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Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Cladus: Rosids
Cladus: Eurosids I
Ordo: Fabales

Familia: Fabaceae
Subfamilia: Detarioideae
Tribus: Detarieae
Genus: Hymenaea
Species: H. altissima – H. aurea – H. cangaceira – H. courbaril – H. eriogyne – H. erythrocarpa – H. fariana – H. intermedia – H. longifolia – H. maranhensis – H. martiana – H. oblongifolia – H. osanigraseminae – H. parvifolia – H. reticulata – H. rubriflora – H. stigonocarpa – H. torrei – H. velutina – H. verrucosa
Source(s) of checklist:

Govaerts, R. et al. 2020. Hymenaea in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2020 Oct 21. Reference page.


Hymenaea L., 1753

Type species: Hymenaea courbaril L.


Courbaril Mill.
Tanroujou Juss.
Trachylobium Hayne
Valcarcelia Lag.

Native distribution areas:

Continental: Mexico to Tropical America, Kenya to Mozambique, W. Indian Ocean
Belize, Bolivia, Brazil North, Brazil Northeast, Brazil South, Brazil Southeast, Brazil West-Central, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Kenya, Leeward Is., Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico Central, Mexico Gulf, Mexico Northwest, Mexico Southeast, Mexico Southwest, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Réunion, Suriname, Tanzania, Trinidad-Tobago, Venezuela, Venezuelan Antilles, Windward Is.
Introduced into:
Benin, Borneo, China Southeast, Congo, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, India, Ivory Coast, Jawa, Madagascar, Malaya, Philippines, Senegal, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Uganda, Zimbabwe

References: Brummitt, R.K. 2001. TDWG – World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, 2nd Edition

Primary references

Linnaeus, C. 1753. Species plantarum, exhibentes plantas rite cognitas, ad genera relatas, cum differentiis specificis, nominibus trivialibus, synonymis selectis, locis natalibus, secundum systema sexuale digestas. Tomus II. Pp. 561–1200, [1–30, index], [1, err.]. Impensis Laurentii Salvii, Holmiae [Stockholm]. BHL Reference page. : 1192


Govaerts, R. et al. 2020. Hymenaea in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2020 Oct 21. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2020. Hymenaea. Published online. Accessed: Oct 21 2020. 2020. Hymenaea. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2020 Oct 21.
Catalogue of Life: 2020 Annual Checklist

Vernacular names
čeština: Kurbaryl
hrvatski: Skakavčevo–drvo
lietuvių: Kopalmedis
Tiếng Việt: Chi Tòng chi
中文: 孪叶豆属

Hymenaea L. is a genus in the flowering plant family Fabaceae (legume family). Of fourteen living species in the genus, all but one are native to the tropics of the Americas, with one additional species (Hymenaea verrucosa) on the east coast of Africa. Some authors place the African species in a separate monotypic genus, Trachylobium.[1] In the Neotropics, Hymenaea is distributed through the Caribbean islands, and from southern Mexico to Brazil. Linnaeus named the genus in 1753 in Species Plantarum for Hymenaios, the Greek god of marriage ceremonies. The name is a reference to the paired leaflets.

Most species of Hymenaea are large trees and they are primarily evergreen. They may grow to a height of 25 m (82 ft) and emerge above the forest canopy. Some species will grow both as tall forest trees and as smaller shrubby trees depending on their surrounding habitat. The leaves are pinnately bifoliolate, meaning that they have two leaflets attached to the sides of the petiole. The flowers grow in a panicle or corymb type of inflorescence.

Uses and properties

The pulpy center of the fruits is edible and contains starch. The fruit is sold in local markets in the Americas. The leaves may be used to make a tea. The trees produce a dense wood used for timber in making ships and furniture. The thick bark of some species is used by indigenous peoples of the Amazon to make canoes. Seeds contain large amounts (40% of dry weight) of a highly viscous polysaccharide (xyloglucan) which can be used in several industrial sectors such as food, paper, cosmetic and pharmaceutical.

The trees also make hard resins that are used to manufacture varnish, especially the resin from Hymenaea courbaril (jatobá) in Brazil. The resin that is produced in Brazil is known as South American copal, and Hymenaea verrucosa is the source of the valuable Zanzibar copal. Resin may be collected from living trees, or from the soil near the place where a tree once stood. Throughout its American range, indigenous peoples use the resin for incense and as a cement. Resin from the extinct species Hymenaea protera is the source of Dominican amber, while the extinct Hymenaea mexicana produced the resin which is the source of Mexican amber.[2]

Hymenaea courbaril has been used as a model organism to study the effect of increased CO2 concentration on the rate of photosynthesis in neotropical regions.[3]: 10 

When the concentration of CO2 was increased from an ambient reference level of 360ppm to 720ppm, the photosynthetic CO2 assimilation in the seedlings doubled.[3]: 3  This suggests the species could play an important role in greenhouse gas sequestration, as atmospheric CO2 is expected to reach ca. 700 ppm by the year 2075 if current levels of fossil fuel consumption are maintained.[4]

Hymenaea courbaril is a very important species in programmes of recuperation of degraded rain forests in the Neotropics. It appears late in the natural regeneration process being classified as a 'late successional' or climax species.


†Hymenaea allendis
Hymenaea aurea
Hymenaea courbaril
Hymenaea eriogyne
Hymenaea intermedia
Hymenaea maranhensis
Hymenaea martiana
†Hymenaea mexicana
Hymenaea oblongifolia
Hymenaea parvifolia
†Hymenaea protera
Hymenaea reticulata
Hymenaea rubriflora
Hymenaea stigonocarpa
Hymenaea torrei
Hymenaea velutina
Hymenaea verrucosa

See also

Animé, an oleo-resin from Hymenaea species.


Gwilym Lewis, Brian Schrire, Barbara MacKinder, and Mike Lock. 2005. Legumes of the World. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew: Richmond, England.
Poinar, G.; Brown, A. (2002). "Hymenaea mexicana sp. nov. (Leguminosae: Caesalpinioideae) from Mexican amber indicates Old World connections". Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 139 (2): 125–132. doi:10.1046/j.1095-8339.2002.00053.x.
Aidar, M.P.M.; Martinez, C.A.; Costa, A.C.; Costa, P.M.F.; Dietrich, S.M.C.; Buckeridge, M.S. (2002). "Effect of atmospheric CO2 enrichment on the establishment of seedlings of Jatobá, Hymenaea Courbaril L. (Leguminosae, Caesalpinioideae)". Biota Neotropica. 2 (1): 1–10. doi:10.1590/S1676-06032002000100008. ISSN 1676-0603.

Houghton et al. (Eds), J.T (1996). Climate Change 1995: The Science of Climate Change. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Further reading
Aidar, M. P. M.; Martinez, C. A.; Costa, A. C.; Costa, P. M. F.; Dietrich, S. M. C.; Buckeridge, M. S. (2002). Effect of atmospheric CO2 enrichment on the establishment of seedlings of jatobá, Hymenaea courbaril L. (Leguminosae, Caesalpinioideae). Biota Neotropica. 2.
Buckeridge, M. S.; Aidar, M. P. M. (2002). Carbon sequestration in the rain forest: alternatives using environmentally friendly biotechnology. Biota Neotropica. 2.
Gentry, Alwyn H. (1996). A Field Guide to the Families and Genera of Woody Plants of Northwest South America (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-28944-3.
Lima, D. U.; Chaves, R. O.; Buckeridge, M. S. (2003). "Seed storage hemicelluloses as wet-end additives in papermaking". Carbohydrate polymers. 52 (4): 367–373. doi:10.1016/S0144-8617(03)00008-0.
Lee, Yin-Tse; Langenheim, Jean H. (1975). Systematics of the genus Hymenaea L. (Leguminosae, Caesalpinioideae, Detarieae). University of California Publications in Botany. 69.
Mabberley, D. J. (1987). The Plant Book: A Portable Dictionary of the Higher Plants. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-34060-8.
Poinar, George Jr.; Brown, Alex E. (2002). "Hymenaea mexicana sp. nov. (Leguminosae: Caesalpinioideae) from Mexican amber indicates Old World connections". Botanical J. of the Linnaean Soc. 139 (2): 125.
Santos, H. P.; Purgato, E.; Mercier, H.; Buckeridge, M. S. (2004). "The control of storage xyloglucan mobilization in cotyledons of Hymenaea courbaril L." Plant Physiology. 135: 287–299. doi:10.1104/pp.104.040220.
Santos, H. P.; Buckeridge, M. S. (2004). "The role of the storage carbon of cotyledons in the establishment of seedlings of Hymenaea courbaril under different light conditions". Annals of Botany. 94 (6): 819–830. doi:10.1093/aob/mch209.

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