Thursday, May 10, 2007


There are many different species of ipê trees in Santarém but the one I refer to in this blog post is Tabebuia serratifolia, which is a high forest tree. Another common name for the tree is pau dárco. It’s classified as an ironwood, I assume because of high density and weight. Yes, it’ll sink to the bottom of the river if you throw it in. That reminds me of that dumb game David Letterman plays on his television program, “Will it float?” I should send Letterman some samples of Amazonian woods for his sexy cohorts to throw into the tank of water. Very few of them float!

I dare say that ipê is one of the best known lumbers around these days because it’s first choice for boardwalk construction. When I show off the tree and wood sample at Bosque Santa Lúcia I always add some salt and pepper by telling my guests that the boardwalks around Bill Gate’s home in Olympia, Washington are made of ipê. The wood used for the pedestrian walkway on the Brooklyn Bridge is ipê. Most of boardwalks at Coney Island and the casino areas of the northeastern United States are made of ipê. And the list goes on. The wood sample in the attached image was given to me by a neighbor at the Bosque. It had been given to him by a truck driver, who had some mechnical problem on the road. I didn’t do much with it, other than sand it down a bit and put some clear sealer on the surface. Nevertheless, it a beautiful piece of wood. The tree in the background is obviously an ipê and it’s only a stone’s throw from the reception center. Ipê is an indigenous word that means “thick bark”. The other common name, pau dárco, means the bow wood, as in bow and arrow.

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