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Carapa guianensis - Aubl.

Common Name Andiroba
Family Meliaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats A canopy or subcanopy layer element of lowland rainforest, sometimes in pure stands, preferring marsh edge, swamp forests, alluvial riverbanks and periodically flooded plains[ 303 ].
Range S. America - Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, the Guyanas; C. America - Panama to Guatemala; Caribbean - Trinidad to Dominican Republic.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (4 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Wet Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun
Carapa guianensis Andiroba

Carapa guianensis Andiroba
Mauroguanandi wikimedia.org


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Andiroba, Carapa guianensis, is deciduous of up to 55 m tall with a straight, cylindrical, buttressed bole of up to 90 cm in diameter. It is found in the Amazon, Central America, and the Carribean. The bark is used in the treatment of malaria, stomach pain, diarrhoea, dysentery, rheumatism, and various skin conditions. The leaves are boiled in water and used to treat wounds and ulcers. A fruit rind decoction is used for fevers and intestinal worms. Carapa oil is obtained from the seed of andiroba. It is bitter, cream in colour, highly acidic, and has a very unpleasant smell. It is anti-inflammatory, demulcent, and soothing and is used for treating various pulmonary and skin conditions, and as an effective mosquito repellent. Andiroba is harvested from the wild for its highly valued timber commonly used in furniture making. Two types of wood are recognized namely the Red or Hill Crabwood and the White Crabwood. The former is heavier and of superior quality while the latter is lighter.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Carapa guianensis is an evergreen Tree growing to 35 m (114ft) by 20 m (65ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist or wet soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Amapa guinaensis (Aubl.) Steud. Carapa latifolia Willd. ex C.DC. Carapa macrocarpa Ducke Carapa nica

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Oil
Edible Uses: Oil

Oil. See medical uses below. The oil should not be consumed because it is poisonous in quantity[ 46 ]. The seed contains up to 70% oil[ 419 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

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Analgesic  Antidiarrhoeal  Antifungal  Antiinflammatory  Antirheumatic  Antitussive  Astringent  Bitter  
Demulcent  Dysentery  Eczema  Febrifuge  Malaria  Parasiticide  Skin

The bark contains tannins and a bitter-tasting alkaloid, carapine. It is astringent, bitter and febrifuge[ 303 , 348 ]. It is used internally in the treatment of malaria, stomach aches, diarrhoea, dysentery and rheumatism[ 348 , 378 ]. The stem bark is used externally as a wash for treating a wide range of skin complaints including the spots of chicken pox and measles; eczema, ulcers, burns, wounds and sores[ 348 ]. The leaves are boiled in water and used as a wash on itchy skin, wounds and persistent ulcers[ 303 , 348 ]. A fruit rind decoction is taken orally for the treatment of fevers and intestinal worms[ 303 ]. A cream-coloured, intensely bitter oil of high acidity and very unpleasant smell, called 'carapa oil', is obtained from the seeds[ 378 ]. The oil is anti-inflammatory, demulcent and soothing[ 348 ]. A decoction is taken orally in the treatment of hepatitis and tetanus[ 303 ]. It is used to treat a range of pulmonary conditions including a hacking cough, bronchial tract discomforts and lung problems[ 348 ]. Applied externally, it is used as a skin lotion and softener, especially for children with thrush and dried, cracked skin; and to treat a range of skin conditions including eczema, ringworm, running sores, pain, swelling and itching. It is applied three times daily to treat painful piles[ 348 ]. It is rubbed on to a painful stomach and used to reduce pus-filled abscesses[ 348 ]. It is mixed with anatta paste (Bixa orellana) and applied it to the hair and skin in order to repel mosquitoes, sand fleas, ticks, lice and other biting insects[ 348 ]. A drop of the oil, combined with a drop of red lavender, is used to treat thrush in children[ 348 ]. The grated nut is mixed with hot water, and drunk as a treatment for malaria, diarrhoea and dysentery, and to reduce excessive menstrual flow[ 348 ] Applied externally, the grated nut is mixed with palm oil and used as an analgesic for muscular aches and pains; as an antifungal; as a treatment for dry skin, sores and eczema; for relieving itches caused by measles and chicken pox[ 348 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Containers  Furniture  Hair  Insecticide  Lighting  Oil  Paper  Parasiticide  Repellent  Soap making  Soil conditioner  Soil reclamation  Tannin  Wood

Other uses rating: High (4/5). Agroforestry Uses: The tree is suitable for planting in schemes to restore fertility to soil[ 303 ]. Other Uses A non-drying oil obtained from the seed is used as a lamp oil and for soap and candle making[ 46 , 303 , 378 ]. The oil should not be consumed because it is poisonous[ 46 ]. The seed contains up to 70% oil[ 419 ]. The oil from the seed is used as an ointment for the skin and hair, where it protects against ticks, sandflies, eyeflies, mosquitoes and other insects.[ 46 , 348 , 378 ]. The oil is massaged into the scalp to promote strong, glossy hair[ 348 ]. The oil has insecticidal properties[ 303 ]. The bark contains 1 - 10% tannins[ 303 , 378 ]. Foresters recognize two types of wood from this tree:- Andiroba Vermelha, also known as 'Red' or 'Hill Crabwood' is derived from trees growing on higher, well-drained land. It produces a heavier wood of superior quality which does not float on water[ 303 ]. Andiroba Branca, also known as 'White Crabwood', is derived from trees growing in swampy locations. The wood is lighter, of lower quality and does float on water[ 303 ]. The heartwood is reddish-brown; it is not clearly demarcated from the 3 - 5cm wide band of sapwood. The texture is medium; the grain straight or interlocked. The wood is moderately soft to moderately hard; strong; moderately tough; of medium weight, moderately durable with some resistance to fungi and termites, but susceptible to dry wood borers. It is somewhat slow to season, with a high risk of checking but only a slight risk of distortion; once dry it is moderately stable in service. It works quite well with ordinary tools, though there are some difficulties in planing when the grain is interlocked; it has a slight tendency to split on nailing or screwing, so pre-boring is recommended; it glues well and polishes satisfactorily. The wood's main application is for high-quality furniture and cabinetwork, stairs and flooring, and as veneer for furniture, interior work and plywood. It is also used for masts, building material, boxes and crates, and as a substitute for okoum? (Aucoumea klineana) and walnut (Juglans regia). In Colombia, shoemakers prefer it for making shoe pieces[ 46 , 303 , 848 ]. The wood is suitable for the production of pulp and paper[ 303 ].

Special Uses


References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A plant of the moister, lowland tropics, usually found at elevations below 700 metres but occasionally found as high as 1,000 metres[ 303 ]. It grows in areas where the annual rainfall is above 3,000 mm and the temperature ranges between 20 - 35°c[ 303 ]. Plants generally grow in moister soils and are tolerant of periodic flooding[ 303 ]. They are moderately tolerant of shade, but full overhead light is required for fast growth[ 303 ]. Young plants produce taproots but the trees tend to become surface rooted as they grow older[ 303 ]. In South America, the tree showed a mean annual diameter increment of 1.6 - 2 metres in 25-year-old plantations. In swamp forests, trees can reach felling size in 20 - 25 years; at higher elevations probably in 40 - 60 years. Flowering period depends heavily on the climate but is usually concentrated in one short period each year[ 303 ]. Pollination is probably by insects; the trees are often found swarming with ants visiting extrafloral nectaries at shoot apices and leaflet tips[ 303 ]. Usually only 1 - 2 fruits in an inflorescence mature in 8 - 12 months[ 303 ]. A large tree may produce 750 - 4,000 seeds per year, but seed production may be almost zero in unfavourable years[ 303 ]. The seeds float and are thus dispersed by water, but are also scatter-hoarded by agoutis and occasionally by pigs[ 303 ]. Trees coppice freely and are resistant to fire[ 303 ]

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - fresh seed germinates best, germination rates dropping if the seed dries out[ 303 ]. The seed should be sown on the surface or shallowly covered in moist soil. Germination takes 19 - 21 days for fresh seed, this can be reduced to 6 - 7 days if the seed is scarified first[ 303 ]. Germination rate of fresh seeds is often 100%[ 303 ]. Early growth in the nursery is moderately fast, and seedlings may attain 0.5 m in the 1st year. The roots of 1-year-old seedlings are pruned at about 15 cm whilst the plant is still in the nursery bed; when new rootlets begin to develop, the plant is uprooted and planted out[ 303 ] Seed can only be stored for a short time, germination rates of 100% have been observed in 2 month old seed, but there was no germination after 3 months of open storage at 24 - 31C[ 303 ]. No seeds survived following 7 months of storage in paper bags at 12°C, whereas viability is halved with fresh seeds sealed in polythene bags at this temperatures after 7 months[ 303 ]. Large cuttings can be used when planted in swampy soil[ 303 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Andiroba, Carapa guianensis. Red or Hill Crabwood and the White Crabwood.

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 : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

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.


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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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