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Handroanthus impetiginosus (Mart. ex DC.) Mattos Analysis

Handroanthusimpetiginosus (Mart. ex DC.) Mattos

“Ipê roxo”, “ipê rosa” or “pink lapacho”

“Ipê roxo is a common name for Handroanthusimpeginosus. “Ipê” is a tupi[1] word that main “thick bark tree” and “roxo” is a Brazilian word for purple. Even the flowers being pink the most common name for the tree is purple ipê. The group of Ipês are broadly used in urban landscape because the flower period is so exuberant, the plant is resistant to dry soils and urban conditions. Nowadays, there are more than 100 different ipês species with different colours, shapes and sizes. The 4 main colours are yellow, purple, pink and white. I particularly love the Handroanthusimpeginosus because the inflorescence form looks like a beautiful flowery ball” Suzy’s opinions.

TheHandroanthus impetiginosus is a native tree of Brazil, but it is not endemic and occurs in almost all South America and Central America (Flora do Brasil 2020). In Brazil, the purple ipê occurs in almost all territory. The Figure 1 shows where the plant occurs in Brazil, being North in green, Northeast in orange, Central-west in yellow and blue; and Southeast in red, the only region of Brazil that the ipês are not present is in the south.

Figure 1. Geographic distribution of Handroanthusimpeginosus in Brazil. Source: Flora Brasil 2020FR1.

Family: Bignoniaceae

Genus: Handroanthus




Category: Woody


Type: Tree (deciduous)


USDAhardinesszone: from zone 10 to zone 13 (Figure 2).

Figure 2. World plant hardiness zones. Handroanthusimpeginosus can occurs from zone 9 to zone 13 (Magarey, Borchert & Schlegel, 2008).

Canadianhardinesszone: The tree will be protecting under glass during all year.


RHShardinesszone: from the zone H1a to zone H2 (Table 1).

Table 1. Adapted from Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) hardiness ranting zonesFR10 for zones that Handroanthusimpeginosus can survive and in what conditions.

Rating Temperature ranges (C) Category Definition USDA
H1a >15 Heated greenhouse

– tropical

Under glass all year. 13
H1b 10 – 15 Heated greenhouse

– subtropical

Can be grown outside in the summer in hotter, sunny and sheltered location (such as city centre areas), but generally perform better under glass all year round. 12
H1c 5 – 10 Heated greenhouse

– warm temperature

Can be grown outside in the summer throughout most of the UK while day-time temperatures are high enough to promote growth (most bedding plants, tomatoes and cucumbers). 11
H2 1 – 5 Tender – cool or frost free greenhouse Tolerant of low temperatures, but not surviving being frozen. Except in frost-free inner-city areas or coastal extremities requires glasshouse conditions. Can be grown outside once risk of frost is over (most succulents, many subtropical plants, annual bedding plants, many spring-sown vegetables). 10b


Temperature (C): (30) – (70) (Figure 3).

Temperature (F): (- 1.1) – (21.1) (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Average of temperature of USDA hardness zonesFR11 with the temperatures that Handroanthusimpeginosus dwells.


Height and Spread

In urban spaces and spaced forests Handroanthus impetiginosus has height between 8 – 12 m but into the closed forest can up to 30 m (Campos Filho & Sartonelli, 2015). While the spread in general is between 10 – 12 m but into closed forest can be up to 25 m.



The tree presents two or more flowering flows for keep the tree flowering for more time. This happened because the flower buds bloom gradually, so, when some flowers are dropping another flowers are blooming (Salomão & Camillo, 2016). Each flowering flow remains about 10 days and drop on the floor, so with multiple flows is possible keep the tree flowered for a whole month or more. This massive flowering is a tree strategy to grab pollinator’s attention even by far of it (Schlindwein et al., 2014). In Brazil, the flowering period occurs in different times in each state as shows in Table 2.

Table 2Handroanthus impetiginosus flowering period of Brazilian states(Salomão & Camillo, 2016).

Region Brazilian


Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Set. Oct. Nov. Dec.
Northeast Bahia
Central-west Distrito Federal
Southeast São Paulo
Minas Gerais
North Acre

Picture source: PNG tree FR12.

General Description

Handroanthus impetiginosus is a large tree that lost all leaves before the flowering period. So, the tree present two stages: vegetative stage, with leaves and completely green (Figure 4) and a reprodutive stage coverd with pink-purple flowers (Figure 5). During the flowering period the tree higlight between other trees.

Figure 4. Mature Handroanthusimpeginosus tree before the flowering period. Source: UTDA Jardim BotânicoFR8.

Figure 5Handroanthusimpeginosus tree during the flowering period lost all leaves. Source: Natureza BelaFR3.



The tree is broadly used in urban landscape and arborism, as in reforestation of degraded areas (Salomão & Camillo, 2016). The ipê is a good choice because has resistance of dry soils and urban conditions. Other reason is because their ovaries feed birds (Figure 4) and helps maintain the urban fauna. For aesthetic purpose the tree show a completely flowery stage, that beauty is amazing, and colour the streets and parks (Figure 5). And when the flowers drop forming a beatiful pink-purple carpet in the floor (Figure 7). When planted in urban spaces the ipê needs space because is a large tree.

Figure 6. The parakeets eat ovaries’ Handroanthusimpeginosus and drop the flowers on the floor. Source: Natureza BelaFR3.

Figure 7. When the Handroanthusimpeginosus flowres drop and the floor became a beautiful pink carpet. Source: GeoviewFR7 by André Bonacim.


The purple ipê may be cultivate in clay and wet soil with good drainage, but can be adaptable of sandy soils. It is tolerant of water and light variations, but the plant prefers grow up in full sun. Young ipês can tolerate shading better than mature trees (Salomão & Camillo, 2016). The ipê can recover from frost, as long as it is light, temporary and fast (Campos Filho & Sartorelli, 2015), but they are not able to survive on snow seasons (Salomão & Camillo, 2016).


Shape: Irregular rounded.



The growth is low to moderate. The annual wood groth rate is 5.50 m3/ha/yr (in ideal conditions for development) (Campos Filho & Sartorelli, 2015).


ID Characteristic

Rounded terminal panicles, pink to purple flowers with yellow inner, and compound glossy leaf with 5 leaflets.



The purple ipê leaves can be affected with fungi Oidium sp. and Apiosphaeria guaranitica. The first fungus causes white spots in the upper leaf face (Figure 8), and the second causes spot leaf, necrosis and drop the leaves prematurely. Another fungus of the genus Aspergillus, Curvularia, Penicillium, Pestalotia and Fusarium can be detected in purple ipês seeds and disturb the germination and seedling health (Figure 9) (Salomão & Camillo, 2016). And the nematoide Meloidogyne arenaria causes root galls in purple ipês seedlings (Auer, 2001).

The solution for Oidium sp. are spraying fungicides in leaves, using alternative solution as baking soda or using biological control with Bacillus sp. For fungi on seeds are applying fungicide or using biological control with the fungi Trichoderma harzianum e/or Trichoderma viride, these fungi reduce the pathogens and not affect the seeds germination. For root galls are soil fumigation[2] and lifting the seedlings on greenhouse and avoid roof/soil contact (Auer, 2001).

Figure 8Handroanthus impetiginosus leaf affects by Oidium sp. Source: Auer (2001).

 Figure 9Handroanthus impetiginosus fruit with fungus. Source: Auer (2001).




Purple ipês can be found in rain forests, semi-deciduous forests and riparian forests. It is also found in broad-leaved forests in Uruguai (where it presents irregular and discontinuous distribution). In Brazil the species can be found in biomes as Amazon, Mata Atlântica, Cerrado, Pantanal and Caatinga (Salomão & Camillo, 2016).

Bark/Stem Descripition

The tree presents a thick dark brown to black bark colour (Figure 10). Is common presence of lichens. The wood is heavy and present high quality. The species is used to make furniture; constructions in general; making objects such as: ship parts, bridges, framing, billiard cue, cane, cutlery handle, fences; bowling ball; musical instruments; carpentry and others (Salomão & Camillo, 2016).

For the high wood extraction, the ipês growers need to adjust the management, because if the plant is used uncontrolled it may enter the list of endangered plants in the future (CNCFlora, 2012).

Figure 10Handroanthusimpeginosus trunk presents a thick bark. Source: Projeto VerdeFR2.



Flower/Leaf Bud Description

The flower bugs present light fawn colour, are hairly and has 5 to 8 mm long (Figure 11) (Salomão & Camillo, 2016).

Figure 11Handroanthusimpeginosus flower buds (yellow arrows). Source: Luiz Felipe PevarellaFR5.


Leaf Description

The leaves are compound with five unequal leaflets (Figure 12). They are in opposite arrangement on stem. Each leaflet present pinnate venation, from oblong to oval-oblong shape, rounded base, accuminate apex and entire margin. The leaf is glossy and the colour is dark green in upper face and light green and lower face (Salomão & Camillo, 2016).

Figure 12Handroanthusimpeginosus compound leaf, with five leaflets. Source: Projeto VerdeFR2.


Flower Description

The flowers are arranged as inflorescences (panicle type) on terminal stem part forming a “flowery ball” (Figure 13 and 14). The corolla[3] is pink-purple on outside and with yellow inner, measuring about 6 mm long (Figura 16). The corolla is gamopetalous, when the petals are welded, forming a tube in the lower part and in the part superior have cuts dividing the petals (Andreata & Travassos, 1994) (Figure 15). The calyx[4] has bell form and 5 to 8 mm long (Salomão & Camillo, 2016). The flower is complete[5], perfect[6] and the stamens are arranged morphological as didynamous[7] (Andreata & Travassos, 1994).

Figure 13Handroanthusimpeginosus flowers bunches form flowers balls. Source: Natureza BelaFR3.

Figure 14. Zoom on a single flower inflorescence of Handroanthusimpeginosus. Source: Projeto VerdeFR2.

Figure 15. Gamopetalous flowers show the weld petals forming a tube (black arrow) and the lobes forming the petals in the upper part (blue arrows). Source: Timblidim FR4.

Figure 16. Inside the Handroanthusimpeginosus flowers with emphasis on the reproduction system, is showing the female organs (red arrow) and male organs (blue arrows). Source: TimblidimFR4.

Fruit Description

Fruit capsule is linear, coriaceous, pointed with 25 to 30 cm long and 15 to 20 mm wide (Figure 17). When the flowers drop after 60 days the seeds are mature for dispersion. The seeds dispersion in Cerrado coincides with the firsts rains. The seeds are cordiform tending to oblong, smooth, lustrous and light brown colour. The seeds present winged at both extremeties with transparent light brown colour, with a central and elliptical seminiferous nucleus (Figure 18). And the size is around 14 to 50 mm long; 10 to 80 mm wide; and 1.7 ± 0.5 mm deep (Salomão & Camillo, 2016).

Figure 17Handroanthusimpeginosus fuits, in red rectangle emphasize the open mature fruits ready for seeds dispersion. Source: Mauricio MercadanteFR9.

Figure 18Handroanthusimpeginosus present winged seeds. Source: Projeto verdeFR2.

Texture Descripition

Bark texture is hard, heavy and resistent of attack of xylophagous organisms. And the wood texture is thin to medium (Salomão & Camillo, 2016).


Notable Specimens

In Brazil we can find notable specimes in places mentionated bellow (Salomão & Camillo, 2016):

  • “Área de Proteção Ambiental de Marituba do Peixe – Alagoas”;
    • Enviromental Protection Area of Marituba do Peixe – Alagoas;
  • “Estação Ecológica de Aiuaba – Ceará”;
    • Ecological Station of Aiuaba – Ceará;
  • “Estação Ecológica do Panga – Minas Gerais”;
    • Ecological Station of Panga – Minas Gerais;
  • “Floresta Nacional do Jamari – Rondônia”;
    • National Florest of Jamari – Rondônia;
  • “Parque Estadual do Pico do Jabr – Pernambuco”;
    • State Park of Pico do Jabr – Pernambuco;
  • “Parque Municipal do Bacaba – Mato Grosso”;
    • State Park of Bacaba – Mato Grosso;
  • “Parque Nacional da Serra da Capivara – Piauí”;
    • National Park of Serra da Capivara – Piauí;
  • “Parque Nacional do Itatiaia – Minas Gerais/Rio de Janeiro”;
    • National Park of Itatiaia – Minas Gerais/Rio de Janeiro;
  • “Parque Nacional do Monte Pascoal – Bahia”;
    • National Park of Monte Pascoal – Bahia;
  • “Reserva Biológica e Estação Experimental de Mogi Guaçu – São Paulo”;
    • Biological  Reserve and Experimental Station of Mogi Guaçu – São Paulo.



The reproduction of ipês can be sexual or asexual (with regrowth of branches and roots) (Salomão & Camillo, 2016). For the sexual reproduction, bees are the most popular pollinator of Handroanthus impetiginosus (Figure 19).Hummingbirds also pollinate when collect nectar into the flowers (Figure 20). Unfortunately, when the parakeets, other birds or animals eat the plant ovaries (Figure 5), the average of seeds production decrease about 50% (Schlindwein et al., 2014).

The asexual propagation by root cutting is also possible, and allows larger individuals to be obtained in the shortest time. But it is laborious and has as limiting aspect the small amount of cuttings that can be removed from the root system of each tree. This propagation on greenhouses require clay soil with high organic matter content and wet soil with good drainage (Salomão & Camillo, 2016).

The seeds not present dormancy (Frigieri et al., 2017) and can be storage until 150 days without lose the physiology quality. It is necessary decrease the moisture (never bigger than 12,5% moisture) (Salomão & Camillo, 2016) into the seeds for they will not consume the reserves before the time to germinate. The seeds need to be storage in plastic or craft bags and keep in constantly low temperatures (freezer or refrigerator) for maintain the viability (Ralph, 2017). For the seedling production on greenhouses with seeds, the same conditions cited before are required. They can be cultivating in control conditions (30C constantly) and the germination rate is around 70-80%. The germination occurs about 15 days after the planting. The seedling development is quickly, and the plant is ready with 4 months old. The young trees need to be supplement with phosphorus and nitrogen (Salomão & Camillo, 2016).

Figure 19. Bees, the main pollinator of Handroanthusimpeginosus. Source: Luiz Felipe PevarellaFR5.

Figure 20. The hummingbirds also pollinate the Handroanthusimpeginosus. Source: Flavio Curvinel BrandãoFR6.

 Ethnobotanical Uses

In the Brazilian folk medicine, the infusion of Handroanthus impetiginosus bark is used as astringent, analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, diuretic, febrile, immunostimulant, laxative, depurative, antianemic, anti-allergic, anticoagulant. As used as biological insecticide (Salomão & Camillo, 2016). For these reasons  there are a lot of researches about the Handroanthus impetiginous medicinal potential for diseases. The main substances isolated from ipê are the quinones lapachol and -lapachone. Researchers study the relation between the quinone and anticancer effects (Hussain & Green, 2017) by inducing apoptosis[8] . Unfortunately the isoled quinones presents a high toxicity (Silva, Ferreira & Souza, 2013) but this can be solve removing the methylene from the isoprenoid chain (Araujo, Alencar & Rolim Neto, 2002).




FR1  Handroanthus imoetiginosus in Flora do Brasil 2020 under construction. Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro. Retrievied from Accessed on: Oct. 12, 2018

FR2 Handroanthus imoetiginosus  in Projeto Verde. Retrievied from Accessed on: Oct. 10, 2018.

FR3 Handroanthus imoetiginosus in Natureza Bela. Retrievied from Accessed on: Oct. 12, 2018.

FR4 Handroanthus imoetiginosus in Timblidim. Retrievied from Accessed: Oct. 10, 2018.

FR5 Handroanthus imoetiginosus in Flickar, photographer Luiz Felipe Pevarella. Retrievied from Accessed on: Oct. 12, 2018.

FR6 Handroanthus imoetiginosus in Flickar, photographer Flavio Curvinel Brandão. Retrievied from Accessed on: Oct. 12, 2018.

FR7 Handroanthus imoetiginosus in Geoview, photographer André Bonacim. Retrievied from,57424039p Accessed on: Oct. 12, 2018.

FR8 Handroanthus imoetiginosus in UTDA Jardim Botânico. Retrievied from Accessed on: Oct. 12, 2018.

FR9 Handroanthus imoetiginosus in Flickar, photographer Mauricio Mercadante. Retrievied from Accessed on: Oct. 12, 2018.

FR10 Hardiness ratings in Royal Horticulture Society. Retrievied from Accessed on: Oct. 12, 2018.

FR11 USDA hardiness temperatures. Retrieved from

Accessed on: Oct. 12, 2018.

FR12 Handroanthus imoetiginosus in PNG tree. Tetrieved from Accessed on: Nov. 21, 2018.

[1] An indigenous language of Brazil.

[2] Chemical substances used in gaseous state for eradicate insects, fungus, nematodes, etc.

[3] Set of petals (Capon, 2010);

[4] Set of sepals (Capon, 2010);

[5] Present all flower structures: sepals, petals, stamen and pistil (Capon, 2010);

[6] Has both stamen and pistil in the same flower (Capon, 2010);

[7] When the flower presents 4 stamens, being 2 bigger and 2 smaller (Andreata & Travassos, 1994).

[8] Cell death.

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