Forest Products Laboratory,. Forest Service
.-.. U. S. Department of Agriculture
CONACASTE or GUAi.ACASTE
Enterolobium cyclocarpum (Jacq.) Gris.
ELOISE GERRY, Forest Products Technologist
Division of Silvicultural Relations
Eight species of the genus Enterolobium are knom to occur in tropical America
from southern Mexico to northern Argentina. One of the best knowm is
Enterolcbium cyclocarpumn (Jacq.) Gris. E. contortisiliquum (Veil.) ::orong,
tinmbo or timbouba is common in northern Argentina and nearby Paraguay and
Brazil. This species is sometimes substituted for Spanish cedar, .edrela (5).
The name guanacaste is of Nahuanti Indian origin, meaning ear-tree. The
Costa Rican province of Guanacaste derives its name from this important tree.
Other nanes include Juana Costa mahogany, conacaste, genizero or jenisero,
orejon, oichwood, South American, Central Arerican, or Mexican walnut
parota, cascabel, anjera, carito, caro, earpodtree, and kelobra (2, 41.
1MaintaLied at Madison, isj, in cooperation with the Uni-ersity of Wiscornsin.
Underlined numitbers in parentheses refer to the list of nurbeied referenceF
S at the end of the report.
Agriculvurt-;'ad i -or
Rept.. No. 19S5
Distribution and Habitat
The tree is well knoim locally. It growls throughout Central America.
Abundant supplies were available in 1943 in'Costa Rica, the West Indies,
northern South America, and Mexico (2, 3, 6, 7).
The trees grow rapidly and make excellent shade trees because of their broad
tops. They form one of the 3 or 4 groups of largest trees in the forests of
Central Arerica. They may reach heights of 40 to 100 feet or more, and
diameters of 2 to 8 feet, but the trunks seldom are very long (2, 4).
The seed pods are said to be excellent feed for cattle. The seeds and young
pods are sometimes cooked for human food. The pods, which are broad and
flat, are coiled so that they suggest a human ear (4, 7).
The fruit and bark are rich in tannin. They are often used as a soap substi-
tute and are also believed to have some medicinal properties. Gum exuding
from the trunk is used locally as a remedy for bronchitis.
The heartwood is variable in color, often suggesting United States black
walnut (Juglans), but it may show various shadings and is sometimes tinged
with red or yellow. It has been rated as fairly attractive but hardly
classed as a high-grade furniture wood. The sapwood may be quite thick and
white or cream colored (2, 4).
Guanacaste is rather hard and heavy. The specific gravity air dry is 0.35
to 0.60, and the wood weighs 22 to 37 pounds per cubic foot (4).
Texture, Grain, and Figure
The tree grows rapidly. The texture of the wood is rather coarse; the pores
are open and rather large. They occur singly or in pairs, and are rather
scarce. The rays are fine and indistinct (4). Crotch material is common and
produces figured wood suitable for paneling (2). Cross grain may occur, and
gelatinous fibers may cause rough or fuzzy surfaces.
Rept. :Jo. 1985
Odor and Taste
The solid dry -zood is unscented, but dust coming from it durin, wiorkin, is
reported to have a disagreeable, pungent odor. Some worIkrcn are allergic to
the sawdust and may develop skin eruptions. The wood contains a bitter
substance said to be somewhat toxic (2).
Guanacaste is considered only fairly durable in general. It is resistant to
decay when in contact with the soil or in water, but it is not termite
The wood varies in consistency from light, soft, and sponfgy, to rath-er ':ard
and heavy. It is usually easy to work, finishes smoothly, and holds its
The large trunks are u-sed locally for canoes, dories, solid ox-cart wheels,
and water troughs. The wood is also used for veneer, carpentry, interior
trim, decorative paneling, low cost furniture, and cabinet work, It is con-
sidered as a possible substitute for yellow-poplar in plywood core stock (1).
RepL. Ho. 19S5
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
3 1262 08924 2092
A MANUAL OF THE TrBERS OF THE UORLD, THEIR CHARACTERISTICS
AND USES. Ed. 3, p. 611. New York and London,
(2) I'ELL, C. D.
1929. THE GUANACASTE OF CENTRAL AMERICA. Veneers, Vol. 22, No. 1,
p. 18. Indianapolis, Ind.
C. A., BARBOUR, W. R., SCHOLTEN, J. A., and DAYTON, W. A.
THE FORESTS OF COSTA RICA. p. 54. Forest Serv., U. S.
Dept. Agr. and Coord. of Inter-Amer. Affairs.
(Processed.) Washington, D. C.
S. J., and HESS, R. W.
TflBERS OF THE NEWWORLD.
New Haven, Conn,
Yale Univ. Press,
EL PACARA, OREJA DE NEGRO 0 TIMBO COLORADO, ESPECIE INDIGENA
DE MULTIPLES APLICACIONES. Mundo Agr. Vol. 4, No. 36,
pp. 52-53. (E. contortisiliquum)
(6) STANDLEY, P. C.
1922. TREES AND SHRUBS OF MEXICO. Contribs. U. S. Natl.
Vol. 23, No. 2, p. 391. Washington, D. C.
(7) _____ and RECORD, S. J.
1936, THE FORESTS AND FLORA CF BRITISH HONDURAS. Field Museum
of Natural History. Bot. Series, Pub. 350, Vol. XII,
p. 161. Chicago.
Rept. 1o. 1985