The Impressive Espave Tree


This majestic tree, best known as the “espavé”, is one of 22 species of native Costa Rican trees that we plant along our Naranjo River Biological Corridor.  Espavel can be easily recognized by its extremely heavy trunk and dense foliage.  Its common name comes from the Spanish saying “es pa ver”, meaning “to see”.  This came from natives and explorers of the region, who would climb this remarkably tall tree for use as a look-out.

The fruits of the espavé are kidney-shaped, similar to a cashew nut.  They are an abundant and important food source for the wild fauna, especially for the Titi Monkeys who often stop to enjoy a feast.  The sweet-flavored nuts can also be consumed by humans when the seed coat is mature.

When talking to Titi Conservation Alliance Forestry Engineer, Juan Pablo Aguero, he had the following to say about this impressive and important tree:

The largest of the espavé trees that I have come across was in the town of  Naranjito, on the edge of the Paquita River along the property of Carlos Luis Aryan.  This particular tree stood 25 meters high, and 3 meters in diameter!  Data showed this magnificent tree to be about 300 years old, making it the witness of thousands of events and changes in the area, and pronouncing it the grandfather of the local species.


Family: Anacardiaceae

Scientific Name: Anacardium excelsum

Common Name: Espavé, espavel, rabito

To learn more about the Rio Naranjo Biological Corridor project, please visit our website at


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