Hymenaea verrucosa (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Hymenaea verrucosa Gaertn.

Protologue: Leguminosae


Trachylobium verrucosum (Gaertn.) Oliv.

Vernacular names

  • Zanzibar copal (trade name), East African copal, Madagascar copal (En).


Native in Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles. Introduced and cultivated pantropically, including South-East Asia.


All parts, but particularly the bark, yield a valuable resin which is used like the resin of Hymenaea courbaril L. The fruits and the wood are also used the same way. The hard fossil resin, dug from the ground where it fell from trees long since disappeared, is more valuable than the soft fresh resin and is the hardest of all copals.


Tree, up to 24(-40) m tall. Leaves alternate, 2-foliolate; petiole 8-18 mm long, petiolules 3-5 mm long, twisted; leaflet blade elliptical to broadly falcate, 3-13 cm × 2-7 cm, asymmetrical at base. Inflorescence paniculate, up to 35 cm long, with short dense hairs; pedicel 2-9 mm long; flowers small, white; calyx tubular with 4 lobes, tube 2 mm long, lobes ovate, 7-11 mm × 4-6 mm, appressed puberulous outside, silvery sericeous inside; petals clawed and subequal, up to 2 cm long; stamens 10. Fruit an ellipsoidal-cylindrical pod, up to 5 cm × 3 cm, coarsely verrucose-rugose, reddish-brown, 1-3-seeded. Seed ellipsoidal, 13-18 mm × 9-12 mm, dark brown. In its natural area H. verrucosa is common in coastal evergreen forest. The fossilized resin is pale yellow to reddish and in East Africa it has a peculiar, characteristic, roughened surface called "gooseskin". The best areas to find fossilized resin are near rivers and streams. The soil is dug out to a depth of about 1 m and the resin, usually found in the form of flat or disk-like pieces, picked out and later roughly cleaned. The fruits contain approximately 20% resin, but this is not easily obtained or extracted.

Selected sources

5, 11, 25.