Astronium conzattii S.F.Blake
Astronium planchonianum Engl.
Astronium zongolica Reko
Common Name: Goncalo Alves
Goncalo alves is an evergreen tree with a rounded, open crown; it can grow 20 - 30 metres tall[
]. The bole is usually straight, often with low branches, and can be 100cm in diameter[
The tree yields a valuable timber and is commonly exploited from the wild. The wood is exported to many countries.
S. America from Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela and north through Central America to Mexico.
A canopy tree found in both dry and humid tropical forests at elevations up to 1,000 metres[
]. A common element of upland forests[
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A plant of the moist lowland tropics, where it is found at elevations from 150 - 1,000 metres, but most commonly at 500 - 600 metres[
]. It grows best where mean annual temperatures are around 24 - 27.5°c and the mean annual rainfall is between 1,200 - 3,000mm[
]. It thrives in areas with a distinct dry season that can be up to 6 months long[
The best growth is obtained on lighter soils with less than 40% clay, a neutral pH and good drainage[
]. Plants do not tolerate waterlogging or heavy clay soils[
The wood is moderately hard, heavy, fairly loose in structure, durable and takes an excellent polish[
]. It weathers well and is highly resistant to moisture absorption[
]. Among the most outstanding heavy, durable construction timbers, it is also highly favoured as a fine furniture and cabinet wood[
]. It is cut for decorative veneers and is also used for specialty items such as knife handles, brush backs, archery bows, billiard cue butts, turnery, and carving[
The wood is a source of muiracatiara timber. We have no more specific information, but a general description of muiracatiara timber is as follows:-
The heartwood is pinkish-brown to yellow-brown, becoming red-brown to dark brown with very irregularly spaced black-brown veins; it is clearly demarcated from the 4 - 10cm wide band of sapwood. The texture is fine; the grain straight or interlocked. The wood is heavy, hard and very durable, being resistant to fungi, dry wood borers and termites. It seasons normally with little risk of checking or distortion; once dry it is poorly stable in service. It has a fairly high blunting effect upon toold, stellite-tipped and tungsten carbide tools are recommended; nailing and screwing are good, but pre-boring is necessary; gluing is poor. The wood has a wide range of applications, being used in cabinet making for high class furniture, for flooring, turnery, interior and exterior joinery, heavy carpentry, tool handles, musical instruments, carving etc[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe - it does not require pre-treatment[
]. Sow in seed trays in a shady position - germination is usually quite rapid. When they have developed two seedleaves, prick out the seedlings into individual containers and keep them shaded for the next two weeks before gradually exposing them to the sun. Five weeks after sowing, when the plants are 35 - 40cm tall, they can be planted out into their permanent positions[
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