Copaifera langsdorffii

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Diesel tree
Copaifera langsdorfii in a park in São Paulo Brazil.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Copaifera
Species: C. langsdorffii
Binomial name
Copaifera langsdorffii
Fruit of Copaifera langsdorffii

The tropical rainforest tree Copaifera langsdorffii is known as the diesel tree and kerosene tree. It has many names in local languages, including kupa'y, cabismo, and copaúva.

Biological description[edit]

It is a medium-sized tree usually reaching 12 meters in height, with white flowers and small, oily fruits. The wood is light due to its porosity. And, it is honeycombed with capillaries filled with oil. Tapping the tree involves cutting a well into which the oil seeps and where it can be easily collected. Despite its vigorous production of oil, the tree does not grow well outside of the tropics, and does not show promise as a reliable source of biodiesel in temperate climates.


Biodiesel use[edit]

It produces a large amount of terpene hydrocarbons in its wood and leaves. One tree can produce 30 to 53 liters of hydrocarbons per year, en masse producing 10,000 - 12,000 litres/hectare/year[1] which is incredibly high.[clarification needed] The oil is collected by tree tapping. The main compound in the oil is copaiba, an oleoresin which is useful in the production of oil products such as lacquers and can be used as biodiesel. The tree is also the main source of copaene, another terpene.

Wood uses[edit]

The wood can be burned for firewood or used in carpentry.

Pollen collector[edit]

Bees utilize the tree for pollen collection.[clarification needed]

Medicinal uses[edit]

The plant has a great number of historical medicinal uses.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Qld farmers invest in diesel-producing trees, By Brigid Glanville, Mar 25, 2008,

External links[edit]