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Costa Rica is well known for its tropical forest cover and stunning trees. As sustainable forest practices have been put into place, it has become possible to, once again, source these beautiful exotic woods without the negative effects that years of deforestation caused. Read our recent post on how Costa Rica has doubled its forest cover in just a few decades for more information.
We are blessed to have access to some of the most beautiful resources in Costa Rica. Wood products, made from rain and cloud forests, are a rich reminder of the magic country and its people. This blog series will dive a bit deeper into each wood option that we are able to bring from the hills of Costa Rica, straight to your home. Our hope is that this will give you a better idea of the best wood for your project, as well as a stronger attachment to the piece, knowing its history, construction, and lifeline. In this post, we will feature Parota, Monkey Pod, and Bullet Wood. Enjoy!
Enterolobium cyclocarpum, also known as Parota or Elephant-ear tree, is a species of flowering tree in the pea family, known for its large proportions, expansive, spherical crown, and curiously shaped seedpods.
Parota is prized for its beautiful golden-brown color, available in large hard-to-find dimensions, and its unmatched low cost. Parota has a consistent grain and color and is a highly prized sustainable wood in Costa Rica. It’s sought after for its sustainability, durability, longevity, and beautiful qualities of its grain patterns and deep amber colors, which are pronounced in the smooth finish of custom tables.
Parota is light to medium brown, sometimes with a reddish hue. Darker streaks of brown are sometimes present, and the grain is usually slightly interlocked. Because of its large trunk size, very large slabs of natural-edged Parota are available and allow for large tables without glue seams.
Monkey pod has explosive popularity and is one of the largest and oldest of Costa Rica's tree cover. A Monkey Pod tree can grow to heights of 50 to 80 feet, with a broad canopy resembling an umbrella. Monkey Pod has a mix of straight and swirly grain, giving it an interesting, and stunning, appearance when finished. This grain and size make it perfect for dining and coffee table slabs.
Farmed monkey pod is also great for the environment. The wide crown provides shade and habitat, while the seed pods provide nutrients to the ground below. From planting to cultivation, a single monkey pod tree can absorb over 100 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The tree species itself is not threatened, and as a farmed tree, no naturally occurring forests are threatened from its cultivation.
Manufacturers also enjoy the fact that Monkey Pod or Suar wood is from a tree that grows quickly, making it an environmentally-friendly choice. Plus, the seeds that drop to the ground are nutritious and make an ideal snack for wildlife. In fact, the name Monkey Pod wood is thought to come from the monkeys that would gather under the shade of the large crown on these trees and eat the seeds.
Manilkara bidentata is a species of Manilkara commonly known as bullet wood. The tree is a hardwood with a red heart, which is used for furniture and as a construction material where it grows. Locals often refer to it as bullet wood for its extremely hardwood, which is so dense that it does not float in water. Drilling is necessary to drive nailed connections. This evergreen medium-sized species is important for its timber, as well as the edible fruit. It is also valuable in medicine and a popular garden tree due to the pleasant fragrance of its flowers and the generous shade that it provides.
The flowers are star-shaped, white to sandal colored with a strong fragrance. These flowers are known for their property of retaining their scent even after they dry.
Shop any of the wood products above in our online store, as well as finished and custom tables made from Parota, Monkey Pod, and Bullet Wood. Stay tuned for our next post where we will discuss the Chime Tree, Sapucacia, and Bully Tree Wood species.