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Ipe

Botanical Name: Tabebuia serratifolia. Family: Bignoniaceae

Common Name: Ipe, Lapacho, Guayacan, Cortez, Tabebuia, Bastard lignum vitae

The Tree: The tree is described as medium-sized, attaining a height of 65 to 85 feet (20 to 25 m), with a trunk diameter of about 30 inches (75 cm). Boles are straight to somewhat slanted, and are often clear of branches to about two-thirds the total height of the tree.

The Wood: Sapwood is yellowish white or whitish in color.
The heartwood is olive-brown in color, with lighter or darker streaks. The pores themselves will often appear as fine yellow dots, or as longitudinal lines. It has a fine texture, medium luster, and a somewhat oily appearance. Wood surfaces are reported to be often covered with a yellow powder. Ipe is very hard (two to three times as hard as oak), very strong and very heavy. It weighs approximately 70 pounds per cubic foot and sinks in water.

Natural Durability: The heartwood is reported to be very resistant to decay and attack by termites. It is rated as resistant to attack by dry wood insects but susceptible to marine borer attack. Holds up well in tropical conditions as well as winter freezes. Makes excellent decking.

Uses: Quality furniture and decorative veneers, and because of its strength and durability it is used in boardwalks, tool handles, turnery, industrial flooring, truck beds and textile mill items. Ipe was recently used on the Miami Beach board walk to cover over some very degraded pressure treated pine.

Descriptive Data Source
Chudnoff, M. 1984. Tropical Timbers of the World. United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Agriculture Handbook No. 607, Forest Products Laboratory, Madison, Wisconsin.

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Ipe Decking and Flooring