This species is seen as no more than a form of Machaerium nycticans by some botanists[
Machaerium nyctitans scleroxylon (Tul.) Hassl.
Common Name: Pau Ferro
Pau ferro is a spiny, deciduous tree with a dense, vase-shaped crown; it can grow 15 - 25 metres tall. The grooved bole, which often branches from low down, can be 50 - 90cm in diameter[
The tree yields an attractive timber and so is often harvested from the wild. It is also a useful pioneer species when restoring woodland and is often grown as an ornamental, where it is valued especially for its attractive bark and delicate leaves. It is a particularly interesting species for planting along streets because the spines on the young trunks deter vandalism[
S. America - Paraguay, eastern Brazil, Bolivia.
Semideciduous forest, where it is found in both dense primary formations and the more open, secondary growth areas, favouring clayey, fertile soils that are usually well-drained[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
Succeeds in full sun and also in moderate shade[
]. Prefers well-drained, fertile, clayey soils, succeeding in dry, stony conditions[
]. Established plants are drought tolerant[
The tree self-sows freely, often invading pasture land. This makes it an excellent pioneer species, but means also that it can become a weed[
A fairly fast-growing tree, able to reach a height of 2.5 metres within 2 years from seed[
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[
A moderately fast-growing, nitrogen-fixing plant that can succeed in stony and dry soils, it can be used as a pioneer species when restoring woodland[
The heartwood is chestnut brown; the sapwood is yellowish-white. The texture is fine; the grain interlocked; lustre is medium; there is a distinctive aroma but no distinctive taste. The wood is moderately heavy, hard, with very good mechanical properties and very durable, especially when not in contact with the soil It is moderately easy to work and finishes well. A decorative wood, it is used for fine cabinet making, floor boards, parquet flooring, door and window frames, lathe work, veneer, musical instruments, tool handles etc[
Seed - it has a hard seedcoat and may benefit from scarification before sowing 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. Seedlings transplant very poorly, so sow the seed as soon as it is ripe in a partially shaded position in individual containers. A low germination rate can be expected from untreated seed, with the seed sprouting within 15 - 30 days[
]. The seedlings develop slowly, but they should be ready to plant out 6 - 7 months later[
The seed has a short viability in storage[
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