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Tabebuia chrysantha, known as Ipê-amarelo (yellow ipê) in Brazil
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Lamiales
Family: Bignoniaceae
Genus: Tabebuia

  • Tabebuia alba
  • Tabebuia caraiba
  • Tabebuia chrysantha Araguaney, cañaguate
  • Tabebuia chrysotricha Golden trumpet tree
  • Tabebuia donnell-smithii Prima vera, gold tree
  • Tabebuia ecuadorensis
  • Tabebuia guayacan
  • Tabebuia impetiginosa Pink Ipê, lapacho
  • Tabebuia ochracea
  • Tabebuia rosea Apama, apamate
  • Tabebuia roseo-alba Ipê-branco
  • Tabebuia serratifolia Yellow poui, Ipê, Yellow lapacho

Tabebuia is a neotropical genus of about 100 species [1] in the tribe Tecomeae of the family Bignoniaceae. The species range from northern Mexico and the Antilles south to northern Argentina, including those on the islands of Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti) and Cuba.



They are large shrubs and trees growing to 5 to 50 m (16 to 160 ft) tall depending on the species; many species are dry-season deciduous but some are evergreen. The leaves are opposite pairs, simple or palmately compound with 3-7 leaflets. Tabebuia is a notable flowering tree.
Tabebuia flowers are 3 to 11 cm (1 to 4 in) wide and are produced in dense clusters. They present a cupular calyx campanulate to tubular, truncate, bilabiate or 5-lobed. Corolla colors vary between species ranging from white, light pink, yellow, lavender, magenta, or red. The outside texture of the flower tube is either glabrous or pubescent.
The fruit is a dehiscent pod, 10 to 50 cm (4 to 20 in)long, containing numerous (sometimes winged) seeds. These pods often remain on the tree through dry season until the beginning of the rainy season.


Species in this genus are important as timber trees. The wood is used for furniture, decking, and other outdoor uses. It has a fire rating of A1 (the highest possible, the same as concrete) [2], and is denser than water (it sinks). It is increasingly popular as a decking material due to its insect resistance and durability. FSC-certified ipê wood is now (as of 2007) readily available on the market, although the legitimacy of these certifications has been questioned[3].

It has been broadly used as ornamental tree in landscaping gardens, public squares and boulevards due to its impressive and colorful flowering. Many flowers appear on still leafless stems at the end of the dry season, making the floral display more conspicuous.

The bark of several species is used medicinally (particularly the Inner Bark of Tabebuia impetiginosa also known as Lapacho or Taheebo). Its main active principles are lapachol, quercetin and other flavonoids. The inner bark is dried, shredded and then boiled making a bitter or sour-tasting brownish-colored tea. It is also available in pill form. The herbal remedy is typically used during flu and cold season and for "curing" smoker's cough. It apparently works as expectorant: by promoting the lungs to "cough up" and free deeply embedded mucus and contaminants.

Tabebuia species are used as an additive to some versions of the psychedelic drink Ayahuasca.[4]


Of nearly 100 species, a few notable are:

  • Tabebuia alba (Cham.) Sandw. (syn.: Tecoma alba Cham, Handroanthus albus (Cham.) Mattos) - Brazil
  • Tabebuia caraiba (Mart.) Bur. (syn.: Tecoma argentea Bur. et K. Sch., Tecoma caraiba Mart., Tecoma caraiba var. squamellulosa (DC.) Bur. et K. Sch., Tecoma squamellulosa DC., and Handroanthus caraiba (Mart.) Mattos)
  • Tabebuia cassinoides
  • Tabebuia chrysantha (Jacq.) Nichols. (Araguaney) from northern South America, is the national tree of Venezuela. The flowers are yellow. In northern Colombia is known as cañaguate.[2]
  • Tabebuia chrysotricha (Mart. ex DC.) Standl. (Golden trumpet tree; syn T. flavescens, T. pedicellata), from Brazil; golden-yellow to red flowers.
  • Tabebuia donnell-smithii Rose (Prima vera or Gold tree), a native of Mexico and Central Americas, is considered one of the most colorful of all Central america trees. The leaves are deciduous. Masses of golden-yellow flowers cover the crown after the leaves are shed. Other Regionals Common Names are San Juan (Honduras), Palo blanco (Guatemala), Cortez blanco (El Salvador), Duranga (Mexico)
  • Tabebuia guayacan (Seem.) Hemsl., Biol. Cent.-Amer.
  • Tabebuia heptaphylla (tajy)
  • Tabebuia impetiginosa Lor. ex Griseb. Main syn.: Tabebuia avellanedae (Pink Ipê, Ipê-roxo, Paud'arco-roxo, Ipê-roxo-damata, Ipê-reto, Ipê-rosa, Ipê-comum, Ipê-cavatã, Lapacho, Peúva, and Piúva ; syn. Tecoma ipe Mart. ex K. Schm., Tecoma avellandedae (Lor. ex Griseb.) Spreg., Handroanthus avellanedae (Lor. ex Griseb.) Mattos, Tabebuia ipe (Mart.) Standl.) from South America, is native of Brazil; bark is used medicinally.
  • Tabebuia orinocensis A.H. Gentry, Mem.
  • Tabebuia ochracea Standl., Field Mus. Nat. Hist., Bot.
  • Tabebuia rosea (A.P. de Candolle) Britton (Pink Poui, Pink tecoma or Apama or Apamate; syn. T. pentaphylla (L.) Hemsley, widely but incorrectly applied to this species) is a popular street tree in tropical cities because of its multi-annular masses of light pink flowers and modest size. The roots are not especially aggressive towards roads and sidewalks. It is native of Brazil
  • Tabebuia roseo-alba
  • Tabebuia serratifolia (Yellow Poui, Ipê, Pau d'arco, Ipê roxo, or Lapacho) is a commercially farmed hardwood notable for its extreme hardness and resistance to fire and pests. Its inner bark is used as a treatment for fungal infections.
  • Tabebuia subtilis Sprague & Sandwith, Bull.
  • Tabebuia umbellata
  • Tabebuia vellosoi


  The demand for ipê has risen dramatically in recent years, especially in the United States. By the 1990s, numerous environmental organizations working on preservation of the Amazon Rainforest reported that about 80% of logging in the Brazilian Amazon was illegal. The Brazilian government has confirmed this figure, most notably in a ‘leaked’ report from the Brazilian Intelligence Agency, the Secretaria de Assuntos Estratégicos (SAE) or Strategic Affairs Secretariat, in which it was confirmed that five times the amount of wood sanctioned to be cut from legal Amazon concessions was being exported and that numerous staff of the environment agency, IBAMA, were taking bribes. In one Greenpeace report, The Santarém Five and Illegal Logging — A Case Study, five companies were reported to be logging illegally in the region around Santarém, Pará. At that time exports from that region were most notably going to the Netherlands and France. Ipê was among the illegal exports.

Much of the ipê imported into the US is used for decking. Starting in the late 1960s, importing companies targeted large boardwalk projects to sell ipê, beginning with New York City Parks and Recreation (“Parks”) which maintains the city’s boardwalk, including along the beach of Coney Island. The city began using ipê around that time and has since converted the entire boardwalk — over 10 miles (16 km) long — to ipê. The ipê lasted about 25 years, at which time (1994), Parks has been replacing it with new ipê. Given that ipê trees typically grow in densities of only one or two trees per acre, large areas of forest must be logged to fill orders for boardwalks and, to a lesser extent, homeowner decks.

A Rainforest Relief report, Deep Impact, stated that at one time average yieldswere 76 board feet per acre (44 m³/km²) of FEQ (first export quality — FAS four-side-clear) grade ipê over seven feet (2.1 m) in length. Typically, wooden boardwalks are composed of 30,000 to 40,000 board feet (70 to 90 m³) per city block. For New York City’s 10 miles (16 km) of boardwalk, this would yield an estimate of 83,360 acres (337 km²) of Amazon rainforest logged. However, due to these trees now being grown commercially these numbers no longer apply.



  1. ^ Missouri Botanical Garden, Flora of the Venezuelan Guayana
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ SmartWood Misled US local authority over FSC timber
  4. ^ Ayahuasca Analogues

General references

  • Missouri Botanical Garden, Flora of the Venezuelan Guayana
  • Lorenzi, H. (1992). Árvores brasileiras: manual de identificação e cultivo de plantas arbóreas nativas do Brasil. Plantarum (in Portuguese).
  • Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan.
  • Germplasm Resources Information Network: Tabebuia
  • Política Florestal: Exploração Madeireira na Amazônica. Secretaria de Assuntos Estratégicos (SAE). April 1997.
  • Marquesini, M. and Edwards, G., 2001. The Santarem Five and Illegal Logging — A Case Study, Greenpeace Amazon, October, 2001.
  • Keating, T., 1998. Deep Impact: An Estimate of Tropical Rainforest Acres Impacted for a Board Foot of Imported Ipê, Rainforest Relief, New York.


This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Tabebuia". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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