Hymenaea courbaril

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Hymenaea courbaril
Hymenaea courbaril
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Hymenaea
H. courbaril
Binomial name
Hymenaea courbaril
L. (1753)
  • Hymenaea animifera Stokes (1812)
  • Hymenaea candolleana Kunth (1824)
  • Hymenaea confertifolia Hayne (1830)
  • Hymenaea courbaril var. obtusifolia Ducke (1925)
  • Hymenaea courbaril var. stilbocarpa (Hayne) Y.T.Lee & Langenh. (1974)
  • Hymenaea courbaril var. subsessilis Ducke (1925)
  • Hymenaea courbaril var. villosa Y.T.Lee & Andrade-Lima (1974)
  • Hymenaea multiflora Kleinhoonte (1925 publ. 1926)
  • Hymenaea resinifera Salisb. 1796)
  • Hymenaea retusa Willd. ex Hayne (1830)
  • Hymenaea splendida Vogel (1837)
  • Hymenaea stilbocarpa Hayne (1830)
  • Inga megacarpa M.E.Jones (1929)
  • Peltogyne confertifolia (Hayne) Benth. (1870)
Hymenaea courbaril

Hymenaea courbaril, the courbaril or West Indian locust,[3] is a tree common in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. It is a hardwood that is used for furniture, flooring, and decoration. Its hard fruit pods have edible dry pulp surrounding the seeds. Its sap, called animé, is used for incense, perfume, and varnish.


Hymenaea courbaril is commonly known as the "courbaril",[4] "West Indian locust",[5][4] "Brazilian copal", and "amami-gum",[5] and "jatobá".[6]

Although it is sometimes referred to as "Brazilian cherry" and "South American cherry", it is not a cherry tree but a legume of the family Fabaceae.[6] It is also known as "stinking toe", "old man's toe", and "stinktoe"[7] because of the unpleasant odor of the edible pulp of its seed pods.[8][9]


Its fruit, also known as locust, was a major food for indigenous peoples. Those who eat it do not consider the odor unpleasant. The pulp, in spite of its somewhat disagreeable odor, has a sweet taste; is consumed raw; may be dried and transformed into powder to be incorporated into cookies, crackers, and soups; and may be mixed with water to prepare a drink called "atole". The pulp inside the hard shells appears like miniature soluble fibers that dissolve easily in water or milk, which it thickens. Some add sugar to it for more sweetness. If consumed raw it tends to stick inside the mouth like dry dust. It is one of the richest vegetable foods known because of its high concentrations of starches and proteins.[10] It is further an excellent concentrated feed for animals.


The tree produces an orange, soft, sticky resin or gum, called "animé" (French for "animated", in reference to its insect-infested natural state). The resin has a specific gravity varying from 1.054 to 1.057. It melts readily over fire, and softens even with the heat of the mouth. It diffuses white fumes and a very pleasant odor. Insects are generally entrapped in it in large numbers. It is insoluble in water, and nearly so in cold alcohol. It is similar to copal in its nature and appearance,[4] and a copal from Zanzibar is sometimes given this name.

The production of animé may be encouraged by wounding the bark. The resin collects between the principal roots.[4][11] It can be obtained from other species of Hymenaea growing in tropical South America.[4][11]

Brazilians use it internally to treat diseases of the lungs. It was formerly an ingredient of ointments and plasters, but at present its only use is for incense and varnish.[11]


The wood is very hard, measuring 5.6 on the Brinell scale and 2,350 lbf (10,500 N) on the Janka scale, approximate measurements of hardness. For comparison, Douglas fir measures 660 lbf (2,900 N), white oak 1,360 lbf (6,000 N), and Brazilian walnut 3,800 lbf (17,000 N) on the Janka scale. It features a tan to salmon color with black accent stripes that over time turn to a deep and vibrant red.[6]


  1. ^ Groom, A. (2012). "Hymenaea courbaril". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2012: e.T19891869A20079757. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2012.RLTS.T19891869A20079757.en. Retrieved 12 December 2022.
  2. ^ Hymenaea courbaril L. Plants of the World Online. Retrieved 2 September 2023.
  3. ^ EB (1878).
  4. ^ a b c d e EB (1911).
  5. ^ a b "Hymenaea courbaril". Germplasm Resources Information Network. Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  6. ^ a b c "Jatoba". Wood Database. Retrieved 15 May 2023.
  7. ^ Mesoamerican Copal Resins Archived 2012-01-18 at the Wayback Machine from Brian Stross at the University of Texas at Austin
  8. ^ Worldwide weird: Bite into a stinking toe from BBC Travel
  9. ^ Stinking Toe Archived 2009-10-08 at the Wayback Machine from StJohnBeachGuide.com
  10. ^ Frans Geilfus (1994). El Arbol Al Servico del Agricultor (PDF). Vol. 2: Guía de Especies. Turrialba. p. 147. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  11. ^ a b c Ripley, George; Dana, Charles A., eds. (1879). "Animé" . The American Cyclopædia.



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