Rosewood facts

Scientific Name: Dalbergia cochinchinensis         Family: Leguminosae

Commercial names: Payung, Thailand rosewood

Other names: shisham, sissoo, biti, eravadi, kalaruk (India)

Distribution: Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Taiwan, southern China. Trees generally grow in mountainous regions around 1500 feet.

General description: From rose to dark purple-brown with darker purple-black lines terminating the growth zones. The grain is narrowly interlocked producing a ribbon grain figure. The texture is uniform and moderately coarse. The surface is dull but with a fragrant scent. Specific gravity = 0.85 (53 lb/ft3).

Mechanical properties: The timber has high bending and crushing strengths with low stiffness and medium resistance to shock loads.

Durability: Very durable and moderately resistant to termites.

Uses: This very handsome wood is used for high-class furniture, cabinetmaking, shop, office and bank fitting, flooring, musical instruments, knife handles, boat building, brake blocks, posts, rafters and exterior joinery. It is an excellent turnery wood. Selected logs are turned into valuable decorative veneers for paneling, doors, cabinets, and luxury items.

Interesting facts: Rosewood grows in many parts of the world in subtropical climates. Trees grow for 200 years before they are ready to harvest. Rosewood is so expensive that until recently only the very wealthy could afford to have rosewood furniture. Because of the slow growth and value, conservation management is very strict. Trees average 125 in height, and mature trees are often hollow in the middle. It produces a very smooth surface and cut wood releases a rose-like fragrance. Machine dust from this wood can be a skin irritant and induce asthma.


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Most of the above information is from: World Woods in Color, by William A. Lincoln, 1986.