Hymenaea courbaril

Author: Linnaeus

This polymorphic, tropical American species consists of six varieties. Five of them are found so far only in Brazil but one has a wider range, is cultivated in the tropics and is treated here.

Hymenaea courbaril Linnaeus var. courbaril (Hymenaea courbaril courbaril )
Morphological description
Tree up to 25(-40) m tall, often much smaller in cultivation, branchlets glabrous.

Leaves bifoliolate (courbaril Hymenaea lf 256074); short petioled, petiole 10-20 mm; petiolules twisted, very short, 2-4 mm. Leaflets coriaceous, falcate to broadly falcate, rarely oblong or obovate, 4-10 by 2-5 cm, glabrous, pellucid-punctate; apex shortly acuminate, obtuse, rarely retuse; base asymmetric.

Inflorescences shortly, densely corymbose-paniculate; pedicels c. 6 mm (courbaril Hymenaea infl 256075 ).

Flowers: all parts pellucid-punctate (courbaril Hymenaea fl 256076 ). Hypanthium c. 6 mm long. Calyx lobes 4, coriaceous, ovate to elliptic, 15-18 by 8 mm, pubescent outside, sericeous inside. Petals yellow, streaked with red, subsessile, oblong, ovate or obovate, more or less equalling the calyx lobes or slightly longer. Stamens 3-3.5 cm. Ovary stipitate (stipe 4-8 mm), c. 4 by 2 mm, glabrous, 12-15- (or more-)ovuled.

Pods oblong or cylindric, compressed, 8-14(-20) by 4-6(-8) cm, smooth or rough, dark brown, 6-12-(or more-)seeded (courbaril Hymenaea pod 256077 ).

Seeds oblong, obovoid, or ellipsoid, 2-3 cm long (courbaril Hymenaea seed 256078 ).

Native to the American tropics, widely distributed from southern Mexico and the West Indies to Brazil. Cultivated in the tropics, also in Malesia: seen from Malay Peninsula, Borneo (Sabah), Java.

Producing commercially valuable gum-resins or copals and to a limited extent for medicinal purposes. The resin is also used in varnishes. The pulpy (endocarp) tissue surrounding the seeds is edible. See Burkill (1935: 1235), and Heyne (1950: 730).