Spanish Elm
(Cordia gerascanthus)


Spanish Elm is a popular timber tree in Jamaica. It is widely distributed throughout the Caribbean and is also found from Mexico to Columbia. When in flower, the tree is highly visible from a distance as the entire crown turns white. 

This deciduous medium to large size tree grows to a height of 6 to 20 m or more. The leaves are oval or elliptical and are up to 18 cm long and 6 cm across. The tree produces clusters of fragrant white flowers, usually between December to June. The fruit is oblong and borne at the tips of branches. The flower petals turn brown and remain attached to the fruit, forming a parachute to assist with seed dispersal by the wind.

The wood of Spanish Elm is very ornamental, resembling walnut, in various shades of brown with darker markings. It has a oily or waxy appearance - even unfinished wood has a natural gloss. The wood is tough and strong, and, as it is hard and heavy, rather difficult to work with. The wood is used in cabinet making, furniture, interior trims and was formerly used for making vehicles and cooperage. The wood of immature trees are more liable to infestation by wood termites.

Spanish Elm is found on limestone hills mostly in drier areas. In Jamaica, it is generally distributed throughout the island between 600 to 900 m elevation.  








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