Palo Brasil

Simira cordifolia

Orden: Order: Rubiales

Familia: Family: Rubiaceae

Género: Genus: Simira

Especie: Species: Cordifolia

Nombres comunes: Common names: Palo brasil, pau brasil, pernambuco, menekúu.

Parte de la planta que se usa para el pigmento: Part of the plant used for pigment: Bark

Color: Pink

Palo brasil pigment on paper. 102 x 68 cm

Herbarium. Dried Palo brasil leaves, sewn on rice paper.
77 x 57 cm. 2013.

Monotype on rice paper made from the dried Palo brasil leaves.
100 x 65 cm. 2013.



Palo brasil. Leticia, Colombia, 2011.

Descripción general

General Description

A fairly large tree, which grows up to 20 meters in height. The leaves are oblong and are found in the uppermost part of the tree. The tree has a smooth bark, and branches located high on the trunk. Its small, white and beige, bell-shaped flowers cluster at the ends of each branch. Its round, fleshy fruits are opaque in color.

Palo brasil. Leticia, Colombia, 2011.

Distribución geográfica
e historia natural

Geographic Distribution
and Natural History

Distributed in tropical America, especially in the Amazon basin. Grows in warm climates and middle and lower mountain areas. This is not a common tree and it is generally found within the forest.

Color extraction process from the bark of the Palo brasil. Leticia, Colombia, 2011.



Palo brasil’s timber is highly prized, used for building numerous objects. Indigenous communities in the Colombian, Peruvian and Ecuadorian Amazon value this tree because of its pigment, which is used to dye fibers for handbags and hammocks. The high regard and demand for timber have resulted in it becoming a threatened species.



A range of pink and red tones is obtained after macerating the internal bark of this tree. palo brasil’s color sets well on paper, but not so well on cotton, on which it adheres only mildly. Long periods of exposure to fire are needed for it to set well on fique (natural fiber). Due to the nature of extraction —which requires cutting fragments of the bark of a scarce species—the tree was used as little as possible.

Extracción + teñido

Extraction + dyeing