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"Trumpet tree" redirects here. This term is occasionally used for the Shield-leaved Pumpwood (Cecropia peltata).

Tabebuia is a neotropical genus of about 100 species in the tribe Tecomeae of the family Bignoniaceae. The species range from northern Mexicomarker and the Antilles south to northern Argentinamarker and central Venezuelamarker, including the Caribbeanmarker islands of Hispaniolamarker (Dominican Republicmarker, Haitimarker) and Cubamarker. It is also very common in Brazil, where it´s called "Ipê" and it is considered as a brazilian symbol.

Well-known common names include Ipê, Poui, trumpet trees and pau d'arco.


They are large shrubs and trees growing to 5 to 50 m (16 to 160 ft.) tall depending on the species; many species are dry-season deciduous but some are evergreen. The leaves are opposite pairs, complex or palmately compound with 3–7 leaflets.

Tabebuia is a notable flowering tree. The flowers are 3 to 11 cm (1 to 4 in.) wide and are produced in dense clusters. They present a cupular calyx campanulate to tubular, truncate, bilabiate or 5-lobed. Corolla colors vary between species ranging from white, light pink, yellow, lavender, magenta, or red. The outside texture of the flower tube is either glabrous or pubescent.

The fruit is a dehiscent pod, 10 to 50 cm (4 to 20 in.) long, containing numerous—in some species winged—seeds. These pods often remain on the tree through dry season until the beginning of the rainy season.

Uses and ecology

Species in this genus are important as timber trees. The wood is used for furniture, decking, and other outdoor uses. It is increasingly popular as a decking material due to its insect resistance and durability. By 2007, FSC-certified ipê wood had become readily available on the market, although certificates are occasionally forged.

Tabebuia is widely used as ornamental tree in the tropics in landscaping gardens, public squares, and boulevards due to its impressive and colorful flowering. Many flowers appear on still leafless stems at the end of the dry season, making the floral display more conspicuous. They are useful as honey plants for bees, and are popular with certain hummingbirds. Naturalist Madhaviah Krishnan on the other hand once famously took offense at ipé grown in Indiamarker, where it is not native.

The bark of several species has medical properties. The bark is dried, shredded, and then boiled making a bitter or sour-tasting brownish-colored tea. Tea from the inner bark of Pink Ipê (T. impetiginosa) is known as Lapacho or Taheebo. Its main active principles are lapachol, quercetin, and other flavonoids. It is also available in pill form. The herbal remedy is typically used during flu and cold season and for easing smoker's cough. It apparently works as expectorant, by promoting the lungs to cough up and free deeply embedded mucus and contaminants. However, lapachol is rather toxic and therefore a more topical use e.g. as antibiotic or pesticide may be advisable. Other species with significant folk medical use are T. alba and Yellow Lapacho (T. serratifolia).

Tabebuia heteropoda, T. incana, and other species are occasionally used as an additive to the entheogenic drink Ayahuasca.

Mycosphaerella tabebuiae, a plant pathogenic sac fungus, was first discovered on an ipê tree.

Conservation concerns

The demand for ipê wood has risen dramatically in recent years, especially in the United Statesmarker. By the 1990s, numerous environmental organizations working on preservation of the Amazon Rainforest reported that about 80% of logging in the Brazilian Amazon was illegal. The Brazilian government has confirmed this figure, most notably in a leaked report from the Brazilian Intelligence Agencymarker, in which it was confirmed that five times the amount of wood sanctioned to be cut from legal Amazon concessions was being exported and that numerous staff of the environment agency IBAMA were taking bribes.

In an October 2001 study for Greenpeace, five companies were reported to be logging illegally for ipê and other hardwoods in the region around Santarém, Parámarker: Cemex Commercial Madeiras Exportaçao, Madeireira Santarém (Madesa), Industrial Madeireira Curuatinga, Maderieira Rancho da Cabocla, and Estância Alecrim/Milton José Schnorr. The bulk of their illegal timber exports from that region went to The Netherlandsmarker and Francemarker.

Much of the ipê imported into the United Statesmarker is used for decking. Starting in the late 1960s, importing companies targeted large boardwalk projects to sell ipê, beginning with New York City Parks and Recreation ("Parks") which maintains the city's boardwalks, including along the beach of Coney Islandmarker. The city began using ipê around that time and has since converted the entire boardwalk—over 10 miles (16 km) long—to ipê. The ipê lasted about 25 years, at which time (1994) Parks has been replacing it with new ipê. Given that ipê trees typically grow in densities of only one or two trees per acre, large areas of forest must be searched to fill orders for boardwalks and, to a lesser extent, homeowner decks.

A 1998 study for Rainforest Relief stated that at one time average yields were 76 board feet ea acre (44 m³/km²) of FEQ (first export quality—FAS four-side-clear) grade ipê over seven feet (2.1 m) in width. Typically, wooden boardwalks are composed of 30,000 to 40,000 board feet (70 to 90 m³) ea city block. For New York Citymarker's 10 miles (16 km) of boardwalk, this would yield an estimate of 83,360 acres (337 km²) of Amazon rainforest needed.

In 2008-2009 Wildwood, New Jerseymarker rebuilt a section of their boardwalk using ipê, the town had pledged to use domestic black locust, but it was not available in time.

Nowadays, ipé wood from cultivated trees supersedes timber extracted from the wild. As noted above, customers should check for legitimacy of certificates.

Notable species

A native of Mexicomarker and Central Americas, considered one of the most colorful of all Central American trees. The leaves are deciduous. Masses of golden-yellow flowers cover the crown after the leaves are shed.
A popular street tree in tropical cities because of its multi-annular masses of light pink to purple flowers and modest size. The roots are not especially destructive for roads and sidewalks. It is the national tree of El Salvador and the state tree of Cojedes, Venezuelamarker

Gallery of Tabebuia flowers

Image:Tabebuia chrysantha flowers1.jpg|Araguaney

Tabebuia chrysanthaImage:Tabebuia chrysotricha flowers1.jpg|Golden Trumpet Tree

Tabebuia chrysotrichaImage:Tabebuia impetiginosa inflorescencias.jpeg|Pink Ipê

Tabebuia impetiginosaImage:Tabebuia rosealba flowers1.jpg|White Ipê

Tabebuia roseo-alba


  1. Steyermark et al. (1997)
  2. FSC Watch: SmartWood misled US local authority over FSC timber. Posted 2007-AUG-22. Retrieved 2008-JAN-27.
  3. Baza Mendonça & dos Anjos (2005)
  4. Ott (1995)
  5. SAE (1997)
  6. Marquesini & Edwards (2001)
  7. Keating (1998)


  • (2005): Beija-flores (Aves, Trochilidae) e seus recursos florais em uma área urbana do Sul do Brasil [Hummingbirds (Aves, Trochilidae) and their flowers in an urban area of southern Brazil]. [Portuguese with English abstract] Revista Brasileira de Zoologia 22(1): 51–59. PDF fulltext
  • (1992): New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan.
  • (1998): Deep Impact: An Estimate of Tropical Rainforest Acres Impacted for a Board Foot of Imported Ipê. Rainforest Relief Reports 6: 1-4. PDF fulltext
  • (1992): Árvores brasileiras: manual de identificação e cultivo de plantas arbóreas nativas do Brasil.
  • (2001): The Santarem Five and Illegal Logging — A Case Study. PDF fulltext
  • (1995): Ayahuasca Additive Plants. In: Ayahuasca Analogues: Pangaean Entheogens.
  • (1997): Política Florestal: Exploração Madeireira na Amazônica. Confidential report.
  • (1997): 35. Tababuia. In: Flora of the Venezuelan Guayana (Vol. 3 Araliaceae-Cactaceae). ISBN 0-915279-46-0 HTML fulltext
  • (2007a): Germplasm Resources Information Network - Tabebuia. Retrieved 2007-NOV-14.

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