Poecilanthe itapuana is a semideciduous shrub or small tree with an open, globose crown; it can grow 4 - 7 metres tall. The short bole can be 15 - 30cm in diameter[
The tree yields a good quality timber, but is generally too small for most uses. It is harvested from the wild for local use.
S. America - eastern Brazil (Bahia).
Coastal rainforest, often on sand dunes and always favouring sandy soils, often with a high water table[
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Requires a sunny position[
]. Tolerant of salty soils[
]. Prefers a moist, sandy soil[
]. Judging by the plants habitat, it is almost certainly tolerant of salt-laden winds[
Young plants have a moderately fast rate of growth, able to reach heights of up to 2 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[
The wood is medium-textured, irregular-grained, heavy, with very good mechanical properties and a low susceptibility to wood-eating organisms. Because of its generally small size, it can only be used for making small items, such as lathe work and for objects requiring strong resistance to wear[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a sunny position in a nursery seedbed. A germination rate of more than 80% can be expected, with the seed sprouting within 10 - 20 days[
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 and improve 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[
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