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Dalbergia retusa - Hemsl.
Common Name Cocobolo
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards The sawdust is said to act as a poison on the people working with it in the factories[ 551 ].
Habitats Found only on the drier half of the isthmus, from Gambia south, but it is never common. Occasionally seen along roads in the Canal area, or in farmland woodlots[ 333 ]. Tropical moist forest and premontane moist forest[ 315 ].
Range Central America - Panama to Mexico.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Tender Moist Soil Full sun

A deciduous tree of about 20 m tall with cylindrical trunk that branches from low down, Dalbergia retusa or commonly known as Cocobolo is one of commonly exploited in the wild for its highly valued timber used for a wide range of items including knife and tool handles, musical

Dalbergia retusa Cocobolo

International Institute of Tropical Agriculture
Dalbergia retusa Cocobolo
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of lolypop
Dalbergia retusa is a deciduous Tree growing to 20 m (65ft) by 20 m (65ft) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10. and are pollinated by Insects.It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

Amerimnon lineatum (Pittier) Standl Amerimnon retusum (Hemsl.) Standl. Dalbergia hypoleuca Pittier D

Edible Uses
None known
Medicinal Uses
Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known


Other Uses
Other Uses: A unique property of the species is the secretion of compounds that act as potent bactericides, fungicides and algaecides[ 381 ]. The heartwood is a very dark red, with faint streaks of black similar to rosewood (Dalbergia nigra); it is clearly demarcated from the thick band of nearly white sapwood. The texture is fine, the grain crossed, lustrous in colour with a faintly fragrant smell. The wood is hard, heavy, strong, tough, and durable in contact with the soil. It is rather difficult to work, but takes a good polish. It is used for a wide range of items including knife and tool handles, musical and scientific instruments, inlay, jewellery boxes, rosary beads, chess pieces and steering wheels[ 46 , 333 , 381 , 551 ]. This is the wood used commonly by indigenous people for carving[ 333 ].
Cultivation details
We have no specific information on this species, but members of this genus generally prefer a fertile, loam soil and a position in full sun[ 200 ]. A slow-growing species[ 381 ]. Cocobolo responds well to fire. In areas experiencing periodic burning new saplings and small trees are observed to be numerous[ 381 ]. Trees often flower all year round[ 315 ]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[ 755 ].
Seed - a germination rate up to 80% has been observed in the nursery[ 381 ]. Like many species within the family Fabaceae, once they have been dried for storage the seeds of this species may benefit from scarification before sowing in order to speed up germination. This can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!) and then soaking them for 12 - 24 hours in warm water. By this time they should have imbibed moisture and swollen - if they have not, then carefully make a nick in the seedcoat (being careful not to damage the embryo) and soak for a further 12 hours before sowing[ K ].
Other Names
Caviuna, Cocobolo, Cocobolo Prieto, Funeram, Granadillo, Jacarandáholz, Kaway tree, Nambar, ñamba, Nicaraguan Rosewood, Palisander, Palissandro, Palo Negro, Pau Preto, Rosewood, Urauna
Found In
Belize; Costa Rica; El Salvador; Guatemala; Honduras; Mexico; Nicaragua; Panama
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Status: Vulnerable A1acd
Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Dalbergia baroniiPalissandre rouge des marais, hitsika, sovodrano00
Dalbergia cochinchinensisSiam Rosewood, Thailand Rosewood00
Dalbergia greveanaMadagascar Rosewood02
Dalbergia hupeana 11
Dalbergia latifoliaBlack Rosewood, East Indian Rosewood, Kala sheeshan, Satisal02
Dalbergia louveliiAndramena, Volombodipona, Violet rosewood02
Dalbergia melanoxylonAfrican Blackwood, Grenadilla, Mpingo02
Dalbergia monticolaHazovola, tsiandalana, voamboana00
Dalbergia nigraBrazilian Rosewood00
Dalbergia oliveriRedwood00
Dalbergia stevensoniiHonduras Rosewood00


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A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.
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Subject : Dalbergia retusa  

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