Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Hymenaea courbaril L.

Frost tender, evergreen tree with pointed, oblong-ovate leaves and large yellow, purple-striped flowers.  To 20m.  [RHSD, Hortus].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘The name “courbaril” is said to be employed in British Guiana and “jatoba” in Brazil.  The wood is very hard, tough, and heavy (the specific gravity reported as 0.90 and 1.06), and is colored somewhat like mahogany; it is employed for general construction, ship building, furniture, sugar mills, etc., and is sometimes exported.  The Indians of Brazil use both the trunks and the bark for making canoes.  The seeds are surrounded by a sweet pulp, which becomes mealy when the fruit is ripe.  This pulp is edible; it is mixed with water to prepare a kind of “atole,” which is said to be very nutritious, and is sometimes fermented to produce an alcoholic beverage.  A pale yellow or reddish gum (“resina de cuapinole,” “goma anime de Mexico,” “ambar del pais,” “ambar de cuapinole,” “succino del pals,” “succino criollo,” “goma de la tierra,” “incienso de la tierra,” “incienso de Petapa ” ) exudes from the trunk, and is found more abundantly on the roots.  In Mexico this has been much used for incense in churches, and is employed in making varnish for furniture, patent leather, etc.  It is sometimes collected in Mexico for export, and this tree is supposed to be the source of the “gum anime,” of which large quantities are shipped from Brazil.  This was formerly used in official medicine, especially in the preparation of ointments and plasters, but now it is employed only in the manufacture of varnish and incense.  The fruit contains large resin pockets whose contents harden into gum.  In the regions where the tree is native the gum is sometimes smoked to relieve asthma and is employed locally for rheumatism, catarrh, ulcers, and venereal diseases.  The decoction of the bark is reputed to act as an arterial sedative and to have purgative vermifuge and carminative properties.’  [Standley – Trees and Shrubs of Mexico. Contributions from the United States National Herbarium vol.23, p.413/1920].

‘Fine, close-grained, hard wood; and the resins anime and Copal are produced by these stove evergreen trees.’  [JD].  Introduced to Britain in 1688.  [PD].

History at Camden Park

Probably imported for its economic value but short lived in the gardens as it was only listed in the 1850 catalogue.


Published Dec 23, 2009 - 01:20 PM | Last updated Jul 21, 2010 - 12:19 PM

Family Fabaceae
Region of origin

Central and South America

  • Hymenaea condolleana H.B.K.
  • Courbaril hymenaea M.Gómez 
Common Name

Anime resin, West Indian locust tree

Name in the Camden Park Record

Hymenaea courbaril 

Confidence level high