The “Guanandi”

Among all Brazilian native trees, “Guanandi” is the wood which adapts itself the most to hygrophilous (flooded during some months) and ciliary forests. Comparing it to eucalyptus, its roots are easier to be extracted, making the replanting after cut easier. In other countries, it is most known as “Santa Maria” (Holy Mother) or “Alfaro”, it has its own active market and it is a good choice for mahogany, given its features and look. So far, we have obtained the following description and technological record from our research:

• Scientific classification: from the “Gutiferáceas” family, “Calophyllum brasiliense Cambess, Guttiferae” species.

Other common names: “Jacareúba”(Brazilian beauty leaf), “cachincamo”, “cedro-do-pantano”(cedar of the swamp), “cedro-mangue”(“mangue” = swamp area covered with mangroves), “guanandi-carvalho”(guanandi-oak), “guanandi-cedro”(guanandi-cedar), “guanandi-piolho”(guanandi-louse), “guanandi-rosa”(guanandi-rose), “landi”, “landim”, “mangue”, “olandim” and “olandi”, among others. In other Americas’ countries, it is commonly known as “Santa Maria”, “Alfaro” or “Leite de Maria” (Mary’s milk).

Occurrence: Wide neo-tropical dispersion. In Brazil, in the Amazon, Southern, Southeastern and Midwestern regions. In other countries: from Southern Mexico, through Central America, Guyana, Antilles and Bolivia. It is found in altitudes bellow 4220 feet, tropical climate and annual precipitation over 50 inches. We find three different varieties of the same species in the Southern and South regions of Brazil, which are the “guanandi-carvalho” (a yellowish wood), o “guanandi-cedro” (a red wood) and the “guanandi-piolho” (a reddish wood), the latter being frequently corroded by insects. In certain regions of Central America, “Guanandi” is considered of an occasional to rare occurrence, even in parks or forest reserves, due to the beauty of its wood.

Etymology: In scientific terms, Calophyllum means beautiful leaf. We, therefore, have a free translation to “Guanandi”: “Beautiful leaf from Brazil”. Its common name, “Guanandi” comes from the Brazilian indigenous language (called “Tupi-Guarani”) word "gwanã’di” and it means “that which is sticky” because of the gum-resin it produces.

Historic facts:

  • In 1810, the Brazilian government kept to itself the privilege of cutting this tree so that the wood would be mainly used in boat making mast and spars. This decree-law was “inspired’ by “Guanandi” stalk characteristic of being straight and high.

  • In 1823, the exclusive right of manufacturing “Jacareúba” barrels was required to the government.

  • The Letter of Law dated of October 15th, 1827, in its Article XII Section 5, assigned the territories Justices of Peace the mission of supervising forests and caring for the debarring of wood cutting for construction purposes in general. The term “Madeira de lei” (“wood of the law”) has its origin in this cut process being forbidden by law.

  • The royal decree-law dated of January 7th, 1835, classified this tree as “Madeira de Lei” producer by establishing a new rule for forest cut. Therefore, “Guanandi” is the very first country’s “Madeira de Lei”.

Main characteristics:

  • According to the definition in the “Dicionário das Plantas Úteis do Brasil” (Dictionary of Useful Plants of Brazil): “Tall and leafy tree, up to 105 feet in height and 44 inches in diameter, usually half tall as per the height but always keeping a huge diameter; of a reddish-yellow bark of up to 1 inch in thickness, covered with hard skin, very cracked, specially in old individuals, fragile, a little fibrous and composed of overlapping sheets of sweet flavor and honey like smell, producing a copious and thick gum-resin of a greenish yellow color; new branches a little compressed; opposite and petiole leaves, simple, elliptic lanceolated or oblongata, obtuse at the top, and a little cone shaped at the base, up to 5 inches long and 2 inches wide, whole, net-veined and its secondary nerve is almost rectangular with the midrib, and it is salient up until the top; its flowers are white, small, aromatic, of two sepals and ten stamen arranged in a 2 inches long raceme, globe shaped drupe fruit, fleshy, oily, and of crustaceous endocarp.”

  • Sensorial characteristics: Not very distinctive core and sapwood by the color; thick sapwood, rosy-beige core, tending to nut-brown, wavy wood of beautiful effect when polished; smell and taste unnoticeable, of average density; a little hard at cut; irregular granule; medium texture; shiny surface.

  • Macroscopic anatomical description: Axial parenchyma: visible only under lenses, in continuous or interrupted strips, apart. Rays: visible only under lenses at the top and in the tangential face; thin and very few. Vessels: visible to the naked eye, mediums; not very numerous; diffuse porosity; diagonal arrangement; solitaries; obstructed. Growth layers: indistinctive. Medullary stains: present in some trees.

Natural durability and chemical workability:

Wood sensitive to attack of marine borers, but slightly resistant to termites. Slightly resistant to xylophages organisms. Good resistance to fungus of white and chestnut-brownish decay, not sensitive to attack of Lyctus and from low to medium resistance to subterranean termites (Reticulitermes santonensis). Sapwood permeable to saturation and impermeable core. Wood is considered incorruptible in water.

Preservative Treatment:

It shows low permeability to preserving solutions under pressure treatments since its pores are partially filled by the gum-resin that characterizes it.

Processing characteristics:

  • Workability: “Jacareúba” wood is relatively easy to be worked with. It holds nails and screws tightly, and it does not show resistance to gluing. Easy to saw but the presence of gum-resin might cause some problems. It is easy to knife and unroll. Polish and paint can be easily applied.
  • Drying: Drying at the open air must be done carefully since the wood shows high tendency to cracking and warping. Drying in a hothouse must be done cautiously and just for some pieces due to intercrossed granule. Drying programs can be obtained CTFT/INPA (s.d.) e Jankowsky (1990).

Physical properties:

  • Mass density (ρ): Apparent at 15% humidity (ρap, 15): 620 kg/m3 / basic (ρbasic): 517 kg/m3.

  • Retraction: Radial: 5.6% / tangential: 8.7% / volumetric: 16.9%.

Mechanical properties:

  • Flexion, resistance - fM:
            - Green wood (MPa): 62.4.
            - Wood at 15% humidity (MPa): 80.4.
            - Green wood elasticity module (MPa): 9,277.
            - Proportionality limit - green wood (MPa): 33.6.
  • Compression parallel to fibers, resistance - fcO:
            - Green wood (MPa): 32.0.
            - Wood at 15% humidity (MPa): 48.5.
            - Proportionality limit - green wood (MPa): 23.8.
            - Green wood elasticity module (MPa): 12,562.
            - Influential humidity coefficient (%): 3.0.
  • Other mechanical properties:
            - Resistance to impact during flexion – wood at 15% (shock) – absorbed work (J): 17.6.
            - Ripping – green wood (MPa): 9.1.
            - Janka hardness – green wood (N): 4,060.
            - Normal traction of the fibers – green wood (MPa): 5.1.
            - Cracking – green wood (MPa): 0.6.


August - October, September – November.


April – June.


It sprouts in 50 days. Non-dormant seeds with short storage feasibility (not exceeding 90 days), sprouting occurs within 40 to 60 days and it is greater than 50%. It is of moderate growth and scions can be planted when they attain 10 to 15 inches in height.

Main uses:

  • Furniture: high quality furniture (such as structure, fixtures, gluing, laminated covering), storage combination sets (furniture, closets and cabinets) and planned joinery.

  • Building Industry:

    - Structures:
    in compound binding beams, secondary parts and as battens or roof timber.
    - Interiors:
    Floors (floorboards or laminates), decks, roofing, struts, baseboards, doors, frames, stair parts in addition to millwork in general (squared timbers, beams, roof timber, posts, laths and polywood).


It is an elegant and ornamental tree, used in landscape and public squares, streets and avenues. In some countries in Central America it is planted roadsides. Its branches are used as supports for orchids.


Building of canoes, masts and spars for boats. “Guanandi” bark produces a certain amount of oakum, which is used in small boats heating system.


  • The gum-resin extracted from this tree (Brazilian beauty leaf balsam) is of a greenish yellow color, fragrant, of a bitter taste and a little acid. It is used as an anti-rheumatoid drug, and in the treatment of tumors and chronic ulcer disease.
  • Tea made from its leaves and bark helps in treating diabetes. In preparing the tea from bark, one must take the resin that floats in the water out.
  • “Guanandi” is also used as an antiseptic and in decoction for external uses.
  • In the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, teas and baths prepared with the bark stalk are used as anti-inflammatory and even in the treatment of hemorrhoids.

Veterinary medicine:

For horses as poultice for tendons.


Clear oil is extracted from its fruit, 44% pure, with pleasant smell, used in lighting and other industrial applications.

Animal feeding:

Feed of this species presents 7% of protein and 6 to 12% of tannin (obtained from leaves and bark).

Reforest for environmental recovery:

Because it is an indigenous tree, it is already adapted to our ecosystem. Apicultural, its flowers are constantly “visited” by bees. “Guanandi” frui
ts are eaten by fauna (toucans, deer and bats), its main diffusers, besides being disseminated by pluvial and fluvial waters. It is indicated for ciliary wood replacement and in locations subject to floods of mid to long term (for three to four months yearly).


Ties, pulp, paper, tools cables, agricultural accessories parts, streetlamps, fences, bridges, wine barrels, musical instruments, sculptures, packages, crates, truck trunks, and seeds for nursery seedlings.