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Bursera simaruba

Because palo chino (gumbo-limbo) tolerates widely different growing conditions, the wood can be quite variable. Like eastern cottonwood, it has a medium to fine texture, but its yellowish-beige heartwood is slightly darker and more lustrous. The sapwood tends to be creamy white just inside the bark and gradually darkens as it blends into the heartwood. It is a weak wood and compares closely with aspen.

While palo chino lacks the pleasant figure and warm tan color of butternut, these two woods are remarkably similar in terms of working characteristics. Both tend to become a little fuzzy when sanded, but are otherwise exceptionally easy to work. For such a soft wood, palo chino turns well and accepts both screws and nails without splitting. Although the wood has a faint, resinous scent when sanded, it is surprisingly non-aromatic considering its botanical kinship to frankincense and myrrh.

The primary uses of palo chino include interior construction, crating, boxes, construction plywoods, corestock and match sticks. Some is harvested for charcoal production, and its resins and oils have been used for centuries as incense and in making varnish, adhesives and medicines.

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