Common Name: Almendro Tropical Hardwood, Mountain Almendro, Mountain Almond, Tonka Bean Tree
Latin Name: Dipteryx panamensisIMG_6132.JPG
Family: Fabaceae

Range: Very narrow distribution. Endemic to Central America. Range stretches from Southern Nicaragua to Costa Rica, Panama, and Columbia. Mostly found growing in lowlands of Atlantic plains.

Morphology: Yellowish bark, leaf stalks with more than ten leaflets to a group. Adult trees and many large emergent trees will have buttress roots for support. Brown-yellow sapwood and yellow-red heartwood transition gradually and are difficult to detect since the colors are so similar. Can reach 200 feet in height and 6.5 feet in diameter. Semispherical crown. Puple pink flowers. Spherical seeds.


Ecology: Emergent tree, can only survive in tropical forests with >3500 mm annual rainfall. Blooms between May-September. Provides growing habitat for bromeliads. Foraging birds (notoriously messy eaters) drop nuts onto the forest floor, creating opportunity for new tree growth.

IMG_7073.JPGInteraction with other species:Favorite food and nesting site of the great green macaw. They nest in holes on dry branches in the upper-middle canopies of the largest almendro trees.Scarlet Macaws can also be seen nesting or foraging in almendro trees. The macaws' habitat shrinks every time an almendro tree is cut down. Coatis can also be seen on their branches in the middle-lower canopy. Bromeliads and other epiphytes in branches provide macaws and other animals with a water supply, making it a perfect shelter offering food, water, and shelter for its inhabitants. Its hardwood has evolved a strong resistance to deterioration and termites, making it a popular hardwood candidate for humans to use. At La Selva, researchers were measuring leaf litter downfall by Almendro trees and blue nets could be seen next to many different almendro trees.

Almendro is used by humans for industrial purposes. Its size and hardness makes it useful for large scale such as for constructing railroads and bridge building. Its hardness and durability is also making it an increasingly attractive wood product for sporting goods like hockey or lacrosse sticks. It is also used for patios, decks, floors, and truck beds.

Conservation: The Selva Verde lodge in Costa Rica offers a hike to go see a 600+ year old Almendro tree. Since it has been growing increasingly rare in recent years, almendro trees are being targeted as a species for reforestation projects in Costa Rica. Special attention must be paid to the almendro tree since nest robbing is still practiced for the global pet trade and some people still hunt the birds for food. Adopt-a-nest programs have been initiated to help macaws, almendro trees and biodiversity as a whole. Costa Rica's Ministry of Environment currently does not give permission to cut down almendro trees