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Handroanthus impetiginosus - (Mart. ex DC.) Mattos

Common Name Pau D'Arco, Pink Trumpet Tree
Family Bignoniaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards Excessive use of the herb can lead to nausea, vomiting, dizziness and diarrhoea[238 ].(Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction )
Habitats Interior of dense, primary forests, as well as in open and secondary growth areas[419 ].
Range S. America - from Argentina north through Central America to Mexico.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (4 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Handroanthus impetiginosus Pau D

Handroanthus impetiginosus Pau D
mauroguanandi Flickr


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Handroanthus impetiginosus or also known as Pau D?Arco, Pink Ipe, pink lapacho, or pink trumpet tree is a slow-growing, deciduous tree growing about 12 m in height with trunk diameter of up to 80 cm. It can be found in northern Mexico south to northern Argentina. It is the national tree of Paraguay and is planted in gardens and boulevards as an ornamental tree. It has a straight bole and a large, round but often sparse canopy. The leaves are opposite, and palmately compound with usually five leaflets. The bark is brownish gray in color, tough, and hard to peel. Tea which is used as a tonic can be made from the inner bark. The plant is used in the treatment of a wide range of conditions such as wounds, fevers, dysentery, chronic degenerative diseases, cancers, inflammatory diseases, fungal infections, skin conditions, etc. The wood is yellowish in color, vary tough and heavy. It is ideal for heavy construction, railway sleepers, bridges, posts and poles, etc.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Handroanthus impetiginosus is a deciduous Tree growing to 20 m (65ft) 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 and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Inner bark
Edible Uses: Tea

A tea made from the inner bark is widely used as a tonic[301 ].

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.
Antibiotic  Antifungal  Antiinflammatory  Antirheumatic  Antitumor  Cancer  Dysentery  Eczema  
Febrifuge  Skin  Tonic

The wood and inner bark are a bitter, cooling, pungent herb that lowers fever and reduces inflammation[238 ]. The heartwood contains a naphthaquinone called lapachol - this has been shown to have antibiotic and antitumor effects[238 ]. Many native S. American peoples have prized pau d'arco as a cure-all, using it to treat a wide range of conditions including wounds, fevers, dysentery, intestinal inflammation and snake bites[254 ]. In modern herbalism the bark is used internally in the treatment of inflammatory diseases, chronic degenerative diseases, cancers, tumours, cysts, fungal infections (especially candidiasis), venereal diseases, rheumatic diseases, skin problems (especially eczema, herpes and scabies)[238 ]. It is also used, in combination with other herbs, to clear toxins, resolve congestion and strengthen the immune system[238 ]. The wood is harvested as required and dried for later use[238 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses


Other Uses: The heartwood is greenish to yellowish-brown; the sapwood is yellowish. The texture is medium; the grain interlocked; lustre is medium. The wood is very heavy, durable, especially when not in contact with the soil. It can be very hard to cut, but works well and gives a good finish. The timber, known as lapacho, is highly valued for cabinet making. It is also used for railway ties, telegraph poles, interior finishes, parquet flooring, sports items such as wooded balls, musical instruments etc[238 , 363 , 419 ]. Most species of Handroanthus, almost certainly including this one, produce a very hard, heavy and durable timber known as Ipe. The general description of Ipe wood is as follows:- The heartwood is yellowish brown to dark olive brown, sometimes with thin veins; it is clearly demarcated from the 3 - 9cm wide band of sapwood. The texture is usually fine, though it is medium in some species; the grain is interlocked; there are canals in the wood containing a greenish-yellow deposit of lapachol. The wood is very heavy; very hard; elastic; it is very durable, even in contact with the soil, resisting fungi, dry wood borers and termites. It seasons slowly, but with only a low risk of checking or distortion; once dry it is moderately stable in service. The wood has a fairly high blunting effect - stellite-tipped and tungsten carbide tools are recommended; there can be some difficulties due to the interlocked grain; filling is recommended in order to get a good finish; nailing and screwing are good , but require pre-boring; gluing is correct for internal use only, and needs to be done with care because the wood is so dense. A very durable and strong wood, it has a very wide range of uses, especially for outdoor applications. It is used for making high class furniture, cabinet work, heavy construction, railway sleepers, bridges, hydraulic works, industrial flooring, posts and poles, turnery, musical instruments, tool handles, veneer etc[848 ].

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A species of higher elevations in the tropics, it is well-suited to subtropical areas[307 ]. Prefers a well-drained fertile soil and a position in full sun[238 ]. Young plants establish well, achieving heights of around 3.5 metres within 2 years[419 ]. Flowering Time: Late Winter/Early Spring Mid Spring Late Spring/Early Summer. Bloom Color: Pink. Spacing: 20-30 ft. (6-9 m).

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as ripe in a nursery seedbed or individual containers[200 , 419 ]. The germination rate is usually high, occurring in 10 - 12 days. Seedlings grow away quickly and are usually ready to plant out in less than 4 months[419 ]. Air layering. Cuttings of half ripe wood, herbaceous stem cuttings, softwood cuttings, semi-hardwood cuttings. Seed Collecting: Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Pau D'Arco, Pink Trumpet Tree, Purple Trumpet Tree, Pau d'arco, Taheebo, Ipe Roxo

Guatemala; El Salvador; Nicaragua; Panama; Colombia; Suriname; Costa Rica; French Guiana; Peru; Bolivia, Plurinational State of; Paraguay; Honduras; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of; Argentina; Mexico; Brazil

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.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Handroanthus guayacanGuayacanTree40.0 10-12 MLMHNM004
Handroanthus serratifoliusYellow Trumpet TreeTree30.0 10-12 MLMHNM025

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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(Mart. ex DC.) Mattos

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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