Tabebuia is a neotropical genus of about 100 species[1] in the tribe Tecomeae of the family Bignoniaceae. The species range from northern Mexico and southern Florida south to northern Argentina, including the Caribbean islands of Hispaniola (Dominican Republic, Haiti) and Cuba. The generic name is derived from words used for the trees by the indigenous peoples of Brazil.[2]

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


Leaves I IMG 4036

Young leaves of Caribbean Trumpet Tree (Tabebuia aurea)

They are large shrubs or 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.[1]

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.[1]

The fruit is a dehiscent pod, 10 to 50 cm (4 to 20 in.) long, containing numerous—in some species winged—seeds.[1] These pods often remain on the tree through dry season until the beginning of the rainy season.

Uses and ecologyEdit


Araguaney (Tabebuia chrysantha) tree in a Caracas street

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.[3]

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.[4] Naturalist Madhaviah Krishnan on the other hand once famously took offense at ipé grown in India, where it is not native.

Lapacho Teerinde

Lapacho tea

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.[5]

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

Much of the ipê imported into the United States is used for decking. Starting in the late 1960s, importing companies targeted large boardwalk projects to sell ipê, beginning with New York City Department of Parks and Recreation ("Parks") which maintains the city's boardwalks, including along the beach of Coney Island. 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.

In 2008-2009 Wildwood, New Jersey rebuilt a section of their boardwalk using ipê, the town had pledged to use domestic black locust, but it was not available in time.[6]

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

Selected speciesEdit

Caribbean Trumpet Tree (Tabebuia aurea) fruit & flowers W IMG 7055

Tabebuia aurea

Starr 050518-1609 Tabebuia donnell-smithii

Gold Tree (Tabebuia donnell-smithii)

Tabebuia impetiginosa hojas

Leaves of Pink Ipê (Tabebuia impetiginosa) in detail


Trunk of Cuban Pink Trumpet Tree (Tabebuia pallida)

Tabebuia rosea 0001

Flower of Pink Poui (Tabebuia rosea)

A native of Mexico 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.




  • Template:Aut (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. Template:Doi PDF fulltext
  • Template:Aut (1992): New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan.
  • Template:Aut (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
  • Template:Aut (1992): Árvores brasileiras: manual de identificação e cultivo de plantas arbóreas nativas do Brasil.
  • Template:Aut (1995): Ayahuasca Additive Plants. In: Ayahuasca Analogues: Pangaean Entheogens.
  • Template:Aut (1997): Política Florestal: Exploração Madeireira na Amazônica. Confidential report.
  • Template:Aut (1997): 35. Tababuia. In: Flora of the Venezuelan Guayana (Vol. 3 Araliaceae-Cactaceae). ISBN 0-915279-46-0 HTML fulltext
  • Template:Aut (2007a): Germplasm Resources Information Network - Tabebuia. Retrieved 2007-NOV-14.

External linksEdit

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