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Chlorocardium rodiei - (R.H.Schomb.) Rohwer, H.G.Richt. & van der Werff

Common Name Greenheart, Demerara Greenheart
Family Lauraceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats A dominant component of a restricted belt of lowland rainforest on brown sand and is also found occasionally in other forest types[ 338 ]. Found mostly on slopes leading down to streams and in damp sites near streams[ 378 ].
Range S. America - French Guiana, Surinam, Guyana.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (5 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Chlorocardium rodiei Greenheart, Demerara Greenheart

David Stanley flickr
Chlorocardium rodiei Greenheart, Demerara Greenheart


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Greenheart or Chlorocardium rodiei is a flowering, evergreen tree native to South America that grows about 30 m in height with a trunk diameter of up to 60 cm. The crown is small and heavy, sometimes irregularly open or conical or oval. The leaves have smooth edges and are arranged alternately. The fruit is a drupe with a single seed. It is used medicinally as remedy for fever and diarrhoea. The wood of greenheart is very hard and strong. Due to its durability in water, it was first used for fly fishing rods. Further, it is resistant to termites and marine-borers. It is also used in heavy construction, marine and ship construction, walking sticks, billiard cue balls, engine bearers, planking, etc. Common names include cogwood, demerara greenheart, ispingo moena, sipiri, bebeeru and bibiru.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Chlorocardium rodiei is an evergreen Tree growing to 30 m (98ft) by 20 m (65ft) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Nectandra rodioei R.H.Schomb. Ocotea rodiei (R.H.Schomb.) Mez


Edible Uses

None known


Medicinal Uses

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The bark and crushed wood are bitter, febrifuge and tonic[ 348 ]. A decoction is used to treat fevers and diarrhoea[ 348 ]. The decoction is yellow, nauseatingly bitter and has a sickly odour[ 348 ]. The fruit is sometimes used instead of the bark or wood[ 348 ]. A decoction of the seeds is used to treat diarrhoea[ 348 ]. The stem-bark contains the alkaloid berberine, which is identical to buxine and pelosine, and also the alkaloid nectandrine[ 348 ]. The seeds contain berberic acid[ 348 ].


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Other Uses

Other uses rating: Very High (5/5). Other Uses: The heartwood varies from light to dark olive green or blackish, often with intermingling of lighter and darker areas; it is not sharply defined from the 3 - 8cm thick, pale yellow or greenish sapwood[ 316 ]. The wood is straight grained to roey; fine in texture; uniform; lustrous; cold to the touch; freshly cut wood is strongly aromatic but becomes odourless and tasteless when dry[ 378 ]. The wood is exceedingly heavy (sinking in water); very strong; exceptionally hard; very elastic; tough; dense; very durable and resistant to termites and marine borers[ 46 , 348 , 378 ]. The Fram and the Endurance, made famous in the polar expeditions of Amundsen and Shackleton, were the two strongest wooden ships ever constructed and were sheathed in greenheart to prevent them from being crushed by ice. The wood is flexible in narrow strips and has a high coefficient of friction that gives it a nonslip tractive property when wet or even when coated with a film of oil or grease[ 378 ]. It is easy to split and polish[ 46 ]. The wood is moderately difficult to work with either hand or machine tools because of its exceedingly high density and hardness. It dulls cutting edges rather quickly but finishes to a fine smooth lustrous surface. If cutting edges become dull, there is a tendency for surfaces to become slightly roughened. Because of the low cleavage resistance of the wood, cross-grained or end-grain material must be machined carefully to avoid the breaking-off of chips and splinters at the exit of the tool. The timber turns easily and takes a high finish with wax, oil, or French polish without the need of a filler. Gluing gives fairly good results. It is a moderately good bending wood but does not take nails well, requiring prebored holes to avoid splitting and nail bending[ 378 ]. The most important use is in marine and ship construction, being used for revetments, docks, locks, fenders, braces, decking, groins, gates, piers, piling, jetties, and wharves; and in ship construction, for keelsons, beams, engine bearers, planking, gangways, fenders, stern posts, and sheathing for whaling ships. It is also used for heavy construction, walking sticks, billiard cue butts, belaying pins, mortars etc[ 46 , 378 ]. Many of the standing mature trees are defective. There is more defectiveness on rocky sites where the tree is not as well adapted as on the moist sites. On the average, 80 - 85% of all trees have some defect, particularly in the butt portion[ 378 ].

Special Uses


Cultivation details

A tree of lowland moist tropical areas, usually found at elevations below 200 metres. Grows best in light, sandy soils[ 378 ].


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Plants are grown from seed.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Greenheart or Chlorocardium rodiei. Common names include cogwood, demerara greenheart, ispingo moena, sipiri, bebeeru and bibiru.

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

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 : Status: Data Deficient

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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(R.H.Schomb.) Rohwer, H.G.Richt. & van der Werff

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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