Hymenaea intermedia is a large, evergreen tree.
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and source of wood and a gum. A high quality, durable and attractive timber it is also harvested for trade.
S. America - Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, northern Brazil
Rainforests, usually in areas not subject to seasonal inundation.
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Although many species within the family Fabaceae have a symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria, this species is said to be devoid of such a relationship and therefore does not fix atmospheric nitrogen[
The fruit aril is edible[
]. A powdery texture[
]. The fruit is an oblong pod (legume), 5 - 15cm long and 3 -5cm wide, containing 3 - 4 large seeds which are surrounded by a dry, whitish-yellow edible pulp[
The roots and trunk yield a pale yellow or red resin-like gum known commercially as 'South American copal'[
]. The gum obtained from tapping the trunk is soft and considered to be of lower quality[
] - it is used mainly for medicinal purposes[
]. The best quality gum is quite old - it is found in hard lumps that have become buried in the soil at the base of a tree or at the site of a dead tree. A minor source of the gum (it is obtained mainly from Hymenaea courbaril), it can be used in making varnishes but also for incense and local medicines[
]. The copal is also used for patent leather, as an adhesive for crockery and in stains for tin ware[
The heartwood can vary from purple-brown or orangey-brown to a red brown with slight veining; it is clearly demarcated from the 3 - 12cm wide band of sapwood. The texture is medium; the grain straight or interlocked; there are slight internal stresses. The wood is very heavy; very hard; elastic; durable, even in contact with the soil, being resistant to fungi, dry wood borers and termites. It seasons normally, with only a slight risk of checking and distortion; once dry it is moderately stable to stable in service. The wood has a fairly high blunting effect, stellite-tipped and tungsten carbide tools are recommended; nailing and screwing are good, but require pre-boring; gluing is correct for interior use only, but needs to be done with care because of the density of the wood. The wood has a wide range of applications, including for high class furniture, cabinet making, construction, heavy duty flooring, ship building, carving, turnery, tool handles etc[
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