Commercial Timbers


H. G. Richter and M. J. Dallwitz

Pterocarpus officinalis Jacq., P. rohrii Vahl (Palo de sangre)

Nomenclature etc. FABACEAE-FABOIDEAE. Trade and local names: sangre, sangre de drago (sAm). Not protected under CITES regulations.

Description based on 7 specimens. Tree. Geographic distribution: Mexico and Central America, or tropical South America to Caribbean.

General. Heartwood basically yellow white or grey (facultatively formed heartwood rare, of dark brown color). Sapwood colour similar to heartwood colour. Density 0.45–0.6 g/cm³.

Vessels. Wood diffuse-porous. Vessels in multiples, commonly short (2–3 vessels) radial rows. Two distinct vessel diameter classes present. Average tangential vessel diameter 110–250 µm. Average number of vessels/mm² 2–10. Average vessel element length 200–350 µm. Perforation plates simple. Intervessel pits alternate, average diameter (vertical) 5–8 µm, vestured. Vessel-ray pits with distinct borders, similar to intervessel pits. Other deposits in heartwood vessels present (yellowish).

Tracheids and fibres. Fibres of medium wall thickness. Average fibre length 1110–2130 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. Axial parenchyma paratracheal. Paratracheal axial parenchyma vasicentric, or aliform, or confluent. Aliform parenchyma winged. Axial parenchyma fusiform, or as strands. Average number of cells per axial parenchyma strand 1–2.

Rays. Rays 10–19 per tangential mm, exclusively uniseriate. Height of large rays up to 500 µm. Rays composed of a single cell type (homocellular); homocellular ray cells procumbent.

Storied structures. Storied structure present, all rays storied, axial parenchyma storied, vessel elements storied, fibres storied. Arrangement of tiers regular (horizontal or straight). Number of ray tiers per axial millimetre 4–5.

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 not fluorescent. Water extract not fluorescent; basically yellow or shade of yellow. Ethanol extract not fluorescent. Colour of ethanol extract colourless to brown or shade of brown.

Illustrations. • Transverse section. Pterocarpus officinalis. • Tangential section. Pterocarpus officinalis. • Radial section. Pterocarpus 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.’.