Brazil, National flower?

jkirkbri at ASRR.ARSUSDA.GOV jkirkbri at ASRR.ARSUSDA.GOV
Sun Jun 11 08:53:54 EST 1995

I was a professor of botany at the Universidade de Brasi'lia from 1979 to 
1984.  During that period I had the same question put to me by Dick 
Eyde then in the Department of Botany of the Smithsonian Institution.  I 
went around to various goverment offices in Brasi'lia, and I got the 
following answers:

1)  ipe^ amarelo was the flower national, unofficially, what ever that 
means.  Ipe^ amarelo is the common name for a large number of species of 

2) rama de cafe' [a branch from the coffee plant] was the symbol of 
governmental power in Brasil.

3) pau-brasil is officially the national tree.  I have a copy of LEI N. 
6.607 - de 7 de dezembro de 1978, Declara o pau-brasil a'rvore nacional, 
instituti o Dia do Pau-Brasil, e da' outras provide^ncias.  This short 
law declares pau-brasil (Caesalpinia echinata Lam.) to be the national 
tree of Brasil.  This is an excellent choice because this is one proposed 
origin for the name of the country, Brasil.  It was also one of the very 
first exports from Brasil to Europe.  The bark of the tree was exported 
to Europe for use as a red dye, its common name was pau-brasil, therefore 
the place it came from was called Brasil.  It was common in the Atlantic 
forests, but it is almost totally extinct in the wild now.  It is widely 
cultivated in Brasil.  A number of them are growing in Brasi'lia, but they 
have to be watered during the dry season to do well.

Joseph H. Kirkbride, Jr.
USDA, Agricultural Research Service
Systematic Botany and Mycology Laboratory
Room 304, Building 011A, BARC-West
Beltsville, Maryland 20705-2350 USA
Voice telephone: 301-504-9447
FAX: 301-504-5810
Internet: jkirkbri at

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