Carapa guianensis Aubl., Hist. Pl. Guiane 1: 32 (1775)

Species name meaning 'from the Guianas', the northern coast of South America.

Amapa guinaensis (Aubl.) Steud.
Carapa latifolia Willd. ex C.DC. [Invalid]
Carapa macrocarpa Ducke
Carapa nicaraguensis C.DC.
Carapa slateri Standl.
Granatum guianense (Aubl.) Kuntze
Granatum nicaraguense (C.DC.) Kuntze
Guarea mucronulata C.DC.
Persoonia guareoides Willd.
Xylocarpus carapa Spreng.

Large tree. Stipules absent. Leaves alternate, paripinnate (even) compound with dormant glandular leaflet at apex. Leaflets opposite, entire. Young plants can have very large leaves. Many small whitish flowers in large axillary or subterminal inflorescences. Fruits dehiscent 4-lobed woody capsules with 2-4 seeds.

A deciduous or semi-evergreen, monoecious, medium-sized to large tree up to 35 (max. 55) m tall; bole straight and cylindrical; branchless up to 20 (max. 30) m; up to 100 (max. 200) cm in diameter, sometimes fluted, with short buttresses up to 2 m high. Bark surface flaking into squarish scales or in horizontal strips, light grey to greyish brown or dark brown, sometimes reddish; inner bark fibrous, red or pinkish brown. Young plants produce taproots but the trees tend to become surface rooted. Leaves alternate, paripinnate with a dormant glandular leaflet at the apex, exstipulate; leaflets opposite, entire. Shows gigantic leaves in the monocaulous juvenile stage, decreasing in size when branching is initiated. Flowers small, white, borne in a large, axillary or subterminal thyrse; unisexual but with well-developed vestiges of the opposite sex; tetramerous to pentamerous (max. sextamerous); calyx lobed almost to the base; petals slightly contorted. Fruit dehiscent, 4-lobed, pendulous, subglobose, woody capsule containing 2-4 seeds in each lobe. Seeds smooth, pale brown, angular, with woody sarcotesta. [from Agro Forestry Tree Database]

A locally common element of the canopy or subcanopy layer of the South American evergreen to semi- evergreen rainforest. It sometimes occurs as a dominant tree or even in almost pure stands and is found predominantly along rivers and on periodically flooded or swampy locations but also on higher ground and low hills. In South America, foresters recognize 2 types of wood: ¡®red¡¯ or ¡®hill crabwood¡¯ and ¡®white crabwood¡¯. The former is said to be superior and is obtained from trees growing on higher land, whereas white crabwood is derived from trees in swampy locations. Altitude range: 0 - 1200 m. Mean annual rainfall: 1500 - 3200 mm. Soil: Preffers a light, medium or heavy textured soils. Flowering period depends heavily on the climate but is usually concentrated in 1 short period per year. Pollination is probably by insects; trees are often found swarming with ants visiting extrafloral nectaries at shoot apices and leaflet tips. Usually only 1-2 fruits in an inflorescence mature in 8-12 months. Seeds float and are thus dispersed by water but at least in Costa Rica, are also scatter-hoarded by agoutis and occasionally by pigs.

Fibre: The wood is suitable for the production of pulp and paper. Timber: yields a medium-weight hardwood. Heartwood pale pink to red-brown when fresh, darkening to a medium reddish-brown to greyish sapwood. Heartwood is moderately durable and resistant to termites. Its main attraction is for high-quality furniture and cabinetwork, stairs and flooring, and as veneer for furniture, interior work and plywood. It is used for masts, building material and as a substitute for okoume (Aucoumea klineana) and walnut (Juglans regia). In Colombia, shoemakers prefer it for making shoe pieces. Tannin or dyestuff: The bark is used for tanning. Lipids: Oil obtained from the seeds, called crab oil or andiroba, is well known and used as lamp oil and for making soap and candles. Poison: Seed oil has insecticidal properties. Medicine: The bark contains an alkaloid, carapina, that is used as a febrifuge. Leaves boiled in water are applied to itchy skin; a fruit rind decoction is taken orally for fever and intestinal worms; a seed oil decoction is taken orally for hepatitis and tetanus and applied externally for skin diseases and ringworm. Soil improver: is suitable for enrichment planting. Ornamental: Planted as an ornamental in the Caribbean, where it is locally naturalized.

Natively distributed from Central America (Belize) and the Caribbean south to Amazonian Brazil. Currently cultivated across the tropics for the wood, in Asia mainly in Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

Local names
English: bastard mahogany, carapa, crabwood.
French: andiroba, bois rouge, cabirma de Guinea, carapa.
Spanish: andiroba, cabrima de guiana, caobilla, cedro macho, mas¨¢balo, najesi.
Trade name: andiroba, bastard mahogany, crabwood.