Tree of the Month: Copaifera aromatica

Copaifera aromatica (Cabimo, Camíbar)

Have you walked down a tree lined path and your senses filled with the scent of the forest? Many trees have fruits and flowers with distinctive smells, but few have bark that itself has a strong scent. The Cabimo or Camíbar (scientific name: Copaifera aromatica) is an endemic species of Panama, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. It is a fast-growing plant that can reach up to 30 to 35 meters in height. The bark is reddish-brown in color and has a distinct aromatic scent.  It produces compound leaves, white to beige colored flowers about 0.3 cm long as well as a legume that matures from late November to late April and early May. Its leaves are paripinnate, with 8 to 12 alternating leaflets that measure 2.5 to 9 cm long and 1.5 to 3.5 cm wide.

© Guillermo Duran
Copaifera aromatica © Guillermo Duran

Cabimo flowers are apetalous delicate sprays of white that bloom from June to October, and its fruits are usually red-orange in color. Due to its beautiful foliage, Panamanians use this tree as an ornamental and to provide shade in their yards and near their houses. In addition to its aromatic properties, the tree also possesses medicinal properties and people often use it to treat worm parasites in domestic animals. Traditionally, the Guna Yala people bathe in a bath of Cabimo bark and leaves to alleviate headaches.

The tree produces soft and heavy timber that varies in color from the sapwood to the heartwood. You can find Cabimo wood in interior construction, carpentry, as well in flooring, furniture, fences, railroad tracks, and tool handles. The tree’s bark itself also contains oily resins that can be used to produce varnish. Due to these possible uses, Cabimo resins have a relatively high commercial value.

Leaves of the Cabimo © Guillermo Duran
Leaves of the Cabimo © Guillermo Duran

The seeds have dimensions of 13 to 28 mm in length, 9 to 17 mm wide and 3 to 12 mm thick.  In the year 1993, a scientific study performed by the National Academy of Science of Costa Rica recorded a germination rate of 85% when these seeds were soaked in tap water for 24 hours.

According to the National Institute of Biodiversity of Costa Rica, Cabimo is a “threatened” species, meaning that it is scarce and often exploited, with a high risk of falling into the “endangered” category. If you’re interested in a reforestation project with Cabimo, contact us here for more information!


If you wish to learn more about this plant species, consult:

Condit, Richard; Pérez, Rolando; Daguerre, Nefertaris; Trees of Panama and Costa Rica, Princeton University Press. 2011

Carrasquilla R., Luis G.; Árboles y Arbustos de Panamá (Trees and Shrubs of Panama), Novo Art, S.A. 2008

Marín, W.A; Flores, E.M; Copaifera aromatica Dwyer; Escuela de Biología, Universidad de Costa Rica, Academia nacional de Ciencias de Costa Rica. 1975.

Azuero Earth Project Plant Database 

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