The African tulip tree receives the scientific name of Spathodea, and it belongs to the family of the Bignoniaceae plants. It is an arboreal species from West Africa, but currently breeding in the southeastern North America, Central and South America too, especially in Puerto Rico (meaíto), Dominican Republic (poppy), Santo Domingo (mahogany) and Venezuela (cocky). It gets a different name depending on the country it grows.
The African tulip wood has a yellow colour, with a whitish shade in the sapwood and a more olive green one or brown flush in the heartwood. It contains a lot of sap, which can stain fingers or clothing when touching or handworking with it.
The tulip wood is a hardwood heavy and slender, with straight grain and a fine grain size. The wood rays are visible in a cross section, as well as the growth rings, which are delimited by a whitish line. Tulip timber has a surface with a very smooth texture, to the point that birds make their nests with this soft and light material. It contains large pores and a straight vein.
Treated in proper varnished, the African tulip wood is stable in its natural shade long term. It breeds in regions with very contrasting temperatures, so it holds properly moisture and dry weather.
Despite being a hardwood, tulip wood has an easy and simple sawing, drying, gluing and nailing, while brushing presents more problems. Its sapwood is impregnable and the heartwood mostly too, and when cut off, it smells like oat.
The tulip wood is often highlighted in its use for fine interior furniture, friezes, moldings, baseboards, veneer and plywood, packaging or toys. In other countries it is even crushed and used as bedding for horses, to make surfboards, paper or for carving.