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Hymenaea martiana - Hayne

Common Name Copal
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Savannah, Atlantic rainforest and forests in semi-arid areas; usually in the more open and secondary growth areas; favouring moister clay soils on the floodplains[625 ].
Range S. America - Paraguay, central, eastern and northern Brazil, Bolivia.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Hymenaea martiana Copal
Hymenaea martiana Copal
Rodolfo Vásquez


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Hymenaea martiana is an evergreen tree that can be found in South America. It has a dense, wide-spreading crown and short bole of up to 90 cm in diameter. It reaches a height of 18 m. It is often harvested from the wild for its high quality timber. The fruit is edible when raw. It has a white pulp. The wood is heavy to very heavy, hard to very hard, elastic, durable, and resistant to insect and termites attacks. It has a wide range of applications including for high class furniture, cabinet making, construction, etc.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Hymenaea martiana is an evergreen Tree growing to 13 m (42ft) by 10 m (32ft) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor 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


Cynometra martiana (Hayne) Baill. Hymenaea sellowiana Hayne


Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit
Edible Uses:

Fruit - raw[625 ]. The white, mealy pulp surrounding the seeds is eaten[625 ]. The semi-cylindrical seedpod is up to 15cm long and 6cm wide, containing 5 - 8 seeds[625 ].


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.

None known


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Other Uses

Other Uses: The heartwood varies from purple-brown or orangey-brown to red-brown, with slight veins; it is clearly demarcated from the 3 - 12cm wide band of sapwood. The texture is medium; the grain straight or interlocked; there are slight internal stresses. The wood is heavy to very heavy; hard to very hard; elastic; durable, even in contact with the soil, being resistant to fungi, dry wood borers and termites. It seasons normally, with only a slight risk of checking and distortion; once dry it is moderately stable to stable in service. The wood has a fairly high blunting effect, stellite-tipped and tungsten carbide tools are recommended; nailing and screwing are good, but require pre-boring; gluing is correct for interior use only, but needs to be done with care because of the density of the wood. The wood has a wide range of applications, including for high class furniture, cabinet making, construction, heavy duty flooring, ship building, carving, turnery, tool handles etc[386 , 625 , 848 ].

Special Uses


Cultivation details

Grows best in a sunny position[625 ]. Grows in the wild on moist, clay soils[625 ]. The plant has a slow rate of growth, even when small[625 ]. Although many species within the family Fabaceae have a symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria, this species is said to be devoid of such a relationship and therefore does not fix atmospheric nitrogen[755 ].


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Seed - it has a hard seedcoat and benefits from scarification before sowing to speed up and improve germination. This can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!) and then soaking them for 12 - 24 hours in warm water. By this time they should have imbibed moisture and swollen - if they have not, then carefully make a nick in the seedcoat (being careful not to damage the embryo) and soak for a further 12 hours before sowing. Sow the treated seed in a partially shaded position in individual containers. A germination rate in excess of 50% can be expected from treated seed, with the seed sprouting within 15 - 30 days[625 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Copal, jatobá, Jatoba-miudo

Found In

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

Paraguay; Colombia; Argentina; Bolivia, Plurinational State of; Brazil, Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico, North America, Paraguay, South America,

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
Hymenaea courbarilWest Indian LocustTree30.0 10-12 SMHNDM334
Hymenaea verrucosaEast African Copal. Zanzibar copal treeTree15.0 10-12 SMHNDM002

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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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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