Herbs & Plants

Handroanthus impetiginosus

Botanical Name: Handroanthus impetiginosus
Family: Bignoniaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales
Genus: Handroanthus
Species: H. impetiginosus

Gelseminum avellanedae (Lorentz ex Griseb.) Kuntze
Handroanthus avellanedae (Lorentz ex Griseb.) Mattos
Tabebuia avellanedae Lorentz ex Griseb.
Tabebuia dugandii Standl.
Tabebuia impetiginosa (Mart. ex DC.) Standl.

Common Names: Pau D’Arco, Pink Trumpet Tree Pink ipê, Pink lapacho.

Habitat: Handroanthus impetiginosus is native to S. America – from Argentina north through Central America to Mexico It grows in the interior of dense, primary forests, as well as in open and secondary growth areas.

Handroanthus impetiginosus is a rather large deciduous tree, with trunks sometimes reaching 8 dm width and 30 m height. Usually a third of that height is trunk, and two thirds are its longer branches. It has a large, globous, but often sparse canopy. The tree has a slow growth rate. Leaves are opposite and petiolate, 2 to 3 inches long, elliptic and lanceolate, with lightly serrated margins and pinnate venation. The leaves are palmately compound with usually 5 leaflets.

Its bark is brownish grey, tough and hard to peel. The wood is of a pleasant yellowish colour, barely knotted and very tough and heavy (0,935 kg/dm³). It’s rich in tannins and therefore very resistant to weather and sun. It is not very useful for furniture since it is so hard to work by hand. It can be found as beams or fulfilling other structural uses where needed outdoors.

In the southern hemisphere, Handroanthus impetiginosus flowers between July and September, before the new leaves appear. In the northern hemisphere like India, the flowering season is December to January, after the leaves are shed. The flower is large, tubular shaped, its corolla is often pink or magenta, though exceptionally seen white, about 2 inches long. There are four stamens and a staminode. The fruit consists of a narrow dehiscent capsule containing several winged seeds.

The flowers are easily accessible to pollinators. Some hummingbirds – e.g. black jacobin (Florisuga fusca) and black-throated mango (Anthracothorax nigricollis) – seem to prefer them over the flowers of other Handroanthus species, while for others like the stripe-breasted starthroat (Heliomaster squamosus) it may even be a mainstay food source.


A species of higher elevations in the tropics, it is well-suited to subtropical areas. Prefers a well-drained fertile soil and a position in full sun. Young plants establish well, achieving heights of around 3.5 metres within 2 years[419 ]. Flowering Time: Late Winter/Early Spring Mid Spring Late Spring/Early Summer. Bloom Color: Pink. Spacing: 20-30 ft. (6-9 m.

Edible Uses: A tea made from the inner bark is widely used as a tonic.

Medicinal Uses:
The wood and inner bark are a bitter, cooling, pungent herb that lowers fever and reduces inflammation. The heartwood contains a naphthaquinone called lapachol – this has been shown to have antibiotic and antitumor effects. Many native S. American peoples have prized pau d’arco as a cure-all, using it to treat a wide range of conditions including wounds, fevers, dysentery, intestinal inflammation and snake bites. In modern herbalism the bark is used internally in the treatment of inflammatory diseases, chronic degenerative diseases, cancers, tumours, cysts, fungal infections (especially candidiasis), venereal diseases, rheumatic diseases, skin problems (especially eczema, herpes and scabies). It is also used, in combination with other herbs, to clear toxins, resolve congestion and strengthen the immune system. The wood is harvested as required and dried for later use.

Other Uses:
The heartwood is greenish to yellowish-brown; the sapwood is yellowish. The texture is medium; the grain interlocked; lustre is medium. The wood is very heavy, durable, especially when not in contact with the soil. It can be very hard to cut, but works well and gives a good finish. The timber, known as lapacho, is highly valued for cabinet making. It is also used for railway ties, telegraph poles, interior finishes, parquet flooring, sports items such as wooded balls, musical instruments etc. Most species of Handroanthus, almost certainly including this one, produce a very hard, heavy and durable timber known as Ipe. The general description of Ipe wood is as follows:- The heartwood is yellowish brown to dark olive brown, sometimes with thin veins; it is clearly demarcated from the 3 – 9cm wide band of sapwood. The texture is usually fine, though it is medium in some species; the grain is interlocked; there are canals in the wood containing a greenish-yellow deposit of lapachol. The wood is very heavy; very hard; elastic; it is very durable, even in contact with the soil, resisting fungi, dry wood borers and termites. It seasons slowly, but with only a low risk of checking or distortion; once dry it is moderately stable in service. The wood has a fairly high blunting effect – stellite-tipped and tungsten carbide tools are recommended; there can be some difficulties due to the interlocked grain; filling is recommended in order to get a good finish; nailing and screwing are good , but require pre-boring; gluing is correct for internal use only, and needs to be done with care because the wood is so dense. A very durable and strong wood, it has a very wide range of uses, especially for outdoor applications. It is used for making high class furniture, cabinet work, heavy construction, railway sleepers, bridges, hydraulic works, industrial flooring, posts and poles, turnery, musical instruments, tool handles, veneer etc.

Known Hazards: Excessive use of the herb can lead to nausea, vomiting, dizziness and diarrhoea.(Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction )

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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