Andiroba Wood (Carapa guianensis): Uses, Properties, Pros, and Cons

Andiroba is a tropical wood from Central and South America that feels like real mahogany. The reddish-brown heartwood comes in shades ranging from medium to dark, giving any room a cozy, warm feel.

Carapa guianensis, also called “Andiroba,” is a tree with a lot of economic value and grows in upland and floodplain forests.

Andiroba is cut down in the wild for its valuable wood, often used to make furniture.

Andiroba, or Carapa guianensis, is an evergreen tree that can grow up to 55 m tall and has a straight, cylindrical, buttressed bole that can be up to 90 cm wide.

Andiroba wood is also known for being easy to work with and strong. It is resistant to insects and decay so you can enjoy an Andiroba floor for a long time.

Andiroba is sold under other names

There are two types of wood: Red or Hill Crabwood and White Crabwood. The first one is heavier and of better quality, while the second one is lighter and not as good.

Also known as Crabwood, Krappa, tangare, Andiroba, Bastard Mahogany, Cedro Macho, Carapa.

Aesthetics

When it comes to looks, it’s usually not as interesting as mahogany, but the best examples of the species can be quite highly-figured.

When Andiroba is a quarter-sawn, it can have a beautiful ribbon figure like Sapele.

Availability

There aren’t many of them at a store that specializes in wood.

Andiroba is not as common in North America as other commercial hardwoods, but where it is available, it can be used instead of mahogany for less money.

Andiroba is both lumber and a veneer.

Pricing

Medium. Lumber prices are less than for mahogany, but availability is more limited.

Geography

Andiroba (Carapa guianensis) grows in Guyana, Surinam, French Guiana, Colombia, the overflow delta lands of the Orinoco in Venezuela and Peru, and large numbers in the Amazon flood plains of the Brazilian states of Para and Amazonas.

Additionally, it can be found throughout the West Indies and Central America. It is believed to reside in tropical America between Costa Rica and Panama.

Andiroba has a wide range of growth in tropical America. It also grows in West Africa, but the trees there don’t get as big as the ones in America.

Maintenance    

When drying, it’s best to have a low temperature and high humidity. For the best results, drying should be done slowly and at a low temperature with a high humidity schedule.

It is said that the wood is harder to dry than Honduras mahogany.

Drying and Shrinkage: People’s experiences vary, but it is said to air-dry and kiln-dry slowly, with a tendency to split, check, and collapse, but it doesn’t bow or cup too much.

Sustainability   

Andiroba is not on the CITES Appendices list, and most Carapa species are found all over Central and South America and are considered by the IUCN to be the least concerned.

But one species from Ecuador, Carapa megistocarpa, is on the endangered species list because its natural range has shrunk, and its population has dropped by more than 50% in the past three generations.

Is Andiroba hard or softwood   

Wood type: hardwood.

Andiroba is an imported hardwood. Andiroba is a premium hardwood that is a wonderful choice for any savvy homeowner.

Andiroba flooring is lustrous, warm, and easy to maintain.

Andiroba wood stain    

People say that this species is easy to stain and polish.

People say Andiroba wood needs fewer coats of stain than Honduras mahogany to get the same smooth surface.

Honduras mahogany has better qualities when it comes to polishing.

Wood identification

Andiroba wood has different properties and qualities as well. To avoid these differences, it’s probably best to find a supplier that gets its wood from the same place.

Andiroba wood is soft but strong, and sawmills always look for it. It has been sent to the United States to use in the furniture business and other things.

The texture, weight, hardness, and color of wood can vary depending on where it grows. For example, wood from swamplands is softer, lighter in color, more coarse, and often woolly.

Floats are high in water, which means it is light. On the other hand, wood from hillsides is darker, has interlocked grain, is heavier, and is denser, but the color of the wood from the same spot or even the same tree can vary.

Ripple marks are sometimes seen in the thicker tissue. When dried, the weight of the wood ranges from 576 kg/m3 to 736 kg/m3, but on average, it is thought to weigh about 640 kg/m3.

Color and appearance

Heartwood is usually a light brown with a reddish tint. As it ages, it turns a medium to dark brown color. The sapwood is pink at first, but it turns pale brown or grayish when it dries and often has brown or black spots.

The heartwood is light salmon or pale pink to reddish brown when initially cut. It turns reddish brown to brown when it dries.

The dark gum built up in the vessels makes the general color a little darker than mahogany.

Endgrain

Porosity diffuse-porous, Arrangement is solitary and radial multiples of two to four; sometimes predominantly in radial multiples.

Vessels are large to very large, few to very few; dark brown deposits are sometimes present, Parenchyma is vasicentric and banded. Rays are narrow to medium width in normal spacing

Flower

Small, white flowers grow in a large, axillary or subterminal thyrse. The plant is unisexual, but there are well-developed signs of the other sex.

Flowering depends a lot on the weather, but it usually only happens for a short time once a year. Insects likely pollinate since the trees are often full of ants going to extrafloral nectaries at the tips of shoots and leaflets.

Fruit

Fruit is a four-lobed, hanging, subglobose, woody capsule that reveals two to four seeds in each lobe. The seeds are smooth, light brown, pointed, and have a woody sarcotesta.

In 8–12 months, only one or two fruits on an inflorescence are usually ready.

Grain and texture

Although occasionally wavy or interlocked, andiroba wood has a consistent, fine to medium texture, a medium natural luster, and straight grain.

Most of the time, the grain is straight, but larger logs sometimes have interlocked grain and fiddleback mottle. The texture can be coarse or fine, but it is usually medium.

Leaves

Leaves are opposite, pinnate, and have a glandular, dormant leaflet at the tip. Leaflets are opposite and whole. In the monocaulous juvenile stage, the leaves are huge, but they get smaller when branching starts.

When the leaves are boiled in water, they can be used to wash itchy skin, wounds, and ulcers that won’t heal.

Odor

No characteristic odor.

Tree

It is a very tall tree that can grow up to 170 feet tall. Usually, the diameters are 5 to 6 feet. Most of the time, the main stem is straight and has no branches for at least 50 feet. The tree can grow in various climates, which shows its adaptability.

The Andiroba tree is straight and well-shaped, with boles between 9.0 m and 27.0 m long, depending on the site, and short buttresses or swollen bases.

In Guyana, trees grow quickly and can be cut down after about 25 years in the marsh forests, 30–35 years in the mora forests, and 40–60 years in the hill forests.

Andiroba wood bark

The bark has tannins and carapine, an alkaloid that tastes bitter. It is sharp, bitter, and makes you sweat. As a wash, the stem bark is used to treat a wide range of skin problems, such as chicken pox and measles spots, eczema, ulcers, burns, wounds, and sores.

The number of vessels was higher near the pith, went down in the middle, and went up near the bark.

This tree’s young, transitional, and mature wood could be separated by the length of the Andiroba fibers because they were more different and had a smaller coefficient of variation.

Andiroba wood pros  and cons       

Find out what it is about Andiroba wood that makes it unique! We will tell you everything there is to know about this amazing wood.

Learn the characteristics, durability, workability, benefits, and things to consider when using Andiroba wood.

Rot resistance

Andiroba is moderate to very durable in terms of its resistance to decay, but insects can attack it.

Strength and Durability 

Moderately long-lasting and resistant to treatments to keep it in good shape.

Andiroba’s mechanical properties depend on its density and, to some extent, where it comes from.

Yale University said the wood was better than mahogany in every way except for workability, maximum load, and shear strength.

Andiroba is pretty powerful. It does tend to split when nailed or screwed, so it’s best to drill the holes first, especially near the ends of a piece.

Its wood is in high demand because it is strong and insects don’t like it. As a result, all areas near Amazonia’s major cities have lost their species.

Allergies and toxicity

Even though severe reactions are rare, andiroba has been said to make people sneeze and irritate their eyes and skin.

Water resistance

No data is available.

Workability

There are some problems with planning when grains are stuck together. Andiroba also has a small effect on the sharpness of tools.

Andiroba is easy to glue, finish, and turn.

It is harder to work with machines than mahogany, but it is easy to work with hand tools and machines.

Straight-grained materials are easy to work with, but wavy-grained quarter-sawn stock tends to pull out.

A cutting angle of 15° helps reduce how much sanding is sometimes needed to get a smooth finish.

Even though it tends to split when nailed, it is better at holding screws than Honduras mahogany. It sticks well and takes all finishing treatments, but softer types need filler.

It peels well for veneer, but the ends of the logs tend to break off, which causes some loss.

The machining goes well, and the result is smooth. Sometimes it’s disappointing to resaw because the wood changes shape.

Andiroba is not very durable when it comes into contact with the ground.

Andiroba wood uses

Andiroba is used as a substitute for mahogany and as a general-purpose wood in its native areas, which are spread out across Central and South America.

In its native areas, it is often used to make furniture and flooring.

The tree can be used for many things, and its wood is highly valued for making furniture, building materials, veneers, and plywood.

Andiroba wood for furniture

People can use different parts of the andiroba tree. This tree is related to mahogany, and its wood is very good for making lumber. People cut down this tree to make beautiful furniture. In Brazil, oil and fats from Crabwood are used to keep termites and other bugs that eat wood away from the furniture.

The wood is hard and doesn’t attract bugs so it can be used for furniture and building. Crabwood is highly valued for making high-quality furniture, cabinets, stairs, flooring, and veneer for furniture, interior work, and plywood.

Sawmills want andiroba wood because it is soft but strong. It has been sent to the United States for use in furniture and other things.

Its similarity to mahogany has made it popular for making furniture, and it seems that the wood keeps its ability to keep bugs away even after it has been made.

The andiroba tree is used to make furniture that looks like mahogany and naturally keeps termites and other pests away.

Andiroba wood for flooring

Andiroba is a hard and durable wood that can be used as a floor.

This species is about 36% harder than cedar, 1% softer than movingui or heart pine, 94% as hard as red oak, 84% as hard as maple, and about 2/3 as hard as either hickory or pecan.

Andiroba related species

You can read some fascinating information about the andiroba tree in this article.

We will tell you about the species in this genus and its history in the wild. You will learn about the interesting plant families related to the Andiroba.

African Crabwood (Carapa grandiflora)

Carapa procera grows in many different places in tropical America and West Africa.

People say that the trees can get as tall as 30 to 40 m and as wide as 50 to 80 cm. They grow straight and round stems that can be up to 15 m long.

Honduran Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla)

Honduran Mahogany comes from the Swietenia genus, which is different from other types of mahogany. Usually, it is used to make cabinets, furniture, turnings, musical instruments, and boats.

The color ranges from light pink to dark reddish brown, and it has a natural luminosity when it’s done.

Cuban Mahogany (Swietenia mahogany)

Cuban mahogany grows naturally in South Florida and the Caribbean. The Preservation of Native Flora of Florida Act says that the Swietenia mahogani is “Threatened.”

Early furniture makers like Thomas Chippendale, Thomas Sheridan, and Duncan Phype valued mahogany.

It works well to stain and finish. The heartwood can be a light pinkish brown or a darker reddish brown. As the wood gets older, the color gets darker.

Andiroba VS Mahogany

Andiroba wood is easier to come by than Honduras mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla). Andiroba is heavier, stronger, and more rigid than mahogany but is not as stable.

It is easy for pin-hole borers and other pests that eat wood to get into, and many of the planks I’ve seen have a lot of holes.

People say that after drying, Andiroba wood doesn’t change much in size and doesn’t move much when it’s used. When the wood is quarter-sawn, it has a nice stripe and parallel, irregular rays.

This is how andiroba wood has been likened to sugar maple and cherry. They weather similarly to mahoganies.

It is said that andiroba wood is harder to work with than Honduras mahogany and African mahogany.

The wood is easy to shape and turns well. It also takes sanding and polishing well.

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