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Useful Tropical Plants

Dalbergia retusa

Hemsl.

Fabaceae

+ Synonyms

Amerimnon lineatum (Pittier) Standl

Amerimnon retusum (Hemsl.) Standl.

Dalbergia hypoleuca Pittier

Dalbergia lineata Pittier

Common Name: Cocobolo

Dalbergia retusa

Photograph by: O. M. Montiel
Creative Commons License
Dalbergia retusa Dalbergia retusa Dalbergia retusa Dalbergia retusa Dalbergia retusa Dalbergia retusa Dalbergia retusa

General Information

Cocobolo is a medium-sized deciduous tree growing up to 20 metres tall with. The straight, cylindrical bole branches from low down; it can be 40cm in diameter[
315
Title
Flora of Barro Colorado Island
Publication
 
Author
Croat. Thomas B.
Website
http://biogeodb.stri.si.edu/bioinformatics/croat/home
Publisher
Stanford University Press
Year
1978
ISBN
0-8047-0950-5
Description
A very good flora of an area in Panama. Written some years ago, so some of the names have been changed. The book is out of print, but the whole flora is now available on the web.
,
333
Title
Tree Species of Panama
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ctfs.arnarb.harvard.edu/webatlas/mainframe.php?order=s
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Factsheets on all the tree and shrub species of Panama, giving identification guide, brief guide to the species and some uses. A vast, but rather incomplete work as of 15/07/09.
,
381
Title
Timber Trees of Meso America.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.unep-wcmc.org/forest/timber/workshops/reports/MA2005/Annex%202.pdf
Publisher
UNEP
Year
2005
ISBN
 
Description
A PDF document, published on the internet. Detailed reports on about 30 species of timber trees from Central America.
,
551
Title
A Century of Trees of Panama.
Publication
 
Author
Pittier H. Mell C.D.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A work that was very difficult to get published according to the correspondence contained at the start!. A treatment of 100 different species with descriptions and details of uses. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
]. The tree can be very variable in its habit, sometimes
low and spreading, at other times tall, with a straight trunk and a more elongated crown[
551
Title
A Century of Trees of Panama.
Publication
 
Author
Pittier H. Mell C.D.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A work that was very difficult to get published according to the correspondence contained at the start!. A treatment of 100 different species with descriptions and details of uses. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].
The tree yields a valuable timber, although generally only available in small sizes. It is commonly exploited in the wild and the wood is often exported.
Exploitation as a timber is intense and areas where the species was formerly widespread are almost completely exhausted; this is most notable in Costa Rica[
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.
]. The habitat has been exploited for 400 years and continuing reductions are caused through cattle ranching and burning[
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.
]. Consequently, the species has been classified as 'Endangered' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2009)[
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

The sawdust is said to act as a poison on the people working with it in the factories[
551
Title
A Century of Trees of Panama.
Publication
 
Author
Pittier H. Mell C.D.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A work that was very difficult to get published according to the correspondence contained at the start!. A treatment of 100 different species with descriptions and details of uses. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

Botanical References

315
Title
Flora of Barro Colorado Island
Publication
 
Author
Croat. Thomas B.
Website
http://biogeodb.stri.si.edu/bioinformatics/croat/home
Publisher
Stanford University Press
Year
1978
ISBN
0-8047-0950-5
Description
A very good flora of an area in Panama. Written some years ago, so some of the names have been changed. The book is out of print, but the whole flora is now available on the web.

Range

Central America - Panama to Mexico.

Habitat

Found only on the drier half of the isthmus, from Gambia south, but it is never common. Occasionally seen along roads in the Canal area, or in farmland woodlots[
333
Title
Tree Species of Panama
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ctfs.arnarb.harvard.edu/webatlas/mainframe.php?order=s
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Factsheets on all the tree and shrub species of Panama, giving identification guide, brief guide to the species and some uses. A vast, but rather incomplete work as of 15/07/09.
]. Tropical moist forest and premontane moist forest[
315
Title
Flora of Barro Colorado Island
Publication
 
Author
Croat. Thomas B.
Website
http://biogeodb.stri.si.edu/bioinformatics/croat/home
Publisher
Stanford University Press
Year
1978
ISBN
0-8047-0950-5
Description
A very good flora of an area in Panama. Written some years ago, so some of the names have been changed. The book is out of print, but the whole flora is now available on the web.
].

Properties

Conservation StatusEndangered
Other Uses Rating *  *  *  *
HabitDeciduous Tree
Height20.00 m
Growth RateSlow
Cultivation StatusWild

Cultivation Details


We have no specific information on this species, but members of this genus generally prefer a fertile, loam soil and a position in full sun[
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.
].
A slow-growing species[
381
Title
Timber Trees of Meso America.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.unep-wcmc.org/forest/timber/workshops/reports/MA2005/Annex%202.pdf
Publisher
UNEP
Year
2005
ISBN
 
Description
A PDF document, published on the internet. Detailed reports on about 30 species of timber trees from Central America.
].
Cocobolo responds well to fire. In areas experiencing periodic burning new saplings and small trees are observed to be numerous[
381
Title
Timber Trees of Meso America.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.unep-wcmc.org/forest/timber/workshops/reports/MA2005/Annex%202.pdf
Publisher
UNEP
Year
2005
ISBN
 
Description
A PDF document, published on the internet. Detailed reports on about 30 species of timber trees from Central America.
].
Trees often flower all year round[
315
Title
Flora of Barro Colorado Island
Publication
 
Author
Croat. Thomas B.
Website
http://biogeodb.stri.si.edu/bioinformatics/croat/home
Publisher
Stanford University Press
Year
1978
ISBN
0-8047-0950-5
Description
A very good flora of an area in Panama. Written some years ago, so some of the names have been changed. The book is out of print, but the whole flora is now available on the web.
].
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[
755
Title
Nodulation Plants in GRIN Taxonomy
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.ars-grin.gov/~sbmljw/cgi-bin/taxnodul.pl?language=en
Publisher
United States Department of Agriculture
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An online database listing plants that have either positive or negative reports on root and stem nodulation with nitrogen-fixing bacteria.
].

Edible Uses

None known

Medicinal

None known

Other Uses

A unique property of the species is the secretion of compounds that act as potent bactericides, fungicides and algaecides[
381
Title
Timber Trees of Meso America.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.unep-wcmc.org/forest/timber/workshops/reports/MA2005/Annex%202.pdf
Publisher
UNEP
Year
2005
ISBN
 
Description
A PDF document, published on the internet. Detailed reports on about 30 species of timber trees from Central America.
].

The heartwood is a very dark red, with faint streaks of black similar to rosewood (Dalbergia nigra); it is clearly demarcated from the thick band of nearly white sapwood. The texture is fine, the grain crossed, lustrous in colour with a faintly fragrant smell. The wood is hard, heavy, strong, tough, and durable in contact with the soil. It is rather difficult to work, but takes a good polish. It is used for a wide range of items including knife and tool handles, musical and scientific instruments, inlay, jewellery boxes, rosary beads, chess pieces and steering wheels[
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.
,
333
Title
Tree Species of Panama
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ctfs.arnarb.harvard.edu/webatlas/mainframe.php?order=s
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Factsheets on all the tree and shrub species of Panama, giving identification guide, brief guide to the species and some uses. A vast, but rather incomplete work as of 15/07/09.
,
381
Title
Timber Trees of Meso America.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.unep-wcmc.org/forest/timber/workshops/reports/MA2005/Annex%202.pdf
Publisher
UNEP
Year
2005
ISBN
 
Description
A PDF document, published on the internet. Detailed reports on about 30 species of timber trees from Central America.
,
551
Title
A Century of Trees of Panama.
Publication
 
Author
Pittier H. Mell C.D.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A work that was very difficult to get published according to the correspondence contained at the start!. A treatment of 100 different species with descriptions and details of uses. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
]. This is the wood used commonly by indigenous people for carving[
333
Title
Tree Species of Panama
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ctfs.arnarb.harvard.edu/webatlas/mainframe.php?order=s
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Factsheets on all the tree and shrub species of Panama, giving identification guide, brief guide to the species and some uses. A vast, but rather incomplete work as of 15/07/09.
].

Propagation

Seed - a germination rate up to 80% has been observed in the nursery[
381
Title
Timber Trees of Meso America.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.unep-wcmc.org/forest/timber/workshops/reports/MA2005/Annex%202.pdf
Publisher
UNEP
Year
2005
ISBN
 
Description
A PDF document, published on the internet. Detailed reports on about 30 species of timber trees from Central America.
].
Like many species within the family Fabaceae, once they have been dried for storage the seeds of this species may benefit from scarification before sowing in order to speed up germination. This can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!) and then soaking them for 12 - 24 hours in warm water. By this time they should have imbibed moisture and swollen - if they have not, then carefully make a nick in the seedcoat (being careful not to damage the embryo) and soak for a further 12 hours before sowing[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].
Cite as: Tropical Plants Database, Ken Fern. tropical.theferns.info. 2019-06-19. <tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Dalbergia+retusa>

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