Wood Science and Technology

, 41:673 | Cite as

Chemical, anatomical and technological properties of Snakewood [Brosimum guianense (Aubl.) Huber]

  • Gunthard Scholz
  • Falk Liebner
  • Gerald Koch
  • Claus-Thomas Bues
  • Björn Günther
  • Ernst Bäucker


The very decorative heartwood of Brosimum guianense is internationally well known. Snakewood, as it is colloquially known, is represented in wood databases (e.g. the DELTA or InsideWood) as well as in lists of commercial timbers of many timber trading companies. The very decorative heartwood is hardly available and gains prices of up to 25 €/kg in form of half stems. In the present study, the chemical composition and especially the subcellular cell structure was analysed by means of UV microspectrophotometry to explain the high natural durability and some extraordinary physical properties in addition to the anatomical composition. The heartwood consists of approximately 39% lignin, 54% carbohydrates and 0.4% lipophilic compounds of unspecified origin. The fibres are very thick-walled. Numerous sclerotic tyloses and organic deposits are present in the vessel. The extractives in high content are also components of parenchyma cells as well as in tyloses, respectively. These detected phenolic extractives, partly of flavonoid character, are also part of the cell wall. Calcium oxalate crystals are deposited in the upright and square cells of rays and sporadically in axial parenchyma cells. These facts are reasons for the famous natural durability of Snakewood. The sapwood density ranges from 1.1 to 1.4 g/cm3 for heartwood (12% mc). The compression strength (119 N/mm2), the bending strength (241 N/mm2), the modulus of elasticity (23,200 N/mm2) and the hardness (196 N/mm2) indicate exceedingly high elastomechanical properties.


Lignin Total Peak Area High Lignin Content Compound Middle Lamella Syringol 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gunthard Scholz
    • 1
  • Falk Liebner
    • 2
  • Gerald Koch
    • 3
  • Claus-Thomas Bues
    • 4
  • Björn Günther
    • 4
  • Ernst Bäucker
    • 4
  1. 1.Institut für Holzbiologie und HolztechnologieGöttingenGermany
  2. 2.Department of Organic ChemistryUniversity of Natural Resources and Applied Life SciencesViennaAustria
  3. 3.Federal Research Centre for Forestry and Forest ProductsInstitute for Wood Biology and Wood ProtectionHamburgGermany
  4. 4.Chair of Forest Utilization and Forest TechnologyDresden University of TechnologyTharandtGermany

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