), carabali (GY). Not protected under CITES regulations.

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

General. Growth ring boundaries indistinct or absent. Heartwood basically brown (walnut to dark chocolate brown which turns a light to golden brown), with streaks. Sapwood colour distinct from heartwood colour (sapwood yellowish). Odour indistinct or absent. Density 0.45–0.6 g/cm³.

Vessels. Vessels present. Wood diffuse-porous. Vessels arranged in no specific pattern, in multiples, commonly short (2–3 vessels) radial rows. Average tangential vessel diameter 114–243 µm. Average number of vessels/mm² 3–7. Average vessel element length 227–366 µm. Perforation plates simple. Intervessel pits alternate, average diameter (vertical) 8–10 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 (dark reddish brown).

Tracheids and fibres. Fibres of medium wall thickness. Average fibre length 721–1288 µm. Fibre pits mainly restricted to radial walls, simple to minutely bordered. Fibres non-septate.

Axial parenchyma. Axial parenchyma banded. Axial parenchyma bands not marginal (or seemingly marginal). Axial parenchyma apotracheal, or paratracheal. Apotracheal axial parenchyma diffuse. Paratracheal axial parenchyma vasicentric, or aliform, or confluent. Aliform parenchyma lozenge. Axial parenchyma as strands. Average number of cells per axial parenchyma strand 2–8.

Rays. Rays 6–8 per tangential mm, multiseriate (also if only few), 1–3 cells wide (mostly biseriate). Rays composed of a single cell type (homocellular), or two or more cell types (heterocellular); homocellular ray cells procumbent. 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.

Cambial variants. Included phloem 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. Cystoliths absent. Silica not observed.

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

Illustrations. • Transverse section. Samanea saman. • Tangential section. Samanea saman. • Radial section. Samanea saman.

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.’.