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Bulnesia sarmientoi - Lorentz & Griseb.

Common Name Pao Santo
Family Zygophyllaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Found mainly in deciduous, calcareous forests, open forests, in dryland varzeas on very saline soils with good deep water humidity[ 420 ].
Range Tropical S. America - Argentina, Paraguay, eastern Brazil and Bolivia.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Bulnesia sarmientoi Pao Santo

Bulnesia sarmientoi Pao Santo
Lidia Perez de Molas


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Pao Santo, Bulnesia samientoi, is a tropical, slow-growing, deciduous tree found in South America. It grows up to 18 m tall and its crown is arching and spreading. The cylindrical bole is short and up to 70 cm in diameter. Wood yields a rose-like scented essential oil known as “guaiac oil” used in making perfume, soap, etc. The wood is very heavy, hard, and resistant. It is used as material for items that require great resistance to abrasion and as a fuel.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Bulnesia sarmientoi is a deciduous Tree growing to 18 m (59ft) by 18 m (59ft) at a slow rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10 and is frost tender.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


No synonyms are recorded for this name.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

None known

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

The plant is used medicinally[ 420 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Cosmetic  Fuel  Soap making  Wood

Other uses rating: High (4/5). The tree is exploited from the wild for its timber and essential oil[307 ]. An essential oil is distilled from the wood[ 307 ]. It has a soft, rose-like scent[ 46 ]. Known as guaiac oil, it is used in perfumery, making soap etc[ 46 , 307 ]. It is said to conceal the harsh notes of some synthetic aromatics[ 46 ]. The wood is very heavy, very hard and resistant, pleasantly scented with a fine and homogenous texture[ 420 ]. It has crystals of calcium oxalate and resin amongst its fibres and is extremely durable, even when exposed[ 420 ]. It is used for items that require great resistance to abrasion, such as bushings and vessel helices[ 420 ]. It is also much used for lathe work[ 420 ]. When used as a fuel, the wood gives off a fragrant smoke[ 420 ].

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Grows best in a sunny position[ 420 ]. Plants are slow to establish and grow away slowly[ 420 ].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a sunny position in a nursery seedbed or in containers[ 420 ]. Germination rates are normally low, occurring in 3 - 4 weeks[ 420 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Pao Santo, Bulnesia samientoi

Coming Soon

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

None Known

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Lower Risk/conservation dependent

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Bulnesia arboreaVerawoodTree15.0 9-12 SLMHNDM004

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment


Lorentz & Griseb.

Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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