Botanical Name

Hymenaea Courbaril

Other Common Names

Brazilian Cherry, Courbaril


Central America, southern Mexico, northern South America.

The Tree

May grow to a height of 130 ft with trunk diameters of 5 to 6 ft; usually less than 100 ft high with diameters of 2 to 4 ft.  Boles are well formed, often clear for 40 to 80 ft, and basally swollen or buttressed in large trees.


Heartwood is salmon red to orange brown when fresh, becoming russet to reddish brown when seasoned; often marked with dark streaks.  Sapwood is usually wide; white, gray, or pinkish.


Texture is medium to rather coarse; grain mostly interlocked; golden luster; without distinctive odor or taste.

Working Properties

The wood is moderately difficult to saw and machine largely because of its high density, but except in planing it can be machined to a smooth surface.  The wood is somewhat difficult to plane because of the interlocked grain. It is easy to glue and finish satisfactorily; steam-bending properties comparable to white oak.


Tool handles and other applications where good shock resistance is needed, steam-bent parts, flooring, turnery, furniture and cabinet work, railroad crossties tree-nails, gear cogs, wheel rims, and other specialty items.  Tree exudes a rosin-like gum known commercially as South American copal.  Seed pods contain an edible pulp.


Jatoba is fairly inexpensive for an imported timber.