Algarrobo Wood (Prosopis Alba) : Uses, Properties, Pros and Cons

Algarrobo wood is the most commonly used timber in Argentina. It is a very dense timber with great strength and durability, and the wood is also naturally resistant to rot. It grows in many places and is a common part of the Chaco Forest.

Prosopis alba, also called “Algarrobo Blanco,” is one of Argentina’s most essential legumes from an economic point of view.

Prosopis alba is a tree with thorns and a round crown that can grow between 5 and 15 meters tall. The bole is short and has many branches, but it can be as wide as 100cm.

Some trees with straight trunks are 2.5 to 3 meters long, but they are becoming very rare because they are cut down more often than trees with shorter trunks.

The plant is beneficial in dry places because it can be used to make food, medicine, and fuel. It is grown in some parts of Argentina, is used in projects to restore and protect soil, and is sometimes grown as an ornamental.

Algarrobo wood is sold under other names

Algarrobo blanco, Cupesi, Argentine mesquite, Huancu, Jwa’ayuk, Huilca, Ibope, igope, Ogope, Pohon algoroba putih, Yana-tacu, Pohon karob putih, Tacu, Thaco, Yurakk takko, Najnuna.

Aesthetics

The Algarrobo Blanco (Prosopis alba) is characterized by its excellent physical-mechanical properties in its wood. In some ways, the color of the wood is important and affects how well it works.

This work aimed to figure out how the color of the wood samples changed between sites, sections, and regions.

Find a link between the colorimetric parameters and the tree’s densitometric features.

Availability        

Rarely offered in smaller quantities or as huge, uneven slabs only when they become available. Larger boards free from flaws are unusual.

Pricing

In order to have an idea of how much sawing will cost, forty logs of Algarrobo wood with a volume of 9.47 m3 without the bark were cut up and sawn.

These logs produced 260 boards of various widths and a sawed volume of 5.59 m3, indicating that the lumber recovery factor with bark was 58%.

The duration of the process took an average of 920 seconds. It took 232 ft2/hour to reach the desired level of productivity. The sawing process has a direct cost of $2.33 per foot squared.

Geography

In Argentina’s Chaquea region, Algarrobo Blanco came from three natural stands (Los Arias, Santiago del Estero, Isla Cuba, Formosa, and Chaco) and one plantation (San Isidro, Santiago del Estero).

Prosopis are some of the most common tree species in the dry tropics. They are native to dry and semi-dry parts of the Americas, Africa, and Asia. Over the last 200 years, several American species have spread worldwide.

People have been very interested in these “exotic” Prosopis trees in the last few decades. They are widely planted as fuel and fodder trees because they grow quickly and can handle drought.

However, in many countries, they have become invasive weeds that are hard to get rid of. But because they grow wild and in large amounts on public lands, they are a “free” resource that is especially important for poor farmers and people without a land.

Maintenance    

Algarrobo wood doesn’t last long when it comes in contact with the ground or is wet. It’s said to be somewhat resistant to blue stain but easy to damage by insects. It’s best to treat wood while it’s still green if you want to keep the quality of the wood.

Fungi and insects can attack it, and you should treat the wood to prevent blue stains, especially on the sapwood.

A hot-cold bath and a vacuum-pressure chamber are the best ways to keep something from going bad. Preservatives should be oil-soluble. Both sapwood and heartwood have high absorption rates.

Sustainability

This type of wood is not on the CITES Appendices list, but the IUCN says it is near threatened. Even though it does not fulfill the criterion for a vulnerable or endangered species according to the Red List; but, it is fairly close to attaining those criteria and may meet them very soon.

Is Algarrobo Blanco hard or softwood   

Wood type: hardwood

Since hardwood is slow growing, it is relatively more expensive than softwood.

Hardwood is durable and fine-grained. Its higher density prevents moisture transfer a little more. That is why hardwood is used for outdoor furniture.

It requires little maintenance, low sap content, and good fire resistance. Not all types of hardwood are ideal for making furniture.

Algarrobo wood stain    

It is a very difficult wood to color appropriately due to its high hardness.

Fungi that cause stains and decay can also attack the wood. But if a pigment stain is used, the grain and pores stand out much more.

Wood identification

Prosopis alba grows to be 5–15 m tall and has a trunk that can grow to be 1 m in diameter. The bole is short and has many branches.

The bark is grey to brown with long furrows and thin. The twigs are thin, drooping, and have pairs of spines 2–4 cm long at enlarged nodes or leaf bases on vigorous twigs. The sapwood is yellow, and the heartwood

Algarrobo wood is a good fuel, and using and trading firewood and charcoal is a big part of the rural economy in many places where the tree grows naturally and in some places where it has been brought in.

Trees that are cut down for fuel are called coppiced. After being cut down, they grow back quickly, making them bushy.

Straight branches are used as fence posts and poles when shelters and homes are built.

Color and appearance

Heartwood is usually light to medium brown but gets darker as it ages. Sapwood is usually thin and pale yellow.

Endgrain

Irregularly porous, with medium-sized to large pores that aren’t arranged in any particular way and are few to moderately many; single and radial multiples of two or three; amber-colored deposits sometimes present; Normal spacing: narrow to wide rays may be just barely visible without a lens; Vasicentric, lozenge, confluent, and marginal are all types of parenchyma.

Flower

The flowers are small, bisexual, and greenish-white or yellowish. Pollination, which is done by the wind and insects, is allogamous, or “crossed,” because the female reproductive organs work before the male ones.

A few flower clusters are at the base of the leaves and are 7–11 cm long. The flowers are regular, greenish-white to yellow, about 5 mm long, and have a cup-shaped calyx that is 1 mm long, five petals that are 3 mm long, and 10 thread-like stamens that are 4-5 mm long. The pistil has a hairy ovary and a thin style.

Fruit

Fruits or pods look like beans and are long, narrow, curved, or in a ring. They are 12–25 cm long, 11–20 mm wide, and 4-5 mm thick.

The thickness of the mesocarp shows that the pods have a lot of sugar. They won’t split open and are flattened, long, and pointed. Each 12–30 bean-shaped, oblong, flattened seed is in a case with four angles.

The pod can be eaten fresh as a fruit or stored in its own fresh, sweet juice. If you dry the pod and grind it into a powder, you get flour that you can mix with a little water and eat right away or use to make cakes.

Grain and texture

The texture of Algarrobo Blanco is between medium and coarse, with a slight natural shine.

Most grains are either straight or wavy. The wood has a clear stripe and a grain that goes from spiral to interlocked.

Grain, each layer of wood on a tree, grows at a different angle to the trunk axis.

The grain of the wood is both spirals and interlocked, giving it a medium feel. The way the size and arrangement of the vessels make them look is related to the texture of the wood.

Leaves

Leaves are opposite, bipinnately compound, hairless, and have an axis of 0–5.8 cm long and 1–3 pairs of side axes (pinnae) 6–14 cm long.

There are 25–50 pairs of leaflets on each axis, and each leaflet is very narrow, measuring 5–17 mm long and 1–2 mm wide, with a short point or a blunt tip.

Odor

No characteristic odor.

Tree

Algarrobo is a medium-sized tree that can grow between 5 and 15 m (16 to 49 ft) tall and 1 m (3.3 ft) in diameter, although tall trees are rare today. The trunk is short, and the top of the tree is round and can be up to 10 m (33 ft) across.

The tree is said to be able to handle drought, salt, and sand. In reality, it uses very little water, produces the most fruit during a drought, and has been successfully planted in dry areas. But it can’t handle even light frost.

Algarrobo wood bark

The bark is thin, brownish-gray with streaks, and can be used to make leather. The bark is thin, gray to brown, and has long furrows.

The bark, branches, gum, and leaves treat gastritis, stop diarrhea, and soften the skin. With the widespread use of patented medicines, these uses are becoming less common.

Pros  and Cons       

Algarrobo wood has unique qualities such as hardness, durability, and weight.

This hardwood is great for outdoor projects because it does not splinter or crack. It also resists moisture, heat, and insects.

However, there are several things to know about Algarrobo wood before you start using it for building or decorating your home.

Here’s a quick guide to Algarrobo wood’s pros and cons.

Rot resistance

Algarrobo Blanco is considered “excellent” for use outside. Good to very good resistance to brown cube rot. Moderate Resistance. White Rot.

Strength and Durability 

The wood is rated as resistant to attack by a white-rot fungus and a brown-rot fungus. It is also rated as being resistant to attack by dry-wood termites.

Hard and long-lasting, the wood has a fine grain that makes it easy to carve and turn. It is a valuable fuel source, and charcoal has the same heating value as coal.

Allergies and Toxicity

It has been noticed that some kinds of wood from the genus Prosopis may irritate the skin.

Water resistance

Boring insects found in saltwater environments provide a minimal threat to wood. The wood holds up nicely to the elements. The ability of heartwood to withstand the absorption of moisture is generally rather great.

Workability

Algarrobo wood that is clear and free from defects is easy to work with hand and machine tools, but irregular grain or knots can be challenging. Glues, turn, and finish well.

Algarrobo wood uses

The tree is used as a windbreak and to decorate roadside plantings. Its wood is used to make doors, floors, furniture, paving blocks, shoe lasts, and wine barrels.

Wood is valuable where it grows and is used for building, parquet floors, doors, and furniture, among other things.

Both firewood and charcoal can be made from this wood.

Algarrobo Blanco wood for furniture

Algarrobo wood is the most important species for making furniture, Furniture makers like Prosopis alba wood because, among other things, it has a beautiful grain and is hard enough to work with without having to be dried first.

Most of the Algarrobo wood in Argentina comes from the Chaco ecoregion. This species is the best wood for making furniture, door and window frames, and other things.

The wood is used to make furniture, doors, cobblestones, and parquet floors. When the humidity changes, joints in furniture are much less likely to come apart.

Algarrobo wood for flooring

Wood is hard to work with, but it can be used to make floors. Algarrobo wood is hard, durable, and has a nice color, so it can be used to make furniture and parquet flooring.

Algarrobo wood is one of the most stable in size and shape. It has been used a lot to make high-quality floors in Argentina, Mexico, and the United States. This high-value use needs to be fully developed.

Algarrobo Blanco wood for firewood

Algarrobo trees grow quickly and make good firewood and charcoal, a lot of seed pods that are high in protein and sugars and can be eaten by humans and domestic animals, and leaves that can be picked and stored for fodder during the dry season.

The wood burns well and evenly, and it does so slowly. Throughout history, it has been used a lot as the main fuel source in the area for home and industrial purposes.

Algarrobo Wood Related species

There are different varieties of Algarrobo wood that belong to this genus.

We share information on the different species of Algarrobo wood and its uses, characteristics, and advantages.

This blog contains information about the Algarrobo Wood related species. The species are used in different ways in the construction industry as well as in the furniture industry.

African Mesquite (Prosopis Africana)

Prosopis Africana is the only species of Prosopis that grows in tropical Africa. It grows in semi-arid parts of the tropics, up to 1,000 meters above sea level.

The tree is used for food, medicine, wood, and tannins, mostly in the area where it grows. The wood makes axe handles, pestles, mortars, mallets, cudgels, furniture, joinery, boats, and more. It is precious as fuel and for making charcoal. It’s hard to work because it dulls tools, and you can’t nail it without pre-drilling first. However, it’s easy to carve, turn, and glue.

Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa)

Prosopis glandulosa is a tree that can get as tall as 9 meters. The pods and the gum from the bark can be eaten and used to make flour, wine, and other foods.

Some people think that the pods of this tree that can grow in dry places could become as important to the world’s food system as corn, rice, and wheat.

The seeds have been ground into a powder that can be used to make bread, pancakes, or mush. Many native people liked to drink pinole, made from fermented seeds because it made them feel drunk.

Charcoal is made from honey mesquite wood and sold in stores throughout the US.

Black Mesquite (Prosopis nigra)

Prosopis nigra is a small, spiny evergreen tree with a round-topped crown that grows between 4 and 10 meters tall. The bole can be between 50 and 80 cm wide.

Its seedpods, which can be eaten, are collected from the wild and eaten locally.

The wood can also be used to make medicines, tannins, and dyes. It is a very important and valuable wood tree often used to make furniture, barrels, and other things.

Nandubay (Prosopis Affinis)

Prosopis Affinis is a small to medium-sized tree that loses its leaves and grows between 2 and 8 meters tall. It has a flat-topped canopy.

In northern Argentina, where it sometimes experiences a little frost, it may grow as far south as 30°s.

It is semi-cultivated as a plant to feed animals and to make strong fence posts in South America. It is also grown in Hawaii to make honey.

Itin (Prosopis kuntzei)

Prosopis kuntzei is a small, prickly, deciduous tree that usually grows between 4 and 10 meters tall, but some grow up to 15 meters.

The tree is cut down in the wild for its wood, mostly used locally, and a possible replacement for ebony.

Some soil bacteria live in harmony with this species. These bacteria make nodules on the roots and use nitrogen in the air to fix nitrogen.

Prosopis Juliflora

Prosopis juliflora is an evergreen tree with thorns, a big, flat crown, and an open canopy. A plant that grows well from sea level up to 1,500 meters in the tropics and subtropics where it is dry.

People sometimes say that mesquite dries out the soil, making grass hard to grow, especially in dry areas. This species lives in harmony with some soil bacteria that fix nitrogen from the air.

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