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Useful Tropical Plants

Caesalpinia echinata

Lam.

Fabaceae

+ Synonyms

Guilandina echinata (Lam.) Spreng.

Common Name: Pau Brasil

Caesalpinia echinata
Trunk and canopy
Photograph by: Mauro Guanandi
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0
Caesalpinia echinata Caesalpinia echinata Caesalpinia echinata Caesalpinia echinata Caesalpinia echinata Caesalpinia echinata Caesalpinia echinata Caesalpinia echinata

General Information

Pau brasil is a rather slow-growing, much-branched, spiny, evergreen shrub or small tree with a large rounded crown; it can grow up to 12 metres tall, but usually rather smaller[
307
Title
Tropical and Subtropical Trees - A Worldwide Encyclopaedic Guide.
Publication
 
Author
Barwick. M.
Publisher
Thames & Hudson, London
Year
2004
ISBN
0-500-51181-0
Description
A superb book, very concise and well written, giving a wealth of information on 400 or more species including descriptions, habitat, cultivation details and plant uses. A wealth of colour photographs bring each plant vividly to life.
]. There are reports that trees of up to 30 metres tall used to exist, but human activity would have felled these[
419
Title
Brazilian Trees. Volume 1. 4th Edition.
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil.
Year
2002
ISBN
85-86714-17-8
Description
Information on 350 species of Brazilian trees. Stunning photographs of each species, brief details on the plant, its uses and how to grow it from seed. A superb work, with the minor irritation that the translation from Portuguese is not of the best.
]. The erect bole can be 40 - 70cm in diameter[
419
Title
Brazilian Trees. Volume 1. 4th Edition.
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil.
Year
2002
ISBN
85-86714-17-8
Description
Information on 350 species of Brazilian trees. Stunning photographs of each species, brief details on the plant, its uses and how to grow it from seed. A superb work, with the minor irritation that the translation from Portuguese is not of the best.
].
The tree is commonly gathered from the wild and used locally as a medicinal and dye plant, and as a source of timber[
307
Title
Tropical and Subtropical Trees - A Worldwide Encyclopaedic Guide.
Publication
 
Author
Barwick. M.
Publisher
Thames & Hudson, London
Year
2004
ISBN
0-500-51181-0
Description
A superb book, very concise and well written, giving a wealth of information on 400 or more species including descriptions, habitat, cultivation details and plant uses. A wealth of colour photographs bring each plant vividly to life.
]. This species has been exploited, primarily as a dye plant, for over 500 years since the Europeans first came to S. America. Indeed, the country Brazil was named after this plant.
Prolonged habitat destruction and over exploitation have left the tree rare and endangered in the wild, though it is sometimes cultivated as an ornamental and barrier plant[
307
Title
Tropical and Subtropical Trees - A Worldwide Encyclopaedic Guide.
Publication
 
Author
Barwick. M.
Publisher
Thames & Hudson, London
Year
2004
ISBN
0-500-51181-0
Description
A superb book, very concise and well written, giving a wealth of information on 400 or more species including descriptions, habitat, cultivation details and plant uses. A wealth of colour photographs bring each plant vividly to life.
]. The plant is classified as 'Endangered' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2011)[
338
Title
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.iucnredlist.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A list of plants under threat and facing possible extinction, usually with brief details of the threats and information on habitat.
].

Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References


Range

S. America - eastern and northeastern Brazil.

Habitat

Arid limestone thickets[
307
Title
Tropical and Subtropical Trees - A Worldwide Encyclopaedic Guide.
Publication
 
Author
Barwick. M.
Publisher
Thames & Hudson, London
Year
2004
ISBN
0-500-51181-0
Description
A superb book, very concise and well written, giving a wealth of information on 400 or more species including descriptions, habitat, cultivation details and plant uses. A wealth of colour photographs bring each plant vividly to life.
]. Littoral forest and woodland, generally on sandy or sand-clay soils that are well drained, preferring open less dense forest, frequently in dry high, escarpments[
349
Title
Global Tree Campaign - 40 Species in Trade
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.unep-wcmc.org/trees/trade/40_species_in_trade.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Information on the habitats, uses and some cultivation notes for 40 species of timber trees.
].

Properties

Conservation StatusEndangered
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *  *  *
HabitEvergreen Tree
Height10.00 m
Growth RateMedium
PollinatorsBees
Cultivation StatusWild

Cultivation Details


Prefers a well-drained, alkaline soil and a position in full sun[
307
Title
Tropical and Subtropical Trees - A Worldwide Encyclopaedic Guide.
Publication
 
Author
Barwick. M.
Publisher
Thames & Hudson, London
Year
2004
ISBN
0-500-51181-0
Description
A superb book, very concise and well written, giving a wealth of information on 400 or more species including descriptions, habitat, cultivation details and plant uses. A wealth of colour photographs bring each plant vividly to life.
]. Established plants are very drought tolerant[
307
Title
Tropical and Subtropical Trees - A Worldwide Encyclopaedic Guide.
Publication
 
Author
Barwick. M.
Publisher
Thames & Hudson, London
Year
2004
ISBN
0-500-51181-0
Description
A superb book, very concise and well written, giving a wealth of information on 400 or more species including descriptions, habitat, cultivation details and plant uses. A wealth of colour photographs bring each plant vividly to life.
]. Plants are fairly tolerant of salt-laden winds[
307
Title
Tropical and Subtropical Trees - A Worldwide Encyclopaedic Guide.
Publication
 
Author
Barwick. M.
Publisher
Thames & Hudson, London
Year
2004
ISBN
0-500-51181-0
Description
A superb book, very concise and well written, giving a wealth of information on 400 or more species including descriptions, habitat, cultivation details and plant uses. A wealth of colour photographs bring each plant vividly to life.
].
A moderately fast-growing tree, reaching a height of up to 2 metres within 2 years from seed[
419
Title
Brazilian Trees. Volume 1. 4th Edition.
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil.
Year
2002
ISBN
85-86714-17-8
Description
Information on 350 species of Brazilian trees. Stunning photographs of each species, brief details on the plant, its uses and how to grow it from seed. A superb work, with the minor irritation that the translation from Portuguese is not of the best.
].
Plants begin to flower when around 3 - 4 years of age[
349
Title
Global Tree Campaign - 40 Species in Trade
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.unep-wcmc.org/trees/trade/40_species_in_trade.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Information on the habitats, uses and some cultivation notes for 40 species of timber trees.
].
The development of heartwood in plantation trees is considerably faster than in the wild; the DBH of a 17 year old plantation tree compares with a 70 year old tree in the wild[
349
Title
Global Tree Campaign - 40 Species in Trade
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.unep-wcmc.org/trees/trade/40_species_in_trade.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Information on the habitats, uses and some cultivation notes for 40 species of timber trees.
]. The quality of wood from plantations is, apparently, not suitable for making violin bows and consequently there is a lack of interest in growing the species in plantation[
349
Title
Global Tree Campaign - 40 Species in Trade
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.unep-wcmc.org/trees/trade/40_species_in_trade.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Information on the habitats, uses and some cultivation notes for 40 species of timber trees.
].
The flowers are very attractive to bees[
307
Title
Tropical and Subtropical Trees - A Worldwide Encyclopaedic Guide.
Publication
 
Author
Barwick. M.
Publisher
Thames & Hudson, London
Year
2004
ISBN
0-500-51181-0
Description
A superb book, very concise and well written, giving a wealth of information on 400 or more species including descriptions, habitat, cultivation details and plant uses. A wealth of colour photographs bring each plant vividly to life.
].
Trees in the wild are frequently covered with orchids and other epiphytes[
349
Title
Global Tree Campaign - 40 Species in Trade
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.unep-wcmc.org/trees/trade/40_species_in_trade.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Information on the habitats, uses and some cultivation notes for 40 species of timber trees.
].
Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].

Edible Uses

None known

Medicinal

A charcoal made from the powdered bark is infused and used to treat diarrhoea in children[
307
Title
Tropical and Subtropical Trees - A Worldwide Encyclopaedic Guide.
Publication
 
Author
Barwick. M.
Publisher
Thames & Hudson, London
Year
2004
ISBN
0-500-51181-0
Description
A superb book, very concise and well written, giving a wealth of information on 400 or more species including descriptions, habitat, cultivation details and plant uses. A wealth of colour photographs bring each plant vividly to life.
].

The wood is odontalgic and tonic[
739
Title
Medicinal Plants of Brazil
Publication
 
Author
Mors W.B.; Rizzini C.T.; Pereira N.A.
Publisher
Reference Publications; Michigan.
Year
2000
ISBN
0-917256-42-5
Description
An extremely concise book, listing approximately 1,500 species and varieties of plants with their botanical name, common name in Brazil, regions in Brazil where the plant is found, a brief list of uses and any medically active compounds in the plant.
].

Agroforestry Uses:

Plants can be trimmed to keep them small and dense[
307
Title
Tropical and Subtropical Trees - A Worldwide Encyclopaedic Guide.
Publication
 
Author
Barwick. M.
Publisher
Thames & Hudson, London
Year
2004
ISBN
0-500-51181-0
Description
A superb book, very concise and well written, giving a wealth of information on 400 or more species including descriptions, habitat, cultivation details and plant uses. A wealth of colour photographs bring each plant vividly to life.
]. This gives them potential for use as barrier plants[
307
Title
Tropical and Subtropical Trees - A Worldwide Encyclopaedic Guide.
Publication
 
Author
Barwick. M.
Publisher
Thames & Hudson, London
Year
2004
ISBN
0-500-51181-0
Description
A superb book, very concise and well written, giving a wealth of information on 400 or more species including descriptions, habitat, cultivation details and plant uses. A wealth of colour photographs bring each plant vividly to life.
].

Other Uses

An infusion of the pods, mixed with iron sulphate, yields a permanent black dye[
307
Title
Tropical and Subtropical Trees - A Worldwide Encyclopaedic Guide.
Publication
 
Author
Barwick. M.
Publisher
Thames & Hudson, London
Year
2004
ISBN
0-500-51181-0
Description
A superb book, very concise and well written, giving a wealth of information on 400 or more species including descriptions, habitat, cultivation details and plant uses. A wealth of colour photographs bring each plant vividly to life.
].
A red dye is obtained from the wood[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
]. It becomes purplish when mixed with alkalis and yellow if mixed with acids[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
]. A fiery red colour, the dye was a very important item of trade until virtually replaced with synthetic dyes[
349
Title
Global Tree Campaign - 40 Species in Trade
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.unep-wcmc.org/trees/trade/40_species_in_trade.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Information on the habitats, uses and some cultivation notes for 40 species of timber trees.
].

The heartwood is red-brown to dark brown; it is clearly differentiated from the thin layer of sapwood. The wood is fine-grained, very tough, hard, heavy and very durable[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
,
307
Title
Tropical and Subtropical Trees - A Worldwide Encyclopaedic Guide.
Publication
 
Author
Barwick. M.
Publisher
Thames & Hudson, London
Year
2004
ISBN
0-500-51181-0
Description
A superb book, very concise and well written, giving a wealth of information on 400 or more species including descriptions, habitat, cultivation details and plant uses. A wealth of colour photographs bring each plant vividly to life.
,
419
Title
Brazilian Trees. Volume 1. 4th Edition.
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil.
Year
2002
ISBN
85-86714-17-8
Description
Information on 350 species of Brazilian trees. Stunning photographs of each species, brief details on the plant, its uses and how to grow it from seed. A superb work, with the minor irritation that the translation from Portuguese is not of the best.
]. Very dense, it sinks in water, is easy to split and to polish[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
]. Of high value, the wood is used for turnery, ship building and making musical instruments[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
,
307
Title
Tropical and Subtropical Trees - A Worldwide Encyclopaedic Guide.
Publication
 
Author
Barwick. M.
Publisher
Thames & Hudson, London
Year
2004
ISBN
0-500-51181-0
Description
A superb book, very concise and well written, giving a wealth of information on 400 or more species including descriptions, habitat, cultivation details and plant uses. A wealth of colour photographs bring each plant vividly to life.
]. It is particularly valued for making bows for violins[
349
Title
Global Tree Campaign - 40 Species in Trade
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.unep-wcmc.org/trees/trade/40_species_in_trade.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Information on the habitats, uses and some cultivation notes for 40 species of timber trees.
].

Propagation

Seed - pre-soak for 12 - 24 hours in warm water prior to sowing. Sow the seed in a partially shaded position in individual containers. A germination rate in excess of 60% can be expected, with the seed sprouting within 8 - 15 days[
419
Title
Brazilian Trees. Volume 1. 4th Edition.
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil.
Year
2002
ISBN
85-86714-17-8
Description
Information on 350 species of Brazilian trees. Stunning photographs of each species, brief details on the plant, its uses and how to grow it from seed. A superb work, with the minor irritation that the translation from Portuguese is not of the best.
]. When the seedlings are 4 - 6cm tall, pot them up into individual containers and they should be ready to plant out 4 - 5 months later[
419
Title
Brazilian Trees. Volume 1. 4th Edition.
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil.
Year
2002
ISBN
85-86714-17-8
Description
Information on 350 species of Brazilian trees. Stunning photographs of each species, brief details on the plant, its uses and how to grow it from seed. A superb work, with the minor irritation that the translation from Portuguese is not of the best.
].
Seeds must be sown fresh, they fail to germinate after storage for 30 days[
349
Title
Global Tree Campaign - 40 Species in Trade
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.unep-wcmc.org/trees/trade/40_species_in_trade.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Information on the habitats, uses and some cultivation notes for 40 species of timber trees.
].
Softwood cuttings in sand in a frame[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].

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