Fragara flava (Vahl) Krug & Urb.
Common Name: Satin Wood
Young, cultivated tree in Miami.
Photograph by: David Stang
Zanthoxylum flavum is a slow-growing, deciduous shrub or a tree, usually growing 3 - 8 metres tall with some specimens to 15 metres[
]. The bole can be up to 50cm in diameter[
The tree has an excellent, ornamental timber that was highly desired for inlay, fine furniture etc. It was so heavily exploited that large trees are now almost unheard of. The tree is now only occasionally harvested from the wild for its timber[
The tree has been heavily exploited for its timber over a long period on all the West Indian islands. Stands are now largely depleted of mature trees and the timber is extremely rare in international trade. The plant is classified as 'Vulnerable' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2011)[
Dust produced from the wood in machinery operations may cause dermatitis to the machine operators[
Caribbean - Guadeloupe to Jamaica, Cuba and the Bahamas; Southeast N. America - Florida.
Thickets and woodland on rocky limestone at elevations from 15 - 450 metres in Jamaica[
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Grows best in full sun or light shade[
]. Prefers a fertile, well-drained soil[
]. Established plants are very drought tolerant[
A dioecious species - both male and female forms need to be grown if seed is required[
The bark is chewed into a fine pulp and then inserted into a tooth cavity to relieve the pain[
The wood contains the coumarins psoralene and suberosine. Psoralene is a chemical defense against fungus and insect attack of the tree, and also an agent used in photochemotherapy against vitiligo, psoriasis and mycoses[
The heartwood is a creamy or golden yellow darkening with exposure; not clearly differentiated from the whitish to light yellow sapwood. The lustre is high; texture fine and even; grain interlocked or irregular often with roey mottle figure; when freshly worked has a characteristic scent of coconut[
]. The wood is brittle, very hard, heavy, not strong, reported as nondurable, but is resistant to dry-wood termites[
]. It has a moderate blunting effect on cutting edges; the wood tends to ride on cutters in planing; an excellent turnery wood; takes a fine polish[
]. It is used for cabinetmaking, fine furniture, inlays, turnery, fancy veneers, specialty item (hand mirrors and hairbrushes)[
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