Wood Taxonomy

Descriptions of Major Wood Groups, Genera, Generic Groups & Species

Harry A. Alden, Ph.D., Alden Identification Service, 2021

cf – In biological naming conventions, cf. is commonly placed between the genus name and the species name to describe a specimen that is hard to identify because of practical difficulties, such insufficient sample size. For example, “Dalbergia cf. odorifera” (Huang-hua-li) indicates that the specimen is in the genus Dalbergia (Rosewoods) and believed to be Dalbergia odorifera, but the actual species-level identification cannot be certain.

Woods are listed alphabetically by Common/Trade Names.

Hardwoods

The term hardwood is a general term for flowering trees (Angiosperms) that usually have broad leaves that are shed (deciduous) and produce fruits. The term originated as a description of the hardness of the wood, although there are some soft hardwoods like Balsa (Ochroma spp.).

Abura/Aubura (Mitragyna ciliata/Rubiaceae) is a genus composed of about 10 species native to the old World Tropics. Mainly West Africa from Sierra Leone to the Congo region and Angola, gregarious in freshwater swamps. Other common names include M’Boy (Sierra Leone, Liberia), Bahia (Ivory Coast), Baya, Subah (Ghana), Elolom (Cameroon), Elelom (Gabon), Vuku, M’Voukou (Zaire), Nzingu or Nazingu (Zambia, Uganda). The tree reaches heights of over 100 ft with boles straight and clear to 60 ft, usually free from buttresses with a trunk diameter 3 to 5 ft

The heartwood is uniform light yellow or pinkish brown with a wide sapwood that is not usually differentiated. Its texture is fine and even with the grain being moderately straight to interlocked or spiral. It has a low luster, sometimes with gum veins that appear as dark streaks. The freshly cut timber has an unpleasant odor. The basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) is 0.45 with an air-dry density of 34 pounds per cubic foot. It works well with both hand and machine tools and takes a good finish if cutters are kept sharp. However blunting is slight to severe because of silica and it is easy to glue and veneers easily. The heartwood is neither durable nor resistant to termites and the sapwood is liable to powder-post beetle attack. It is used for furniture components, joinery, domestic flooring, plywood and carving. The leaves of some species are medicinal, with some having psychoactive properties (when smoked) similar to opium.

Mitragyna inermis wood (aka Djou, Diou, Dioumo, Intyu and Shero) is used for Koran boards.

Amendoim or Viraro (Pterogyne nitens)

Family: Leguminosae

Other Common Names: Amendoim, Ibiraro, Pau fava (Brazil), Guiaro, Ibiraro, Viraro, (Argentina).

Distribution: Argentina, southern Paraguay, and Brazil; scattered occurrence.

The Tree: Attains a maximum height of over 100 ft but more commonly not over 75 ft with a well formed trunk, diameter 2 to 3 ft, exceptionally 4 ft.

The Wood:

General Characteristics: Heartwood reddish brown suggesting mahogany often with darker striping; not sharply demarcated from the yellowish-brown sapwood.  Luster medium to high; texture medium; grain often roey; without distinctive odor or taste.

Weight: Basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) 0.66; air-dry density 50 pcf.

Mechanical Properties: (2-cm standard)

Moisture content   Bending strength   Modulus of elasticity   Maximum crushing strength

            (%)                  (Psi)              (1,000 psi)                      (Psi)

Green (30)                   11,900                         1,610                           5,650

15%                                         16,900                 NA                                      7,660

Janka side hardness for green material 1,340 lb.  Amsler toughness 354 in.-lb.  at 15% moisture content (2-cm specimen).

Drying and Shrinkage: No data available on drying characteristics or on kiln schedules.  Shrinkage green to ovendry: radial 3.4%; tangential 6.0%; volumetric 10.0%.  Reported to hold its place well after manufacture.

Working Properties: Rather easily worked and finishing very smoothly.

Durability: Reported to be fairly durable.

Preservation: No information available.

Uses: Fine furniture and cabinet work, turnery, interior trim, cooperage, and steam bent work.

Additional Reading: (30), (56), (69)

30.  Instituto de Pesquisas Tecnologicas.  1956.  Tabelas de resultados obtidos para madeiras nacionais.  Bol.  Inst.  Pesqu.  tec.  Sao Paulo No.  31.

56.  Record, S. J., and R. W. Hess.  1949.  Timbers of the new world.  Yale University Press, New Haven,             Conn.

69.  Tortorelli, L. A. 1956.  Maderas y bosques argentinos.  Editorial Acme S.A.C.I. Maipu 92, Buenos             Aires.

From: Chudnoff, Martin. 1984. Tropical Timbers of the World. USDA Forest Service. Ag. Handbook No. 607.

            Andaman Satinwood [Murraya paniculata (L.) Jack/Rutaceae] is also known as atal, azabar de la India, azahar, azahar de jardin, banaasi, banate, banati, banmallika, bibsar, bibzar, bilgar, birijugi, bois buis, ,bois de chine, bois jasmin, boj de Persia, boxwood, buis de Chine, buis de Inde, bun, Burmese box, cafe de la India, cao iy vong, cay nguyet, chaljuti, chalcas, Chinese box, Chinese boxwood, Chinese myrtle, citronera, common jasmine orange, cosmetic bark-tree, dhodamahulia, dogwood, ekangi, ganarenu, harkankali, Hawaiian mockorange, honey bush, jasmine orange, jazmin de Arabia, jazmin de Persia, jazmin frances, juti, juti mersolo, kada-kongi-cheddi, kamenee, kamini, kamoening, kamuning, karepaku, karibevu, kariveppilai, kemouning, kemukampong, kemulada, kemuneng, kemuning, keo, konji, kunti, limonaria, limoncillo, maraya, marchi, marchula, marchulajuti, marsan, meke, mirto, mockorange, moksongayok, muralera, muramamsi, murraya, naga golunga, nagagolunga, naranjillo, naranjo jazmin, nguyet qui, nguyet-qui-tau, orange jasmine, orange-jessamine, pandari, pandhri, pandry, panjandali, pondoka, reket-berar, rosenjasmin, satinwood, simaikkonji, thanatka, vangarai, and yazana.

            Murraya is a genus of flowering plants in the citrus family, Rutaceae. It is distributed in Asia, Australia, and the Pacific Islands. The center of diversity is in southern China and Southeast Asia. The genus name commemorates the 18th-century German-Swedish herbal doctor Johan Andreas Murray, a student of Linnaeus.[Wikipedia]

            The genus is composed of 12 species native to China, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Philippines, Indonesia, the Andaman Islands, Indochina and Malaysia. It has been extensively planted in Africa, Australia and South America. It is a shrub to small tree, reaching heights of 25 ft w/diameters of 2.5 feet.

            The sapwood is light yellow, with light brown heartwood. The wood is hard, heavy and fine textured, which makes it suitable for small turned articles, engraving plates, and furniture. Its other uses include traditional medicine and ceremonies, components of cosmetic ingredients and perfume.

African Walnut (Lovoa trichiliodes Harms/Meliaceae syn. L. klaineana ) is native to It is found in Angola, Cameroon, the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and Uganda. Other common names include Lovoa, Mpengwa (Ghana), Anamemila, Apopo, Sida (Nigeria), Bombulu (Zaire), Dibetou (Gabon, Ivory Coast), Congowood, Tigerwood (United States). It is native to West Tropical Africa from Sierra Leone to Gabon; occurs in evergreen and deciduous forests, preferring moist sites, tends to be gregarious. The tree may attain heights of 150 feet with boles straight and cylindrical and clear to 60 to 90 feet. Trunk diameters to 4 feet above short buttresses.

The heartwood is a yellowish brown, sometimes marked with dark streaks or veins; sapwood buff or light gray, narrow, clearly demarcated.  Texture fine to medium; grain usually interlocked with an attractive ribbon figure; lustrous cedar like scent. Basic specific gravity (oven dry weight/green volume) 0.45; air-dry density 34 pounds per cubic foot. It is easy to work but sharp tools are required to avoid tearing, particularly when machining quartersawn faces. The heartwood is rated as moderately durable, liable to dry-wood termite attack.  Sapwood liable to powder-post beetle attack. Heartwood is rated as extremely resistant to preservative treatments; sapwood is moderately resistant.

Uses: Furniture and cabinetwork, decorative veneers, paneling, joinery, shop fixtures, gunstocks.

From: Chudnoff, Martin. 1984. Tropical Timbers of the World. USDA Forest Service. Ag. Handbook No. 607.

Afzelia/Lingue (Afzelia africana /Leguminosae) is native to West, Central, and East Africa.  It occurs in the dense evergreen forests but also common in the savanna and coastal forests of East Africa. It is also known as: Doussie (Cameroons), Apa, Aligna (Nigeria), Mkora, Mkola, Mbambakofi (Tanzania), Chanfuta, Mussacossa (Mozambique), Beyo, Meli, Azza (Uganda). The tree reaches best development on moist sites with heights of 80 to 120 ft and clear boles 30 to 50 ft; trunk diameters 3 to 5 ft and more; large irregular buttresses sometimes present. The wood is characterized as having heartwood of reddish brown after exposure, with sapwood of pale straw to whitish and well defined.  Its texture is moderate to coarse and a grain that is straight to interlocked with a medium luster but without characteristic odor or taste.  Some pores contain a yellow dyestuff which, under moist conditions, can discolor textiles, paper, or other cellulosic materials. Its basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) is 0.67 with an air-dry density of 51 pounds per cubic foot.

Afzelia is rather difficult to saw and machine because of rapid dulling of saw teeth and cutters but works to a smooth finish, although there is some tearing of grain on radial faces.  It is difficult to stain where pores contain yellow deposits.  It is classified as moderate in wood bending properties.  The dust may be irritating.  It is also difficult to glue. It is used for exterior joinery (window frames, doors), flooring, heavy construction including harbor and dock work, furniture, and because of good acid resistance used for vats and tanks.

Additional Reading:

Bolza, E., and W. G. Keating.  1972.  African timbers-the properties, uses, and characteristics of 700 species. CSIRO. Div. of Build. Res., Melbourne, Australia.

Farmer, R. H. 1972.  Handbook of hardwoods.  H. M. Stationery Office. London.

Lavers, G. M. 1967.  The strength properties of timbers. For. Prod. Res. Bul. No. 50. H. M. Stationery Office. London.

Tanzania: Util. Div. For. Dep. 1966. Timbers of Tanganyika: Afzelia  quazensis Moshi.

From: Chudnoff, Martin. 1984. Tropical Timbers of the World. USDA Forest Service. Ag. Handbook No. 607.

Alder (Alnus spp./Betulaceae) is represented by 20 to 30 species, with 15 species in North and Tropical America and 15 species in Eurasia. All species look alike microscopically. The wood may superficially resemble Birch (Betula spp.). The word alnus is the classical Latin name of alder.

The tree-size, commercial species are:

North AmericaEurope
Common NameScientific NameCommon NameScientific Name
Red AlderAlnus rubraItalian AlderAlnus cordata
  European AlderAlnus glutinosa
  Grey AlderAlnus incana

Red Alder (Alnus rubra and A. incana) is the only commercial species in North America. Red alder is the most common hardwood in the Pacific Northwest and the largest of the American alders. It is a fast-growing, pioneer species and has nitrogen-fixing nodules on its roots. The wood is diffuse porous, moderately light, and soft. Red Alder wood was used for carved masks in the Pacific Northwest Region (Moerman) & in North East Asia, especially traditional Korean masks (National Museum of Korea & Cyber Tal Museum).

European Alder (Alnus glutinosa) is a tree that reaches heights of 90 feet, with butt diameters of 4 feet. It was used for heavy structural purposes, veneers, 18th C cabinetry (Sweden), marquetry (France & Germany), turned articles and small cabinetry (England), rural chairs and tables (Northern England and Scotland). [From: F. Lewis Hinckley’s Directory of The Historic Cabinet Woods]

General Uses: A good wood for carving, allegedly used in Stradivarius violins, also used for clogs, gunpowder charcoal and (because of its resistance to decay under water) the pilings of Venice. 

More Ethnographic Information:

Dan Moerman – http://herb.umd.umich.edu/

Compton, Brian Douglas 1993 Upper North Wakashan and Southern Tsimshian Ethnobotany: The Knowledge and Usage of Plants…. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of British Columbia (p. 86)

Turner, Nancy Chapman and Marcus A. M. Bell 1973 The Ethnobotany of the Southern Kwakiutl Indians of British Columbia. Economic Botany 27:257-310 (p. 296)

Turner, Nancy J., John Thomas, Barry F. Carlson and Robert T. Ogilvie 1983 Ethnobotany of the Nitinaht Indians of Vancouver Island. Victoria. British Columbia Provincial Museum (p. 98)

            Andiroba/Crabwood (Carapa guianensis / Meliaceae) is also known as: Cedro macho (Costa Rica), Bateo (Panama), Mazabalo (Colombia), Carapa (Venezuela), Krapa (Surinam), Figueroa, Tangare (Ecuador), Andiroba (Peru, Brazil). It occurs in the West Indies from Cuba to Trinidad and from Honduras south through Central America, the Guianas, and into Brazil, Colombia, and Peru, and the overflow delta lands of the Orinoco in Venezuela; often occurs in pure stands; a lowland species but also at high altitudes along rivers. The tree grows to heights of 80 to 100 ft. with diameters 2 to 3 ft; Old growth trees sometimes attain diameters up to 6 ft and heights of 170 ft.  The buttresses are low, leaving a clear bole length of 50 ft or more and main stems are straight and clear.

            The heartwood is a light salmon to reddish brown when fresh, becoming darker when dry, but the color may be very variable. The sapwood is pinkish turning pale brown or grayish but not always sharply demarcated from heartwood. The texture varies from fine to coarse, with a variable luster ranges and a grain that is usually straight but sometimes roey. The basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) is 0.56 and the air-dry density 41 pounds per cubic foot. It can be worked with machine and hand tools. It is reported to be somewhat harder to machine than mahogany and has a tendency to split when nailed. It glues and screws well and peels well for veneer. Its durability is very variable, as laboratory tests report both high and low resistance to brown- and white-rot fungi. It also is reported to be resistant or poorly resistant to decay in the ground and to be very susceptible to dry-wood termite attack. It is also vulnerable to powder-post beetle attack.  It is comparable to mahogany in weathering properties. It is used for all types of construction where durability is not a factor; furniture and cabinet work, flooring, joinery, millwork, veneer and plywood, and turnery.

Additional Reading:

Longwood, F. R. 1962.  Present and potential commercial timbers of the Caribbean. Agriculture Handbook             No.  207.  U.S.  Department of Agriculture.

Wangaard, F. F., and A. F. Muschler.  1952.  Properties and uses of tropical woods, III. Tropical Woods             98:1-190.

Modified From: Chudnoff, Martin. 1984. Tropical Timbers of the World. USDA Forest Service. Ag. Handbook No. 607.

Amburana or Ishpingo (Amburana cearensis syn.  A. acreana/ Leguminosae), also known as Cerejeira, Cumare, Cumaru (Brazil), Palo trebol, Robe del pais (Argentina), Ishpingo (Peru) is widely distributed in the dry regions of Brazil and northern Argentina In Peru found in the tropical dry regions of the Huanuco Department on deep well- drained soils. The tree is over 100 ft in height and 2 to 3 ft in diameter, sometimes to 5 ft with cylindrical boles and flutes to 3 ft.

            The wood has a yellowish or light brown heartwood with a slight orange hue, darkening somewhat on exposure, not sharply demarcated from sapwood.  Its texture is medium to coarse with a medium to high luster. The grain is interlocked and irregular; with mild to distinct scent and taste of cumarin or vanilla. It also has a rather waxy appearance and feel. Its basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) averages about 0.55; 0.43 reported from Peru with air-dry density range about 38 to 47 pounds per cubic foot. It is easy to work with machine or hand tools, and there can be some difficulty in planing due to the interlocked grain. It is reported to have good resistance to attack by decay fungi and insects.

It is used for construction, furniture, decorative veneers, and other applications requiring an attractive and dimensionally stable wood.

            Ash (Fraxinus spp./Oleaceae) is composed of 40 to 70 species, with 21 in Central and North America and 50 species in Eurasia. All species look alike microscopically except for Manchurian Ash (F. mandshurica)*. The commercial ashes are, to my knowledge:

Eastern North AmericaEurope
Common NameScientific NameCommon NameScientific Name
Black AshF. nigra                    Common AshF. excelsior
Blue AshF. quadrangulata            Flowering AshF. ornus
Green AshF. pennsylvanica             Narrow-Leaved AshF. angustifolia
Pumpkin AshF. profunda  
White AshF. americana                   

*Manchurian Ash (Fraxinus mandshurica Rupr./Oleaceae) also known as ash, Asiatic ash, ‘Chinese Oak’, curly ash, damo, frassino giapponese, frene du Japon, fresno japones, Japanese ash, Japanse es, japansk ask, mandschurische esche, shioji, tamo, ya chidamo, and yachi-damo.  It is native to northeastern Asia in northern China, Korea, Japan and southeastern Russia. It is a medium-sized to large tree reaching heights of 30 m , with a trunk diameter of  up to 50 cm.

            Aspen/Cottonwood/True Poplar Group, the genus Populus (family Salicaceae), is a group of 35 species that contains Poplar, Cottonwood and Aspen. Species in this group are native to Eurasia/north Africa (25), Central America (2) and North America (8). All species look alike microscopically. This group is not to be confused with Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), that is commonly used in American Colonial Furniture.

Eastern North American SpeciesEuropean Species
Common NameScientific NameCommon NameScientific Name
Balsam PoplarP. balsamiferaAspenP.  tremula
Bigtooth AspenP. grandidentataBalsam PoplarP. gileadensis
Eastern CottonwoodP. deltoidesBlack PoplarP. nigra
Quaking AspenP. tremuloidesGray PoplarP. canescens
Swamp CottonwoodP. heterophyllaWhite PoplarP. alba

Beefwoods is a generic term for a number of Australian Hardwoods w/a red color.

Common NameScientific NameNative To:
CornbeefwoodBarringtonia spp.Northern Australia/New Guinea
Java CedarBischofia javanicaSE Asia/Australia
Horsetail BeefwoodCasuarina equisetifoliaNorthern Australia/ SE Asia
Brazilian BeefwoodCasuarina glaucaNorthern Australia/ SE Asia
Cunningham’s BeefwoodCasuarina cunninghamianaNorthern Australia/ SE Asia
Narrow-leaved BeefwoodGrevillea parallelaAustralia
Western BeefwoodGrevillea striataAustralia
White BeefwoodOrites excelsaAustralia
Scrub BeefwoodStenocarpus salignusAustralia
White BeefwoodStenocarpus sinuatusAustralia

Horsetail Beefwood (Casuarina equisetifolia L./Casuarinaceae) also known as Australian Pine, Beach Sheoak, Common Ironwood, is native to Northern Australia and southeastern Asia. The 3 commercial species of Casuarina listed above are antomically distinct from each other.

It is fast growing and reaches heights of 30m and can grow 2-3m per year. It (and the other Casuarina species listed above) is currently used for charcoal, containers, flooring, light construction, industrial and domestic woodware, particleboard, sawn or hewn building timbers, tool handles, turnery, and veneers.

Historically (F. Lewis Hinckley, 1960, p.144) Austalian Beefwood, specifically C. equisetifolia is the most important timber of the Beefwood group. He mentions its color as strong red to very darks reds to browns. It was used in furniture up to the end of the 18thC in Cape Colony, imported from New South Wales into England and used in turnery and veneers for bordering, small cabinets, brush backs and Tunbridgeware.

Bagpipe Woods

African Blackwood (Dalbergia melanoxylon)

African Tambootie (Spirostachys africana)

Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens)

Burmese Blackwood (Dalbergia cultrata)

Cocuswood (Brya ebenus)

Cocobolo (Dalbergia retusa)

East Indian Rosewood (Dalbergia latifolia)

Ebony (Diospyros spp.)

Fossilized Bogwood (various taxa)*

Fruitwoods: (apple, pear, almond, and plum)*

Katalox (Swartzia cubensis)

Laburnum (Laburnum anagyroides)*

Leadwood (Combretum imberbe)

Mopane (Colophospermum mopane)

Thorn (Crataegus spp.)*

Yew (Taxus baccata)*

*Traditional Local Woods

Balata or Bulletwood (Manilkara bidentata/Sapotaceae), also known as Chicozapote (Mexico), Ausubo (Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic), Nispero (Panama), Beefwood (Guyana), Bolletri (Surinam), Balata rouge (French Guiana), Macaranduba (Brazil). Balata is widely distributed throughout the West Indies, Central America, and northern South America; occurs in many forest types and not exacting as to soil or topography.  Locally frequent. Well-formed tree reaching heights of 100 to 150 ft and diameters of 2 to 4 ft, occasionally up to 6 ft or more.  Boles straight and clear to 60 ft, often basally swollen.

            The heartwood of Balata is light to dark reddish brown, distinct but not sharply demarcated from the whitish or pale brown sapwood.  Texture fine and uniform luster low to medium; grain straight to occasionally slightly wavy or interlocked; without distinctive odor or taste. Basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) is 0.85; air-dry density is 66 pounds per cubic foot

Balata or bulletwood is generally reported to be a difficult wood to air-season, tending to develop severe checking and warp.  However, if piled to assure a slow rate of drying, degrade can be kept to a minimum.  A kiln schedule similar to T1-B1 has been suggested.  Shrinkage green to ovendry: radial 6.3%; tangential 9.4%; volumetric 16.9%.

             The wood is moderately easy to work despite its high density, rated good to excellent in all operations.  Gluing requires special care to acquire good bond.  Steam-bending properties are rated excellent. It is very resistant to attack by decay fungi; highly resistant to subterranean termites and moderately resistant to dry-wood termites.  Not resistant to marine borer attack. It has a high resistance to absorption of moisture and is also highly resistant to preservation treatments.

            It is used for heavy construction, textile and pulp mill equipment, furniture parts, turnery, tool handles, flooring, boat frames and other bent work, railway crossties, violin bows, billiard cues, and other specialty uses.  Also well known for its yield of balata or gutta-percha collected from tapped trees.

Additional Reading:

Falla Ramirez, A. 1971.  Resultados de los estudios fisico-mecanicos de 41 especies maderables de la region Carare-Opon.  Plegable Divulgativo, Division Forestal. INDERENA, Bogata.

 Food and Agriculture Organization.  1970. Estudio de preinversion para el desarrollo forestal de la Guyana Venezolana.  lnforme final. Tomo III. Las madera del area del proyecto.  FAO Report FAO/SF: 82 VEN 5. Rome.

 Longwood, F. R. 1962.  Present and potential commercial timbers of the Caribbean.  Agriculture Handbook No. 207. U.S. Department of Agriculture.

 Wangaard, F. F., and A. F. Muschler. 1952. Properties and uses of tropical woods, III. Tropical Woods 98:1-190.

From: Chudnoff, Martin. 1984. Tropical Timbers of the World. USDA Forest Service. Ag. Handbook No. 607.

            Basswood/Lime (Tilia spp./Tiliaceae), also known as Lime or Linden in England and Europe, consists of 30 to 35 species native to Eurasia(30) and North America(4). All species look alike microscopically.  American Basswood (Tilia americana) currently grows in the northeast US from Minnesota to Maine and from the Virginia Appalachians to southwest Missouri. The European Linden (Tilia europaea) is native to Russia, Austria, Germany, France, the Netherlands and England. It was a favorite wood for English antique carvings, such as those by Grinling Gibbons. Basswood is also used as a secondary wood in furniture, as a ground for inlay and japanning work. It is currently used for veneer, plywood, trunk panels, valise panels, core stock, slack cooperage, excelsior, boxes and crates, woodenware, novelties, shade and map rollers and piano keys.

Eastern North AmericaEurope
Common NameScientific NameCommon NameScientific Name
American BasswoodT. americanaBroad-Leaved LimeT. platyphyllos
Carolina BasswoodT. carolinianaCommon LimeT. vulgaris
  European LindenT. europaea
  Silver LimeT. tomentosa
  Small-Leaved LimeT. cordata

            Beech (Fagus spp./Fagaceae) contains 8 species that grow in Asia (4), Europe (F. sylvatica) and North America (F. grandifolia). All species look alike microscopically.

Eastern North AmericaEurope
Common NameScientific NameCommon NameScientific Name
American BeechF. grandifoliaBeechF. sylvatica

Berangan (Castanopsis spp. Family: Fagaceae)

            Other Common Names: Philippine chestnut (Philippines), Indian chestnut (India), Thite (Burma).

            Distribution: Widely distributed from India into Upper Burma, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

            The Tree: Varies with species, often of poor form and with diameters of about 24 in.; sometimes with diameters up to 45 in. and fairly straight boles 40 ft in length. Trees 100 ft in height are reported from the Philippines.

            The Wood:

            General Characteristics: Heartwood light yellowish brown, grayish brown, or dark brown, varying with species; sapwood yellowish, light brown, sometimes sharply demarcated. Texture mostly rather coarse; grain fairly straight to interlocked; may be lustrous when first cut; without distinctive odor or taste when dry.

            Weight: Basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) varies with species but mostly 0.50; air-dry density 42 pounds per cubic foot.

            Drying and Shrinkage: Generally reported to season well, timbers tend to end split if the pith is boxed. No data available on kiln schedules or shrinkage values.

            Working Properties: Mostly reported as easy to work and saw; takes a good finish; easy to split.

            Durability: Susceptible to attack by decay fungi and termites. Sapwood vulnerable to powder-post beetles.

            Preservation: Sapwood penetration is reported to be good, but heartwood penetration is slight and streaky. Absorption of preservative oils using pressure-vacuum systems is about 5.5 pounds per cubic foot.

            Uses: General construction work under cover, furniture components, some species are used for shingles.

FROM:Tropical Timbers of the World, Martin Chudnoff, Forest Products Technologist (retired), Forest Products Laboratory, Madison, Wis.,United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service,Agriculture Handbook Number 607,September 1984

            Birch (Betula spp./Betulaceae) is composed of 30 to 50 species growing in Asia (12), North America (4) and Europe (4). All species look alike microscopically.  The common commercial species are to my knowledge:

Eastern North AmericaEurope
Common NameScientific NameCommon NameScientific Name
Gray BirchB. populifoliaHairy BirchB. pubescens
Paper BirchB. papyriferaSilver BirchB. pendula
River BirchB. nigra  
Sweet BirchB. lenta  
Yellow BirchB. alleghaniensis  
Western North AmericaAsia 
Alaska Birch          B. neoalaska Water Birch           B. occidentalis Paper Birch           B. papyrifera Swamp Birch        B. pumila  52 Species See URL below     

            Black Manariballi (Parkia nitida Family: Leguminosae-Mimosoideae) is one species of about 40 in the genus Parkia. It is native to southern Panama and the northern half of South America [in the pluvial (seasonally flooded) forests of the Amazon, in the south of Paraná, west of Venezulea, Guianas and Brazil].

            Other common names include: acacia male, ajoewa, arapary branco, arara tucupi, bengue, bois balle, bosch-tamari, caro montanero, dodomissinga, faveira, faveira benguê faveira branca, goma pashaco, goma-pashaca, ipanai, kasoeto, kosing, kwatakama, loeloe-oe, oeloeloe-oe, oeroeroe-oe, oja, oja oeja, pakida-tamen, tamoene oeloeloe, tanarinde, tontoaoua, tontoe awha, ululu, uya and visgueiro.

            Black Manariballi trees can grow to 20-35 m tall with straight, cylindrical trunks and wrinkly bark. The wood of Black Manariballi is light and soft with a creamy white color, turning light brown or gray over time. It works well with tools, and has a medium texture and poor durability. It requires a moderate drying schedule to prevent distortion.

            Weight

  Weight
Moisture contentSpecific gravitylb/ft3kg/m3
12%  47a
Ovendry0.499b  

                                aReference (1) bReference (2)

            Mechanical Properties

Property – DryRef #1Ref #2
MOE11.5 GPa5.197 GPa
MOR67 MPa109.63 MPa
C| | 54.63 MPa
Crushing Strength38 MPa 
Monnin Hardness 2.32.63
Shear| | 6.70

            Drying and shrinkage

 Percentage of shrinkage (Green to final moisture content = 12%)
Type of shrinkageRef #1Ref #2
Tangential2.84.33
Radial7.07.36
Volumetric0.430.36

            The wood of Black Manariballi is used for veneer for interior plywood, form work, boxes and crates, interior joinery and paneling, furniture components, molding, block board, fiber or particle boards, toys, roofing material and fire wood. The bark is used medicinally.

References Cited

  1. CIRAD Forestry Department. 2003. Technical Information Sheet. TROPIX 5.0, 2pp.
  2. Eyma, F. et al. 2004. Study of the properties of thirteen tropical wood species to improve the prediction of cutting forces in mode B. Ann. For. Sci. 61:55-64.

Black Mangrove [Bruguiera gymnorhiza (L.) / Rhizophoraceae] is one of six species native from eastern Africa to the Pacific Ocean. Other common names include: adages, adegis, alol, bakau, bakau mata buaya, bakau minyak, berus kurong, berus merah, bew-boc, black mangrove, black nobble-rooted mangrove, bois manglier rouge, bototan, bruguiera, bun, burma mangrove, burmaanse mangrove, buru, busain, busaing, byu-u-kyettet, byu-u-talon, cigar mangrove, cigar-tree, denges, dogo, dogokana, duoc, eauaah, infinze, infize, isikungati, jon, jong, kadeges, kadegis, kakra, kandeka, kankra, kodenges, kurong, lengadai, linggadai, linggayong laut, lom, machu, machulahe, mangle birmano, mangrovia di birmania, mangue encanado, mefinze, m’goronda, mshinzi, m’tumassi, ndongo, on, ong, oon, orange mangrove, paletuvier de birmanie, paletuvier incarnat, paletuvier rouge, pertut, putut, pututan, rhom, rokk, roway rok yangich, salak, saung, shom, shrahl, sigappukakandan, sohmw, sol, som, song, sral, sraol, suong, taheup, tamu mera, tandjang, tengar, tenggel, tengor, thuddu ponna, togo, togor, tomo, tonga, tongo, tsitolona, tsitolony, tuatogo, tumu, tumu merah, vet and wong.

The wood is heavy with a specific gravity of  0.87–1.08 and is durable but hard to saw and work. It is used for construction, furniture, house posts, and pilings (Little, 1983). Thousands of tons of Bruguiera wood chips are exported annually from Indonesia, Sabah, and Sarawak for pulp and for rayon manufacture (NAS, 1980a). “In India, the heartwood is prized for furniture.” From: Firewood crops: shrub and tree species for energy production …, [Volume 2, by National Research Council (U.S.). Advisory Committee on Technology Innovation.]

Bombax (Bombax spp. L./ Malvaceae) is a genus of about 5 species native to West Africa, India and Southeast Asia. The trees can reach heights of 40 meters with diameters of 3 meters. The heartwood is a pale reddish brown, yellowish brown, or light brown with a purplish tint, sometimes with darker markings. The sapwood is tan to whitish and not always sharply differentiated from the heartwood.  The texture is medium to coarse, with a straight grain. It is also without luster and sometimes contains gum veins. Basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) about 0.40; air-dry density 30 pounds per cubic foot.

It saws easily and works well with hand and machine tools but cutters must be kept sharp. It glues and finishes well and is easy to rotary peel veneers. The heartwood is perishable and not resistant to termite attack. The sapwood is vulnerable to powder-post beetle attack. The heartwood is moderately to extremely resistant to preservative treatment, while the sapwood is permeable.

It is used in plywood core stock, block board, boxes and crates, and furniture components.

            Boxwood (Buxus sp,) is a genus of about 60 species, native to Western Europe (2), The Mediterranean (1), Africa (15), temperate eastern Asia (22), the West Indies (13) and Central America (6). All species look alike microscopically.

            Because it is hard and dense with a fine grain, Boxwood was used for wood carving, decorative storage boxes, wooden combs, chess pieces (the unstained ones for white & and ebonized pieces for black, instead of Ebony [Diospyros spp.]), woodblock printing, and musical instruments & their parts (tailpieces, chin rests, turning pegs for string instruments in lieu of Rosewood & Ebony; 18th C recorders and highland bagpipes in lieu of cocuswood [Brya ebanus], Ebony [Diospyros spp.] and African Blackwood [Dalbergia melanoxylon]).

Burkea (Burkea africana/Leguminosae) also known as Mgando, Mkarati, and Msangala (Tanzania), is nativwe to the dry savanna forests from Nigeria southward to to Transvaal. It is a small to medium-sized tree, 50 to 70 ft in height, with a bole length of 15 to 20 ft; trunk diameters 1 to 2 ft.  The heart of the tree is often decayed.

The heartwood is dark brown or reddish brown with a whitish or yellowish sapwood.The basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) is 0.60 to 0.80 and the air- dry density is 46 to 61 pcf. It is not difficult to saw but is difficult to work with hand and machine tools, tends to tear in planing, glues well, takes a good finish. The heartwood is rated as very durable and is immune to termite attack. The heartwood is, however, extremely resistant to preservative treatments. The sapwood permeable to these treatments.

It is used in parquet flooring, fine cabinet and furniture work, joinery, railroad crossties, mining timbers.

From: Chudnoff, Martin. 1984. Tropical Timbers of the World. USDA Forest Service. Ag. Handbook No. 607.

            Burls, also known as burrs, are abnormal outgrowths (bulges) produced by nearly all kinds of trees. They are caused when the trunk, branch or root becomes injured or infected by a pathogen (bacterium or fungus). The tree produces a large mass of cells, a tissue that responds to the injury. This tissue is composed of wood that is spongier than the trunk wood and contains either dormant buds or small roots, depending upon whether the burl is part of the stem or root. Root burls typically contain starch grains. The grain, or orientation of cells, can be extremely irregular, making microscopic identification tedious and difficult. Burls yield a very irregular and highly figured wood and are used as veneers in furniture, bowls and turned objects, picture frames, household objects, automobile interior paneling and trim, and woodturning. In some tree species, burls can grow to enormous sizes of 10 -12 feet in diameter. Some of the largest in North America occur in redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens); when moisture is present, these burls can grow new redwood trees. Burl wood is especially difficult to identify, because some of the key anatomical characters needed to accurately identify it may be missing.

California Laurel (Umbellularia californica/Lauraceae) is the only species in this genus. Its name is derived from the Latin umbellula, a small umbel, describing the flower cluster (inflorescence). Other common names include; Acacia, Acacia Burl, Balm-of-heaven, Bay, Bay Laurel, Bay Tree, Black Laurel, Black Myrtle, Cajeput, Cajeput-tree, California Bay, California Bay Tree, California Laurel, California Olive, California Sassafras, Californian Olive, Laurel, Mountain Hemlock, Mountain Laurel, Myrtle, Myrtle Tree, Myrtly, Oregon Mirt, Oregon Myrtle, Oreodaphne, Pacific Myrtle, Peppermintwood, Pepperwood, Spice Tree, White Laurel, White Myrtle, Yellow Laurel, and Yellow Myrtle. It is native to the Pacific coast region of southwest Oregon, south mostly in Coast Ranges to southern California and in the Sierra Nevada to central California. The tree grows to 80 feet in height and 3 feet in diameter and at elevations from sea level to over 6,000 feet. The leaves are used by spice companies as “bay” leaves.

The sapwood of California Laurel is thick and whitish to light brown, while the heartwood is light brown to grayish brown to an olive color, with dark streaks. The wood has a strong, spicy odor. It darkens when soaked in water. Its dry weight is 39 pounds per cubic foot, with a specific gravity of 0.55. The heartwood of California Laurel is very durable, is easily worked and takes a high polish. Its past and present uses include veneer (burls for cabinetry), novelties, candle sticks, bowls, plates, woodenware, turnery, furniture squares, cabinetwork, interior trim, used under the keel to launch ships.

            Camphorwood [Cinnamomum camphora (L.) J.Presl. /Lauraceae] is one of 300 species in this genus in the family Lauraceae which contains Sassafras and other aromatic woods. Camphorwood is native to China (south of the Yangtze River), Taiwan, southern Japan, Korea and Vietnam and has been introduced into many other countries. Its importance is due to its production of Camphor, which was/is used as a culinary spice, medicinally, as an ingredient in incense, smokeless gunpowder and celluloid, and as an insect repellent, including fleas. It was used as a secondary wood in Chinese export furniture (Alden 2015).

            Canalete  (Cordia spp./ Boraginaceae) (hard-Wooded, dark-colored Gerascanthus group) is native to northern Florida, West Indies, Central America, and southward to Brazil and Argentina. It is also known as Anacahuite, Baria (Cuba), Siricote, Bocote, Cupane, Amapa asta (Mexico), Canalete (Colombia, Venezuela), Louro pardo (Brazil), Loro negro (Argentina). It is a small to large tree, sometimes 100 ft. tall.  In Mexico the trees are found in Tropical Dry zones with precipitation of about 1,000 mm and up to 500 m elevations.

            The heartwood of Canalete is tobacco colored to reddish brown, with irregular dark brown or blackish streaks and variegations, with more or less of an oily or waxy appearance; rather sharply demarcated from the grayish or yellowish sapwood.  Luster variable; texture fine to medium, grain variable; taste not distinctive; scent mild fragrant, at least when fresh. Its basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) ranges from 0.63 to 0.84 while the air-dry density is 48 to 65 pounds per cubic foot. It is a readily worked timber that finishes very smoothly and is rated high in durability. It is used for fine furniture, cabinet work, turnery, flooring, rotary and sliced veneer, and rifle stocks.

FROM: Tropical Timbers of the World Martin Chudnoff, Forest Products Technologist (retired)

Forest Products Laboratory, Madison, Wis. United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Servic, Agriculture Handbook Number 607 September 1984

Cannafistula (Cassia fistula L./Fabaceae) is native to Central South Asia, including India and Pakistan. The heartwood of Cassia fistula (golden-rain, golden shower, Indian laburnum, pudding-pie-tree, ahala, ehela, or aehaela, ඇහැල in Sinhala ) is strong and very durable, and has been used to construct “Ahala Kanuwa”, a palace at Adams Peak, Sri Lanka. In literature, it is closely associated with the Mullai (forest) region of Sangam landscape. It is the national tree of Thailand, and its flower is Thailand’s national flower. It is also the state flower of Kerala in India and of immense importance amongst the Malayali population. It is a popular ornamental plant and is also used in herbal medicine [Wikipedia]

            Cannonball Mangrove (Xylocarpus granatum J.König / Meliaceae), a.k.a. (scientifically) Carapa obovata Blume (1825), Xylocarpus obovatus (Blume) A.Juss. (1830), Carapa granatum (J.König) Alston (1931). Other common names include; apple mangrove, apura, cannon-ball tree, giliki gota, kabaoe, kairu, kasi-kasi, kra buun, kyana, kyatnan, laure, mangalbola de canhão, mangrove cedar, miri, mkomafi, mtifi, niri batu, niri, nyireh, nyirih gundik, pamoeli, pinle-on, pussur wood, ta buun, tabigi and wagua.

            Cannonball Mangrove trees are widely distributed in coastal regions (mangrove forests) of the Old World tropics (Australia, Burma, Cambodia, East Africa, Hainan, India, Indonesia, Laos, Madagascar, Malaysia, Pacific Islands, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Polynesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.) It is a small to medium-sized tree up to 45 to 60 ft tall, with a bole up to 3 feet in diameter, with thin, buttressed roots.

            The wood is a good mahogany like timber. The heartwood is reddish, darkening to a deep warm brown on exposure, usually sharply demarcated from the narrow, buff-colored to silver-grey sapwood. It can have darker streaks producing attractive watered-silk figure on tangential surfaces. The grain is straight or slightly interlocked, texture fine and even. The wood is moderately heavy with a density of 630–790 kg/m2 at 15% moisture content, and moderately hard and durable. The wood shrinks little and is usually easy to work and finish, and it takes a high polish. It is used in masts, furniture, boat building, treenails, house posts, wood carvings, tool handles, second grade pencils, second grade firewood and salt water pilings.

References:

J.König 1784. Naturforscher 20: 2

U.S. Navy. 1944. Native woods for construction purposes in the western pacific region.      Bureau of Yards and Docks, Department of the Navy, Washington. D.C. 382 pp. +           5 maps.

Richter, H.G., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2000 onwards. Commercial timbers: descriptions,           illustrations, identification, and information retrieval. In English, French, German,          Portuguese, and Spanish. Version: 16th April 2006. http://delta-intkey.com’.

Cascalote (Caesalpinia cacalaco/Leguminosae) also known as huisache, huizache, nacascul and chalala is native to Mexico. It is a lesser known wood, in a genus (Caesalpinia) of about 100 species that contains Partridgewood or Coffeewood, Brazilwood, Sappanwood, Brazilian Ironwood and Brazilian Redwood.

            Other Common Names: ebano (Mexico), Granadillo (Colombia, Venezuela).

            Distribution: Chiefly Venezuela but also found in Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.

            The Tree:  Mature trees are from 50 to 75 ft tail, with a well-formed trunk sometimes 36 in. in diameter, clear of branches for 35 ft.

            The Wood:

            General Characteristics: Heartwood dark red to chocolate brown or nearly black, usually with  fine pencil-striping of parenchyma; sharply demarcated from the yellowish or pinkish white  sapwood. Luster medium to low; texture medium to coarse; grain straight to very irregular; without distinctive odor or taste.

            Weight: Basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) 1.05; air-dry density 78 pcf.

            Mechanical Properties: A heavy strong timber, but no technical data available on mechanical  properties.

            Drying and Shrinkage: Requires care in seasoning, slow drying. With adequate precautions,  results are satisfactory. No shrinkage data available. Kiln schedule T3-C2 is suggested for 4/4  stock and T3-C1 for 8/4.

            Working Properties: Difficult to work, but finishes smoothly; works very well in turnery.

            Durability: Highly resistant to attack by decay fungi.

            Preservation: Not treatable.

            Uses: Specialty turnery. in countries of origin used for heavy construction work.

Additional Reading:   (56), (78), (80)

56.  Record, S. J., and R. W. Hess.  1949.  Timbers of the new world.  Yale University      Press, New Haven, Conn.

78.  Wood [U.  K.].  1942.  World timbers No.  74, Partridge wood (Caesalpinia    granadillo).  Suppl.  to Wood 7(1).

80.  Wood [U.  K.].  1963.  World timbers No.  39, Maracaibo (Caesalpinia granadillo).     Suppl.  to Wood 28(11).

From: Chudnoff, Martin. 1984. Tropical Timbers of the World. USDA Forest Service. Ag. Handbook No. 607.

Citrus (Citrus spp. L./Rutaceae) contains about 16 to 20 species of aromatic evergreen shrubs and small trees (mostly with thorny branches), native to southeastern Asia and the Malay Peninsula. However, it has been widely planted (and thoroughly naturalized) throughout the warmer regions of the world for its fruits.

SpeciesFruit
medicaCitron
limonaLemon
aurantifoliaLime
sinensisSweet Orange
aurantiumSour Orange
nobilisTangerine
paradisiGrapefruit
grandisShaddock

Other Common Names: Acid lime, alemuncuabitl, alimau, aloxoxcuabitl, anani, angra, apelsintrad, apepu, apfelsinenbaum, arancio, arbol de limon, arendj, azabon, baggao, balinkolong, batavi-neboo, beeja-poora, beg-poora, be-hui-na-yi-xtilla, bejoura, bekersiu, biasong, bigarade orange, bigaradier, bijouree, bitter orange, bittersweet orange, bois de citronnier, bois d’oranger, boui, buntan, buoi, cahet, calmouc, cal-mu-nish, cam non, cam tien, can xu, c’axt’u, cedrat, cedratier, cedro, cedro limon, chaddec, chadec, chadek, chadeque, chanh nun, charitol, china, china dulce, China dulce, chino dulce, chocte, ch’uhuk-pak’al, cicanaca-gueto-na-yy-castilla, cidra, cidra limon, cidreira, cidrero, cidro, cirtroen, citroenboom, citron, citron commun, citron doux, citronnier, citronnier des juifs, citronnier doux, citronnier vrai, citrontrad, daidal, debechel, djeroek balie, djeroek matjang, elimitcham-maron, fruit defendu, ginggang, gochol, goligao, grapefruit, gurgur, gurgur gurgurnimarech, gurgurnuwaab, hi-hin, huesito amarillo, huru huru marets, iumwul, jabon, jabong, jiliy-lanax, joddi, jodimbrebei, kabuyau, kabuyau-kitid, kahel, kahenakikiki, kahet, kahetmagas, k’ah-pak’al, kalamansi, kalamunding, kam tel, karer, karrer, kerekur, key lime, khuat suon, king orange, kingkang, kolobot, komla-neboo, korna-neboo, kranch chhmar, kranch inon, kranch poursat, krank thlang, kroica chang ho, kumal, kurekur, kuruhkur, kurukur, laim, laimi, lalangha, lalanghita, lalanha, lamoentsji, lamunchi, lamunchi dushi, lanax, laraha, laraha zier, larangeira, laranja amarga, laranja da terra, laranjeira, laxux, leeboo, leemoo, lemoen, lemon, lemon reat, lemon-tree, lima, lima agria, lima boba, lima chica, lima chichona, lima dulce, limau, limau asam, limau besar, limau chumbol, limau hijau, limau manis, limbu, lime, lime-leaf-plant, limene, limero, limes, limetree, limo, limon, limon agrio, limon agrio, limon cedra, limon chichon, limon china, limon cidra, limon comun, limon criollo, limon de cabro, limon dulce, limon frances, limon liso, limon real, limon sidra, limon sutil, limonadmelo, limone, limonero, limonier, limon-naranjo, limonsidra, limoun, limu, limunix, loose-skinned orange, lukban, mac kamtel, mac kiong nhay, madarini, ma-hing, malchianged, mandarijn, mandarin, mandarina, mandarine, mandarine orange, maradel, marsh grapefruit, melarancio, Mexican lime, mimu, moli Jamu, moli kana, moli karokaro, moli kau, moli kurukuru, moli laimi, moli madarini, moli ni taiti, moli ni vavalagi, moli sosoriatia, moli unumi, molicici, molidawa, molikana, molilecau, molitaiti, mo-tou, mu, muh, musrisrik, naaraso, nagarunga, nagrunga, naimis, najanto, nancha, nanxa, naracaxi, naranga, naranja, naranja acida, naranja agria, naranja amarga, naranja amateca, naranja de China, naranja dulce, naranja silvestre, naranjillo, naranjita, naranjja acida, naranjja agria, naranjja cajjera, naranjo, naranjo agrio, naranjo amargo, naranjo amateco, naranjo comun, naranjo dulce, naranjo silvestre, narendj, nartem-marom, narungee, narunj, neeboo, neemoo, nerunga, nimbooka, nimbu, nimbuka, orange, orange amere, orange douce, orange grosse-peau, orange narango, orange sure, orangenholz, oranger, oranger amer, oranger doux, orange-tree, orangewood, orens, pah-papkal, pakal, palo de naranjo, pampelmose, pamplemousse, pamplemoussier, pamplemusa, pang, pe-hui-jna-castilla, pomela, pomelo, pomeloe, pomeranzenbaum, pompelmo, pompoleon, puc, pummelo, remong, rough lemon, sahmees, sahmees capxl, samuyau, seedling orange, setlas, Seville orange, Seville orange-tree, shaddock, sime-nartem-marom, sinaasappelboom, sinaasappels, sinacari, singtara, sour orange, suts’pak’al, sweet lime, sweet orange, ta-hina, Tahiti lime, tangerina, tangerine, taporo, ticuaa-chiha, tipolo, tipolo patupatu, toronja, toronya, trendj, tronkon setlas, tsajpox, tsaj-pox, tsapscuc, tsim py, tsuikill, turcre, tuzan, tzapkiuk, tzaposhi, tzapposh, tzaptzouk, tzinaaca, utrej, uzu, Valencia orange, West Indian lime, wild orange, xidni, yaga-naraxo, yeou, youzou, yudzu, zabon, zamboa, zitronenbaum.

            The Tree: The genus Citrus is composed of shrubs and small trees, rarely reaching heights of 6 m (20 ft).

            The Wood: The wood of Citrus is a light clear yellow, with a high luster. It is hard, heavy and strong, with a fine uniform texture and variable grain. It is fairly easy to work, takes a high polish.

            Durability: It is perishable when in contact with the soil.

            Uses: It is used for making small carved or turned articles, fancy boxes and novelties, inlays and manicure sticks.

Additional Reading & References Used:

Mabberley, D. J. The plant-book, a portable dictionary of the higher plants. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 1987.

Record, S. J. and Hess, R. W. Timbers of the New World. New Haven: Yale University Press; 1943.

Web-sites of Interest:

http://mobot.mobot.org/Pick/Search/pick.html

http://plants.usda.gov/plants/index.html

http://probe.nalusda.gov:8300/cgi-bin/query?method=wais&dbname=ethnobotdb

http://www.ars-grin.gov/npgs/tax/

            Cherry, et al (Prunus spp./Rosaceae).  The genus Prunus contains between 200-400 species distributed in most parts of the world, especially the northern temperate regions (North America, Asia and Europe/Mediterranean).  This genus includes cherries, plums, peaches, almonds and apricots. All species look alike microscopically, however, woods in this genus with a reddish cast (light or dark red) with a light ray fleck are assumed to be cherry. Some samples are more highly figured than most and is due to the rays being wider than normal and at a greater concentration than normal. This figure is probably due to the sample coming from an older tree or from parts close to the ground. The tree-size species are, to my knowledge:

Eastern North AmericaEurope
Common NameScientific NameCommon NameScientific Name
Black CherryP. serotinaBird CherryP. padus
  BlackthornP. spinosa
  Cherry PlumP. cerasifera
  Sour CherryP. cerasus
  Wild CherryP. avium

Chestnut (Castanea spp./Fagaceae) contains 7 to 12 species distributed in North America (4) and Europe (1). Chestnut (Castanea sativa) was introduced into England by the Romans probably as food for domestic animals. North American trees were virtually wiped out by the fungus Endothia parasitica. Species hybridize with each other. All species look alike microscopically.

            Eastern North AmericaEurope
Common NameScientific NameCommon NameScientific Name
American ChestnutC. dentataSweet ChestnutC. sativa

            Cordia spp.(soft-wooded, light-colored Alliodora group) Laurel Blanco

            Family: Boraginaceae

            Other Common Names: C. goeldiana: Freijo, Frei jorge (Brazil); C. alliodora: Laurel blanco, Pardillo (Venezuela), Bojon (Mexico), Louro (Brazil).

            Distribution: The several commercial species have a range that includes southern Mexico to the southern edge of the tropics in South America.  Freijo is found in the Atlantic zone of Para and in the Tocantins and Xingu River basins of Brazil.

            The Tree: Varies in size in different regions; frequently 40 to 60 ft in height with diameters of 18 to 24 in.; in areas of optimum growth it attains diameters of 36 in.  and heights of 120 ft.  Narrow buttresses are commonly 6 ft or less in height.

            The Wood:

            General Characteristics: Heartwood yellowish to brown, uniform or more or less streaked and variegated; light colored material not clearly differentiated from sapwood.  Luster is medium to high, often rich and golden; texture very variable from fine to coarse; grain usually straight to shallowly interlocked; dark- colored specimens have spicy scent.

            Weight: Basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) varies with species from 0.44 to 0.52; air-dry density 34 to 40 pcf.

            Drying and Shrinkage: The wood air-seasons rapidly with only slight warping and checking.  Kiln schedule T6-D2 is suggested for 4/4 stock and T3-01 for 8/4. Shrinkage green to ovendry: radial 3.4%; tangential 7.1%; volumetric 9.2% (C. alliodora).  Holds in place well after manufacture.

            Working Properties: The wood is easy to work and finishes smoothly; readily glued.

            Durability: The heartwood is rated as durable upon exposure to both white-rot and brown-rot fungi but degree of durability appears to be related to the coloring of the wood.  Also reported to have good resistance to dry-wood termites.  The wood has got weathering characteristics and absorbs moisture at a moderate rate.  Not resistant to attack by marine borers in some areas, but C. alliodora is reported to have high resistance in Panama waters.

            Preservation: Heartwood is not receptive to preservation treatments; sapwood absorption is adequate but with marginal penetration.

            Uses: General construction, millwork, fine cabinet and furniture components, flooring, decorative veneer, cooperage, boat construction; for some applications used as a substitute for teak, walnut, or mahogany.

FROM: Tropical Timbers of the World Martin Chudnoff, Forest Products Technologist (retired)

Forest Products Laboratory, Madison, Wis. United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service

Agriculture Handbook Number 607 September 1984

            Courbaril (Hymenaea courbaril/ Leguminosae) grows from Southern Mexico, throughout Central America and the West Indies to northern Brazil, Bolivia, and Peru.  It is also known as Cuapinol, Guapinol (Mexico), Guapinol (Central America), Locust, Kawanari (Guyana), Rode lokus (Surinam), Algarrobo (Spanish America), Jatahy, Jatoba (Brazil).

            The Tree may grow to a height of 130 ft with trunk diameters of 5 to 6 ft; usually less than 100 ft high with diameters of 2 to 4 ft.  Boles are well formed, often clear for 40 to 80 ft, and basally swollen or buttressed in large trees.

            The heartwood is salmon red to orange brown when fresh, becoming russet to reddish brown when seasoned; often marked with dark streaks.  Sapwood is usually wide; white, gray, or pinkish.  Texture is medium to rather coarse; grain mostly interlocked; golden luster; without distinctive odor or taste.

            Basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) 0.71 to 0.82; air- dry density 52 to 61 pcf.

            It is used for tool handles and other applications where good shock resistance is needed, steam-bent parts, flooring, turnery, furniture and cabinet work, railroad crossties tree-nails, gear cogs, wheel rims, and other specialty items. 

            Tree exudes a rosin-like gum known commercially as South American copal.

                        Additional Reading:

Food and Agriculture Organization.  1970.  Estudio de preinversion para el desarrollo forestal de la Guyana Venezolana. lnforme final. Tomo III. Las madera del area del proyecto.  FAO Report FAO/SF: 82 VEN 5. Rome.

Llach, C. L. 1971.  Properties and uses of 113 timber-yielding species of Panama. Part 3. Physical and mechanical properties of 113 tree species.  FO-UNDP/PAN/6.  FAO, Rome.

Longwood, F. R. 1962.  Present and potential commercial timbers of the Caribbean. Agriculture Handbook No.  207.  U.S.  Department of Agriculture.

Wangaard, F. F., and A. F. Muschler.  1952.  Properties and uses of tropical woods, III. Tropical Woods 98:1-190.

            From: Chudnoff, Martin. 1984. Tropical Timbers of the World. USDA Forest Service. Ag. Handbook No. 607.

Ebony (Diospyros spp./Ebenaceae) The genus Diospyros contains about 475 species (including Ebony) mostly native to the tropics (Madagascar, Africa and Malaysia), with 2 native to the US (Persimmon). The name diospyros is derived from the Greek, for the god Zeus or Jupiter and grain, alluding to the edible fruit or “fruit of the gods”. Species separations are sometimes possible.

The main species are:

Diospyros ebenum (Ceylon ebony), native to southern India and Sri Lanka

Diospyros celebica (Macassar Ebony), native to Central South Asia

Diospyros discolor (Kamagong), native to the Philippines

Diospyros crassiflora (Gabon ebony), native to western Africa

Diospyros celebica (Makassar ebony), native to Indonesia

Diospyros insularis (Papua Ebony), native to New Guinea

Diospyros kurzii (Andaman Marblewood), native to Southeast Asia

Diospyros marmorata (Marblewood Ebony), native to Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Diospyros melanoxylon (Coromandel Ebony), native to Central South Asia

Diospyros mespiliformis (W. African Ebony), native to Tropical Africa

Diospyros sanza-minika (Liberian Ebony), native to Tropical Africa

Diospyros tesselaria (Mauritius ebony), native to island of Mauritius

Diospyros vera (Black Ebony), native to Tropical Africa

            We have access to 90 species of Diospyros via the NCSU “Inside Wood” Database.

Ebony has a long history of use, with carved pieces having been found in Ancient Egyptian tombs. By the end of the 16th century, fine cabinets for the luxury trade were made of ebony in Antwerp. The wood’s dense hardness lent itself to refined moldings framing finely detailed pictorial panels with carving in very low relief (bas-relief), usually of allegorical subjects, or with scenes taken from classical or Christian history. Within a short time, such cabinets were also being made in Paris, where their makers became known as ébénistes, which remains the French term for a cabinetmaker.

Modern uses are largely restricted to small items, such as crucifixes, and musical instrument parts, including bagpipes, black piano and harpsichord keys, violin, viola, mandolin, guitar, double bass, and cello fingerboards, tailpieces, pegs, chinrests, and bow frogs. Many plectra, or guitar picks, are made from this black wood.

Traditionally, the black pieces in chess sets were made from ebony, with rare boxwood or ivory being used for the white pieces. Modern East Midlands-style lace-making bobbins, also being small, are often made of ebony and look particularly decorative when bound with brass or silver wire. Due to its strength, many handgun grips and rifle fore-end tips are made of ebony, as are the butts of pool cues.

As a result of unsustainable harvesting, many species yielding ebony are now considered threatened. Africa in particular has had most of its indigenous ebony cut down illegally. (From Wikipedia)

African Ebony is also known as Mgiriti, Msindi (Tanzania), Omenowa (Ghana), Kanran, Nyareti (Nigeria), and Kukuo (Gambia). The main species is Diospyros crassiflora (aka Gabon ebony), with D. kamerunensis Gurke (Cameroon Ebony) and D. sanza-minika A. Chev. (Liberian Ebony) having similar distribution and identical wood anatomy.

Diospyros crassiflora is native to Equatorial West Africa and forms almost pure groups near riverbanks. The tree may attain a height of 50 to 60 ft with a trunk diameter of about 2 ft. The wood has a heartwood that is a uniform jet black or black brown or streaked; sapwood pink colored when freshly cut, darkening to a pale red brown, very variable in width. Texture very fine; grain straight to slightly interlocked or somewhat curly. Sawdust may cause dermatitis. Basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) about 0.82; air-dry density 63 pounds per cubic foot. It is used for parts of musical instruments (Jivaris of Sitars & Bagpipes), handles for cutlery and tools, brush backs, carvings, turnery, inlaid work.

(Adapted from: Chudnoff, Martin. 1984. Tropical Timbers of the World. USDA Forest Service. Ag. Handbook No. 607.)

Other Ebony’s (from: USDA Forest Products Laboratory, Center for Wood Anatomy Research Common Name Database)

Common NameScientific NameFamilyCountry
Black/West Indies EbonyAlbizia lebbeckLeguminosae/Mim.West Indies
Mountain/Queensland  EbonyBauhinia spp.Leguminosae/Caes.Asia/Australia
Brown EbonyBocoa spp.Leguminosae/Papil.Surinam
Green/Brown/West Indian EbonyBrya ebenusLeguminosae/Papil.West Indies
Brown EbonyCaesalpinia spp.Leguminosae/Caes.Venezuela
Wild/Mountain EbonyColubrina arborescensRhamnaceaeBrazil/Jamaica/Mexico
Senegal/Mozambique EbonyDalbergia melanoxylonLeguminosae/Papil.Africa
EbonyDiospyros spp.EbenaceaePan Tropical
EbonyDombeya melanoxylonSterculiaceaeSaint Helena
Blackbead/Texas EbonyEbenopsis ebanoLeguminosae/Mim.USA
Asiatic EbonyElaeocarpus japonicasElaeocarpaceaeJapan
Natal/Cape EbonyEuclea pseudebenusEbenaceaeSouth Africa
Cape EbonyHeywoodia lucensEuphorbiaceaeSouth Africa
EbonyKrugiodendron ferreumRhamnaceaeWest Indies
Queensland EbonyLysiphyllum hookeriLeguminosae/Caes.Australia
Green EbonyMagnolia hamoriMagnoliaceaeDominican Republic
Black EbonyPera bumeliifoliaEuphorbiaceaeBahamas
EbonyPithecellobium spp.Leguminosae/Mim.USA
Green EbonySecurinega acidotonEuphorbiaceaeJamaica
Brown/British Guyana Ebony & Ebony BanniaSwartzia spp.Leguminosae/Papil.Guyana/Surinam
Green EbonyTabebuia serratifoliaBignoniaceaeVenezuela
Green EbonyTecoma araliaceaBignoniaceaeGuyana

            Elm (Ulmus spp./Ulmaceae) contains 18 to 45 species native to Asia(11), Europe and Mediterranean region(6), South & Central America(7) and North America(7). There are species on both sides of the Atlantic that look alike microscopically.

North AmericaEurope
Common NameScientific NameCommon NameScientific Name
American ElmU. americanaEnglish ElmU. procera
Rock Elm*U. thomasiiFluttering ElmU. laevis
Slippery ElmU. rubraSmoothed-Leaved ElmU. minor
Winged Elm*U. alataWych ElmU. glabra
Cedar Elm*U. crassifolia  

* Hard Elms

            Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus spp./Myrtaceae) is a genus of approximately 700 species native to Australia, with some into Malaysia. About 113 species have been reassigned to the genus Corymbia. Some species separations are possible, given a large enough sample.

The Commercial Species are, to my knowledge:

Common NameScientific Name
Lemon-scented GumCorymbia citriodora
Red BloodwoodCorymbia gummifera
Spotted GumCorymbia maculata
Ghost GumCorymbia papuana
  
Poplar GumE. alba
Brown MalletE. astringens
Brown StringybarkE. baxteri
Red GumE. camaldulensis
YertchukE. consideniana
Tumbledown Red GumE. dealbata
Kamarere or Mindanao GumE. deglupta
Tasmanian OakE. delegatensis
KarriE. diversicolor
White StringybarkE. globoidea
BluegumE. globulus
Longleaf BoxE. gonocalyx
RosegumE. grandis
TuartE. gomphocephala
Yellow GumE. leucoxylon
Red StringybarkE. macrorhyncha
JarrahE. marginata
Yellow BoxE. melliodora
Australian TallowwoodE. microcorys
CoolibahE. microtheca
Grey BoxE. moluccana
Yellow StringybarkE. muelleriana
Shining GumE. nitens
Messmate (Stringybark)E. obliqua
Grey IronbarkE. paniculata
BlackbuttE. pilularis
Silver Dollar GumE. polyanthemos
Australian Mountain AshE. regnans
Swamp MahoganyE. robusta
Sydney Blue GumE. saligna
GimletE. salubris
Red IronbarkE. sideroxylon
Silvertop AshE. sieberi
Forest Red GumE. tereticornis
Manna GumE. viminalis
WandooE. wandoo

            The Stringybark Group contains six species:

                        Brown Strigybark (Eucalyptus baxteri)

                        White Stringybark (Eucalyptus globoidea)

                        Yellow Stringybark (Eucalyptus muelleriana)

                        Red Stringybark (Eucalyptus macrorhyncha)

                        Yertchuk (Eucalyptus consideniana)

                        Silvertop Ash (Eucalyptus sieberi)

            It is possible to separate species in this group based on micro-anatomy (Jugo Ilic IAWA Journal, Vol. 23 (3), 2002: 305-318).

            Red Stringybark (Eucalyptus macrorhynca F,Muell. Ex Benth./Myrtaceae) native to southeast Australia.There are two other species that are called Red Stringybark; E. pellita F.Muell., aka Daintree Stringybark and Red Mahogany; and E. resinifera Sm. aka Australian Red Mahogany, Botany Bay Gum, Forest Mahogany, Red Eucalypt Mahogany, Red Mahogany, Red Messmate & Red Stringy.

            The tree reaches heights of 12-45 meters (39-148 feet), with diameters of 1-1.5 meters.

            The wood ranges from moderate strength and durability to hard, tough and very durable. The heartwood ranges from orange to a red-brown, moderately fine-textured, often with interlocked grain. Slow to dry, moderately durable and decorative. Density about 900 kg/m3. Used in flooring, as polishes well. Potential for use in furniture, veneers and shingles. Used for above-ground fencing such as rails, and for general construction.

            Euonymus or Spindle Tree (Euonymus spp. L.) Family – Celastraceae. This genus contains about 170 species of deciduous or evergreen trees or shrubs, native mostly to Asia, but also a few species in Europe, North America, Africa and Australia. The tree species (see Hortus Third, 1976) are:

Scientific Name                      Max. Ht.          Native To:

E. bungeana                15 ft.               Asia

E. europea                   20 ft.               Europe to western Asia

E. grandiflora              25 ft.               China

E. hamiltonia               40 ft.               China & Japan

E. japonica                  15 ft.               Japan

E. kiautschovica                      10 ft.               Eastern & Central China

E. latifolia                    20 ft.               Algeria and Southeastern Europe to northern Iran

E. myriantha               20 ft.               China

E. occidentalis             18 ft.               Puget Sound south to California and western Nevada

E. oxyphylla                25 ft.               Korea & Japan

E. phellomana             15 ft.               Northern & Western China

E. sanguinea               20 ft.               Central & Western China

Fruitwoods are composed of Apple (Malus spp.) & Pear (Pyrus spp.).

            Apple (Malus spp./Rosaceae) consists of at least 30 species that occur on both sides of the Atlantic. Can be confused with the other fruitwood Pear, also in the Rose Family (Rosaceae). The common apple was introduced into North America by the colonial English and had quickly escaped cultivation, spreading across southern Canada and the continental United States.

Eastern North AmericaEurope
Common NameScientific NameCommon NameScientific Name
Southern Crab AppleM. angustifoliaCommon AppleM. sylvestris
Sweet Crab AppleM. coronaria   Old Name(Pyrus malus)

            Pear (Pyrus spp./Rosaceae) consists of at least 20 species native to Eurasia and the Mediterranean. Like the apple, the Common Pear was introduced into North America by the colonial English and had quickly escaped cultivation, spreading across southern Canada and the continental United States.

Eastern North AmericaEurope
Common NameScientific NameCommon NameScientific Name
  Almond-Leaved PearP. amygdaliformis
  Common PearP. communis
  Wild PearP. pyraster
  ????P. nivalis
  ????P. eleagrifolia

            Giant Chinkapin [Castanopsis chrysophylla (Dougl.) A. DC.] – Trees 45 – 135 feet tall w/up to 3 foot diameter trunks. The wood (known as Golden leaf Chestnut) is hard and heavy with a fine texture, with light to pinkish brown heartwood. The sapwood is thin & slightly lighter than the heartwood. It is ring porous with narrow rays. It has been used for veneers, high-end furniture, doors and paneling.

            Gommier or Candle Tree (Dacryodes excelsa / Burseraceae) is native to Puerto Rico and Lesser Antilles from St. Kitts to Grenada. Generally in small groups along upper slopes, but forms almost pure stands at high elevations in Dominica. It is also known as Tabonuco (Puerto Rico), Gommier blanc (Guadeloupe) and Gommier montagne (Martinique). The tree reaches a height of 100 ft or more and diameters of 3 to 5 ft; with straight well-formed clear unbuttressed boles. The heartwood of Gommier is a uniform pale brown with a purplish cast when first cut, turning to a lustrous pinkish brown when seasoned, resembling mahogany and clearly demarcated from narrow grayish sapwood. Its texture is fine to medium with a grain that is more or less roey with attractive ribbon stripe. Its basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) is 0.52, with an air-dry density of 40 pounds per cubic foot.

            The wood air-seasons easily with only minor degrade in the form of slight warp and end checking and with no apparent surface checking.  No dry kiln data available.  Shrinkage green to ovendry: radial 4.1%; tangential 6.4%; volumetric 10.5%. It is a moderately good machining wood, cuts and saws easily but, because of an abundance of silica, rapidly dulls saw teeth and other cutting edges. The wood finishes smoothly and is easy to lacquer or varnish. The heartwood is only slightly resistant to attack by decay fungi when in ground contact and is very susceptible to attack by dry-wood termites; not resistant to marine borer attack. It is used for furniture and cabinet work, possible veneer wood, general construction.  The trees are scarred near the base to obtain a fragrant resin exudate used to make candies and for medicinal purposes.

FROM: Tropical Timbers of the World Martin Chudnoff, Forest Products Technologist (retired)

Forest Products Laboratory, Madison, Wis. United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service

Agriculture Handbook Number 607 September 1984

Goncalo Alves or Ébène Rouge Astronium spp. ( A. fraxinifolium, A. graveolens, A. lecointe & A. obliquum) [Cashew Family – Anacardiaceae] is also known as Ébène Rouge ou Grenadille (France), Zebrawood (England), Palo de cera, Palo de culebra (Mexico), Gusanero (Colombia), Gateado (Venezuela), Brazilian Kingswood, Guarita (Brazil), Guasango (Ecuador). Goncalo Alves is a common tree in the upland forests of many regions from Mexico and Central America through to Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, and Ecuador. The tree attains diameters of 24 to 40 in. or more and a maximum height of 120 ft.  Except for narrow buttress flanges 4 to 6 ft tall, it has a clear cylindrical trunk for two thirds or more of its height.  The logs are typically sound throughout.

            When fresh, the heartwood of Goncalo Alves is russet brown, orange brown, or reddish brown to red with narrow to wide irregular stripes of medium to very dark brown.  After exposure it becomes brown, red, or dark reddish brown with nearly black stripes.  The dingy grayish or brownish-white sapwood, 2 to 4 inches wide, is sharply demarcated.  The grain is variable, straight to roey; texture fine to medium, uniform; no distinctive odor or taste.  The wood often has a striking figure caused by irregular dark longitudinal bands. The basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) averages 0.84 for timber from Honduras and Venezuela; material from Brazil and Colombia averages 0.75.  Average air-dry density is about 60 pcf from these four sources. Goncalo Alves it is not difficult to work in spite of its high density, finishes very smoothly, and takes a high polish.  The wood weathers well and is highly resistant to moisture absorption.  It is reported to be difficult to glue.

            Goncalo Alves is among the most outstanding heavy, durable construction timbers. It is also highly favored as a fine furniture and cabinet wood. It was used as a substitute for Brazilian Rosewood.  Cut for decorative veneers (French ébènisteie of the 18th Century), it is used for specialty items such as knife handles, brush backs, archery bows, billiard cue butts, turnery, and carvings.

From: Chudnoff, Martin. 1984. Tropical Timbers of the World. USDA Forest Service. Ag. Handbook No. 607. And F. Lewis Hinckley, Directory of Historic Cabinet Woods, 1960

Granadillo [Platymiscium pinnatum (Jacq.) Dugand/Leguminosae-Papilionoideae] is the main genus assigned to this trade name. It is native to Central & South America.

Other taxa known as Granadillo, but are anatomically different from Platymiscium pinnatum:

Dalbergia retusa (Cocobolo)

Buchenavia capitata (Yellow Sanders)

Caesalpinia granadillo (Guayacan)

            Grewia (Grewia spp. L./Malvaceae) is a genus of about 150 species native to the Old World. The genus was named for plant anatomist Nehemiah Grew by Carl Linneaus.

            Donkey Berry (Grewia damine Gaertn./bicolor Juss./Malvaceae) is also known as Barkudi, Bastard Brandy Bush, Bihul, Khanota (Marathi), Chadachchi (Tamil), Chittijana (Telugu), Daminiya (Sinhala), False Brandy Bush, Greuvier, Grévier Bicolore and Ulpi (Kannada).

            The Tree: It is native the deciduous forests and scrub forests of Tropical mainland Africa and adjacent islands, as well as India, Nepal and Pakistan. It is a small tree reaching heights of 10 meters (30 feet).

            Uses: Branches are used for walking sticks, and the wood is used for tool handles.

            Ethnobotany: Fruit pulp is used to treat diarhoea, while the bark & root extracts are used for treating fractures, diarrhoes and skin diseases. The alkaloids present in the leaves, fruit and bark have antibacterial properties (In Vitro Estimation of Antibacterial activities of Leaf, Stem and Root extracts of Grewia damine L. Nasira Banu, Dr. B.S.Ravikumar 1 & Dr. Nagesha N. International Journal of Scientific Research and Review. Volume 8, Issue 2, 2019. Page No: 74. ISSN NO: 2279-543X).

            Gumbo-Limbo or Almacigo (Bursera simaruba – Burseraceae Family) is native to southern Florida, the West Indies, southern Mexico, Central America, and northern South America.  The tree is not exacting as to site and moisture conditions but reaches its best development in lowland forests.  On some sites it occurs as pure or nearly pure forests. It is also known as Turpentine tree (Jamaica), Gommier blanc (Haiti), Chaca, Palo chino (Mexico), Carate (Panama, Colombia), Carana, Indio desnudo (Venezuela). The tree is generally slender and unbuttressed and is short to medium in height. It grows commonly to 60 feet with diameters of 14 to 18 in.  It sometimes can attain heights of 80 to 90 ft with trunk diameters of 3 ft. The wood has a white, yellowish, or light brown heartwood with a sapwood of the same color. The color ages to a dark yellow. Its texture is fine to medium with a fairly straight to irregular grain, a moderate to rather high luster and without a distinctive taste or odor. The wood is very light, with a basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) of 0.30 to 0.38 and an air-dry density from 19 to 30 pounds per cubic foot. The timber is used for matchsticks, boxes, crates, house construction, carvings (alebrije – Oaxaca, Mexico) and general carpentry; also suggested for pattern and core stock.  It is manufactured into utility plywood in Mexico.  The tree is used extensively as “live fencing;” and also yields an aromatic resin (copal) used as an incense and varnish.

Additional Reading:

17.  Echenique-Manrique, R. 1970.  Descripcion, caracteristicas y usos de 25 madera tropicales     mexicanas.  Serie Maderas de Mexico, Camara Nacional de la Industria de Construccian,          Mexico,           D.F.

46.  Longwood, F. R. 1962.  Present and potential commercial timbers of the Caribbean.  Agriculture             Handbook No.  207.  U.S.  Department of Agriculture.

64.  Slooten, H. J. van der, and M. E. Gonzales.  1971.  Maderas latinoamericanas. VI.  Bursera simaruba             Poulsenia armata ;Pterocarpus officinalis, y Ficus werckleana Turrialba 21(1):69-76.

From: Chudnoff, Martin. 1984. Tropical Timbers of the World. USDA Forest Service. Ag. Handbook No. 607.

Guarea (Guarea spp./Meliaceae) contains about 40 species, with 7 recognized timber species that are native to Tropical Africa, The Caribbean, Central America and South America. The trees can reach heights of 90 feet with 3 foot diameter trunks above a buttressed base.

African Species

Sci Name        Common Name                                

G. cedrata*     Light Bossé or Scented Guarea

G. thompsonii*           Black Guarea or Dark Bossé

New World Species

Sci Name        Common Name                                 Distribution

G. costata*      Unknown                               [South America]

G. excelsa*     American Muskwood                       [Central America]

G. glabra         Cramantee                             [Caribbean/Mesoamerica]

G. gomma*     Bastard Crabwood               [South America]

G. guidonia     Muskwood or Guaraguao    [Caribbean/Mesoamerica & South America]

G. kegelii         Unkown                                 [S. Mexico/Mesoamerica/South America]

G. kunthiana*            Sali                                          [South America]

G. longipetala*           Unknown                               [Mesoamerica/Panama]

G. macrophylla*         Cedrillo                                              [Central/South America]

G. pterorhachis           Cucaracho                             [Mesoamerica/South America]

G. pubescens* Tocota                                    [South America]

*these represent taxa that I have looked at microscopically. The others are currently unavailable, making species separations (at this time) not possible.

G. cedrata & G. thompsonii

            Other Common Names: Bossy (Ivory Coast), Kwabohoro (Ghana), Obobo (Nigeria), Edoucie (Cameroon).

            Distribution: The range of both species overlaps in Ivory Coast, Ghana, and southern Nigeria.  G. cedrata extends into the Cameroons, G. thompsonii reaches into Liberia.

            The Tree: Reaches a height of 160 ft; boles are long, straight, and cylindrical; trunk diameters are about 3 to 4 ft above buttresses.

            The Wood:

            General Characteristics: Heartwood pinkish brown, darkening on exposure; sapwood variable in width, pale in color, often well demarcated.  Texture medium to fine; grain straight, wary, or interlocked; lustrous; both woods contain gums.  Silica often present in G. cedrata.  Cedary odor sometimes persists.  Dust may irritate skin and mucous membranes.

            Weight: Basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) about 0.48; air-dry density 36 pcf.

            Working Properties: Works fairly well with hand and machine tools, some picking of grain if interlocked, slight to moderate blunting of cutters, glues well, takes a good polish, good to moderately good steam-bending properties.  Sometimes difficult to handle because of gum.  Dust may be irritating.

            Durability: Heartwood ratings vary from durable to moderately durable; moderately resistant to termite attack.

            Preservation: Heartwood highly resistant to impregnation; sapwood permeable.

            Uses: Furniture, joinery, paneling, boatbuilding, decorative veneers, turnery, flooring.

From: Martin Chudnoff, 1984. Tropical Timbers of the World. United States Department of Agriculture

Forest Service, Agriculture Handbook Number 607, September 1984.

Guarea trichilioides [now G. grandifolia] & G. excelsa

Cramantee

American Muskwood

            Family: Meliaceae

            Other Common Names: G. trichilioides: Guaraguao (Puerto Rico), Trompillo (Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia), Fruta de loro (Ecuador), Cedrillo (Argentina), Gito, Cedrohy (Brazil).  G. excelsa: Cedrillo, Trompillo de plaza (Mexico), Cramantee (Belize), Guano blanco (Colombia), Cabimbo (Venezuela).

            Distribution: West Indies, Mexico and Central America, and southward to southern Brazil and Argentina.  Frequently planted in coffee plantations for shade.

            The Tree: Varies with species but sometimes 130 ft in height and 4 ft in diameter, commonly 40 to 75 ft in height and 1 to 3 ft in diameter.  Some are buttressed to 15 to 20 ft, boles straight to irregular.

            The Wood:

            General Characteristics: Heartwood pinkish to deep reddish brown; sapwood distinct but not sharply demarcated from the heartwood.  Luster is rather low; texture medium grain rather straight; green wood is aromatic but odor and taste very mild or not distinctive in dry specimens.

            Weight: Basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) 0.46 to 0.57; air- dry density 34 to 44 pcf.

            Working Properties: The wood saws and machines easily and well in all operations except boring where there is a tendency to tear and crumble.

            Durability: Heartwood has good resistance to dry-wood termites and is durable in the ground.

            Preservation: Both heartwood and sapwood are not responsive to preservation treatments using either open-tank or pressure-vacuum systems.

            Uses: Furniture, cabinet work, turnery, interior trim, joinery, ship construction (planking and trim), general carpentry, and decorative and utility veneer and plywood.

From: Martin Chudnoff, 1984. Tropical Timbers of the World. United States Department of Agriculture

Forest Service, Agriculture Handbook Number 607, September 1984.

            Gum, Red Gum or Sweet Gum (Liquidambar/Hammelidaceae) contains 3 to 4 species that grow in; North America (1) and Central America, southwest Asia, eastern China and Taiwan. The North American species is L. styraciflua, which occurs naturally in the southeastern United States. Its range extends from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, south to Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas, and east to the Atlantic coast.

            All species look alike microscopically.

Distribution of American Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua).

            Sweet Gum (Liquidambar spp./Hammelidaceae) contains 4 species that grow in; North America and Central America (1), southwest Asia, eastern China and Taiwan (3). The North American species is L. styraciflua, which occurs naturally in the southeastern United States. Its range extends from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, south to Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas, and east to the Atlantic coast. All species look alike microscopically.

SpeciesCommon NameDistribution
Liquidambar acalycinaChang’s SweetgumCentral & Southern China
Liquidambar formosanaChinese/Formosan SweetgumCentral & Southern China Souhern Korea Northern parts of Thailand, Taiwan, Laos & Vietnam
Liquidambar orientalisOriental/Turkish SweetgumSouthwest Turkey & Greece
Liquidambar styracifluaAmerican SweetgumSee Map Below

Fig. 1. Distribution map for genera of Altingiaceae, based mainly on Chang (1962), Little (1971), Wood (1972), Boratynska (1984), and Efe (1987). Liquidambar formosana and L. acalycina have the same geographic areas in China.

            From: Stefanie M. Ickert-bond, Kathleen B. Pigg, and Jun Wen. 2005. Comparative infructescence morphology in liquidambar (Altingiaceae) and its evolutionary significance. American Journal of Botany 92(8): 1234–1255.

Distribution of American Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua).

            Hackberry (Celtis spp./Ulmaceae) contains about 60 species, mostly tropical, but at least 4 temperate species, with the wood being used for charcoal, fence posts and fuel and the bark for a yellow dye. The European species (C. australis) is widely planted in the Mediterranean region for its timber. The fruits of this species were the lotus referred to in Homer’s Odyssey.

Eastern North AmericaEurope
Common NameScientific NameCommon NameScientific Name
Georgia HackberryC. tenuifoliaNettle TreeC. australis
HackberryC. occidentalis  
SugarberryC. laevigata  

            Hazel (Corylus spp./Corylaceae) is comprised of about 10 northern temperate species, with 3 in Eurasia. The fruits are known as Hazels or Filberts.

Eastern North AmericaEurasia
Common NameScientific NameCommon NameScientific Name
American HazelC. americanaHazelC. avellana
  Turkish HazelC. colurna
  FilbertC. maxima

Hazolava ( Neobeguea mahafaliensis Leroy/Meliaceae), also known as “handy”, is native to Tropical Mainland Africa and adjacent islands (Madagascar, Mauritius, Reunion & Comoros). Trees grow to heights of 36 to 80 feet and produces a durable timber w/a fine grain and an air-dry density of 0.91-1.01 g/m3. It is used for flooring and fine furniture.          

            Hickory (Carya spp./Juglandaceae) is composed of at least 16 species native to Asia (4), Central America (4) and North America (11), including southeastern Canada.  The European species became extinct during the Ice Age. With a large enough sample, this genus can be split into the True Hickory Group and the Pecan Group based on microanatomy. See Taras, M.A. and B.F. Kukachka. 1970. Forest Products Journal 20(4): 58-59.

True Hickory GroupPecan Group
(earlywood w/out banded parenchyma)(earlywood with banded parenchyma)
Shagbark HickoryCarya ovataPecanCarya illinoensis
Pignut HickoryCarya glabraWater HickoryCarya aquatica
Shellbark HickoryCarya lacinosaNutmeg HickoryCarya myristicaeformis
Mockernut HickoryCarya tomentosaBitternut HickoryCarya cordiformis
Red HickoryCarya ovalis  

            Holly (Ilex spp./Aquifoliaceae) is composed of about 400 species with a cosmopolitan distribution, especially the temperate and tropical regions of Asia and the Americas. All species look alike microscopically. According to Hinckley: “During the 16th Century, holly was utilized in intarsia work, later being employed as a medium of parquetry and marquetry decorations, as a panel or border veneer and as a banding material. It was also ebonized to serve as a substitute for ebony, …”

Eastern North AmericaEurope
Common NameScientific NameCommon NameScientific Name
American HollyI. opacaHollyI. aquifolium
Carolina HollyI. ambigua  
Common WinterberryI. verticillata  
Sarvis HollyI. amelanchier  

            Hornbeam (Carpinus spp. & Ostrya spp./Betulaceae) contains about 45 northern temperate species. Also known as Ironwood. Species in each genus look alike microscopically. 

 Eastern North AmericaEurope
Common NameScientific NameCommon NameScientific Name
American HornbeamC. carolinianaHornbeamCarpinus. betulus
Eastern HophornbeamO. virginianaHop-HornbeamOstrya carpinifolia

            Hophornbeam (Ostrya spp./Betulaceae) contains about 10 species native to southern Europe (1), southwest and eastern Asia (5) North America (3) and Mexico (1). All species in this genus look alike microscopically. With respect to provenance of furniture, it identity is most likely to be Ostrya virginiana, as Hinckley does not mention the European Hophornbeam use in English/European objects. [From: Directory of the Historic Cabinet Woods. F. Lewis Hinckley. Bonanza Books 1960. pg. 143]

Ostrya carpinifolia      European Hophornbeam

Ostrya chisosensis       Big Bend Hophornbeam, Chisos Hophornbeam

Ostrya knowltonii        Ironwood, Knowlton Hophornbeam, Western Hophornbeam,                                                       Wolf Hophornbeam

Ostrya virginiana*      American Hophornbeam, Deerwood, Eastern Hophornbeam,                                                        Hardhack, Hornbeam, Ironwood, Leverwood, Ostria

* Commercially important

The following is for Eastern Hophornbeam:

            Distribution: North America, from Nova Scotia to Maine, Quebec, Ontario, Michigan, Minnesota, Manitoba and North Dakota south to South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma Texas and Mexico east to Florida.

            The Tree: Hophornbeams are small deciduous trees with scaly rough bark. The leaves are double toothed and of alternate arrangement. The male flowers are borne on upright catkins, while the female flowers and fruits are grouped in clusters, resembling hops. They reach heights of 60 feet and 2 feet in diameter. It prefers upland soils in hilly country.

            The Wood

            General: The sapwood of Hophornbeam is wide and whitish, while the heartwood is light brown with red streaks. It has no characteristic odor or taste. It is very heavy and hard. It is sometimes confused with birch.

            Working Properties: Very difficult to work.

            Uses: Furniture, axles, handles, levers, mallets, splitting wedges, canes, wooden wares, novelties, fuel wood.

            Toxicity: No information available at this time.

Alden, H. 1995. Hardwoods of North America. USDA Forest Service, General Technical Report FPL-GTR-83. Madison, Wisconsin, 136 pp.

            Horse Chestnut (Aesculus spp./Hippocastanaceae) contains about 13 species, which grow in the United States [6], Mexico [1] and Eurasia [6]. Species cannot be separated based on microanatomy. The name aesculus is a Latin name of a European oak or other mast-bearing tree.

            Indian Laurel (Terminalia alata/Combretaceae) formerly T. tomentosa is also known as Taukkyan (Burma), Sadar, Saj, Matti, Asan, Marda (India). The tree is widely distributed in India, Burma and Nepal from Terai to an elevation of about 5000 feet in the sub-Himalayan region. Trees may reach heights of over 100 ft, with clear, straight boles to 70 ft and trunk diameters about 3 ft. The heartwood of Indian Laurel varies from light brown with few markings to dark brown or brownish black that is figured with darker streaks. The sapwood has a reddish tinge and is sharply differentiated from the heartwood.  Its grain is fairly straight with a coarse texture that can be dull to somewhat lustrous. The wood is without characteristic odor or taste. It is a strong and tough (basic specific gravity = 0.73 and air-dry density is 54 pounds per cubic foot) and is rather difficult to work with hand tools if grain is irregular. It machines well and is a good turnery wood, but it is reported to be difficult to glue and nail. The heartwood is moderately durable, with the sapwood liable to powder-post beetle attack. It is used for block board, boatbuilding, cabinetwork, decorative veneers, furniture, and general plywood. heavy packing cases, house building (beams, rafters, purlins, trusses, struts, columns, doors and window frames), joinery, paneling, parquet flooring, railroad crossties (treated), sliced veneers are used for decorative paneling and high-class furniture, specialty items and tea chests.

            Ipe (Tabebuia spp.)  Lapacho Group

            Now: Ipe [Handroanthus heptaphyllus (Vell.) Mattos] Lapacho Negro

            Family: Bignoniaceae

            Other Common Names: Amapa (Mexico), Cortez (Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica), Guayacan (Panama), Guayacan polvillo (Colombia), Flor Amarillo (Venezuela), Greenhart (Surinam), Madera negra (Ecuador), Tahuari (Peru), Ipe (Brazil), Lapacho negro (Paraguay, Argentina).

            Distribution: Throughout continental tropical America and some of the Lesser Antilles.  The tree grows on a variety of sites, from ridge tops to riverbanks and marsh forests.

            The Tree: May grow to 140 to 150 ft in height with trunk diameters of 6 ft.  Frequently to heights of 100 ft and diameters of 2 to 3 ft.  Boles are clear to 60 ft and more, with or without buttresses.

            The Wood:

            General Characteristics: Heartwood olive brown to blackish, often with lighter or darker striping, often covered with a yellow powder; sharply demarcated from the whitish or yellowish sapwood.  Texture fine to medium; luster low to medium; grain straight to very irregular; rather oily looking; without distinctive odor or taste.

            Weight: Basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) 0.85 to 0.97; air- dry density 66 to 75 pcf.

            Mechanical Properties: (First and third sets of data based on the 2-in.  standard, the second on the 1-in.  standard.)

Moisture content   Bending strength   Modulus of elasticity   Maximum crushing strength

            (%)                  (Psi)                 (1,000 psi)                   (Psi)

Green (73)                   22,560                         2,920                                       10,350

12%                                         25,360                         3,140                                       13,010

12% (24)                     25,200                         3,010                                       14,000

12% (44)                     28,000                         3,350                           NA

            Janka side hardness 3,060 lb for green material and 3,680 lb at 12% moisture content. Forest Products Laboratory toughness average for green and dry material is 404 in.-lb. (5/8-in.  specimen).

            Drying and Shrinkage: Generally reported to air-dry rapidly with only slight checking and warping.  Kiln schedule T3-C1 is suggested for 4/4 stock.  Shrinkage green to ovendry: radial 6.6%; tangential 8.0%; volumetric 13.2%.  Movement after manufacture is rated as small.

            Working Properties: Moderately difficult to work especially with hand tools; has a blunting effect on cutting edges, finishes smoothly except where grain is very roey The fine yellow dust produced in most operations may cause dermatitis in some workers.

            Durability: Heartwood is very resistant to attack by decay fungi and termites; not resistant to marine borers.  T. guayacan however, is reported to have good resistance in Panama waters.

            Preservation: The wood is reported to be extremely resistant to preservation treatments.

            Uses: Railroad crossties, heavy construction, tool handles, turnery, industrial flooring, textile mill items, decorative veneers.

Additional Reading: (24), (44), (46), (73)

24.  Food and Agriculture Organization.  1970.  Estudio de preinversion para el desarrollo forestal de la Guyana Venezolana.  lnforme final. Tomo III.  Las madera del area del proyecto. FAO Report FAO/SF: 82 VEN 5. Rome.

44.  Llach, C. L. 1971.  Properties and uses of 113 timber-yielding species of Panama.  Part 3. Physical and mechanical properties of 113 tree species.  FO-UNDP/PAN/6.  FAO, Rome.

46.  Longwood, F. R. 1962.  Present and potential commercial timbers of the Caribbean.  Agriculture Handbook No.  207.  U.S.  Department of Agriculture.

73.  Wangaard, F. F., A. Koehler, and A. F. Muschler.  1954.  Properties and uses of  tropical woods, IV.  Tropical Woods No.  99:1-187.

From: Chudnoff, Martin. 1984. Tropical Timbers of the World. USDA Forest Service. Ag. Handbook No. 607.

Ipe

Tabebuia spp.  (Lapacho group)

            Ipe, Bethabara, Lapacho

            Family: Bignoniaceae

            Other Common Names: Amapa (Mexico), Cortez (Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica), Guayacan (Panama), Guayacan polvillo (Colombia), Flor Amarillo (Venezuela), Greenhart (Surinam), Madera negra (Ecuador), Tahuari (Peru), Ipe (Brazil), Lapacho negro (Paraguay, Argentina).

            Distribution: Throughout continental tropical America and some of the Lesser Antilles.  The tree grows on a variety of sites, from ridge tops to riverbanks and marsh forests.

            The Tree: May grow to 140 to 150 ft in height with trunk diameters of 6 ft.  Frequently to heights of 100 ft and diameters of 2 to 3 ft.  Boles are clear to 60 ft and more, with or without buttresses.

            The Wood:

            General Characteristics: Heartwood olive brown to blackish, often with lighter or darker striping, often covered with a yellow powder; sharply demarcated from the whitish or yellowish sapwood.  Texture fine to medium; luster low to medium; grain straight to very irregular; rather oily looking; without distinctive odor or taste.

            Weight: Basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) 0.85 to 0.97; air- dry density 66 to 75 pcf.

            Mechanical Properties: (First and third sets of data based on the 2-in.  standard, the second on the 1-in.  standard.)

Moisture content   Bending strength   Modulus of elasticity   Maximum crushing strength

            (%)                  (Psi)                 (1,000 psi)                   (Psi)

Green (73)                   22,560                         2,920                                       10,350

12%                                         25,360                         3,140                                       13,010

12% (24)                     25,200                         3,010                                       14,000

12% (44)                     28,000                         3,350                           NA

            Janka side hardness 3,060 lb for green material and 3,680 lb at 12% moisture content. Forest Products Laboratory toughness average for green and dry material is 404 in.-lb. (5/8-in.  specimen).

            Drying and Shrinkage: Generally reported to air-dry rapidly with only slight checking and warping.  Kiln schedule T3-C1 is suggested for 4/4 stock.  Shrinkage green to ovendry: radial 6.6%; tangential 8.0%; volumetric 13.2%.  Movement after manufacture is rated as small.

            Working Properties: Moderately difficult to work especially with hand tools; has a blunting effect on cutting edges, finishes smoothly except where grain is very roey The fine yellow dust produced in most operations may cause dermatitis in some workers.

            Durability: Heartwood is very resistant to attack by decay fungi and termites; not resistant to marine borers.  T. guayacan however, is reported to have good resistance in Panama waters.

            Preservation: The wood is reported to be extremely resistant to preservation treatments.

            Uses: Railroad crossties, heavy construction, tool handles, turnery, industrial flooring, textile mill items, decorative veneers.

Additional Reading: (24), (44), (46), (73)

24.  Food and Agriculture Organization.  1970.  Estudio de preinversion para el desarrollo forestal de la Guyana Venezolana.  lnforme final. Tomo III.  Las madera del area del proyecto. FAO Report FAO/SF: 82 VEN 5. Rome.

44.  Llach, C. L. 1971.  Properties and uses of 113 timber-yielding species of Panama.  Part 3. Physical and mechanical properties of 113 tree species.  FO-UNDP/PAN/6.  FAO, Rome.

46.  Longwood, F. R. 1962.  Present and potential commercial timbers of the Caribbean.  Agriculture Handbook No.  207.  U.S.  Department of Agriculture.

73.  Wangaard, F. F., A. Koehler, and A. F. Muschler.  1954.  Properties and uses of  tropical woods, IV.  Tropical Woods No.  99:1-187.

From: Chudnoff, Martin. 1984. Tropical Timbers of the World. USDA Forest Service. Ag. Handbook No. 607.

                               Katong matsin [Chisocheton pentandrus (Blanco) Merr./Meliaceae] is native to Oceana and Southeast Asia. The heartwood color ranges from yellow to brown to red with a wide range of basic specific gravity (0.40 to well above 0.75).

Category Green Dry Unit
Bending Strength 7710 13640 psi   Crushing Strength (Perp.) 449 1220 psi   Max. Crushing Strength 3500 6980 psi   Static Bending (FSPL) 4438 8207 psi   Stiffness 862 1520 1000 psi   Hardness 1074 lbs   Shearing Strength 1360 psi   Toughness 293 in-lbs   Specific Gravity 0.52 0.57

            Keruing or Apitong (Dipterocarpus spp./ Dipterocarpaceae) is composed of over 70 species, which are marketed collectively. They occur throughout Indo-Malaysia and those from Malaysia are the most variable in physical and mechanical properties. Other common names include; Eng, In (Burma), Yang, Heng (Thailand), Lagan, Keroeing (Indonesia), Dau (Vietnam, Cambodia) and Gurjun (India). The tree characteristics are variable within this genus, but they commonly reach heights of 100 to 200 ft. with clear, cylindrical boles 70 ft. long; trunk diameters 3 to 6 ft., commonly with a small buttressed base.

            The heartwood varies from light to dark red brown or brown to dark brown, sometimes with a purple tint; usually well-defined from the gray or buff sapwood.  The texture is moderately coarse. The grain is straight or shallowly interlocked. It has a low luster and a strong resinous odor when freshly cut.  The resin exudation may be troublesome and its silica content is variable, generally less than 0.5%.

            Its basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) is generally 0.57 to 0.65 and its air-dry density is 45 to 50 pounds per cubic foot (0.64 – 0.94 g/cc), but both can vary widely.

            It dries slowly often with considerable degrade due to checking and warp and sometimes collapse.  Resin exudation is common, particularly at high temperatures.  Kiln schedule T3-D2 is suggested for 4/4 stock and T3-D1 for 8/4. Shrinkage green to air dry: radial 2.5 to 5.5%; tangential 7.5 to 11.5%.  Movement in service is medium to large.

            Keruing generally saws and machines well, particularly when green. Blunting of cutters is moderate to severe due to silica content and it is sometimes difficult to glue.  Resin adhering to machinery and tools may be troublesome and also interfere with finishes. Its durability varies with species, generally classified as moderately durable, but the heartwood is susceptible to termite attack.  However, silica content may be high and resistance to marine borers is erratic.       The sapwood and heartwood are both rated as moderately resistant to preservative treatments using either open tank or pressure systems.

Keruing is used for general construction work, framework for boats, flooring, pallets, chemical processing equipment, veneer and plywood. It is suggested for railroad crossties if treated with preservatives.

Mechanical Properties: (2-in.  standard)
Moisture contentBending strengthModulus of elasticityMaximum crushing strength
 Psi1,000 psiPsi
Green (3)            8,5001,7504,050
12%                               2,5108,60016,700
Green (1)                 1,7105,69011,900
12%                         2,08019,90010,500

            The Janka side hardness about 1,520 lb for dry material, while the Forest Products Laboratory toughness factor is 240 in.-lb for green material (2-cm specimen).

Additional Reading: 

1.  Burgess, P. F. 1966. Timbers of Sabah. Sabah For. Rec. No. 6.

2.  Farmer, R. H. 1972. Handbook of hardwoods. HMSO. London.

3. Lauricio, F. M. and S. B. Bellosillo. 1966. The mechanical and related properties of Philippine hardwoods. The      Lumberman 12(5):66+A-H.

4.  Pearson, R. S. and H. P. Brown. 1932. Commercial timbers of India. Gov. of India Central Publ. Br.             Calcutta.

Modified from: Chudnoff, Martin.1984. Tropical Timbers of the World. USDA Forest Service. Ag. Handbook No. 607.

Koa (Acacia koa A. Gray / Leguminosae) The genus Acacia is composed of 600 to 800 species, 21 of which are native to the United States, with the rest native to the tropics and subtropics. The word acacia is the classical Greek name of a thorny tree of Egypt, thought to be of this genus, form the Greek word for thorn. The word koa is a native name meaning warrior or soldier. Other common names include Black Koa, Curly Koa, Figured Koa, Hawaiian Mahogany, Koaia, Koa-Ka, Koalaunui, Round-log Koa and Square-log Koa. Koa is native to the Hawaiian Islands.

Koa trees reach heights of 100 feet with diameters of 4 feet. It grows a most elevations on the islands, but grows best in areas of heavy rainfall form 3,000 to 6,000 feet. It is the most conspicuous tree growing between the low, open dry forest and the wet ohia forest. Koa trees have gray bark, spreading branches and flat, curved petioles (phyllodes) which act as leaves. Koa is readily propagated, grows rapidly and has been planted as a soil conservation measure. The bark is astringent and has been used medicinally and for tanning leather.

Koa sapwood is narrow and a yellowish white, while the heartwood ranges form light brown to dark brown, with golden or red tinges, or darker streaks. The color is supposed to be influenced by growing conditions. It has no distinctive odor or taste, although it imparts a flavor when used for food service. It is fluorescent under UV light. It has been reported that trees form areas of heavy rain produce straight grain, while those at higher elevations produce more figured wood.

Koa is brittle and has variations in density, making it difficult to work. It is difficult to plane by machine or by hand. It glues well, but tends to burn when machined with routers or drum sanders. It carves well and polishes to a high finish. It is resistant to insects and fungi.

It was used historically for Dugout canoes, early surfboards, royal coffins, spear handles, ukuleles, general construction and ships knees. It was and is the royal wood of Native Hawaiians, used for everything in contact with the royal family, including steps.

It is currently used for cabinetry, furniture, interior trim, boats, boat planking, veneers, ukuleles, organs, pianos & other musical instruments, radio cabinets, oars, paddles, picture frames, handles, gun stocks, crutches, wheels, posts, fencing, bridges, railway cars, poi bowls, turnery & carvings.

            Laburnum (Laburnum spp./Leguminosae) is comprised of about 31 species, 3 of which are native to south central and south eastern Europe. The dark, hard wood is used as an ebony substitute in inlays and musical instruments.

            Lacewood (family Proteaceae) consists of about 75 genera and 1350 species of evergreen shrubs and trees, most of which are native to Australia and South Africa. The main timber genera include Banksia Cardwellia, Grevillea, Knightia, Orites & Panopsis.

Letterwood/Snakewood [Brosimum/Piratinera guinanensis (Aubl.) Huber/Moraceae] is native to the Neotropics, temperate Brazil and Tropical South America. It is also called speckledwood, leopardwood, tortoiseshellwood. The trees grew to heights of over 100 feet, with commercially useful diameters to 1.5 feet.

It was used in English furniture as an inlay during the 17th, 18th and early 19th Centuries. During the same time, it was used in French marquetry and as a border veneer in Early American Furniture. (Hinckley).

Hinckley, F. Lewis. 1960. Directory of the Historic Cabinet Woods. Bonanza Books, New York. 186 pp.

Leadwood (Combretum imberbe Wawra / Combretaceae) is a species native to Southern Africa, south of the Tropic of Capricorn. It is also known as Hardekool, Sotho: Mohwelere-tšhipi, Tsonga: Motswiri, Zulu: Impondondlovu). The tree is regarded as the great ancestor of all animals and people (Namibia).  It is a protected species in South Africa. The wood is a dark brown to dark reddish brown and very hard and heavy (thus the name). It is so heavy that it sinks in water (1200 kg/m3). Its uses included Railway Sleepers and hoes and now is used in ornamental carvings, turned objects, small novelties and furniture.

            Lignum-vitae (Guaiacum spp. L. /Zygophyllaceae), also known as Guayacán or Gaïac,  is composed of about 5 species of slow growing shrubs and trees in the Caltrop Family (Zygophyllaceae), native to subtropical and tropical regions of Central and South America. The five recognized species are:

  • Guaiacum angustifolium Engelm. – Texas Lignum-vitae (Texas, Northeastern Mexico)
  • Guaiacum coulteri A.Gray – Sonoran Lignum-vitae (Western Mexico, Guatemala)
  • Guaiacum officinale L. – Common Lignum-vitae (The Caribbean, Northern South America)
  • Guaiacum sanctum L. – Hollywood Lignum-vitae (southern Florida, The Bahamas, Southern Mexico, Central America, Greater Antilles)
  • Guaiacum unijugum Brandegee – no common name (Northwestern Mexico)

The common name, Lignum-vitae, is actually a Latin phrase meaning “tree of life” as it was originally (16th C) thought to cure syphilis and other diseases (coughs, gout, rheumatism and arthritis). See Wikipedia for more detailed medical information.

The wood of Guaiacum officinale is the densest and hardest commercial hardwood it will sink when placed in water and was used as shaft bearings in submarines (USS Nautilus – SSN-571) and hydro-electric power plants (Conowingo), due to its self-lubricating properties in water. It was also used in cricket balls, croquet mallets, mortars & pestles, British police truncheons, belaying pins, deadeyes, and sheaves of blocks on 18th C sailing ships (HMS DeBraak).

Logs with 20” diameters were common during the 18th Century. “When this timber was first imported into England, during the early years of the 16th Century, it was especially valued for the medicinal properties of its resin, known a s guaiacum and used as a remedy for gout, rheumatism and other ailments. During the following century the wood was employed by cabinet makers working in Holland and the British Isles, and by turners who supplied wassailing vessels of the period. Some furniture was completely of partially made of the solid wood, and in other instances it was utilized as a veneer. The smaller timbers were cut transversely or obliquely across the grain, when the resulting oyster pieces were used to form parquetry panels in which portions of the yellow sapwood were allowed to remain as a decorative feature of this work. As bois de gaiac the wood is also recorded as a medium for French marquetry work.” [From: Directory of the Historic Cabinet Woods. F. Lewis Hinckley. Bonanza Books 1960.]

 The wood of all species look alike microscopically – species determination are based on tree characteristics, like flowers, fruits and leaves, and the wood is evolutionarily conservative.

            Locust, Black (Robinia pseudoacacia/Leguminosae). The genus Robinia is composed of about 10 species native to eastern North America and Mexico. The genus Robinia is dedicated to Jean Robin (1550-1629) and his son Vespasian Robin (1579-1662), herbalists to kings of France and first to cultivate locust in Europe. The heartwood exhibits a bright yellow fluorescence under long wave UV light.

Current distribution of Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia).

Logwood (Haematoxylum campechianum/Leguminosae-Caes) is native to northern Central America and southern Mexico. It is prized as a dye wood and it was a significant industry by the late 16th century. A single shipload of it was worth a year’s income with any other cargo. The country of British Honduras (now Belize) had its beginnings as logwood logging camps between 1640 and 1660. Their national emblem depicts two logwood cutters. Thousands of tons of it were exported to the Old World in the 18th & 19th centuries. It was introduced to and had become naturalized into other Caribbean countries by the early 1700’s. During this time, on Haiti and Jamaica there was widespread deforestation of this valuable plantation crop. The genus “Haemato  xylum” means blood (think hematoma)  and secondary xylem or wood , due to the blood red dye that appears in water. The tree is small, with a spiny bark and a highly fluted (furrowed) stem.

            Macawood or Trebol (Platymiscium spp./ Leguminosae-Papilionoideae)

            Other Common Names: Granadillo (Mexico, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras), Coyote, Cristobal (Costa Rica), Trebol, Guayacan trebol (Colombia), Roble (Venezuela), Koenatepi (Surinam), Macacauba, Jacaranda do brejo (Brazil), Cumaseba (Peru).

            Distribution: Continental tropical America from southern Mexico to the Brazilian Amazon region, and Trinidad.

            The Tree: Heights to 80 ft with trunk diameters of 28 to 42 in.; boles are straight, cylindrical, and clear to 60 ft; buttressed.

            The Wood:

            General Characteristics: Heartwood bright red to reddish or purplish brown, more or less distinctly striped; darker specimens look waxy; sharply demarcated from the nearly white sapwood.  Luster medium to high; grain straight to roey; texture mostly medium to fine, sometimes coarse; without distinctive odor or taste.

            Weight: Basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) varies with species from 0.73 to 0.94; air-dry density 55 to 73 pcf.

            Mechanical Properties: (First set of data based on the 2-in. standard, the second set on the 2-cm standard, and the third set on the 1-in. standard.)

Moisture Content   Bending Strength   Modulus of Elasticity   Maximum Crushing Strength

            (%)                      (Psi)                     (1,000 psi)                              (Psi)__________

Green                          22,320                     3,020                               10,540

12%                             27,600                     3,200                               16,100

Green                          15,900                     2,130                               7,460

15%                             17,500                      NA                                             8,940

12%                             16,800                     2,500                               9,800

            Janka side hardness at 12% moisture content ranges from 1,710 lb.  to 3,200 lb. Amsler toughness at 12% moisture content is 242 in.-lb (2-cm specimen).

            Drying and Shrinkage: Generally reported to air-dry slowly with a slight tendency to warp and check.  No data available on kiln schedules.  Shrinkage green to ovendry: radial 2.7%; tangential 3.5%; volumetric 6.5% (P.  pinnatum); values are remarkably low for a wood of this density.

            Working Properties: Not very difficult to work, finishes smoothly, and takes a high polish.

            Durability: Heartwood reported to be highly resistant to attack by decay fungi and insects; resistance to dry-wood termites is rated very high.

            Preservation: Heartwood is highly resistant to preservation treatments; sapwood responds with good absorption, but irregular penetration.

            Uses: Fine furniture and cabinet work, decorative veneers, musical instruments, turnery, joinery, specialty items (violin bows, billiard cues).

Additional Reading:

Food and Agriculture Organization. 1970. Estudio de preinversion para el desarrollo forestal de la Guyana Venezolana. lnforme final. Tomo III. Las madera del area del proyecto. FAO Report FAO/SF: 82 VEN 5. Rome.

Instituto de Pesquisas Tecnologicas. 1956. Tabelas de resultados obtidos para madeiras nacionais. Bol. Inst. Pesqu. tec. Sao Paulo No. 31.

Vink, A. T. 1965. Surinam timbers: A summary of available information with brief descriptions of the main species of Surinam. Surinam Forest Service, Paramaribo.

Wangaard, F. F., W. L. Stern, and S.L. Goodrich. 1955. Properties and uses tropical woods, V. Tropical Woods No. 103:1-139.

From: Martin Chudnoff, 1984. Tropical Timbers of the World. United States Department of Agriculture

Forest Service, Agriculture Handbook Number 607, September 1984.

            Magnolia (Magnolia spp./Magnoliaceae) consists of 30 to 80 species from Asia (50), West Indies (8), Central/South America (10) and North America (8). Species separations are sometimes possible for the following based on microscopic characters.

Eastern North AmericaEurope
Scientific NameCommon NameScientific NameCommon Name
M. acuminataCucumber TreeM. soulangeanaGrossblumigen Magnolie
M. grandifloraSouthern Magnolia  
M. virginianaSweetbay  
M. tripetalaUmbrella Magnolia  
M. fraseriFraser Magnolia  
  Asia
  M. obovataHonoki
    

Cucumber Tree (Magnolia acuminata L. / Magnoliaceae) I referenced in F. Lewis Hinckley’s Directory of Historic Cabinet Woods. 1960. Bonanza Books. On page 21 it mentions add in 1770 by Benjamin Randolf of the use of Cucumber Tree wood in making buttons. On page 45, Hinckley mentions Cucumber Tree as an important American timber.

Current distribution of Cucumber Tree (Magnolia acuminata).

            Magnolia (Magnolia spp./Magnoliaceae) consists of 30 to 80 species from Asia (50), West Indies (8), Central/South America (10) and North America (8). Species separations are sometimes possible for the following based on microscopic characters.

Laurel Magnolia (Magnolia splendens Urb./Magnoliaceae) is native to eastern Puerto Rico, but has been introduced into Mexico and Central America It is also known as bella, laurel, laurel sabino and sabino. It is a medium to large (16 – 80 feet tall) evergreen tree that produces an aromatic wood prized for carvings (including Santos) and cabinet making. The wood is hard and moderately strong with a density of  0.59 g/cm3. It has a whitish sapwood while the heartwood ranges from olive green to brown. It also has a fine, uniform texture with straight to wavy grain. It is easy to air dry and works well with both hand tools and machinery. It is also used for furniture, decorative veneer, plywood, millwork, durable construction, boat planking and general carpentry. [Weaver, Peter L. 1997. Magnolia splendens Urban laurel sabino. Magnoliaceae, Magnolia family. Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico: USDA Forest Service, International Institute of Tropical Forestry; . 7 p. (IITF-SM; 80 ). Notes: Part of the Silvics Manual Series, under SO-ITF-SM.]

            Its microscopic anatomy (a combination of several features) makes it unique within the Magnoliaceae family.

            Mahogany, African (Khaya spp./Meliaceae) is composed of about 7 species of tropical origin in Africa and Madagascar. It was not used in English/European furniture until about 1830 and proved unsatisfactory as a furniture wood (see F. Lewis Hinckley, Directory of the Historic Cabinet Woods. 1960. Bonanza Books, pages 129 & 130).

Mahogany, True (Swietenia spp./Meliaceae) is named after von Swieten, a Dutch physician and Baron. The genus Swietenia contains 3 recognized species native to southern Florida, Central and South America. Jacquin described the genus in 1760. During the late 17th Century and early 18th Century it appears in records as mohogony, mohogany, muhagnee, mehogeny, mehogenny, mahogoni, mahoginy, and finally (by 1724) as mahogany. In France it is called Acajou.

            The use of True Mahogany dates to the 16th Century, when it was thought to be a type of “cedar”. Cortez used it in construction of ships, while Sir Walter Raleigh used it to repair his vessels. Philip II of Spain, in 1563, used it in construction of doors, windows, bookshelves and desks in the Escorial Palace, and it was used in England in Nottingham Castle in 1680 for wainscoting and flooring, as was the Trinity College Chapel in 1692. By 1724 it appeared in inventories of the Duchess of Buckingham (a bureau) and George I (2 desert tables, 2 clothes chests and 1 dinner table). The Prime Minister (Houghton Hall, 1740) used mahogany for paneling, staircases, doors and window frames.  Mahogany wood from Jamaica was first advertised in the London Gazette in 1702. It was commonly used in furniture in England from 1715 onwards, mostly as tables. The tables were gate-legged, with either straight legs with clubfeet or plain cabriole legs. Tables were made with large tops because of the huge logs of Mahogany used.

            The first Mahogany imported into England was from Jamaica, followed by wood from Cuba (early 18th C.). By the late 18th C., wood came from Honduras, where trees that grew near the coast could be harvested cheaply. The wood was also imported to London in the early 18th C. from Carolina, Jamaica, New Providence, New York, Virginia and Maryland. In the 17th & 18th C’s Honduran Mahogany made its way to England via Jamaica. It was called Jamaican Mahogany to avoid the 1725 duty of 8 Pounds per ton. At this time a black market of “Mahogany Runners” was established. By 1774 the “Jamaican” Mahogany imported to the colonies was 10,000 feet, compared to 500,000 feet imported to England.

            Trees were cut 4-5 feet above the ground, leaving the “stump wood” for harvest later, when supplies were scarce and the wood expensive. This lower wood had a beautiful figure (quilted, tortoise-shell or plum pudding) with black spots through it (probably small roots). This wood is very dense and quite lustrous. [Constantine, 1975; Latham, 1957]

            The two commercial species are S. macrophylla or Honduran Mahogany and S. mahagani or Cuban/West Indies Mahogany. S. mahagani can be identified if storied rays (ripple marks) are present or if a sample is very dark red-brown or with a purplish tinge, is dense and has white deposits (catechols) in the vessels. The density for S. macrophylla is from 0.35 to 0.65 grams per cubic centimeter, while for S. mahagani is from 0.35 to 0.85. [Record & Hess, 1943] This means that if the sample has a specific gravity above 0.65 g/cc that it is most likely Cuban/West Indies Mahogany. If the sample is below this density, it technically could be either species, but is most likely S. macrophylla.

            Plantation Grown:  As opposed to Old Growth, Plantation Grown trees produce wood with significantly larger growth rings.

With respect to old growth True Mahogany (Swietenia spp.), ring counts per inch can range from 25 to 40-60 (Cheng-Jung Lin, 2012). Plantation grown samples were in the 2 – 15 rings per inch range, with exceptionally dense individuals containing 25 rings per inch (Alvarado, J.R. Thesis2009).

Alvarado, J.R. Thesis Universidade de São Paulo Escola Superior de Agricultura “Luiz de Queiroz”2009. Dendrocronologia de árvores de mogno, Swietenia macrophylla King., Meliaceae, ocorrentes na floresta tropical Amazônica do Departamento de Madre de Dios, Peru.

Cheng-Jung Lin, 2012. Tree ring characteristics of 30-year-old Swietenia macrophylla plantation trees. Wood and Fiber Science, 44(2):202-213.

Manariballi (Dimorphandra polyandra Benoist/Leguminosae – Caesalpinioideae) is one of about 9 species in the genus Dimorphandra. It is native to South America (Brazil, Guyana, Surinam and Venezuela. Other common names are aieoueko, dakama, huruhurudan, light manariballi, and mora. It is a tree of 120-160 feet in height, with boles of 3 feet in diameter. It is used in joinery and light carpentry, boxes, crates and furniture.

Mango or Machang (Mangifera spp.) Anacardiaceae. Also known as: Thayet (Burma), Membatjang, Mangga (Indonesia), Xoai (Indochina Asam (Sabah), Malapaho, Pahutan (Philippines). Mango is distributed throughout tropical Asia, most species found in Malaya.  M. indica produces the mango fruit of commerce and has been introduced throughout tropical and subtropical areas of the world.

Mango tree sizes can vary with species and may reach heights of 80 to 100 ft with boles to 65 ft; trunk diameters 3 to 4 ft; sometimes with small to prominent buttresses.  Open- grown trees cultivated for the fruit have a short main stem with massive branching.  Skin of fruit may cause a rash.

The heartwood od Mango is light pinkish brown, light brown, dark brown, or golden, black streaks sometimes present; sapwood not always clearly defined; texture moderately fine to coarse; grain interlocked, sometimes straight; lustrous; without distinctive odor or taste. It is generally reported to be easy to work, but smoothness of cut varies with grain irregularities, torn grain is common; finishes and polishes well. The heartwood is vulnerable to attack by decay fungi as well as termites. It is used for joinery, furniture components, carvings, face veneers and core stock for plywood, turnery, and flooring.

African Pear (Manilkara obovata/Sapotaceae). I have no information on this wood at this time. It appears similar to Balata, although red in color, and lighter in density and hardness.

Sapodilla (Manilkara zapota & M. chicle/Sapotaceae) contains 2 species of Manilkara native to Mexico, Central America and Colombia, but is widely planted in the tropics.

Manilkara chicle         Chicle Macho, Chicozapote de Hoja Ancha, Nispero, Nispero de                                                     Monte, Nispero de Montana, Sapodilla, Zapotillo

Manilkara zapota        Balata, Breiapfel, Bully-tree, Chewing-gum-tree, Korob,                                                                  Mispelboom, Muy, Muyozapot, Naseberry, Neesberry, Nusberry,                                                    Nispero, Nispero Quitense, Sapodilla, Sapote, Sapotier, Sapotilla,                                                    Sapotillbaum, Sapotille, Sapottillier, Sappadill, Tzicozapotl, Ya,                                                      apote Chico, Zapote Colorado, Zapote Morado, Zapotillo

The Tree: Sapodilla trees grow to a height of 120 feet, with diameters of 3 to 5 feet. It grows best in calcareous marl and degraded limestone. When clearing the land, the Mayas are thought to have spared this sacred tree, giving it an advantage when the jungle grew back after the Mayas demise. The tree has shiny, dark evergreen leaves and fruits about the size of a chicken’s egg with yellowish pulp and 4-5 black seeds. The bark contains latex, used for chewing gum.

General Wood Characteristics: The sapwood is pinkish, while the heartwood is dark red or reddish brown. It has a low luster and has no distinctive odor or taste. It is very hard and heavy, with a fine texture and straight grain.

Working Properties: Not easy to work, as it has a tendency to splinter, but can be finished smoothly. Veneers glue well. It finishes and turns well and drills cleanly, but nail holes must be prebored.

Durability: Highly resistant to decay, esp. fungi and insects. Fairly resistant to marine borers.

Uses: Lintel and beams of Maya temples and buildings of recent origin. Railway ties, heavy & light flooring, heavy structural timber, mine timbers, tool handles, pilings, veneer, boat hulls, ladders, joinery, poles, turnery, plywood and interior finishing. Source of chicle, used in chewing gums.

From: Chudnoff, Martin. 1984. Tropical Timbers of the World. USDA Forest Service. Ag. Handbook No. 607.

            Maple (Acer spp./Aceraceae) contains 70 to 120 species with 25 species in Asia, 8 in North America and 6 in the Europe/Mediterranean region. The Maples can be separated into two groups based on their microscopic anatomy (ray width distribution), the Soft Maple Group and the Hard Maple Group. Species within each group look alike microscopically. The tree species are to my knowledge:

            Hard Maple Group

Eastern North AmericaEurope
Common NameScientific NameCommon NameScientific Name
Black MapleA. nigrumNorway MapleA. platanoides
Sugar MapleA. saccharumSycamore*A. pseudoplatanus

* Acer pseudoplatanus is known as “Sycamore” in England. Not to be confused with the American “Sycamore”, Platanus spp., known as Plane Tree in England.

Hard Maple Group (that we have anatomical data for) – Native to Temperate Asia (China/Japan/Russia)

** Shrub

Common NameScientific Name
Pointed-Leaf Mapleargutum
Hornbeam Maplecarpinifolium**
Ivy-Leaved Maplecissifolium**
Devil’s Maplediabolicum
Nippon Maplenipponicum
Candle-Shape Mapleukurunduense

            Soft Maple Group

Eastern North AmericaEurope
Common NameScientific NameCommon NameScientific Name
Red MapleA. rubrumField MapleA. campestre
Silver MapleA. saccharinum  
Asia – 4 tree species  

Soft Maple Group (that we have anatomical data for) – Native to Temperate Asia (China/Japan/Russia)

** Shrub

Common NameScientific Name
 amoenum
Japanese Striped-Bark Maplecapillipes
Hawthorn Maplecrataegifolium
Lime-Leaved Mapledistylum
Amur Mapleginnala
Full-Moon Maplejaponicum
Small-Leaved Maplemicranthum**
Painted Maplemono
Mulberry Maplemorifolium
Nikko Maplenikoense
Japanese Maplepalmatum**
Grey-Budded Snake Barkrufinerve
Seibold’s Maplesieboldianum
Keikan Zantenuifolium

The wood of Hard Maple is hard and heavy and the color of the wood can range from white to reddish brown. It has a fine, uniform texture that turns well and is resistant to shock and abrasion. The grain can be straight, curly, wavy or bird’s eye.  The wood of Soft Maples resembles Hard Maple except that it is not so hard and heavy or strong.

            Maple is used for lumber, distillation, veneer, cross ties, pulp, flooring, furniture, boxes, crates, shoe lasts, handles, woodenware, novelties, car parts, spools, bobbins, musical instruments, piano frames, bowling pins billiard cues, Indian clubs, dumbbells, butcher’s blocks, churns, chopping bowls, breadboards, cant hook handles, croquet mallets, croquet balls, turnery and plywood.

            With respect to furniture: (C. Europe, Gothic), solid, veneer, bandings, inlays; Violin backs & sides; Cabinetry (17th/18thC England), Seating (NY, NJ, PA & some southern states); Curly & Knurlwood veneers (Ipswich MA); Bird’s-eye (L18thC); Secondary Wood (Salem, Boston, etc.)

            Other European Maples include:

Common NameScientific Name
Balkan MapleA. hyrcanum
Balkan MapleA. granatense
Cretan MapleA. sempervirens (orientale)
Greek MapleA. heldreichii
Italian MapleA. obtusatum
Italian MapleA. opalus
Montpellier MapleA. monspessulanum
Tatarian MapleA. tataricum

            The Meliaceae family contains about 51 genera that include commercial species like True Mahogany (Swietenia spp.), Spanish Cedar (Cedrela spp.), African Mahogany (Khaya spp.), Cannonball Mangrove (Xylocarpus spp.) and Andiroba (Carapa spp.).

            Meranti – several species of Shorea.

            Dark Red Meranti-Red Lauan Group (Shorea spp./Dipterocarpaceae), also known as Red lauan, Tangile (Philippines), Dark red seraya, Obar suluk (Sabah), Saya (Thailand), Meranti ketuko (Indonesia), Nemesu (Malaya) andAlan (Sarawak). It is native to Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

            The Tree: It is a large tree reaching heights of 200 feet or more with a straight cylindrical bole and with trunk diameters 5 to 6 feet over moderately large and high buttresses.

            The Wood: The heartwood ranges from dark brown, medium to deep red, sometimes with a purplish tinge, and commonly with white dammar or resin streaks. The sapwood is pinkish and rather poorly defined. The texture is rather coarse with the grain interlocked or sometimes straight. The luster is low, without characteristic odor or taste.

            The basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) averages about 0.55, with an air-dry density of 42 pounds/cubic foot. In Sabah, this grouping of Shorea requires an air-dry weight over 40 pounds/cubic foot.

            Mechanical Properties: (First set of data based on the 2-cm standard; second and third sets on the 2-in. standard.)

Moisture content   Bending strength   Modulus of elasticity   Maximum crushing strength

            (%)                  (Psi)                             (1,000 psi)                   (Psi)

Green (17)                     9,900                         1,400                           4,920

12%                             13,300                         1,650                           7,670

Green (37)                     8,420                         1,640                           4,350

17%                             11,130                         1,750                           5,740

Green (34)                     7,800                         1,430                           3,880

12%                             11,500                         1,690                           6,000

Janka side hardness is 780 to 825 pounds air dry.  Forest Products Laboratory toughness 292 in.-pound green (2-cm specimen).

            Drying and Shrinkage: Moderately slow drying with a tendency to warp, thick material may check and end split.  Kiln schedule T6-D4 is suggested for 4/4 stock and T3-D3 for 8/4.  Shrinkage green to ovendry: radial 3.8%; tangential 7.9%; volumetric 13.3%. Movement in service is rated as small.

            Working Properties: Easy to work with hand and machine tools, dresses to a smooth finish, some tearing of interlocked grain; good gluing and nailing properties; takes a good finish.

            Durability: Heartwood is rated as only moderately durable and should not be used in high hazard areas; sapwood liable to attack by powder-post beetles.  Not resistant to marine borers.

            Preservation: Generally rated as resistant to preservative treatments; sapwood reported to be moderately resistant to permeable, varying with species.

            Uses: Veneer and plywood, joinery, flooring, furniture and cabinetwork, general construction, boatbuilding.

Additional Reading: (9), (17), (34), (37), (43)

9. Burgess, P. F. 1966. Timbers of Sabah. Sabah For. Rec. No. 6.

17.  Farmer, R. H. (Editor). 1972. Handbook of hardwoods. H. M. Stationery Office,       London.

34.  Lauricio, F. M., and S. B. Bellosillo. 1966. The mechanical and related properties of   Philippine woods. The Lumberman 12(5):66 +A-H.

37.  Lee, Y. H., and Y. P. Chu. 1965. The strength properties of Malayan timbers. Malayan Forester 28(4):307-31 9.

43.  Meniado, J. A., R. R. Valbuena, and F. N. Tamolang. 1974. Timbers of the Philippines.  Gov. Printing Office, Manila.

Modified From: Chudnoff, Martin. 1984. Tropical Timbers of the World. USDA Forest Service. Ag. Handbook No. 607.

            Light Red Meranti-Light Red Lauan Group (Shorea spp., Parashorea spp. & Pentacme spp./ Dipterocarpaceae)

            Other Common Names: Saya (Thailand), Red Seraya (Sabah), Meranti Merah (Indonesia), White Lauan (S. almon and some species of Parashorea and Pentacme), Almon, Mayapis (Philippines).

            Distribution: Malay Peninsula, Indonesia, the Philippines, as well as Sabah and Sarawak, usually at low altitudes on well-drained soils.

            The Tree: A large tree reaching a height of 150 to 200 ft, well-shaped boles clear to 90 ft and more; trunk diameters 3 to 6 ft; sometimes buttressed.

            The Wood:

            General Characteristics: Heartwood variable from almost white to pale pink to dark red, or pale brown to deep brown; sapwood lighter usually with a grayish tinge, distinct.  Grain usually interlocked, sometimes somewhat straight; texture coarse; slightly lustrous; usually without characteristic odor or taste.

            Weight: Basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) sorted to range from 0.33 to 0.52, averaging about 0.40; air-dry density 25 to 40 pcf, averaging 32.

            Mechanical Properties: (First two sets of data based on the 2-in.  standard; the third set on the 2-cm standard.)

Moisture content   Bending strength   Modulus of elasticity   Maximum crushing strength

            (%)                  (Psi)                             (1,000 psi)                   (Psi)

Green (34)                     7,350                         1,340                           3,720

12%                             11,100                         1,630                           5,500

Green (37)                     7,710                         1,650                           4,200

14%                             10,830                         1,970                           6,000

Green (35)                   9,150              1,400                           4,600

12%                          12,750              1,520                             7,250

            Janka side hardness 570 to 665 lb for dry material.  Forest Products Laboratory toughness 270 in.-lb for green and 216 in.-lb for dry material (2-cm specimen).

            Drying and Shrinkage: Seasons well with little or no degrade; there is, though, a tendency to warp, particularly in thin stock.  Kiln schedule T6-D4 is suggested for 4/4 stock and T3-D3 for 8/4.  Shrinkage green to ovendry: radial 4.6%; tangential 8.5%; volumetric 14.3%.  Movement in service is rated as small.

            Working Properties: Easy to work with both hand and machine tools; nailing and gluing are satisfactory; takes a good finish, resin and oil exudation is not a problem.

            Durability: Heartwood generally rated as nondurable in ground contact and is susceptible to dry-wood and subterranean termite attack; sapwood liable to powder-post beetle attack.

            Preservation: Heartwood varies from resistant to very resistant to preservative treatments; sapwood usually moderately resistant.

            Uses: Light structural work, furniture components, joinery, plywood, cabinetwork, flooring, concrete form work, a general utility wood.

Additional Reading:

9. Burgess, P. F. 1966.  Timbers of Sabah.  Sabah For.  Rec.  No.  6.

17.  Farmer, R. H. (Editor).  1972.  Handbook of hardwoods.  H. M. Stationery Office, London.

34.  Lauricio, F. M., and S. B. Bellosillo.  1966.  The mechanical and related properties of             Philippine woods.  The Lumberman 12(5):66 +A-H.

35.  Lavers, G. M. 1967.  The strength properties of timbers.  For.  Prod.  Res. Bull.  No.  50.  H. M. Stationery Office.  London.

37.  Lee, Y. H., and Y. P. Chu.  1965.  The strength properties of Malayan timbers. Malayan Forester 28(4):307-31 9.

From: Chudnoff, Martin. 1984. Tropical Timbers of the World. USDA Forest Service. Ag. Handbook No. 607.

            Michelia (Michelia spp. L./Magnoliaceae) also known as Champaca, contains 45 species native to China and tropical Asia [Indo-Malayan region and extending into the Philippines, Indonesia, and Taiwan]. Other common names include oulia champ, tita sopa, shimbu, sempagam, champakam, Saga, Sagawa, Sanga (Burma), Chempaka (Malaya), Sandit, Hangilo (Philippines). Found in nature exclusively in hilly regions and mountain slopes but cultivated extensively. The trees have straight cylindrical boles to 50 ft; with trunk diameters of 24 to 36 in. Exceptional individual trees may reach heights of 150 ft with diameters of 7 ft. The tree bears beautiful, large and whitish to light yellow flowers. These start appearing in April-May, emitting a lot of fragrance. The pleasant scent can be felt from quite a distance from the tree.

            Michelia doltsopa and Michelia champaca are used for timber. Michelia champaca (champak or sapu – Himalaya; Soma Champa or Tree of Paradise – India) also supplies an essential oil (from its flowers) used in scent-making (incense), a febrifuge from the bark and leaves to feed silkworms.

            The heartwood of Michelia is a light yellowish brown to olive green, while the sapwood is whitish to light brown and clearly distinct from the heartwood.  The grain is straight to interlocked and it has a fine to medium texture and a lustrous appearance. It has a basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) of 0.43, with an air-dry density of 31 pounds per cubic foot.

Michelia Mechanical Properties: (2-in. Standard)

Moisture ContentBending StrengthModulus Of ElasticityMaximum Crushing Strength
(%)(Psi)(1,000 Psi)(Psi)
Green (38)  8,010             1,195                  4,020
9%  9,250             1,390                  6,420
    
Green (38)17,665             1,440                  3,825
12%11,465             1,650                  5,960

            Michelia is generally reported to season well with little or no warping and checking. No data available on kiln-drying schedules. Shrinkage green to ovendry: radial 3.2%; tangential 5.2%; volumetric 8.2%. It is easy to work with hand and machine tools and takes a good finish. Specimens with whitish deposits dull cutters.  It is easy to peel into veneers. It is also reported to be moderately durable and resistant to attack by termites. The lumber is used for furniture, carvings, general light construction, plywood, carvings and turnery, cabinetwork, patternmaking, joinery.

            Champ Oil: Champ oil is extracted from the flowers of Michelia champaca. The oil is obtained from the fragrant, deep yellow flowers by maceration or extraction. The oil is one of the most famous perfumes of India and other Asian countries. It rivals ylang-ylang in its fragrant odor and is much used in the local perfume industry.

            Ethnobotany: The genus Michelia has great cultural and ethno botanical significance to the Hindus & Buddhists of this area, as Buddha was born under a White Jade Magnolia (Michelia alba) tree. Michelia alba is native to the Yunnan province of China.

            The Thrones of Myanmar Kings: The Garza Thana Throne was made from White Champac wood (Michelia champaca), and was carved with elephant motifs. The elephant symbolized longevity and sovereignty. It was kept in the Byay Taik, the Privy Council room. Here the King would preside when appointing officials to his Royal service.

Scientific NameTrade Name
Michelia albaChempaka
Michelia champacaChambaggam
Michelia compressaRyukyu
Michelia excelsaChampaca
Michelia formosanaFormosan Michelia
Michelia montanaChampaka, Champaca
Michelia sp.Champaca

            Reference Needed:

Chauhan, L. and Dayal, R. Wood anatomy of Indian species of Michelia with particular    reference of their             identification. Indian Forester. 1992:922-928.

Luxmi, C. and Dayal, R. Wood anatomy of Indian species of Michelia with particular       reference of [to] their     identification. Indian Forester. 1992; 118(12):922-928.

Molave (Vitex pinnata L. /Verbenaceae) is a tree native to Southeast Asia. It grows to heights of 60 feet, with diameters of 6 feet. It is known by a large variety of local names: Indonesia: Kalimantan: Laban; Amola, Gagil, Humulawan, Kalapapa, Kulimpapa batu, Kulimpapa simpor, Kulumpapa, Laban daun menjari, Laben, Leban, Pagil. Sumba island: Hiketaroe; Komodo: Pampa; Sumatra: Kopiher (Karo language), Aloban-bátu, Aloban Kardoek or Aloban búnga. Malaysia: Bunyak laban. Vitex pinnata has a very strong and durable wood, it is durable even in contact with water or soil. It is a grayish brown in color. Density is about 930 kg per cubic meter (58 lbs. per cubic foot). Wood is used for posts, door and window frames, sleepers and some furniture. The wood is used for construction and the manufacture of knife handles. Leaves and bark are used to treat abdominal pain, fever and malaria. [Wikipedia].

            Mora (Mora excelsa and Mora gonggrijpii / Leguminosae)

            Other Common Names: Nato, Nato rojo (Colombia), Mora de Guayana (Venezuela), Morabukea, Mora (Guyana), Mora, Moraboekea (Surinam), Pracuuba (Brazil).

            Distribution: M. excelsa: Widely distributed in the Guianas and less so in the Orinoco Delta of Venezuela; dominant on river levees and flood plains forming dense stands.  M. gonggrijpii Restricted to Guyana and Surinam, a dominant species best adapted to hillsides on heavy clay soils.

            The Tree: Usually 100 to 120 ft high and 2 to 3 ft in diameter with clear boles 60 ft and more above very large buttresses that may extend 15 ft up the trunk.  Trees of M. excelsa 160 to 200 ft high and 4 ft in diameter are reported.

            The Wood:

            General characteristics: Heartwood yellowish red brown, reddish brown or dark red with paler streaks; sapwood 2 to 6 in. wide, distinct, yellowish to pale brown. Texture moderately fine to rather coarse, rather harsh to the feel; luster medium to high; grain is straight to commonly interlocked, very variable; astringent taste and a slightly sour odor.

            Weight: Basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) 0.76 to 0.84; air- dry density 59 to 65 pcf.

            Mechanical Properties: (First set of data based on the 2-in.  standard, the second the 2-cm standard.)

Moisture content   Bending strength   Modulus of elasticity   Maximum crushing strength

            (%)                  (Psi)              (1,000 psi)                      (Psi)

Green (75)                   12,630                         2,330                           6,400

12%                                         22,100                         2,960                                       11,840

Green (42)                   13,600                         2,150                           7,150

12%                                         24,400                         2,790                                       12,700

            Janka side hardness 1,450 lb for green material and 2,300 lb at 12% moisture content. Forest Products Laboratory toughness average for green and dry material is 228 in.-lb. (5/8-in.  specimen).

            Drying and Shrinkage: Drying reports are variable, generally rated moderately difficult to season; a slow rate of drying and careful stacking are suggested to keep warp and other degrade to a minimum.  Boxed heart pieces tend to split.  Kiln schedule T2-C2 is suggested for 4/4 stock and T2-C1 for 8/4.  Shrinkage from green ovendry radial 6.9%; tangential 9.8%; volumetric 18.8%.

            Working Properties: The wood is moderately difficult to work but yields smooth surfaces in sawing, planing, turning, or boring unless interlocked grain is present then there may be considerable “pick up” and chipped grain.

            Durability: Results are variable; material from Surinam and Guyana is rated durable to very durable in resistance to brown-rot and white-rot fungi.  Service life of 15 to 20 years in ground contact is reported.  M. gonggrijpii is rated very resistant to dry-wood termites; M. excelsa considerably less so, not resistant to marine borers.

            Preservation: Sapwood responds readily to preservative treatments; heartwood resist to impregnation, penetration is very shallow, and absorptions are low.

            Uses: Industrial flooring, railroad crossties, shipbuilding, heavy construction, high quality charcoal wood.

Additional Reading: (34), (42), (46), (75)

34.  Japing, H. W. 1957.  Tests of the most important mechanical and physical properties of 41 Surinam             wood species.  Meded.  Inst.  Trop.  Amst.  No.  122 (Afd. trop.  Prod.  No.  46).

42.  Lavers, G. M. 1969.  The strength properties of timbers.  For.  Prod.  Res. Bull.  No.  50.  H. M.             Stationery Office.  London.

46.  Longwood, F. R. 1962.  Present and potential commercial timbers of the Caribbean.  Agriculture             Handbook No.  207.  U.S.  Department of Agriculture.

75.  Wangaard, F. F., W. L. Stern, and S. L. Goodrich.  1955.  Properties and uses tropical woods, V.             Tropical Woods No.  103:1-139.

From: Chudnoff, Martin. 1984. Tropical Timbers of the World. USDA Forest Service. Ag. Handbook No. 607.

Morado (Machaerium spp./Fabaceae-Papilionoideae) is a genus of about 120 species. The genus is widely distributed throughout tropical America but are most abundant in Brazil, with commercial sources in the southeast. Other common bames include; Caviuna, Pau Ferro [Ironwood], Capote, Siete cueros (Colombia), Cascaron (Venezuela), Chiche (Ecuador), Tuseque (Bolivia), Jacaranda, Jacaranda pardo (Brazil) and Santos Palisander.

The heartwood brown to dark violet brown, often streaked, rather waxy; sapwood whitish, grayish, or yellowish. Luster medium to high; texture fine coarse; grain straight to irregular; without distinctive taste but sometimes walnut scented. Wood dust may cause dermatitis. It has a basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) of 0.65 to 0.75; air- dry density is 49 to 57 pounds per cubic foot. It has fair to excellent working properties, and the heartwood is highly resistant to attack by decay fungi.

It is used in fine furniture, decorative veneers, turnery, specialty items, and cabinet work. Generally useful for the same purposes as Brazilian rosewood (Dalbergia nigra).

Adapted from Chudnoff Torpical Tmbers of The World.

Additional Reading: (30), (47), (56)

30. Instituto de Pesquisas Tecnologicas. 1956. Tabelas de resultados obtidos para madeiras nacionais. Bol. Inst. Pesqu. tec. Sao Paulo No. 31.

47. Mainieri, C. 1970. Madeira brasileiras. So Paulo, Brazil. Instituto Florestal.

56. Record, S. J., and R. W. Hess. 1949. Timbers of the new world. Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn.

Mulberry (Morus spp./Moraceae) contains 10 species that grow in North America (2), Central and South America (4) and from Africa to Asia (5). All species look alike microscopically. The only native US species that I know of are Red Mulberry (Morus rubra) and Texas Mulberry (Morus microphylla).

Red Mulberry (Morus rubra), is widespread in Eastern United States and extends from Massachusetts and southern Vermont west through the southern half of New York to extreme southern Ontario, southern Michigan, central Wisconsin and southeastern Minnesota; south to Iowa, southeastern Nebraska, central Kansas, western Oklahoma and central Texas; and east to southern Florida. It is also found in Bermuda. It is a rapid-growing tree of valleys, flood plains, and low moist hillsides. This species attains its largest size in the Ohio River Valley and reaches its highest elevation (600 m or 2,000 ft) in the southern Appalachian foothills. The wood is of little commercial importance but is used locally for fence posts because the heartwood is relatively durable. Other uses of the wood include farm implements, cooperage, furniture, interior finish, and caskets (Martin, Alexander C., Herbert S. Zim, and Arnold L. Nelson. 1961. Mulberry family: Moraceae. In American wildlife and plants. p. 313-314. Dover Publications, New York. ).

            Nanmu or Coffinwood.  Nanmu is a species of evergreen, broadleaved trees in the Lauraceae family (Persea nanmu Oliv.) and may also appear as the genera Phoebe & Machilus and others. The Lauraceae contains trees known as Sassafras (Sassafras spp.), Avocado (Persea americana) and Cinnamon (Cinnamomum sp.). The genus Persea contains about 150 species distributed mostly in the tropics. Nanmu is also known as Zhennan. Its current status is endangered or possibly extinct due to over logging and habitat destruction during the Ming Dynasty. Nanmu is native to southern China (esp. Szechwan Province), Burma and Vietnam. It is a large, slow growing tree that develops a long straight trunk ranging from 4 to 15 feet in height, and 2 to 4 feet in diameter. The wood of Nanmu resembles high density Cuban Mahogany in physical and mechanical properties. The best samples are a dark reddish brown, dense (35 pounds per cubic foot and a specific gravity of 0.53 – 0.67) and hard. It also has a distinctive odor when worked. It was the wood of the Ming dynasty, used extensively in sacred or imperial building construction and furniture making. The Forbidden City was originally constructed using Nanmu wood by the third Ming emperor Zhu Di and many temples/tombs (the Chang Ling and the temple of Emperor Yung Lo) still stand with their original, fragrant  Nanmu structural timbers. The root burls of these large trees can be over 15 feet in diameter and were used as fancy veneer or in solid form as table tops. Because it is highly resistant to decay, nanmu was frequently used for coffins, architectural woodworking and boat-building. In 2007, 47 coffins made of halved Nanmu trunks were unearthed in Jiangxi Province, China and most were perfectly preserved after 2500 years in the ground.

References:

Benson, R. 1878. Indian building timber. Nature 18(465):569.

Brandis, D. 1878. Wood for coffins in China. The Indian Forester 4(8):237-240.

Brandis, D. 1880. The “Nanmu” wood of China. The Indian Forester 5(2):195.

Bushell, S.W. 1905. Chinese architecture. Smithsonian Institution Annual Report of the Board of Regents.                 677- 692.

Forbes, F.B.1891. An enumeration of all the plants known from China proper, Formosa, Hainan, Corea, the             Luchu Archipelago, and the island of Hongkong, together with their distribution and synonymy.             Journal of the Linnaean Society. 26:1-592

Mabberley, D.J. 1987. The Plant-book. A Portable Dictionary of Higher Plants. Cambridge University Press, New York. 706 pp.

Schroeder, C.A. 1979. An avocado relative from China. California Avocado Society Yearbook 63:90-93.

Thiselton-Dyer, W.T. 1878. Plant distribution as a field guide for geographical research. Proceedings of             Royal Geographical Society 22 (6): 412-439.

Tropicos.org. Missouri Botanical Garden. 30 Jan 2009 <http://www.tropicos.org/Name/17801521&gt;.
Wang, C. and M. Li. 1999. Natural decay resistance of seven Nanmu wood species native to Taiwan.             Taiwan J. For. Sci. 14(1):53-62.

Niangon (Heritiera spp.  syn.  Tarrietia spp./Sterculiaceae) also known as Mengkulang,  Kembang (Sabah), Lumbayau (Philippines), Kanze (Burma), Chumprak (Thailand), Sundri (India) and Huynh (Cambodia) is native to the Indo-Malayan region extending into Indonesia, the Philippines, and other western Pacific islands. It is a medium-size to large tree, 100 to 150 ft in height with boles generally well formed and clear 60 to 80 ft. and trunk diameters of 2 to 4 ft above large buttresses.

            The heartwood of Niangon is various shades of brown, red brown, or dark red brown, sometimes with dark almost black streaks. The sapwood is 2 to 5 in. wide, lighter colored and not always sharply differentiated from the heartwood.  The texture is moderately coarse to coarse with the grain straight to interlocked and irregular. It has a luster that ranges from low to rather high. The basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) is 0.52 to 0.59 and an air- dry density of 40 to 45 pcf.

The timbers are somewhat difficult to work due to the presence of silica (generally under 0.50%), cutters dull rapidly.  Takes a smooth finish, rotary peels well, and has good gluing properties. The heartwood is rated as nondurable, stake tests show an average service life of only 2 years.  Not resistant to marine borers. The heartwood is reported to be moderately resistant to preservative treatments. It is classified as a general utility timber, flooring, plywood, furniture, interior finish, boatbuilding, decorative veneers.

            Nothofagus – An ancient genus of trees & shrubs with 35 species in the family Nothofagaceae, native to New Guinea, New Caledonia, temperate Australia, New Zealand and temperate South America [Chile, Argentina]. Important timber species in the Southern Hemisphere, second only to Eucalyptus.

Commercial species include:

N. antarctica (Antarctic Beech – Chile, Argentina) – ornamental

N. cunninghamii (Myrtle Beech – southeast Australia) – furniture & flooring

N. dombeyi (Coigue – Chile) – timber

N. fusca (Red Beech – New Zealand) – railway sleepers

N. menziesii (Silver Beech – New Zealand) –

N. obliqua (Roble Beech – Chile & Argentina)

N. procera (Rauli – Chile & Argentina)

N solandri (Black Beech – New Zealand) – timber for general construction

Rauli (Nothofagus spp. Blume/Nothofagaceae) [Rauli (Nprocera) & Coigue (Ndombeyi)] is also known as Anis, Coihue, Coyan, Hualo, Rauli, Roble Ruili (Chile), Coihue, Lengue, Nire, and Robe (Argentina). Coigue is native from 38 S. latitude northward along the Chilean coast and up the river valleys into the high cordilleras in northern Llanquihue on poor soils, while Rauli grows from the Province of Valparaiso to the Province of Valdivia, mostly on good soils.

The tree may reach heights of 130 ft with trunk diameters usually 2 to 3 ft, occasionally 6 to 8 ft.  Boles often clear to 60 ft. The heartwood varies from pale pinkish brown to reddish brown & bright cherry red with the sapwood often wide and light brown.  Its texture is mostly fine and uniform, while Rauli has a tendency to ring porosity. It is without distinctive odor or taste and a straight grain with low to medium luster. Its basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) ranges from 0.45 to 0.53 while the air-dry density is 34 to 40 pounds per cubic foot. Both species are easy to work and dress cleanly with fair to good steam-bending qualities and it is easy to glue and finish. It is used for furniture components, cabinet work, flooring, millwork, cooperage, an all-purpose timber in Chile.  Rauli is the preferred species.

            Oak (Quercus spp./Fagaceae) contains 275 to 500 species and can be separated into three groups based on their microanatomy; the Live or Evergreen Oak Group, the Red Oak Group and the White Oak Group. Species within each group look alike microscopically. For colonial antiques, the Live & Red Oak Groups are indicative of American origin, while the White Oak Group could be either side of the Atlantic Ocean..

            Species of the White Oak Group were used in American and English furniture. To my knowledge, species in the Red Oak Group were not commercial timbers in Europe and England during the 17th and 18th Centuries. Quercus cerris (Turkish Oak), a species in the Red Oak Group, was introduced into England in the late 1730’s from the Mediterranean Region as an ornamental tree. Its appearance in furniture would be astronomically rare. Based on these assumptions, furniture of the 17th and 18th centuries containing wood of the Red Oak Group is most likely American in origin.

            Live Oak Group

Live Oak (Q. virginiana/Fagaceae) is native to the southeastern United States. It was commonly used as structural elements (“knees”) in the construction of colonial sailing ships. It is rare, but can be found in American colonial furniture.

The wood is used for barrels, veneer, cabinetry, furniture, interior trim, and flooring and also has been used for pulp and firewood. It was used in ship construction especially in the 18th and 19th centuries. [https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/quercus-virginiana]

Live oak wood is hard, heavy, and difficult to work with, but very strong. In the days of wooden ships, live oaks were the preferred source of the framework timbers of the ship, using the natural trunk and branch angles for their strength. The frame of USS Constitution was constructed from Southern live oak wood harvested from St. Simons Island, Georgia, and the density of the wood grain allowed it to survive cannon fire, thus earning her the nickname “Old Ironsides”. Even today, the U.S. Navy continues to own extensive live oak tracts. [Wikipedia]

Current distribution of Live Oak (Quercus virginiana). [Wikipedia]

            Oak (Quercus spp./Fagaceae) contains 275 to 500 species and can be separated into three groups based on their microanatomy; the Live or Evergreen Oak Group, the Red Oak Group and the White Oak Group. Species within each group look alike microscopically. For colonial antiques, the Live & Red Oak Groups are indicative of American origin, while the White Oak Group could be either side of the Atlantic Ocean.

            Species of the White Oak Group were used in American and English furniture. To my knowledge, species in the Red Oak Group were not commercial timbers in Europe and England during the 17th and 18th Centuries. Quercus cerris (Turkish Oak), a species in the Red Oak Group, was introduced into England in the late 1730’s from the Mediterranean Region as an ornamental tree. Its appearance in furniture would be astronomically rare. Based on these assumptions, furniture of the 17th and 18th centuries containing wood of the Red Oak Group is most likely American in origin.

            Red Oak Group (Erythrobalanus)

Eastern North AmericaEurope
Common NameScientific NameCommon NameScientific Name
Black OakQ. velutinaTurkey OakQ. cerris
Blackjack OakQ. marilandica  
Laurel OakQ. laurifolia  
Northern Red OakQ. rubra  
Pin OakQ. palustris  
Scarlet OakQ. coccinea  
Shumard OakQ. shumardii  
Southern Red OakQ. falcata  
Water OakQ. nigra  
Willow OakQ. phellos  
Western North America 
California Black OakQ. Kelloggii  
Interior Live OakQ. Wislizenii  
Coast Live OakQ. agrifolia  

            Oak (Quercus spp./Fagaceae) contains 275 to 500 species and can be separated into three groups based on their microanatomy; the Live or Evergreen Oak Group, the Red Oak Group and the White Oak Group. Species within each group look alike microscopically. For colonial antiques, the Live & Red Oak Groups are indicative of American origin, while the White Oak Group could be either side of the Atlantic Ocean. *However, I’ve noticed that samples that are a chocolate-brown have been invariably of English/European origin.

            White Oak Group (Leucobalanus)  

Eastern North AmericaEurope
Common NameScientific NameCommon NameScientific Name
Chestnut OakQ. prinusAlgerian OakQ. canariensis
Chinkapin OakQ. muehlenbergiiCork OakQ. suber
Overcup OakQ. lyrataDowny OakQ. pubescens
Post OakQ. stellataDurmast OakQ. petrea
Swamp Chestnut OakQ. michauxiiHolm OakQ. ilex
Swamp White OakQ. bicolorHungarian OakQ. frainetta
White OakQ. albaPedunculate OakQ. robur
  Portuguese OakQ. faginea
  Pyrenean OakQ. pyrenaica
  Round-Leaved OakQ. rotundifolia
  White OakQ. polycarpa
Western North America 
Valley OakQ. lobata  
Oregon OakQ. Garryana  
Blue OakQ. Douglasii  

            Padauk (Pterocarpus spp./Leguminosae-Papilionoideae). This genus contains about 40 species native to the tropical regions of the world. They include:

Common NameScientific NameNative to:
MuningaP. angolensisTropical Africa & South Africa
Andaman Padauk*P. dalbergioidesIndo-Malaysia
African RosewoodP. erinaceusAfrica
Andaman RedwoodP. indicusIndo-Malaysia
Burma Padauk*P. macrocarpusBurma
Malabar KinoP. marsupiumIndia
Red Sandalwood*P. santalinusIndo-Malaysia
West African Padauk*P. soyauxiiWest Africa
Mninga Maji*P. tinctoriusTropical Africa

* deep red color

            With respect to antique Asian furniture, Pterocarpus indicus and P. santalinus are most commonly known as Zitan, also known as Huang-hua-li, Hung-mu, Tzu-t’an (see additional information sheet).

            Palo Verde (Parkinsonia praecox/Fabaceae). Parkinsonia is a genus of flowering plants in the pea family, Fabaceae. It contains about 12 species that are native to semi-desert regions of Africa and the Americas. They are large shrubs or small trees growing to 5–12 m (16–39 ft) tall. [Wikipedia]. We have no technical information about this species. There are 2 species in NCSU’s Inside Wood anatomical database – Palo Verde and Jeruselem Thorn (Parkinsonia aculeate) and they can be separated, microscopically.

Partridgewood or Coffeewood (Caesalpinia spp. also known as Libidibia spp./ Leguminosae) is also known asebano (Mexico), Granadillo (Colombia, Venezuela) is native chiefly in Venezuela but also found in Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. The trees range from 50 to 75 ft tail, with a well-formed trunk sometimes 36 in. in diameter and clear of branches for 35 ft. The heartwood is dark red to chocolate brown or nearly black, usually with fine pencil-striping of parenchyma and is sharply demarcated from the yellowish or pinkish white sapwood. The luster is medium to low with a medium to coarse texture and a straight to very irregular grain. The basic specific gravity (oven dry weight/green volume) 1.05 while the air-dry density is 78 pounds per cubic foot. It is a heavy, strong timber, but no technical data available on mechanical properties. It is difficult to work, but finishes smoothly; works very well in turnery. It is used in specialty turnery and in countries of origin used for heavy construction work.

            Pau Amarello (Euxylophora paraensis/Rutaceae) also known as Amarello, Brazilian Satinwood, Limao-rana, Pau setim, Pequia setim (Brazil), Yellowheart, et al. It is native to the lower Amazon region of Para, Brazil. Pau Amarello is a large tree of the “terra firma” reaching a height of 130 feet.

            The heartwood is a bright clear yellow deepening upon exposure and not sharply defined from the yellowish-white sapwood. Luster is high with a medium texture and with straight to irregular grain. It is withoutany distinctive odor or taste. The basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) is 0.70, while the air-dry density is 54 pounds per cubic foot (0.86g/cc3).

Mechanical Properties: (2-in. standard)

Moisture content  Bending strength  Modulus of elasticity  Maximum crushing strength
(%)(Psi)(Psi)(1,000 psi)
Green (40)13,2002,0406,440
12%16,2002,1809,050

Janka side hardness is 1,610 lb for green material and 1,820 lb at 12% moisture content.The wood of Pau Amarello is reported to be easy to season with little tendency to warp or check. Shrinkage from green to ovendry is 6% (radial), 6.7% (tangential) and 12.8% (volumetric).

Pau Amarello is not very difficult to work and durabilityis reported as of low resistance to decay. It is used for furniture, parquet flooring, and brush handles.

Additional Reading:

Kynoch, W., and N. A. Norton. 1938. Mechanical properties of certain tropical woods chiefly from South America. Univ. of Mich. School of Forestry and Conservation Bull. No. 7.

Record, S. J., and R. W. Hess. 1949. Timbers of the new world. Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn.

(Adapted from: Chudnoff, Martin. 1984. Tropical Timbers of the World. USDA Forest Service. Ag. Handbook No. 607.)

            Purpleheart/Amaranth (Peltogyne spp./ Leguminosae) is a genus of about 23 species native to Mexico through Central America and southward to southern Brazil. It is also known as Palo morado (Mexico), Morado (Panama, Venezuela), Tananeo (Columbia), Koroboreli (Guyana), Purperhart (Surinam), Amarante (French Guiana), Pau roxo, Guarabu (Brazil), Violetwood (English trade). It’s center of distribution in the north-middle part of the Brazilian Amazon region. It grows to heights of 170 ft with diameters to 4 ft, but usually 1.5 to 3 ft. Overharvesting has caused some species to be placed on the Endangered species list. The boles are straight, cylindrical, and clear 60 to 90 ft above buttresses up to 12 ft. high. The heartwood of Purpleheart is brown when freshly cut becoming deep purple upon exposure, eventually turning to a dark brown sharply demarcated from the off-white sapwood.  Its texture is medium to fine, with a medium to high luster. The basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) varies with species from 0.67 to 0.91, with an air-dry density of 50 to 66 pounds per cubic foot. Purpleheart is moderately difficult to work with either hand or machine tools, because it dulls cutters and exudes a gummy resin when heated by dull tools. Slow feed rates and especially hardened cutters are suggested.  It turns smoothly, is easy to glue, and takes finishes well. It has been used for turnery, veneers & marquetry, cabinets, fine furniture, parquet flooring, tool handles, heavy construction, shipbuilding, and many specialty items (billiard cue butts, chemical vats, carvings).

Erimado (Ricinodendron heudelotii / Euphorbiaceae) also known as; Munguella (Angola), Essessang (Cameroon), Bofeko (Zaire), Wama (Ghana), Okhuen (Nigeria), Kishongo (Uganda) is native to west tropical Africa from Guinea to Angola and eastward to Uganda. It occurs in rain forests but is typical of secondary formations and is common on abandoned farmland. The tree may reach a height of 100 ft, sometimes only 20 to 30 ft, with a straight, cylindrical bole. The trunk diameter may reach 3 to 4 ft and is sometimes buttressed.

The wood is whitish or pale yellow, darkening on exposure, with a coarse texture and a straight grain but without any luster. The sapwood and heartwood are not differentiated.  Its basic specific gravity (ovendry weight /green volume) is about 0.20 and the air-dry density is 15 pounds per cubic foot. It saws and works easily and nails without splitting. It is susceptible to decay and termite attack. Logs are prone to staining and require rapid extraction and conversion. It is used for boxes and crates, plywood core stock, carvings, fishnet floats. It is considered a good balsa substitute.

            Red Bay [Persea borbonia (L.) Sprengel/Lauraceae] also called shore bay is an attractive aromatic evergreen tree or shrub of the southeastern Coastal Plains. This tree’s size and growth habit varies considerably over its range and commercially important trees are not common today. The wood takes a fine polish and is used locally for cabinetwork and boatbuilding. Red bay is a minor hardwood of southeastern and southern United States. It is a common but seldom an abundant component of the swamp forests of the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plains from southern Delaware south through Florida and west to the lower Texas gulf coast. It also grows in the Bahamas.

1960’s Range Map of Persea borbonia (E. L. Little, jr.)

The wood is heavy, hard, strong, and bright red (darkening with age), with a thin, lighter colored sapwood, but it currently has no established place in commerce due to its endangered status. It is fine-grained, brittle, water resistant, works moderately well and polishes very well. It is used locally for cabinet making and interior finish and for boatbuilding. It was traditionally used for tableware (like spoons), furniture pieces, boat and interior trim, and cabinets.

Map from: Little, E. L., Jr., 1977. Atlas of United States trees, volume 4, Minor Eastern Hardwoods: U.S. Department of Agriculture Miscellaneous Publication 1342, 17 p., 230 maps.

            Rose Mahogany (Dysoxylum spp./Meliaceae) also known as Dysox, Membalum, Onion Wood, Rosewood or Australian Rose Mahogany. Dysoxylum is a genus of 75 species native to Malesia, the western Pacific Ocean, Australia and South-eastern Asia. Of these, only 6 species known as Rose Mahogany (D. arborescens, D. gaudichandianum, D. mollissimum, D. parasiticum, D. pettigrewianum, and D. setosum) have densities greater than 0.75 g/cm3.

            The trees reach heights of 57 m with trunk diameters of up to 3.5 m.

            No physical or mechanical properties are available for the densest material (0.75 – 1.1 g/cm3). The anatomy of these very dense samples is similar to and may have similar properties as Ipe [Handroanthus heptaphyllus (Vell.) Mattos/Bignoniaceae].

The following is from the Queensland Govt., Dept. of Ag. & Fisheries:

Colour. The truewood ranges from red-brown to dark red. Sapwood ranges from light brown to cream.

Grain. Moderately close, often interlocked; uniform in texture. The soft tissue (parenchyma) gives a slight figure to tangential surfaces.

Wood properties        

Density. 705 kg/m3 (0.705 g/cm3)at 12% moisture content; approximately 1.4 m3 of seasoned sawn timber per tonne.

Strength groups. S5 unseasoned; SD5 seasoned.

Stress grades. F5, F7, F8, F11 (unseasoned), F8, F11, F14, F17 (seasoned), when visually stress graded in accordance with AS 2082-2000, Timber – hardwood – visually stress-graded hardwoods for structural purposes.

Joint groups. J2 unseasoned; JD3 seasoned.

Shrinkage to 12% MC. 4.3% (tangential); 2.5% (radial).

Unit shrinkage. 0.29% (tangential); 0.18% (radial). These values apply to timber reconditioned after seasoning.

Durability above-ground. Class 3 – life expectancy 7 to 15 years.

Durability in-ground. Class 3 – life expectancy 5 to 15 years.

Lyctine susceptibility. Untreated sapwood is susceptible to lyctid borer attack.

Termite resistance. Not resistant.

Preservation. Sapwood readily accepts preservative impregnation but penetration of heartwood is negligible using currently available commercial processes.

Seasoning. Can be satisfactorily dried using conventional air and kiln seasoning methods.

Hardness. Moderately hard (rated 3 on a 6 class scale) in relation to indentation and ease of working with hand tools.

Machining. Machines and turns well due to a natural oiliness of the wood.

Fixing. No difficulty has been experienced with the use of standard fittings and fastenings.

Gluing. Can be satisfactorily bonded using standard procedures.

Finishing. Will readily accept paint, stain and polish. However, occasional pieces develop beads of free aromatic oil that stain the wood and produce a dull blotchy bloom under the polished surface. To overcome this problem avoid using timber with freshly dressed surfaces or, if staining has occurred, sponge the surface with alcohol.

Uses   

Construction. Has been used as sawn timber in general house framing, flooring, moulding and joinery but is rarely used in these applications now.

Decorative. Paneling, furniture, plywood, shop and office fixtures, joinery, turnery, carving, inlay work.

Others. Has been used for wine casks and brush stocks.

            Rosewoods (Dalbergia/Leguminosae -Papilionoideae) contains about 100 species native to the tropics.  Many of the species have beautifully colored heartwood used in furniture in solid or veneer form.  According to Gasson, et al, 2010, of the 7 Latin American Dalbergias, only 2 can be separated based on their microanatomy – Kingwood (D. cearensis) and a shrub, D. miscolobium [all common names are in Portuguese].

[Gasson, et al. 2010. Wood identification of Dalbergia nigra (CITES Appendix I) using quantitative wood anatomy, principle component analysis and naïve Bayes classification. Annals of Botany 105:45-56.]

            Rosewoods (Dalbergia/Leguminosae -Papilionoideae) contains about 100 species native to the tropics.  Many of the species have beautifully colored heartwood used in furniture in solid or veneer form.  Given a large enough sample (about as big as your hand), some species separations are possible based on microanatomy, density, chemistry & fluorescence.

The more commercial species include:

Scientific NameCommon NameRegion of Origin
D. bariensis PierreBurmese Rosewood 
D. baronii BakerMadagascar Rosewood, Palisander Rosewood, Palissandre VoamboanaMadagascar
D. cearensis DuckeKingwoodCentral & South America
D. cochinchinensis Laness.Trac, Siamese Rosewood, Thailand Rosewood, TracwoodSE Asia
D. decipularis Rizzini & Matt.Sebastiao-de ArrudaSouth America
D. frutescens (Vell.) Britton (Syn. Dalbergia variabilis)Tulipwood, Brazilian Tulipwood, Jacarandá Rosa, Pau de Fuso, Pau Rosa, Pinkwood,Central & South America
D. glaucaKwataSouth America
D. inundataTucunari’South America
D. latifolia Roxb.Indian Rosewood, Bombay Blackwood, East Indian Rosewood, Indian Palisandre, Irugudujava, Java Palisandre, Malabar, Sonokeling, Shisham, Sitsal, SatisalIndia
D. melanoxylonAfrican Blackwood African Ebony, African Grenadilo, Banbanus, Ebene, Granadilla, Granadille d’Afrique, Mpingo, Pau Preto, Poyi, ZebrawoodAfrica
D. nigra (Vell.) Allemao ex Benth.Bahia Rosewood, Brazilian Rosewood, Cabiuna, Caviuna, Jacarandá, Jacarandá De Brasil, Palisander, Palisandre da Brésil, Pianowood, Rio Rosewood, Rosewood, ObuinaCentral & South America
D. oliveriBurmese RosewoodSE Asia
D. retusa Hemsl.Caviuna, Cocobolo, Cocobolo Prieto, Funeram, Granadillo, Jacarandáholz, Nambar, Nicaraguan Rosewood, Palisander, Palissandro, Palo Negro, Pau Preto, Rosewood, UraunaCentral & South America
D. sissooAgara, Agaru, Errasissu, Gette, Hihu, Indian Rosewood, Irugudujava, Iruvil, Iti, Khujrap, Padimi, Safedar, Sheesham, Shinshapa, Shisham, Shishma, Shishom, Sinsupa, Sissoo, Sisu, Tali, Tenach, Tukreekung,YetteIndia
D. spruceanaAmazon RosewoodSouth America
D. stevensonii Standl.Honduras Rosewood, NogaedCentral & South America
D. tucurensis Donn. Sm.Guatemala PalisanderCentral America

Trac (Dalbergia cochinchinensis Pierre/Fabaceae) is native to Cambodia, Laos, Thailand & Vietnam. It is also known as Cam-Lai, Siamese Rosewood, Thailand Rosewood and Tracwood. It was used in Ming Dynasty Furniture. See: Ming dynasty furniture @ the Shanghai Museumon the web.

Ching-Chan, Tamalan (Dalbergia oliveri Gamble/Fabaceae) is native to India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia (Indochina). It is also known as Neang Nuon, Mai Ching Chan, Mai Kham Phii, cẩm lai trắc lai. It is commonly sold under the names Burmese Rosewood, Laos Rosewood, Asian Rosewood.

            Sabicu or Horseflesh Mahogany (Lysiloma spp./Fabaceae) contains 10 to 30 species that grow in Tropical America from Florida to Bolivia. All species look alike microscopically, but the species that attains a large size is L. latisiliquum. Used in 18th century cabinetry, esp. Benjamin Frothingham – See collector’s notes in May Antiques, 1989.

Sagebrush (Artemisia spp. L. /Asteraceae) is a genus of about 250 species that also includes mugworts, wormwood (absinth) and tarragon, all known for their volatile oils. Common Sagebrush (A. tridentata Nutt.) can grow to 10 feet in height and is the common vegetation for most of the Great Basin of the US West. The ash of this plant was used in Navaho blackening ceremonies and other religious and medicinal ceremonies, also used by Native Americans as a brush bed for roasting pińon nuts, burned as an air purifier and disinfectant, and many others (Moerman, http://herb.umd.umich.edu/).

Range map of Artemisia tridentata, adapted from Elbert Little.

       Sappanwood (Biancaea sappan L. 1753) Tod. 1875/ Fabaceae-Caesalpinoideae)

                       (Caesalpinia sappan L. 1753/Fabaceae-Caesalpinoideae)

 Sappanwood is a tropical legume (Fabaceae) native to tropical Asia. It is a close relative to Brazilwood (Caesalpinia echinata Lam. 1785).  

Historically, Sappanwood was more valuable as a red dyewood than as a commercial timber. The heartwood is a bright red to red-orange color and has a fine, uniform texture that can be quite lustrous. Sappanwood was used for dyes and medicine, as a veneer in the 17th and 18th centuries, and more extensively in the Dutch East Indies. (Hinckley, 1960).                                                                                                                    

Other common names include: albero di sapan, arbol de sapan, arbre de sapan, bakam, bakapu, bakapu, bois de sapan, bois de sappan, bois de sappon, bresillet, brezel wood, buckhamwood, bukkum-wood, chekke sappanga, East Indian redwood, false sandalwood, faang, faang deeng, faang som, fang deng, fang pal, go vang, Indian brazilwood, Indian redwood, Japan wood, kajoe sema, kasapal, kayu secang, narrow-leaved braziletto, ngaa I, Ostindisch es rotholz, paeao, patangawood, pathanghi, sapan, sapanboom, sapang, sappan, sappang, sappan lignum, sappanwood, sbaeng, secang, sepang, sibocao, sibucao, sibucao, sibukao, sibukao, sibukau, soga jawa, suou, sumu, tein-net, tein-nyet, teing-yet, to moc, vang, and vang nhuom.

            Sassafras (Sassafras albidum/Lauraceae)is composed of three species native to North America [1], China [1] and Taiwan [1]. The name sassafras is a Native American name used by the Spanish and French in Florida in the middle of the 16th century. In 1577, the use of sassafras by Native Americans was reported and in 1587, Sir Walter Raleigh brought it back to England from the Virginia Colony. In the early 17th century (1602–1603), several ships were dispatched from England to the colonies to collect sassafras roots; the colonists used the wood to build forts. These forays were known as the Great Sassafras Hunts.

Satiné (Brosimum rubescens/Moraceae) is also called adda, ajeersi, amapa rana, Amerikaans satijnhout, Amerikanskt satintra, bloodwood, bloodwood cacique, bois baroit, bois de cayenne, bois de feroles, bois de lettre, bois marbre, bois satine, Brazil redwood, Brazil redwoods, Brazilian redwood, caballo-chocha, cacique, cardinalwood, cayennehout, conduru, conduru de sangue, doekaliballi, doekaliballi ibiberoebana, dukaliballi, falso pao Brasil, ferolia, gevlamd-satijnhout, gonduru, imo, koenatepi, legno satino, mare, marequende, mirapiranga, moina-piranga, moirapiranga, muirapiranga, murererana, negrillo, oolemeriballi, palo de oro, palo de sangre, palo peruano, palo sangre, pao rainha, pau rainha, polisthout, poliswood, pui, redwood, satijnhout, satine, satinee, satine gris, satine marbre, satine moire, satine roubane, satine rouge, satine rubane, satine rubanne, satinewood, satinholz, satinwood, siton paya, South American satinwood, sokone balli, uanta, vacuna, waiwe, warimiaballi, warimiballi. It is native to Tropical America. Satine trees reach heights of 120 feet, with diameters of 2 feet and a cylindrical bole for 70 feet. It occurs in upland rain forests, on sandy soils.

            The sapwood is a pale yellow to pink, while the heartwood is yellow to red brown, with darker streaks. It has a fine texture with a straight to wavy grain. It is very hard, tough and strong. It seasons well, but care must be taken in drying. Moisture movement is low. Reference (1). It works with some difficulty, due to the hardness and density. It turns, finishes, polishes and glues well. Preboring is necessary for nailing. It is very durable and is resistant to termites and susceptible to Lyctus beetles. Rated as durable in contact with the ground for more than 25 years. (1) It is used for tool handles, structural timbers, flooring, mine timbers, furniture, veneer, cabinetry, ladders, sporting goods, joinery, poles & piles, toys & novelties, turnery.

            Historically, it was called Satiné Rouge (B. parense or Ferolia guinanensis – see Hinckley) used by ébénistes in France during the 18th C.

Additional Reading & References Cited (in parentheses):

1.  Berni, C. A.; E. Bolza and F. J. Christensen. 1979. South American timbers. The characteristics, properties and uses of 190 species. CSIRO, Division of Building Research.

2.  Boone, R. S.; C. J. Kozlik; P. J. Bois and E. M. Wengert. 1988. Dry kiln schedules for commercial woods – temperate and tropical. USDA Forest Service, FPL-GTR-57. Madison, WI.

3.  Gerry, E. 1948. Foreign woods. Brosimum. USDA Forest Service, FPL unpublished report. Madison, WI, USA.

4. Lamb, G. N. 1954. Foreign woods. Origin, use, properties and nomenclature. Muirapiranga. Wood and Wood Products 59(4):48.

5.  Lincoln, W. A. World woods in color. Macmillan Publ. Co. New York.

6.  Record, S. J. and Hess R. W. 1943. Timbers of the new world. Yale University Press. New Haven, CT.

7.  Simpson, W. T. 1991. Dry kiln operator’s manual. USDA Forest Service, FPL Ag. Handbook No. 188. Madison, WI.

8.  Vink, A. T. 1965. Surinam timbers. 3rd Ed. Surinam Forest Service. Paramaribo, Surinam.

9. Hinckley, F. Lewis. 1960. Directory of the Historic Cabinet Woods. Bonanza Books, New York. 186 pp.

            Satinwood, West Indies (Zanthoxylum flavum/Rutaceae), also called yellowwood, is native to the West Indies (Puerto Rico, Santo Domingo, Jamaica, Bermuda & the Bahamas). During the 17th century, it was a major export of the West Indies, especially from Bermuda. In 1612, the Bermuda Company requested that first Governor ship a ton of this wood to London.  A black market in yellowwood shortly ensued. Twenty years later, the Governor of Bermuda banned its export and by the middle of the century the trees were almost completely exterminated.  It was commonly used in solid form or veneer in Federal period furniture and was popular after 1780 in England.  While it was used sparingly in England and Europe as accents to a piece of furniture, it was used extensively as the main primary wood in pieces from Baltimore and New York  (Hinckley, F. Lewis, 1960, Directory of the Historic Cabinet Woods.)

Zanthoxylum flavum is a species of flowering plant in the citrus family, Rutaceae. Common names include West Indian Satinwood, Yellow Sanders, Tembetaria, and Yellow Sandalwood. It is found in Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, the Florida Keys, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico.[>2] It is threatened by habitat loss.

            Satinwood, East Indian (Chloroxylon swietenia/Rutaceae), also known as Satinwood, Billu, Mashwal, Mududad (India) and Ceylon Satinwood (Ceylon), is native to central and southern India and Ceylon. The tree is small to moderately-sized (45 to 50 ft in height) with a short clear bole of 10 ft and a trunk diameter generally to about 1 ft. The tree reaches its maximum size in Ceylon. The heartwood of East Indian Satinwood is a light yellow or golden yellow and not distinctly demarcated from the sapwood.  Its texture is fine and even, with a highly lustrous, narrowly interlocked grain, often with attractive mottle figure. Its basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) is 0.80 and its air-dry density is 61 pounds per cubic foot. It is difficult to work with hand and machine tools, with torn grain common when planing quartersawn surfaces. It finishes cleanly; turns very well; takes a fine polish. The heartwood is rated as extremely durable, while the sapwood is vulnerable to attack by borers and termites. It is used for decorative veneers, furniture and cabinetwork, turnery, interior joinery, specialty items.

            Spanish Cedar (Cedrela spp./Meliaceae). The Genus Cedrela contains about 8 species native to tropical America (Mexico to Argentina). The main commercial species is C. odorata, known as Spanish cedar or cedro. There is a closely related species from the Old World (Asia) now known as toon or Australian red cedar (Toona spp.), formerly known as Cedrela toona. All species of Cedrela look alike microscopically.   

Cedrela wood appears occasionally in colonial furniture and in secondary wood in British Cabinetry of the Late Georgian Period. (Hinckley) It is the premier wood for carved Santos from Central and South America.

Sumac (Rhus spp. /Anacardiaceae) contains 100 to 150 species that grow in Eurasia/Africa [100], Central America [5] and North America [54]. All species look alike microscopically and are fluorescent under long-wave ultraviolet light. One species, R. vernicifera, is used for Asian lacquers. The word rhus is from the classical Greek and Latin name of the type species, Sicilian sumac, Rhus coriara L. The eastern US species are:

Rhus copallina    black sumac, common sumac, dwarf sumac, flame leaf sumac, mountain sumac, mountain dwarf sumach, mountain wing-rib sumach, shining sumac, smooth sumac, southern sumac, upland sumac, varnish sumac whiteflower dwarf sumach, winged sumac, wing rib sumac

Rhus glabra         common sumac, red sumac, Rocky Mountain sumac, scarlet sumac, smooth sumac, smooth sumach

Rhus typhina       American sumac, hairy sumac, hairy sumach, staghorn sumac, staghorn sumach, velvet sumac, velvet sumach, vinegar tree, Virginia sumach

Common NameScientific NameMax Height (ft)Max Diameter (inches)
Shining SumacRhus copallina186
Smooth SumacRhus glabra3 -184
Staghorn SumacRhus typhina3012

Shining Sumac (Rhus copallina)

Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra)

Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina)

The following description is for Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina).

Staghorn sumac is native to North America, from Quebec to Maine, southern Ontario, northern Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota; south to northeastern Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, northern Kentucky, West Virginia, and Maryland. In the mountains to Virginia, North Carolina, northern Georgia and central Tennessee. Staghorn sumac is the largest of the native sumacs. It is classed as a large shrub reaching 40 ft (12 m) high and 1 ft (0.3 m) wide at base. Tannins can be obtained from bark and leaves.

The wood of sumac is ring porous to semi-ring porous, with a whitish gray sapwood with yellow or green streaks. The heartwood is olive-green to greenish yellow to russet brown with dark streaks. The wood is fluorescent (day-glow yellow) under long wave ultraviolet radiation. It is light weight, soft, and brittle, with a high luster. Sumac is easily air-dried without cracks or checks. The fresh-cut wood exudes a sticky fluid at the cambium (junction between bark and wood), which dries after seasoning. It is also easily worked with sharp tools but frays on turning. It is used for novelties, carving and turnery. The sap and wood cause dermatitis (40, 54, 64, 105).

Additional Reading: 29, 55, 68, 74.

 29.Elias, T.S. 1980. The complete trees of North America, field guide and natural history. New York: van Nostrand Reinhold Company.

 40.Hausen, B.M. 1981. Woods injurious to human health. A manual. New York: Walter de Gruyter.

 54. Lampe, K.F.; McCann, M.A. 1985. AMA handbook of poisonous and injurious plants. Chicago, IL: American Medical Association.

 55. Little, Jr., E.L. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). Agric. Handb. 541. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. U.S. Government Printing Office.

 64. Mitchell, J.; Rook, A. 1979. Botanical dermatology: plants and plant products injurious to the skin. Vancouver, BC: Greenglass Ltd.

 68. Panshin, A.J.; de Zeeuw, C. 1980. Textbook of wood technology, 4th ed. New York: McGraw–Hill Book Co..

 74. Record, S.J.; Hess R.W. 1943. Timbers of the new world. New Haven, CT: Yale
University Press.

105. Woods, B.; Calnan, C.D. 1976. Toxic woods. British Journal of Dermatology.
95(13): 1–97.

Maps are from: Elbert L. Little Jr.1977. Atlas of United States Trees. Volume 4. Minor Eastern Hardwoods. USDA Forest Service, Miscellaneous Publication No. 1342.

Sundri (Heritiera fomes / Sterculiaceae) also known scientifically as Tarrietia fomes and commonly as sunder, jekanazo and pinlekanazo, is an evergreen mangrove tree that reached heights of 50 to 80 feet diameters of over 6 feet. It is native to the coastal mangrove swamps of the Indo-Pacific region. The wood has a fine texture with interlocked grain. The sapwood is a pale red and the heartwood is a dark red. It is hard, tough and elastic. It was/is used for heavy construction (bridges, pilings, houses, utility poles, and truck and bus bodies), tool handles, and flooring. Decorative veneers have been produced from this and other species of Heritiera/Tarrietia, under the name Ironwood or Bois Fer (F. Lewis Hinckley 1960. Directory of Historic Cabinet Woods). It is currently on the Endangered Species List due to over logging.

            Sycamore (Platanus spp./Platanaceae) also known as Buttonwood or Plane is composed of about 10 species that grow in Eurasia (2) and North America (7) and 1 hybridized in England. All species look alike microscopically. The common name Sycamore is used in England to designate a species in the Hard Maple Group (Acer pseudoplatanus), whereas Plane or Planetree is used to name the genus Platanus which grows there.

Scientific NameCommon NameRegion of Origin
American SycamorePlatanus occidentails L.Eastern North America
London PlanePlatanus x hybrid Brot.England
Oriental PlanePlatanus orientalis L.SE Europe, SW Asia
Chiapas PlanePlatanus chiapensisSE Mexico
Gentry’s PlanePlatanus gentryW Mexico
Mexican PlanePlatanus mexicanaNE/C Mexico
Oaxaca PlanePlatanus oaxacanaS Mexico
Rzedowski’s PlanePlatanus rzedowskiiE Mexico
Arizona SycamorePlatanus wrightii S. WatsonAZ/NM/Nw Mexico
California SycamorePlatanus racemosa Nutt.CA & Baja
Kerry’s PlanePlatanus kerrii Gagnep.Laos & Vietnam

Sycomore Fig (Ficus sycomorus L./Moraceae) is a robust tree with wide spreading branches (to 120 feet in diameter) that grows to 30 or 40 feet in height and a circumference of at least 20 feet. It is an attractive tree, commonly found growing along the banks of rivers in the tropics of Africa and parts of South Africa. The main trunk is short and divides close to the ground into several twisted or gnarled branches. It is evergreen, producing simple, un-lobed heart shaped fragrant leaves.

Sycomore Fig was introduced into the Mediterranean region and cultivated for its edible fruits (figs) and timber used for Pharaoh’s sarcophagi. It is very abundant in Egypt and is the country’s largest non-native tree. The bark is characteristically smooth and has a yellow or greenish-yellow color. The leaves are large with a dark green color. The fruit (figs), which can be found at most times of the year, are quite large and occur in masses on the trunk and main branches. These figs are eaten by a large variety of birds and mammals and are slightly inferior to the common fig (Ficus carica).

            The wood is very durable, although it is soft and porous. It was used traditionally used for sarcophagi and other wooden objects (doors, furniture and boxes) and offerings placed in Egyptian tombs.

Its microscopic anatomy is similar to, but distinct from, other figs of the region (the common fig Ficus carica and Ficus pseudo-sycomorus). It should not be confused with an unrelated, temperate species, Sycamore (Platanus spp.), which has a similar wood structure, macroscopically. Sycomore Fig is also erroneously known as Sycomorus antiquorum, Ficus sycomora or Ficus sycamorus.

Other Common Names: Baure, echte sykomore, fico selvatico, fig mulberry, figuier sauvage, gang, higo selvatico, kuwane, maulbeerfeige, mkuyu, mukuyu, mukuyukona, mulberry fig, muonde, musvunguzu, mutsvita, mutuba, shikmim, shikmoth, sycamoor, sycamore, sycamore fig, sycomore, sycomore fig, umkhiwa, vilt fikontrad, wild fig, wild fig-tree, wilde vijgeboom, wildevyboom.

Literature Cited:

Fahn, A.; Werker, E., and Baas, P. Wood anatomy and identification of trees and shrubs from Israel and adjacent regions. Jerusalem, Israel: Hebrew University; 1986.

Lev-Yadun, S. Induction of near-vessellessness in Ephedra campylopoda C.A.Mey.  1994; 74:683-687.

Mabberley, D. J. The plant-book, a portable dictionary of the higher plants. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 1987.

Moldenke, H. N. and Moldenke, A. L. Plants of the Bible. New York: The Ronald Press Company; 1952.

            Tamarind (Tamarindus indica L./ Fabaceae-Ceasalpinioideae ) is a monotypic genus in the Legume Family, most likely originally native to Tropical Africa and is currently distributed in the tropics, world-wide. It is large tree averaging 20 to 25 meters in height and 1 m in diameter. It has a wide, spreading crown and a short, stout trunk. The bark is strongly fissured and scaly grey on the stem and smooth on the branches. Tamarindus is slow growing but long lived. Individual trees commonly remain productive for 150 years or longer. Tamarind sapwood is light yellow, while the heartwood ranges from a bold red color to dark purplish brown. It is very hard, dense, durable and strong (specific gravity 0.8-0.9g/cubic m), and takes a fine polish.

Tamarind heartwood is used by local artisans and is used for general carpentry, sugar mills, wheels, hubs, tool-handles, agricultural implements, wheels, wooden utensils, agricultural tools, mortars, boats & ships, toys, panels, turned wood, mortars and furniture. In North America, tamarind wood has been traded under the name of ‘madeira mahogany’.

Tatajuba (Bagassa guianensis) in the family Moraceae is a monotypic genus – there is only one species. It is also known as Cow-wood (Guyana), Gele bagasse (Surinam), Bagasse jaune (French Guiana), and Amapa-rana (Brazil). It is native to the Guianas and the Brazilian Amazon.

The tree has a large, well-formed, unbuttressed canopy with a flat, umbrella-shaped crown. They grow to heights of 90 to 100 feet with diamters of 20 to 24 inches.  The bole is cylindrical and 60 to 70 ft high.  Bark, when cut, yields large quantities a sweet, sticky latex.

The unseasoned heartwood is yellow, often streaked with brown, becoming lustrous golden-brown to russet brown upon exposure (usually within an hour in outdoor applications).  The sapwood is narrow, sharply demarcated and is pale yellow to yellowish white.  The grain is interlocked resulting in rather broad stripe, while the texture is medium to coarse and is moderately uniform. The basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) averages 0.68, while the air- dry density averages 50 pcf. It is easy to saw and finishes smoothly. The heartwood is reported to be very durable when exposed to either white-rot or brown-rot fungi and is slightly resistant to marine borers.  Weathering characteristics are considered poor. The heartwood is also highly resistant to moisture absorption, comparable to teak in this respect, suggesting poor treatability.

Tatajuba is used locally for general building purposes, heavy construction, furniture, boat construction.  Because of its high resilience, it may be suitable for some type of sporting equipment.  Wood is similar to black locust and could be used as a substitute for some applications.

Adapted From: Chudnoff, Martin. 1984. Tropical Timbers of the World. USDA Forest Service. Ag. Handbook No. 607.

            Teak (Tectona grandis/Verbenaceae) contains 4 species native from Southeast Asia to Malaysia. T. grandis is the important timber producing species, that grows today from India to Laos. It was introduced to Indonesia 600 years ago and has since become naturalized. It is used for building ships, bridges, flooring and furniture. The density for natural teak (not plantation) is 35 – 45 pcf.

            Timborana (Pseudopiptadenia spp./Leguminsae-Mimosoideae Rauschert) is composed of  about 9 species native to Central and South America. Other common names include: alimiao, anchico blanco, bocachico, cambul pitanga, carbonero, fava folha fina, hediondo, huilca, ipanan harikaroe, manari balli, parica branco, pikimissiki, pikin-misiki, shirimai, tarahuilca, timbo rana, timboruna, and yiguire.

            The trees reach heights of 100 feet (30 meters) and diamters of 3 feet (1 meter).

            The heartwood ranges from golden to red brown, with a tan sapwood. Grain is interlocked or wavy with a coarse texture.

            Specific gravity is 0.66 (basic) and 0.80 12% moisture content, while density is 50 lbs/ft3. Janka Hardness = 1.550 x 103 lbf. MOR = 17,410 lbf/in2. MOE = 2,380,000 lbf/in2. Shrinkage is radial 4.6%, Tangential 6.9%, Volumetric = 10.8%, with a T/R ratio of 1.5.

            Decay resistance is durable to moderate and is susceptible to insect attack. It has a high blunting effect and can be difficult to surface, but glues and finishes well.

            Uses: flooring, turning stock, heavy construction, millwork and furniture.

            Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron spp./Magnoliaceae) contains 2 species, the Yellow Poplar/Tulip Poplar of North America (L. tulipifera) and the Chinese Tulip Tree (L. chinensis). Both species look alike microscopically.

Current distribution of Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera).

            Tupelo (Nyssa spp./Nyssaceae), also called Tupelo Gum, Gumwood, Black Gum, Pepperidge, Sour Gum, White Gum or Swamp Gum is composed of 5 species from North America  (3) and Eastern Asia  (2). The North American species currently grow from eastern Texas north to lower Michigan and east to the Atlantic from central Florida to southern Maine. The wood is generally a pale yellowish color or white to tan, with a fine grain. Various figures, including ribbon-stripe, may be present when the wood is quarter-sawn. According to Hinckley, gumwood can appear in New England as well as southern furniture. The other gumwood is Sweet Gum or Blisted (Liquidambar styraciflua). [Hinckley, F.L. 1960. Directory of historic cabinet woods. Bonanza Books, New York. 186 pp.]

            Walnut/Butternut Group (Juglans spp. L./Juglandaceae) contains about 20 species (Walnuts & Butternuts) that grow in South America (6-11), Eurasia (5) and North America (4). If the sample is large enough, Tropical Walnuts (6-11 spp.), American Black Walnut (Juglans nigra), Common English/European/Persian Walnut (Juglans regia) and the Butternuts (4 spp.) can be separated from each other based on microanatomy.  [See Miller, R. 1976. Botanical Gazette 137(4): 368-377.] I currently have no anatomical information on California Walnut (Juglans hindsii).

Eastern North AmericaEurope/Middle East
Common NameScientific NameCommon NameScientific Name
American Black WalnutJuglans nigraCommon WalnutJuglans regia
ButternutJuglans cinerea(English/European/Persian) 
Asian WalnutsTropical Walnuts 
Japanese Walnut                J. ailantifolia Chinese Walnut                 J. mandshuricaSee below 

With regards to color, Juglans nigra and the Tropical Walnuts usually have a dark brown to red-brown colored heartwood. Asian Walnuts and Juglans regia, on the other hand, has a heartwood that is most times a light tan but can range in color to dark brown.

Tropical Walnuts

J. australis Griseb. (J. brasiliensis Dode)—Argentine walnut, Brazilian walnut

J. boliviana (C. DC.) Dode—Bolivian walnut, Peruvian walnut

J. hirsuta Manning—Nuevo León walnut

J. jamaicensis C.DC. (J. insularis Griseb.)—West Indies walnut

J. mollis Engelm.—Mexican walnut

J. neotropica Diels (J. honorei Dode)—Andean walnut, cedro negro, cedro nogal, nogal, nogal Bogotano

J. olanchana Standl. & L.O.Williams—cedro negro, nogal, walnut

J. peruviana Dode—Peruvian walnut

J. soratensis Manning

J. steyermarkii Manning—Guatemalan walnut

J. venezuelensis Manning—Venezuela walnut

          * The cellular characters necessary for absolute determination of species were not found. This could be (most likely) because it is not American Black Walnut OR the characters are not present in this particular sample. The color of the wood is more like American Black Walnut & not English Walnut. To be more certain (but nothing is 100%), another sample, from a different location on the object could be sent & examined at no charge because you have been a good customer.

            White Lauan  (Pentacme spp./Dipterocarpaceae)

Other Common Names: Bayokan, Lauan-blanco, Tiaong (Philippines).

Distribution: Abundant in primary forests of the Philippines.

The Tree: A large tree, with a tall cylindrical bole, to a height of 160 ft; with trunk diameters to 6 ft.  A rather small twisted tree in Malaya.

The Wood:

General Characteristics: Heartwood grayish, sometimes with a pinkish tinge; sapwood not distinct.  Texture moderately coarse; grain interlocked; luster low; without characteristic odor or taste.

Weight: Basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) 0.43; air-dry density 33 pcf.

Mechanical Properties: (2-in.  standard)

Moisture content   Bending strength   Modulus of elasticity   Maximum crushing strength

            (%)                  (Psi)              (1,000 psi)                      (Psi)

Green (49)                     7,550                         1,380                           3,700

12%                                         11,600                         1,690                           6,000

Janka side hardness 580 lb for green material and 690 lb for dry.  Forest Products Laboratory toughness 284 in.-lb green and 222 in.-lb dry (2-cm specimen).

Drying and Shrinkage: The wood seasons well with little or no degrade.  Kiln schedule T6-D2 is suggested for 4/4 stock and T3-D1 for 8/4.  Shrinkage green to ovendry: radial 4.0%; tangential 7.7%.

Working Properties: Works with some difficulty.  Planes and turns well but works poorly in other operations.  Rotary peels well, glues satisfactorily.

Durability: Vulnerable to attack by decay fungi and termites.

Preservation: Easy to treat with preservative oils using a pressure-vacuum process; penetration of the preservative is complete but not evenly distributed except in the sapwood.

Uses: Furniture, cabinetmaking, interior finish, flooring, veneer and plywood, particleboard, pulp and paper, construction.

            Willow (Salix spp. /Salicaceae) is composed of 170 to 400 species native to Eurasia (60), South America (1), Central America (19) and North America (87). All species look alike microscopically.

Yagrumo Macho [Schefflera morototoni (Aubl.) Maguire, Steyerm. & Frodin/Araliaceae]. It is native to southern Mexico, Central America & South America. Yagrumo macho’s specific gravity is between 0.35 and 0.60. Mechanical and physical properties of the wood are somewhat higher than those of yellow-poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera). Yagrumo macho is used for general carpentry and interior construction. It is also suited for crates and boxes, utility plywood or core stock, match splints, even particleboard, and could probably be substituted for heavier grades of balsa.

Yellow Sanders [Buchenavia capitata (Vahl) Eichl./ Combretaceae] is one of about ten species in this genus. It is also knonw as Granadillo (Puerto Rico), Almendro (Colombia), Amarillo, Olivo Negro (Venezuela), Mirindiba, and Periquiteira (Brazil). It is native to the West Indies, Panama, and South America from Venezuela to French Guiana Brazil, and Bolivia.  Several related species are found in the Amazon region. The tree grows to a height of 60 to 80 ft and 2 to 4 ft in diameter; has rather large buttresses, but has good log form above them.

            The heartwood is a yellowish brown when freshly cut becoming yellow to golden brown usually with a gray or olive hue upon exposure; sapwood light yellow brown.  The grain is more or less interlocked, with a medium to rather coarse texture. The wood has a high luster with a faint spicy odor and mildly bitter taste when green. The basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) is 0.63.

            It is used as an attractive furniture wood and suggested for decking, planking, and framing in boat construction; exterior and interior flooring; decorative veneers; turning; wood tanks.  The wood has many characteristics similar to white oak and teak.

Adapted from: Chudnoff, Martin. 1984. Tropical Timbers of the World. USDA Forest Service. Ag. Handbook No. 607.

Softwoods

The term softwood is a general term for trees that produce cones (Gymnosperms), which usually have narrow, needle-shaped leaves and are evergreen. The term originated as a description of the hardness of the wood, although there are some hard softwoods like Heart Pine (Yellow Pine Group, Pinus spp.).

            Araucariaceae (Agathis spp. and Araucaria spp.). This family contains two genera with 31 species and is represented, commercially, by three species: Brazilian Araucaria or Parana Pine (Araucaria angustifolia), native to Brazil; Klinki Pine (Araucaria klinkii) of Borneo; and Almaciga or Sakar (Agathis philippinensis) of the Philippine Islands.

Botanically, the genus Agathis contains 13 species, native to an area from the Philippine Island to New Zealand.  The trees are noted for their exudates (resins) called copals.

Similarly, the genus Araucaria comprises 18 species, native to the southwest Pacific (especially New Caledonia), southern Brazil to Chile.  The genus includes Norfolk Island Pine, Monkey Puzzle Tree and Bunya-bunya Pine.

            Bald Cypress (Taxodium spp./Taxodiaceae) contains only two species, both of which are native to North America, Baldcypress or Pondcypress (T. distichum) and Montezuma Baldcypress (Tmucronatum). Both Species look alike microscopically.

            Cedara, Atlantic White [Chamaecyparis thyoides (L.) B.S.P. Cupressaceae] The genus Chamaecyparis is composed of 6 or 7 species, with 4 in Japan/Formosa and 3 in North America. The North American species are:

Scientific NameCommon Name
C. lawsoniana Port Orford Cedar
C. nootkatensisAlaska Cedar
C. thyoidesAtlantic White Cedar

                aIdentification and separation of North American species possible based on micro-anatomy (Kukachka, B.F. 1960. Identification of coniferous woods. Tappi  43(11):887-896).

The word chamaecyparis is derived from the Greek chamai (dwarf) and kuparissos (cypress). The term thyoides means “like Thuja,” a related genus containing northern white-cedar. The other two North American species are Port-Orford-cedar (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana) and Alaska-cedar (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis). The wood of each of the three species in this genus is anatomically distinct.

Other Common Names: Amerikansk vit-ceder, cedar, cedre blanc d’Amerique, cedro bianco, cedro bianco Americano, cedro blanco Americano, cipres blanco, cipresso bianco, coast white cedar, juniper, kogelcypres, post cedar, retinospora, southern white-cedar, swamp-cedar, swano white cedar, vit-cypress, white-cedar, white chamaecyparis, white cypress, witte Amerikaanse ceder, zeder-zypresse.

Distribution: Atlantic white-cedar currently is native to the Coastal Plain of the eastern United States from central Maine south to northern Florida and west to southern Mississippi. It is an obligate wetland species, i.e. it can only grow in very wet areas, usually lowlands.

The Tree: Trees of Atlantic white-cedar reach heights of 60 ft (18.29 m), with diameters of 1 ft (0.30 m). Under optimal growth conditions, this tree can reach heights of 120 ft (36.58 m), with diameters of 5 ft (1.52 m).

General Wood Characteristics: The sapwood of Atlantic white-cedar is narrow and white, and the heartwood is light brown with a reddish or pinkish tinge. The wood has a characteristic aromatic odor when freshly cut and has a faint bitter taste. It is light weight, has a fine texture, and is straight grained. It is moderately soft, low in shock resistance, and weak in bending and endwise compression.

Working Properties: It works easily with tools, finishes smoothly, holds paint well, and splits easily.

Durability: Atlantic white-cedar heartwood is resistant to very resistant to decay (56).

Modern Use: Cooperage, wooden household furniture, boat building, fencing, and industrial
millwork.

Historic Use: Atlantic White Cedars ability to withstand both water and fungi (damp-rot) made it a premier wood choice for boats and house clapboard and shingles in the American colonies. By the end of the 18th Century, almost all of the living Atlantic White Cedar trees were removed from the swamps of Jersey [The Pine Barrens, The Hackensack Meadowlands and Sandy Hook]. This area had the highest concentration of the trees along the Atlantic Seaboard ~ 500,000 acres then, 115,000 today. Some tree loss was due to habitat destruction (agriculture, peat & cranberry bogs).Dead trees had fallen into the swamp and been preserved by the anaerobic environment to the cellular and molecular levels. They were subsequently hauled out of the swamps and mined in the mud flats to satisfy the demand, prior to the Civil War. It was also used for cooperage, wooden household furniture, fencing, buckets, decoys and channel-marking posts.

Alden, Harry A. 1997. Softwoods of North America. Gen. Tech. Rep. FPL-GTR-102. Madison, WI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory. 151 pp.

Sloane, Eric. 1965. A reverence for wood. Dover Publications, Inc., New York. 111 pp.

http://www.nj.gov/dep/parksandforests/forest/njfs_awc_initiative.html

Chinese Swamp Cypress (Glyptostrobus pensilis/Taxodiaceae) is the sole living species in the genus Glyptostrobus. It is native to subtropical southeastern China, from Fujian west to southeast Yunnan, and also very locally in northern Vietnam. It is a medium-sized to large tree, reaching 30 m (98 ft.) tall and with a trunk diameter of up to 1 m (3.3 ft.), possibly more. It typically grows in river banks, ponds and swamps, growing in water up to 60 cm (24 in) deep. Like the related genus Taxodium, it produces ‘cypress knees’ when growing in water, thought to help transport oxygen to the roots. The species is nearly extinct in the wild due to overcutting for its valuable decay-resistant, scented wood, but it is also fairly widely planted along the banks of rice paddies where its roots help to stabilize the banks by reducing soil erosion. There appear to be no remaining wild plants in China and few of those in Viet Nam are seed-bearing. [Wikipedia]

Chinese Arbor-vitae (Platycladus orientalis (L.) Franco/Cupressaceae), formerly Thuja orientalis, is the only species of this genus. It is native to northwestern China, Korea, and the Russian Far East (Amur + Khabarovsk). It also has been extensively cultivated and naturalized in the past millennium as an introduced species elsewhere in Asia: eastward to Japan; southward to northern India; and westward to northern Iran. It is a small, slow-growing tree, to 15–20 m tall and 0.5 m trunk diameter (exceptionally to 35 m tall and 14 m diameter in very old trees). The wood is used in Buddhist temples, both for construction work, and chipped, for incense burning.

            Redcedar/Juniper, etc. (Juniperus spp./Cupressaceae). The Junipers are composed of about 50 species, native to North America [13], Mexico and Central America [11], West Indies [5], Bermuda [1], and the Old World [25]. The word juniperus is the classical Latin name. The wood of all species in this genus looks alike microscopically. With regards to Colonial American Furniture, the Southern Redcedar (J. silicicola) was most likely used, as J. virginiana has deeply fluted stems and boards would have large areas of cream to white sapwood (think modern cedar chests).

Eastern North AmericaEurope/Middle East
Eastern RedcedarJ. virginianaCommon JuniperJ. communis
Southern RedcedarJ. silicicolaGrecian JuniperJ. excelsa
  Stinking JuniperJ. foetidissima
  Syrian JuniperJ. drupacea
Western North America 
Ashe Juniper   California Juinper   Common Juniper   Alligator Juniper   Redberry Juniper   Drooping Juniper   Oneseed Juniper   Western Juniper   Utah Juniper   Pinchot Juniper   Rocky Mountain Juniper  Juniperus ashei Juniperus californica Juniperus communis Juniperus deppeana Juniperus erythrocarpa Juniperus flaccid Juniperus monsperma Juniperus occidentalis Juniperus osteosperma Juniperus pinchotii Juniperus scopularum  

Cedar, Western Red and Noerthern White: Thuja (Thuja L./Cupressaceae) is composed of about 6 species, worldwide, native to North America (2) and Asia (4).

            Two species of Thuja occur in the United States and Canada. Northern white-cedar (T. occidentalis L.) is found in southeastern Canada and northeastern United States to the Lake States region, while Western Red Cedar (T. plicata Donn) ranges from southeastern Alaska to northwestern California and also in the northern Rocky Mountain region.

            The heartwood of T. occidentalis is a pale brown with a faint but characteristic cedary odor; the heartwood of T. plicata is reddish or pinkish brown to dull brown with a much stronger and spicy aromatic odor. (Kukachka, 1960)

            The woods of Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata) and Northern White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis) can be separated based on their microscopic anatomy. Kukachka, B. F. Identification of coniferous woods. Tappi. 1960; 43:887-896. The word thuja comes from the Greek thuia, an aromatic wood (probably a juniper).

Northern White Cedar (after Little, Jr.)

Western Red Cedar (Wikipedia)

            Cedar, True (Cedrus spp./Pinaceae) contains 4 species listed below, native to North Africa, the Middle East and Asia. All species look alike.

  .Common NameScientific NameNative To
Atlas CedarC. atlanticaNorth Africa
Cyprus CedarC. brevifoliaCyprus
Cedar of LebanonC. libaniAsia Minor
DeodorC. deodoraHimalaya

Cedrus atlantica

Cedrus libani

From Wikipedia:

The Cedar of Lebanon was important to various ancient civilizations. The trees were used by the Phoenicians for building commercial and military ships, as well as houses, palaces, and temples. The ancient Egyptians used its resin in mummification, and its sawdust has been found in the tombs of Egyptian Pharaohs. The Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh designates the cedar groves of Lebanon as the dwelling of the gods to which Gilgamesh, the hero, ventured.

Hebrew priests were ordered by Moses to use the bark of the Lebanon Cedar in circumcision [citation needed] and the treatment of leprosy. The Hebrew prophet Isaiah used the Lebanon Cedar as a metaphor for the pride of the world. According to the Talmud, Jews once burned Lebanese cedar wood on the Mount of Olives to celebrate the New Year. Foreign rulers from both near and far would order the wood for religious and civil constructs, the most famous of which are King Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem and David’s and Solomon’s Palaces. Because of its significance the word Cedar is mentioned 75 times (Cedar 51 times, Cedars 24 times) in the Bible, and played a pivotal role in the cementing of the Phoenician-Hebrew relationship.[clarification needed] Beyond that, it was also used by Romans, Greeks, Persians, Assyrians and Babylonians.

Over the centuries, extensive deforestation has occurred, with only small remnants of the original forests surviving. Deforestation has been particularly severe in Lebanon and on Cyprus; on Cyprus, only small trees up to 25 m (82 ft) tall survive, though Pliny the Elder recorded cedars 40 m (130 ft) tall there. Extensive reforestation of cedar is carried out in the Mediterranean region, particularly Turkey, where over 50 million young cedars are being planted annually. The Lebanese populations are also now expanding through a combination of replanting and protection of natural regeneration from browsing by goats, hunting, forest fires, and woodworms.

Historically, there were various attempts at conserving the Lebanon Cedars. The first was made by the Roman Emperor Hadrian, who issued a decree protecting parts of the Cedars of Lebanon in CE 118. In the Middle Ages, the Mamluk Caliphs also made an attempt at conserving the Cedars and regulating their use, followed by the Maronite Patriarch Yusuf Hbaych, who placed them under his protection in 1832. In 1876, Queen Victoria financed a wall to protect the Cedars of God (near Bsharri) from the ravages of goat herding.

            Western Redcedar (Thuja plicata Donn ex D. Don/Cupressaceae) is native to the Pacific Northwest coast of America.The word thuja comes from the Greek thuia, an aromatic wood (probably a juniper). The word plicata is derived from plicate (folded into plaits) most likely from the flat, folded appearance of the scale-like leaves.

Other Common Names: Albero della vita di Lobb, Amerikanskt livstrad, Amerikanskt livstrad, arbol de la vida, arborvitae, British Columbia red cedar, British Columbia cedar, California cedar, canoe-cedar, cedar, cedro rojo del Pacifico, cedro rosso del Pacifico, columinar giant arborvitae, giant arbor, giant arborvitae, giant-cedar, giant thuja, gigantic cedar, gigantic red cedar, grand arbre de vie, Idaho cedar, jatte-tuja, Lobb’s arborvitae, northwestern red cedar, Oregon cedar, pacific arbor, Pacific arborvitae, Pacific redcedar, red cedar, red cedar of the west, red cedar pine, reuzen-thuja, reuzenthuja, riesen-lebensbaum, riesenlebensbaum, riesenthuja, shinglewood, thuja geant, thuya de Lobb, thuya geant, thuya oriental, tuia gigantesca, Washington cedar, Washington red cedar, Westamerikaanse levensboom, western arborvitae, western cedar, western red redcedar.

Distribution: Western redcedar grows in the Pacific Northwest and along the Pacific coast to Alaska. Western redcedar lumber is produced principally in Washington, followed by Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. The tree has been planted in Great Britain and New Zealand.

The Tree: Western redcedar trees reach heights of 200 ft (60.96 m), with diameters of 16 ft (4.88 m). The trunk of older trees is buttressed, fluted, and quite tapered.

General Wood Characteristics: The heartwood of western redcedar is reddish or pinkish brown to dull brown and the sapwood nearly white. The sapwood is narrow, often not more than 1 in. (2.54 cm) in width. The wood is generally straight grained and has a uniform but rather coarse texture. It has very low shrinkage. This species is light in weight, moderately soft, low in strength when used as beams or posts, and low in shock resistance.

Working Properties: The wood works well with both hand tools and machine operations. It may splinter when worked on the end grain (e.g., mortising). It is subject to compression during planing and molding. It nails and screws well and takes both stains and paint satisfactorily.

Durability: The heartwood of western redcedar is resistant to very resistant to decay. It is not immune to attack by termites and furniture beetles.

Uses: Western redcedar is used principally for shingles, saunas, outdoor furniture, decking, fencing, lumber, poles, posts, and piles. The lumber is used for exterior siding, interior finish, greenhouse construction, ship and boat building, boxes and crates, sash, doors, and millwork.

Toxicity: Can cause bronchial asthma and/or contact dermatitis.

The woods of Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata) and Northern White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis) can sometimes be separated based on their microscopic anatomy. Kukachka, B. F. Identification of coniferous woods. Tappi. 1960; 43:887-896.

            China-Fir (Cunninghamia lanceolata /Taxodiaceae) is native to the temperate regions of China and South-east Asia. In the past, there have been over twenty species names for different types of trees in the genus Cunninghamia. DNA analysis has recently revealed that there is the only species in this genus, C. lanceolata. The name Cunninghamia is named for British doctor James Cunningham (18th Century), the first westerner to cultivate the tree. Interestingly, Cunninghamia has been grown and harvested in China and Southeast Asia for at least 800 years, since the Yuan dynasty.

            China-Fir is also known as; araucaria de Chine, ch’aamsha, cha chou, China fir, Chinese cunninghamia, Chinese fir, coffin fir, coffin pine, Cunningham pine, Cunningham- tall, cunninghamia, Formosan cunninghamia, kooyoo-san, koyosan, kwan mu, long leng, oranda momi, randai sugi, riu-kiu-momi, sa moe, sa mu, sa mu dau, samou, san shu, san-mu, san-shu, sha, sha mu, sha shu, shan mu, spies- den, spiesstanne, thong lau, xa-mou, xa-muc and yin-chien-mu.

            China-Fir trees reach heights of about 30m (150 ft), with long straight cylindrical boles.The sapwood of China-Fir is pale yellow to white, while the heartwood is yellow to dull brown, often with a reddish tinge. It has a characteristic odor that is aromatically pungent.  It has a medium texture, is very soft to soft but durable, easily worked with tools, glues well, easy to season, and resistant to insects and termites. It is very light in weight, with specific gravities ranging from 0.298 to 0.500.

It is used in house-building (beams, flooring, ceilings, stairways, window sashes, etc), furniture, paneling, packaging, joinery, agricultural implements, bridge construction, boat-building, boxes and containers for tea, cooperage, trunks, telegraph and telephone poles, boat masts, wooden ware and coffins. It is the most important fast-growing timber tree of the warm regions south of the Chang Jiang valley. The heartwood is strongly resistant to rot, is not eaten by termites, and is easily worked; it is used in constructing buildings, bridges, ships, and lamp posts, in furniture manufacture, and for wood fiber. After bamboo, it is widely regarded as the most important wood product in Asia.

The above information pertains to slow grown or virgin timbers rarely seen today. Cunninghamia lanceolata has been cultivated for its wood for over 800 years, mainly because it can be propagated easily from cuttings and cut stumps will grow back from root sprouts, which is unusual for a conifer. Because of this it has been planted not only over most of China, but in other parts of Asia and even Africa. The wood from these plantation grown stocks has none of the physical and mechanical properties of slow growth and virgin timbers. The slow growth trees produce a wood that is highly scented and durable, similar to Coast Redwood (Sequoia) and Sugi (Cryptomeria). However, the plantation grown wood is very light in color and weight, (looking superficially like white pine) with wide growth rings (1-5 rings per inch) and very narrow latewood bands. It is a low quality wood used in inexpensive shims and framing materials that do not need to be decay resistant or withstand the elements. In addition to its lower resistance to decay, it also has lower strength properties and is very soft.

Original, native habitat for China-Fir. (Silvae Orbis, 1942)

Cypress (Cupressus spp./Cupressaceae) is composed of about 13 species native to the Northern Hemisphere (2 are European). None are native to the Eastern United States.

Western North AmericaEurasia
Common NameScientific NameCommon NameScientific Name
Arizona CypressC. arizonicaItalian CypressC. sempervirens
Californian CypressC. govenianaHimalayan CypressC. torulosa
Mexican CypressC. lusitanica  
Monterey CypressC. macrocarpa  

            Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii/ Pinaceae) contains 2 species native to western North America (Coast Douglas-fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii and Bigcone Douglas-fir, Pseudotsuga macrocarpa), 1 in Mexico (Mexican Douglas-fir, Pseudotsuga lindleyana), 1 in Japan (Japanese Douglas-fir, Pseudotsuga japonica) and 3 in eastern Asia (including Chinese Douglas-fir, Pseudotsuga sinensis). All species look alike microscopically. The North American species is P.  menziesii, known as Douglas –Fir or Oregon Pine, although it is not a True Pine (Pinus sp.). There are two recognized subspecies of Douglas-fir: coast Douglas-fir [P. menziesii (Mirb.) Franco ssp. menziesii] and Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir [P. menziesii ssp glauca (Biessn.) Franco]. The range of Douglas-fir extends from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Coast and from Mexico to central British Columbia. Douglas-fir lumber harvesting occurs in the Coast States of Oregon, Washington, and California, and the Rocky Mountain States. Douglas-fir is named for Henry Douglas (1798-1834), a Scottish botanist who traveled in North America. The word Pseudotsuga means “false hemlock and menziesii is used in recognition of Archibald Menzies (1754–1842), a Scottish physician and naturalist, who discovered Douglas-fir in 1793 on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

Distribution of Douglas-Fir, modified from Elbert Little Jr. USDA Forest Service.

            Fir (Abies spp./Pinaceae) contains 33 to 40 species, world-wide, with 14 species that grow in Central and North America , 2 species in North Africa , one species in Europe and  25 species in Eurasia. All species look alike microscopically, although the western American species and the European/English species sometimes contain colored ray contents and crystals, while those of eastern America do not. The lack of crystals does not indicate Eastern North America provenance. [Alden, H.A. & A.C. Wiedenhoeft. 1998. Qualified determination of provenance of wood of the firs (Abies spp. Mill.) Using microscopic features of rays: an aid to conservators, curators and art historians. Poster at 26th American Institute of Conservation Annual Meeting, June 1-7, 1998, Arlington, VA.]

The main commercial species are:

Eastern North AmericaEurope & Eurasian
Common NameScientific NameCommon NameScientific Name
Balsam FirA. balsamea     Caucasian FirA. nordmanniana
  Greek FirA. cephalonica
  Silver FirA. alba
  Spanish FirA. pinsapo
Western North America Common Name         Scientific Name  
Pacific Silver FirA. amabilis  
White FirA. concolor  
Grand FirA. grandis  
Subalpine FirA. lasiocarpa  
California Red FirA. magnifica  
Noble FirA. procera  

Hemlock (Tsuga spp.). The genus Tsuga contains about 14 species native to North America [4] and southern and eastern Asia [10]. The 2 main species are Eastern Hemlock & Western Hemlock, which can be separated microscopically. The word tsuga is the Japanese name for the native hemlocks of Japan. The species native to North America are listed below.

Scientific nameTrade name
Tsuga canadensisEastern Hemlock
Tsuga carolinianaCarolina Hemlock
Tsuga heterophyllaWestern Hemlock
Tsuga mertensianaMountain Hemlock

            Larch (Larix spp. Mill./Pinaceae) The genus Larix contains about 10 species, native to North America [3] and Eurasia [7]. The wood of all species in this genus looks alike microscopically. Larix is the classical name of Larix decidua Mill., or European larch. The species are listed below. The word occidentalismeans western.

EurasiaNorth America
Common NameScientific NameCommon NameScientific Name
  European Larch Dahurian Larch  L. decidua L. gmeliniiTamarack Subalpine Larch Western LarchL. laricina L. lyalii L. occidentalis
Himalayan Larch Japanese LarchL. griffithii L. kaempferi  
Masters’ Larch Chinese Larch Siberian LarchL. mastersiana L. potaninii L. sibirica  

Western Larch (Larix occidentalis Nutt./Pinaceae). Western larch is native to the high mountains of the upper Columbia River Basin in southeastern British Columbia, northwestern Montana, northern and central Idaho, Washington, and northern and northeastern Oregon.

Pine (Pinus spp./Pinaceae) is composed of at least 93 species world-wide and can be separated into three groups based on their micro-anatomy; the Red Pine Group, the White Pine Group and the Yellow or Hard Pine Group.

            The Red Pine Group contains about 18 species that grow in Asia (10), Europe/Mediterranean (5), Central America (1) and North America (1). To my knowledge, there are two commercial species, Red Pine (P. resinosa) from North America and Scot’s Pine, Scotch Pine or Deal (P. sylvestris) from Eurasia. All species in this group look alike microscopically.

Eastern North AmericaEurope
Common NameScientific NameCommon NameScientific Name
Red PineP. resinosaBlack PinesaP. nigra
  Dwarf Mountain PineP. mugo
  Scots PineP. sylvestris

aThe Black Pines include: Austrian Pine (P. nigra ssp. nigra), Crimean Pine (P. nigra ssp. pallasiana), Corsican Pine (P. nigra ssp. laricio), Dalmatian Pine (P. nigra ssp. dalmatica), and Pyrenean Pine (P. nigra ssp. salzmannii).

            With respect to frames of pictures and looking glasses, Heckscher (American Furniture in the Met… Late Colonial Period: The Queen Anne & Chippendale Styles) states that Spruce and Red Pine Group (Scots Pine, Pinus sylvestris) indicate English origin. Samples for this study were microscopically analyzed.

It has been my experience that, with respect to high-style furniture (Queen Anne and Chippendale), the species is most likely P. sylvestris, because P. resinosa was probably not available to craftsmen in the colonies.  Assuming that the distribution of P. resinosa is approximately the same as today, it would have been far inland, in hostile territory.  It may, however, turn up in Canadian furniture.

More importantly, during the past, many fragile objects that were transported across the Atlantic by boat were packed in wooden crates. Upon arrival at their destination, the crate wood may have been reused for other objects, rather than as firewood. Thus something like Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris – Red Pine Group) and Spruce (Picea sp.), both indicators of English/European provenance, may have ended up as reused crate material in American furniture.

Data from Hoadley, et al [1990 IAWA 11(2)], indicate that the presence of fusiform ray extensions on radial resin ducts that are 100 microns tall or more indicate Pinus sylvestris. This research is only about 70% accurate.

Red Pine (Pinus resinosa) [Adapted from: Critchfield, W.B. and E.L. Little, Jr. 1966. Geographic Distribution of the Pines of the World. USDA Forest Service, Miscellaneous Publication 991.]

Red Pine (Pinus resinosa) [Adapted from: Critchfield, W.B. and E.L. Little, Jr. 1966. Geographic Distribution of the Oines of the World. USDA Forest Service, Miscellaneous Poblication 991.]

Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris) [Adapted from: Critchfield, W.B. and E.L. Little, Jr. 1966. Geographic Distribution of the Oines of the World. USDA Forest Service, Miscellaneous Poblication 991.]

Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris) [Adapted from: Critchfield, W.B. and E.L. Little, Jr. 1966. Geographic Distribution of the Oines of the World. USDA Forest Service, Miscellaneous Publication 991.]

            Pine (Pinus spp./Pinaceae) is composed of at least 93 species worldwide and can be separated into three groups based on their microanatomy; the Red Pine Group, the White Pine Group and the Yellow or Hard Pine Group.

            The White Pine Group contains about 22 species that grow in Asia (10), Europe (3), Central America (1) and North America (8). All species in this group look alike microscopically. However, Assuming the object is pre-19th Century, neglecting importation of timbers (ship masts, crates, etc.), and assuming the wood in question is of commercial importance (grows in large areas), all species in this group can be eliminated except Pinus strobus which is native to the northeast USA & Canada.

Common NameScientific NameCommon NameScientific Name
Eastern North AmericaEurope
Eastern White PineP. strobusSwiss Stone PineP. cembra
  Italian Stone PineP. pinea
  Balkan PineP. peuce
Western North America 
Whitebark Pine Mexican White Pine Chiapas PineP. albicaulis P. ayacahuite P. chiapensis
Limber PineP. flexilis
Sugar PineP. lambertiana
Western White PineP. monticola
Southwestern White PineP. strobiformis

Pinus strobiformis

Swiss Stone Pine (Pinus cembra)

From Critchfield, W.B. and Elbert Little, Jr. 1966.

Geographic Distribution of the Pines of the World.

USDA Forest Service. Miscellaneous Publication 991.

Italian Stone Pine (Pinus pinea)

From Critchfield, W.B. and Elbert Little, Jr. 1966.

Geographic Distribution of the Pines of the World.

USDA Forest Service. Miscellaneous Publication 991.

Balkan Pine (Pinus peuce)

From Critchfield, W.B. and Elbert Little, Jr. 1966.

Geographic Distribution of the Pines of the World.

USDA Forest Service. Miscellaneous Publication 991.

Pinus flexilis James                                                                                                               Map 8

Limber pine

Pinus flexilis James, Exped. Rocky Mts. 2: 27, 35, 1823.

Limber pine ranges through the Rocky Mountains from southern Alberta and British Columbia to northern New Mexico, extending west through the mountain ranges of the Great Basin to southern California, western and northern Nevada, and eastern Oregon. It grows at high elevations through much of its range, but in Canada and the northern United States it is often confined to the prairie margins at the lower edge of the forest zone. It may be more widespread than the map shows on the poorly‑known mountain ranges of the Great Basin. In the northern and western parts of its range it is often confused with Pinus albicaulis. It overlaps and to some extent intergrades with P. strobiformis at the southern edge of its range. Its southern limits are based on information provided by J. W. Andresen and R. J. Steinhoff from an unpublished investigation of variation in these two species (see below).

Additional sources:

Published— Ayres 1900a and 1900b (Mont.); Bacigalupi 1933 (Calif.); Bailey and Bailey 1941; Douglass and Douglass 1955 (Colo.); Goodding 1923 (Nebr.); Howell 1951 (Calif.); Leiberg 1904b) (Mont.); Peck 1947 (Oreg.); Potter and Green 1964 (N. Dak.).

Theses— S. J. Preece, Jr. 1950. Floristic and ecological features of the Raft River Mountains of northwestern Utah. M.S. thesis, Univ. Utah, 103 pp., illus.; Raphael J, Steinhoff 1964, Taxonomy, nomenclature, and variation within the Pinus flexilis complex. Ph.D. thesis, Michigan State Univ., 81 pp., illus.

Unpublished— J. W, Andresen 1963; W. H. Baker 1961 (Idaho); R. T. Bingham 1963 (Mont.); T. C. Brayshaw and A. E. Porsild 1964 (Canada); W.C. Bullard 1963 (Calif.) D. B. Coombs 1963 (Alta.); W. C. Cumming 1963 (Nev.); Margaret M. Douglass 1962 (Colo.); L. W. Hoskins 1963 (Nev.); F. D. Johnson 1961 (Idaho); O.V. Matthews 1964 (Idaho): M. A. McColm 1963 (Nev.); R. A. Read 1964 (Nebr.).

Pinus strobus L.                                                                                                                     Map 6

Eastern white pine

Pinus strobus L., Sp. Pl. 1001. 1753.

Eastern white pine ranges from Newfoundland through southern Canada to southeastern Manitoba, through the Lake States south to Iowa and Illinois, and throughout much of northeastern United States, south in the Appalachian Moun­tains to northern Georgia. A discontinuity of more than 1,200 miles separates it from a southern variant usually called Pinus strobus var. chiapensis Martinez. This Middle Ameri­can white pine grows at low and] middle elevations in south­ern Mexico and Guatemala.

Additional sources:

Published— Aguilar 1961 (Guatemala); Crespo 1963 (Pue.); Haddow 1948a and 1948b (Ont.); Miranda and Sharp 1950: Sharp 1946 (Guatemala); Standley and Stevermark 1958 (Guatemala)~ Wagner 1962 (Chis.).

Unpublished— T. C. Brayshaw and A. E. Porsild 1964 (Canada): B. Ylallberg 1964 (Oax.).

Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus)

Western White Pine (Pinus monticola)

From Critchfield, W.B. and Elbert Little, Jr. 1966.

Geographic Distribution of the Pines of the World.

USDA Forest Service. Miscellaneous Publication 991.

            Pine (Pinus spp./Pinaceae) is composed of at least 93 species worldwide and can be separated into three groups based on their microanatomy; the Red Pine Group, the White Pine Group and the Yellow or Hard Pine Group.

The Yellow or Hard Pine Group contains about 55 species that grow in Asia (14), Europe (3), Central America (18) and North America (20). All species in this group look alike microscopically. This group is commonly known as “Heart Pine”, due to its resinous nature and distinct earlywood vs. latewood, which gives it a “stripy” appearance. Some people call this group “Southern Pine”. While most North American species are more or less southern in distribution, several species currently grow above the Mason-Dixon Line including Shortleaf Pine (P. echinata), Table-Mountain Pine (P. pungens), Pitch Pine (P. rigida), Jack Pine (P. banksiana), and Virginia Pine (P. virginiana). Pitch Pine currently extends well up into the Hudson and Connecticut River Valleys.

Eastern North AmericaEurope
Common NameScientific NameCommon NameScientific Name
Jack PineP. banksianaCanary Island PineP. canariensis
Loblolly PineP. taedaMaritime PineP. pinaster = (P. maritima)
Longleaf PineP. palustrisAsia
Pitch PineP. rigida[see list below]
Pond PineP. serotina  
Shortleaf PineP. echinata  
Slash PineP. elliottii  
Spruce PineP. glabra  
Virginia PineP. virginiana  
 Common NameWestern SpeciesLocation
 Chihuahua PineP. chihuahuanasouthwest US, Mexico
 Lodgepole PineP. contortawestern Canada and US
 Apache PineP. engelmanniisouthwest US and Mexico
 Chihuahua PineP. leiophyllasouthwest US, Mexico
 Apache PineP. macrophyllasouthwest US and Mexico
 Ponderosa PineP. ponderosawestern US and southwest Canada
 Jeffrey PineP. jeffreyisouthwest Oregon, Sierra Mountains down to Baja Mexico

Pinus pinaster Ait.                                                                                                                Map 30

Maritime Pine

Pinus pinaster Ait., Hort. Kew. 3: 367. 1789.

Maritime pine ranges from the Iberian Peninsula (Spain, Portugal) through southern France to the west coast of Italy in northern Africa from Morocco to Tunisia, and to the is¬lands of Corsica and Sardinia. Its natural distribution has been somewhat obscured by the widespread planting of this species. We have excluded the extensive planted stands in southwestern France and northwestern Spain, but a portion of the distribution of this species in Portugal is certainly of artificial origin.

Sources:

Published— Comité de Geographic du Maroc 1957 (Mo¬rocco); Desole 1960 (Sardinia); Gaussen (n.d.) (France, Spain), 1953 1954 (France); Gaussen and Vernet (n.d.) (Al¬geria, Tunisia); Guinier 1952; Rikli 1943 1946; Serviço de Reconhecimento e de Ordenamento Agrário, 1962 (Portugal) Touring Club Italiano 1931 (Italy).

Unpublished— H. Gaussen 1964 (France); Instituto For¬estal de Investigaciones y Experiencias 1962 (Spain); A. de Philippis 1961 and 1964 (Italy) .

From: Critchfield, W.B. and E.L. Little, Jr. 1966. Geographic Distribution Of The Pines Of The World. USDA Forest Service, Miscellaneous Publication 991.

Hard Pine group native to Asia

    P. densata – Sikang pine (China)

    P. densiflora – Korean red pine (Korea, Japan & China)

    P. fragilissima

    P. henryi – Henry’s pine (China)

    P. hwangshanensis – Huangshan pine (Eastern China)

    P. kesiya – Khasi pine (Southeast Asia)

    P. latteri? – Tenasserim pine (Southeast Asia)

    P. luchuensis – Luchu pine (Japan)

    P. massoniana – Masson’s pine (China & Vietnam)

    P. merkusii – Sumatran pine (Indonesia)

    P. tabuliformis – Chinese red pine (China & Korea)

    P. taiwanensis – Taiwan red pine (Taiwan)

    P. thunbergii – Japanese black pine (East Asia)

    P. yunnanensis – Yunnan pine (Chian)

From Wikipedia

Additional Reading:

Anon. Pinus. Ponderosa pine. United States Federal Trade Commission Decisions. 1931; 15:167.

Coulter, J. M. and Rose, J. N. Synopsis of North American pines, based upon leaf-anatomy. Botanical Gazette. 1886; 11:256-262.

Lowrey, D. P. Ponderosa pine, an American wood. Washington, DC: USDA Forest Service, FS-254; 1984.

Mirov, N. I. The genus Pinus. New York: Ronald Press; 1967.

Rendle, B. J., compiler//editor. World Timbers. London, England: Ernest Benn Limited; 3 p. 164. 

Sternitzke, H. S. and Nelson, T. C. The southern pines of the United States. Economic Botany:142-150.

            USDA. Pinus radiata. Madison, Wisconsin: Forest Products Laboratory, USDA.

The “Parrya” Pine Group contains about 5 species native to Europe.

Eastern North AmericaEurope
Common NameScientific NameCommon NameScientific Name
  Aleppo PineP. halepensis
  Calabrian PineP. brutia
  Balkan PineP. heldreichii
  Bosnian PineP. leucodermis
  Stone PineP. pinea

Following from Pines of the World – Elbert Little, Jr.:

Pinus halepensis Mill.                                                                                                           Map 31

Aleppo pine

Pinus halepensis Mill., Gard. Dict. Ed. 8, Pinus No. 8. 1768.

Aleppo pine is widely distributed in the Mediterranean region, ranging from Morocco to Tunisia and Libya (Cyre­naica) in North Africa, with outliers extending to the northern edge of the Sahara Desert: from eastern Spain through south­ern France and Italy to the Adriatic coast of Yugoslavia and to Greece; at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea from Israel and Jordan north to Turkey. Pinus brutia replaces this species in the northeastern part of the Mediterranean region, and the two are known to hybridize in the region of overlap (see P. brutia). The natural occurrence of P. halepensis on the island of Corsica is uncertain; Nahal (1962b) and H. Gaussen (personal communication, 1964) indicate that it occurs in one place, but Briquet (1910) states that it is not native to the Island.

Sources:

Published— Beck 1901 (Yugoslavia); Comité de Geo­graphic du Maroc 1957 (Morocco); Feinbrun 1959 (Leb­anon); Francini 1953 (Italy): Gaussen 1953‑1954 (France); Giordano 1962a (Lebanon): Heske 1959a (Greece); Kasapli­gil 1956 (Jordan); Kayacik 1954 (Turkey); Maire 1926 (Al­geria, Tunisia); Markgraf 1932 (Albania); Mikesell 1961 (Morocco); Nahal 1962a (Syria), 1962b (France, Corsica); Touring Club Italiano 1931 (Italy) ; Turrill 1929 (Greece); Zohary 1947 (Israel, Jordan).

Unpublished— Instituto Forestal de Investigaciones y Experiencias, Spain, 1969; H. Kayacik 1962, 1964 (Turkey); H. G. Keith 1961 (Libya): E. Magini to N. T. Mirov 1960 (Italy); R. Morandini 1964 (Italy); J. Papaioannou 1964 (Greece); A. de Philippis 1961 and 1964 (Italy); M. Vidako­vić 1964 (Yugoslavia).

            Podocarpus (Podocarpus spp. /Podocarpaceae) is a primitive conifer genus that contains about 103 species native to the southern temperate regions through the tropical highlands of the globe including temperate South America, South Africa, Japan and the West Indies. When the super continent Gondwana broke apart around 100 million years ago, the ancestors of Podocarpus were separated, resulting in species on most of the present day continents. They are all evergreen shrubs and trees that can reach heights of 75 to 120 feet. Many species are large enough to produce beautiful lumber. The timber has a light yellow or straw yellow color with a clear, fine straight grain. It weighs between 25 and 35 pounds per cubic foot. The microscopic wood anatomy of most species is identical.

South African Yellowwood (Podocarpus elongata & P. thunbergii) appears in colonial furniture of the Cape Colony (Dutch & English).

P. dacrydioidesNew Zealand White Pine [New Zealand] – general construction

P. elongata –        Common Yellow-wood [South Africa] – beams, planks & general construction work

P. falcatus –          False Yellowwood [South Africa] – furniture, roof beams, floorboards, door and window   frames and boat building (topmasts of ships).

P. ferruginea –    Miro [New Zealand] – heavy construction and cabinetry

P. latifolius –        Real Yellowwood [South Africa] – flooring, furniture, sleepers, wagon beds, coffins

P. nubigenus –     Manio [Chile]

P. salignus –        Manio [Chile]

P. spicata –          New Zealand Black Pine [New Zealand] – durable & dense wood for outdoors and cabinetry

P. totara –           Totara [New Zealand] – durable for outside work and furniture

P. urbanii –         Yacca [Jamaica]

Podocarp or Manio (Podocarpus spp. /Podocarpaceae) is also known as: Cipres (Guatemala, Honduras), Cipricillo, Cipresillo lorito (Costa Rica), Pino chaquiro (Colombia), Pino castaneto (Venezuela), and Pinho bravo (Brazil). It is native to the mountainous areas from the West Indies and southern Mexico to southern Chile. The tree varies considerably with species, ranging from heights of 60 ft and diameters 10 to 16 in.  to heights of 100 ft and diameters up to 40 in.  Clear straight boles often somewhat fluted but without buttresses. The heartwood is pale yellow to yellowish brown; not distinct from sapwood.  The wood has a fine and uniform texture without conspicuous zones of latewood. It is somewhat lustrous with the grain usually straight but may be slightly interlocked. Specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) varies with species from 0.37 to 0.55 and the air-dry density is 28 to 42 pounds per cubic foot. The timber works easily with hand and power tools; nails easily and takes stain, varnish, and paint satisfactorily. Heartwood from trees grown in Belize reported to be moderately durable ground contact under tropical exposure.  Durability of other species from other are reported as low. It is used for joinery, millwork, furniture components, boxes and crates, general construction, veneer and plywood, pulp and paper, pattern making.

References:

Chudnoff Tropical Timbers of The World

Hinckley, F. Lewis. 1960. Directory of Historic Cabinet Woods

            Redwood, Coastal Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens (D. Don) Endl./Taxodiaceae) is represented by one species (S. sempervirens). A related tree, the giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) is also called redwood, big tree or giant redwood. The word sequoia was selected to honor Sequoyah (also spelled Sequoia), or George Guess (1770?-1843), Native American inventor of the Cherokee alphabet. The name was unexplained by its author, an Austrian linguist and botanist.  The name sempervirens means evergreen. The wood of Sequoia is anatomically distinct from other softwoods. Other common names include: Amerikansk sekvoja, California cedar, California redwood, Californische redwood, coast redwood, corla, giant-of-the-forest, Humboldt redwood, ledwood, Mexican cherry, palo colorado, pin rouge d’ambrique, pin rouge d’Amerique, pino rosso d’america, sequoia de California, sequoia roja, sequoia rossa, sequoia toujours vert, sequoie, vavona, vavona burr.  Redwood is native to the Pacific Coast region from extreme southwestern Oregon (Curry County) south to central California (Monterey County).  Redwood trees reach heights of 200 to 300 feet (60.96 to 91.44 m), with diameters of 6 to 12 feet (1.83 to 3.66 m). The record is 376 feet (114.60 m) tall, with a 20-foot (6.10 m) diameter and an age of 2,200 years, and represents the world’s tallest tree.  The sapwood of redwood is narrow and white, while the heartwood varies from a light cherry to a dark mahogany. The heartwood has no characteristic odor or taste. The wood has exceptionally straight grain, coarse texture, high dimensional stability and is resistant to warping. The wood is moderately strong in bending, strong in endwise compression, stiff and moderately low in shock resistance. Typical old-growth redwood is moderately light in weight, moderately strong and stiff, and moderately hard.

Spruce (Picea spp./Pinaceae) contains 30 to 37 species that grow in Asia/Orient/Mediterranean (15), North America (7) and Europe (3). All species look alike microscopically in their basic anatomy. However, Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) from western North America consistently contains crystals in its rays as do 3 European species on rare occasions.  When one finds these crystals in the wood from colonial furniture, its provenance is most likely English or European, as species from eastern North America never have these inclusions. Because the occasional presence of crystals is a positive character, the lack of crystals does not indicate Eastern North America provenance. All species in the Eastern North America group look alike microscopically.

            With respect to frames of pictures and looking glasses, Heckscher (American Furniture in the Met… Late Colonial Period: The Queen Anne & Chippendale Styles) states that Spruces (Picea spp.) and Red Pine Group (Scotch Pine, Pinus sylvestris) indicate English origin. Samples for this study were microscopically analyzed. It may, however, turn up in Canadian furniture.

The commercial species are to my knowledge:

Eastern North AmericaEurope
Common NameScientific NameCommon NameScientific Name
Black SpruceP. marianaNorway SpruceP. abies
Red SpruceP. rubensSerbian SpruceP. omorika
White SpruceP. glauca  
Western North America Engleman Spruce   P. engelmanii Sitka Spruce           P. sitchensis  

Spruces (Picea spp. A. Dietr./Pinaceae)

               The genus Picea is composed of about 30 species native to North America [7], Mexico [2], and Eurasia [20]. The wood of all species in this genus looks alike microscopically. The word picea comes from the ancient Latin name (pix, picis = pitch) of a pitchy pine, proba-bly Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris L.). The species native to North America are listed below. An asterisk means that technical information is available on this species.

Scientific NameTrade Name
Picea breweranaBrewer spruce
Picea engelmannii*Engelmann spruce
Picea glauca*White spruce
Picea mariana*Black spruce
Picea pungensBlue spruce
Picea rubens*Red spruce
Picea sitchensis*Sitka spruce

Crystals in Rays (R) & Axial Resin Ducts (AP) & Ray Tracheid Spirals (S)*

SpeciesCommon NameNative To:Crystals & Spirals
bicolorAlcock’s SpruceJapanR
brachytylaSargent’s SpruceSW ChinaS
brewerianaBrewer’s SpruceKlamath Mountains USAS
chihuahuanaChihuahua SpruceNW MexicoR
likiangensisLikiang SpruceSW ChinaR / S
maximowicziiMaximowicz SpruceJapanR / AP / S
morrisoncolaTaiwan SpruceTaiwanR / AP
omoricaSerbian SpruceSerbiaR
politaTiger Tail SpruceJapanR
purpureaPurple Cone SpruceChinaS
sitchenisSitka SprucePacific Coast USAR
smithianaMorinda SpruceW Himalaya, E AfghanR / AP / S
spiniulosaSikkim SpruceNE India, E HimalayaR
wilsoniiWilson’s SpruceW ChinaR

* from: Sudo, S. 1968. Anatomical studies on the wood of species of Picea with some considerations on their geographic distribution and taxonomy. Bulletin of the Government Forest Experiment Station, No. 215. Tokyo. 126 pp.

More importantly, during the past, many fragile objects that were transported across the Atlantic by boat were packed in wooden crates. Windows and looking glasses were packed with thin sections (flitches) of wood between each pane/mirror. Upon arrival at their destination, the crate wood and flitches may have been reused for other objects, rather than as firewood. Thus something like Spruce (Picea sp.) and Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris – Red Pine Group), both indicators of English/European provenance, may have ended up reused as back boards for mirrors/looking glasses, and glue blocks, etc. in American furniture.

            Taiwania (Taiwania cryptomerioides), also known as Asugi, Chinese-coffin-wood-tree, Chinese Taiwania, Formosan Cedar, Formosan Redwood, Formosan Taiwania, Sha Mu, Taiwan Cedar, Taiwan Redwood, Tai Wan Shan,  Taiwan Sugi and Tayok-khaung-bin is a large coniferous tree in the cypress family Cupressaceae, formerly listed in the segregate family Taxodiaceae. It is native to eastern Asia, growing in the mountains of central Taiwan, and locally in southwest China and adjoining Myanmar and northern Vietnam. It is endangered by illegal logging for its valuable wood in many areas. It is very likely that the range was more extensive in the past before extensive felling for the wood.

            It is the largest tree in Asia, reported to heights of 80 m tall and with a trunk up to at least 3 m diameter. The leaves are needle-like or awl-like and 8-15 mm long on young trees up to about 100 years old, then gradually becoming more scale-like, 3-7 mm long, on mature trees. The cones are small, 15-25 mm long, with about 15-30 thin, fragile scales, each scale with two seeds.

            The populations in mainland Asia are treated as a distinct species Taiwania flousiana by some botanists, but the claimed differences between these and the Taiwanese populations are not consistent when a number of specimens from each area are compared.

            The genus is named after the island of Taiwan, from where it first became known to the botanical community in 1910.

            The wood is soft, but durable and attractively spicy scented, and was in very high demand in the past, particularly for building temples, furniture, bridges, boats and coffins. The rarity of the tree and its slow growth in plantations means legal supplies are now very scarce; the species has legal protection in China.

References

Conifer Specialist Group (1998). Taiwania cryptomerioides. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 11 May 2006. Listed as Vulnerable (VU A1d v2.3)

Retrieved from “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taiwania&#8221;

            Yew (Taxus spp./Taxaceae) contains about 9 species native to Europe (1), North America (3), Central America (1) and Asia (4). The wood of all species looks alike microscopically, although its appearance in colonial furniture is most likely English Yew, as Pacific Yew (distance) and Florida Yew (small shrub) would be unavailable to colonial craftsmen. English Yew was used exclusively for long bows prior to the Elizabethan Period and also used in Britain, Ireland and Scotland for furniture afterwards, both in solid form (also Austria & Germany) and as a veneer by the end of the 18th C also in France. *. The word taxus is the classical Latin name, from the Greek taxos.

North AmericaEurasia
Common NameScientific NameCommon NameScientific Name
Pacific YewT. brevifoliaEnglish YewT. baccata
Florida YewT. floridanaChinese YewT. sumatrana
Canadian YewT.  canadensisJapanese YewT. cuspidata

* from: F. Lewis Hinckley. 1960. Directory of the Historic Cabinet Woods. Bonanza Books, NY.

T. baccata is native to Europe, the Atlas Mountains, Asia Minor and the Caucauses.

Distribution of Common Yew (Taxus baccata/Taxaceae)

[Benham, S. E., Houston Durrant, T., Caudullo, G., de Rigo, D., 2016. Taxus baccata in Europe: distribution, habitat, usage and threats. In: San-Miguel-Ayanz, J., de Rigo, D., Caudullo, G., Houston Durrant, T., Mauri, A. (Eds.), European Atlas of Forest Tree Species. Publ. Off. EU, Luxembourg, pp. e015921+]