Father & Daughter Wood Working

Wood Descriptions

Learn about the various woods we use in the making of our bowls and pens.
*Click on the names for more details

Afzelia American Mahogony Maple Black Cherry
Black #Walnut Bloodwood Bocote
Butternut Cedar Chechem Cherry
Cocobolo Cypress Ebony Kingwood
Koa Osage Orange Padauk Purpleheart
Redwood Sycamore Tulipwood
Afzelia
Name Afzelia (Afzelia spp.)
Type Hardwood.
Other Names Also known as doussie, chanfuta, apa, aligna, mkora, mbembakofi, and many other names but sold as single commercial timber.
Sources Grows in Africa.
Appearance Coarse texture, often irregular, interlocked grain, pale straw colored sapwood with brown heartwood.
Physical Props Heavy, very stable in use, high strength and durability, moderate stiffness.
Working Props Somewhat difficult to work and glue. Finishes to a high polish although grain filling sometimes desired.
Uses Highly valued for interior/exterior joinery, window frames, floors, staircases, ships’ rails, heavy construction, school and office furniture, laboratory equipment, and chemical containers. A favorite among locals for decorative doors and chests.
American Mahogany
Name American Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla)
Type Hardwood.
Other Names Also known as Honduras mahogany, true mahogany, genuine mahogany, bigleaf mahogany, cao, caoba, cobano, acajou, and aguano.
Sources Grows from southern Mexico to Brazil.
Appearance Generally straight grained, but sometimes roey, wavy, or curly, with a fine to coarse, uniform texture. Pale pink to dark reddish brown heartwood and yellowish white sapwood.
Physical Props Variable, but generally moderate weight, hardness, and strength. Low stiffness and shock resistance. Very good stability and decay resistance. Moderate steam bending rating.
Working Props Excellent working properties, including cutting, turning, shaping, sanding, and gluing. Finishes easily with a variety of finishes, although filling may be required for ultimate smoothness.
Uses Renowned for high-class cabinetry and furniture. Also used for paneling, turnery, carving, patterns, dies, model making, veneers, flooring, boat building, and musical instruments.
BIGLEAF MAPLE
Name Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum)
Type Hardwood.
Other Names Also known as broadleaf maple, Oregon maple, Pacific coast maple, western maple, white maple, or maple.
Sources Western North America.
Appearance Generally straight, but sometimes curly grained with a relatively coarse texture. Pale pinkish-brown to almost white sapwood and heartwood, often with a grayish cast.
Physical Props Moderately heavy, hard, strong, and stiff with low bending strength, shock resistance and decay resistance. Medium movement in use. Resists denting fairly well.
Working Props Generally machines satisfactorily although curly grain can present difficulties when planing. Bores and turns quite well. Glues easily and bonds well. Good nail and screw holding qualities with high resistance to splitting. Accepts stains evenly. Sands and polishes quite well with minimal “fuzzing”. Fair steam-bending properties.
Uses Often used for fine wood furniture and cabinets due to its uniform color. Also popular for innerplies in softwood plywood panels, pallets and paper products. Other uses include veneer, framing, lamps, drawer sides, interior construction, utility furniture, desks, chests, bent parts, and turnery.
BLACK CHERRY

Black Cherry grows throughout southern Ontario and through the eastern part of the United States, but the largest supplies are located in the Appalachian Mountains in New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Black Cherry is usually easily distinguished from other native species because of its distinctive colour, the bark being dark with irregular scales which peel off easily and with light to dark reddish brown heartwood.

This wood is comparatively free from checking and warping, and stays in place well after seasoning, but has a moderately large amount of shrinkage during the drying process. It is a fairly heavy wood, averaging around 35 pounds per cubic foot, moderately hard, stiff and strong.

The fruit of this tree is about the size of a pea and the purple, juicy, coloured pulp surrounding the seed has a bitter taste but is edible and used principally to flavour jelly and beverages, especially in the making of rum cherry, cherry cider and a drink called ‘cherry bounce’.

The wood is used for carving and works fairly well with all types of hand tools. Large amounts of Black Cherry were used for backing blocks on which engravings and electrotype plates, used in printing, were mounted. In the cabinetmaking trade this wood has also been called New England mahogany. Choice logs are cut into veneers for furniture, cabinetmaking and musical instrument work.

BLACK WALNUT

(Juglans is the classical Latin name for walnut, meaning Jupiter’s nut; nigra – black)

The Black Walnut has long been considered one of the most desirable woods, not only because of the beautiful wood of various figures that the tree produces, but also for the food value in the black walnuts – a delicacy used in candies, bread and ice cream.

The bark of the tree is dark and deeply grooved. This bark, in addition to the husks of the nuts, is used in manufacturing a yellow dye. The leaves of the black walnut are as long as 1 to 2 feet and have many narrow, sharp slender pointed leaflets, as many as 23.

After being seasoned, the wood shrinks and expands very little and is a good wood for craftspeople to use. It has long been used for gunstocks, being superior to all other woods because it keeps its shape, is fairly light in weight and helps take up the recoil better than any other wood. In the veneer form the figures obtain

BLOODWOOD

BOTANICAL NAME: Brosimum Rubescens of the family Moraceae

NOTE: a dust mask & long sleeves should always be used while working this wood, as some reports say that it causes skin and respiratory problems in some people.

COMMON NAMES: amapa rana, satine rouge, conduru, satinjout, cardinal wood, muirapiranga (Brazil), bois satine (France), satine rubane, satine rouge, satijnhout, brazil wood, satinee, falso pao Brasil, palo de oro, doekaliballi, ferolia, legno satino, pau rainha, siton paya,

TYPE: hardwood

COLOR: The heartwood colour varies from grey-red to deep rich blood red (thus the name), with a golden lustre and variegated yellow and red stripes. It reportedly does not change much with age.

ODOR: no reports found

SOURCES: Brazil, French Guiana, and Surinam

USES: fine furniture, and inlay work and also used as an accent wood for fancy box making as well as for billiard cue butts, drum sticks, xylophones, organ pipes, turnery, and marquetry. Selected logs are sliced for decorative veneers.

BOCOTE

BOTANICAL NAME: cordia alliodora, cordia elaeagnoides, and cordia gerascanthus of the family boraginaceae. Mostly reported as alliodora, so presumably that is the most common subspecies.

COMMON NAMES: amapa asta (Mexico), anacahuite, barcino, baria (Cuba), bois de rose, canalete (Colombia, Venezuela), cordia, cype, freijo, laurel, loro negro (Argentina), louro pardo (Brazil), Mexican rosewood, peterebi, salmwood, siricote, solera.

The “bois de rose” I’m not so sure about since I think there is a specific rosewood of that name that is very different from bocote.

TYPE: hardwood or softwood? odd, but no one says.

COLOR: reports on color are all over the map, but the one that fits my experience is “ranges from tan to golden brown to pale golden yellow, with irregular dark brown streaks”. Other reports say the streaks can be red, or green, or some say black, and that the heartwood is variously “tobacco” colored, dark brown, nearly white, red, and red brown, take your pick. With aging (as you can see in the pictures) I do agree that the heartwood can be tobacco colored or dark brown and the streaks appear almost black. The heartwood is reportedly rather sharply demarcated from the grayish or yellowish sapwood.

ODOR: variously reported as “mildly fragrant” and “distinctive dill-like aroma” when fresh

SOURCES: Central America and the West Indies, including Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Jamaica. Mostly, it is from Mexico. One report cited Northern Florida.

USES: cabinetmaking, decorative veneer, fine furniture, boat decking, decorative and figured veneer, turnery, inlay work, interior trim, balusters, excelsior, floor lamps, moldings, parquet flooring, and wainscoting. Very popular for knife handles and pens because of the extreme figure available.

TREE: large canopy tree, with some specimens in the natural rainforest reaching up to 120 feet tall and 3 feet in diameter, with a straight cylindrical bole above a narrow buttress.

BUBINGA

BOTANICAL NAME: Guibourtia demeusei of the family Leguminosae. Other species called bubinga include Guibourtia pellegriniana and Guibourtia tessmannii.

COMMON NAMES: African rosewood, Akume, kewasingo, Kevazingo (see comment at bottom), Ebana, Essingang, Okweni, Ovang, Waka, Buvenga. The French call it Bois de Roe d’Afrique.

The “African Rosewood” designation is fairly common.

COLOR: Varies greatly in coloration and grain patterns, but heartwood generally is a medium red-brown with lighter red to purple veins and will naturally darken with age. Sapwood is an unattractive dull grayish white.

ODOR: It is said to have a bad odor when it is first cut, but this fades when the material is dried.

SOURCES: found growing mostly in the Cameroons, Gabon and the Ivory Coast of Africa. Specifically mentioned: Zaire, Equatorial Guinea, Congo, Liberia and Nigeria.

USES: fine furniture, tool handles, figured veneer, flooring, cabinetwork and panelling (mostly the veneer), knife handles, and fancy goods (jewlery).

TREE: These trees are usually found near rivers and lakebeds as well as swampy areas or forests that are frequently flooded. This is a large tree that can grow up to 150 feet with a diameter of up to 6 feet. Sometimes Bubinga trees will have buttresses but almost always with straight boles.

Butternut
Name Butternut (Juglans cinerea)
Type Hardwood.
Other Names Also known as white walnut, oilnut, tropical walnut, nogal blanco, and tocte.
Sources Grows in United States and Canada.
Appearance Straight grained and coarse-textured with a satiny luster. Light brown heartwood with occasional darker streaks and nearly white sapwood.
Physical Props Soft, moderately light, with low strength, stiffness, shock resistance and decay resistance. Quite stable in service.
Working Props Works well with machine or hand tools but softness necessitates sharp cutting edges. Screws, nails, glues, stains, and finishes quite well.
Uses An excellent carving wood, once highly valued for church altars. Used for furniture, cabinets, paneling, interior trim, veneer, boat building, boxes and crates, instrument cases, trunks, and millwork.
Comments Resembles black walnut when stained but lacks its strength or stiffness.
Cedar
Name True Cedar (Cedrus spp.)
Type Softwood.
Other Names Includes cedar of Lebanon, Atlantic cedar, Atlas cedar, and deodar cedar.
Sources Grows in northern Africa, middle East, and India. Includes cedar of Lebanon, Atlantic cedar, Atlas cedar, and deodar cedar.
Appearance Generally straight grained although Atlantic and Lebanon cedars often knotty. Fine textured. Light brown resinous heartwood and pale colored sapwood.
Physical Props Medium weight, low shock resistance and stiffness, and generally low strength properties. Stable in service. Decay resistant heartwood.
Working Props Works fairly well with hand or machine tools although knots and in-grown bark can be troublesome. Holds screws and nails well and polishes to a nice finish.
Uses Higher grades used for furniture, cabinetry, doors, and interior joinery. Lesser grades used for house and bridge construction, paving blocks, and outdoor furniture. Other uses include paneling and decorative veneers.
CHECHEM

BOTANICAL NAME: Metopium brownei of the family Anacardiaceae

COMMON NAMES: the common alternate name in America is chechen. Other common names include black poison, black poisonwood, boarwood, bumwood, cedro, prieto, chachin, chechem negro, cochinilla, cochinillo, coral sumach, cotinillo, guao, guao de costa, guao de peadero, manceniller, mulatre, malo de rosa, papayo, papyo, poisonwood, poisontree

COLOR: heartwood comes in various shades of brown including chocolate and reddish brown, sometimes with copper accents. Has dark striping/highlights and may have shades of reds and maroons. Sapwood is grayish tan.

ODOR: no specific smell or taste

SOURCES: Mexico and Central America. Some reports include Oceania and S.E. Asia

USES: boxes and crates, cabinetmaking, chairs, charcoal, decorative veneer, flooring, furniture, heavy construction, paneling, pool cues, railroad ties, turnery

CHERRY

BOTANICAL NAME: Prunus serotina of the family Rosaceae

European Cherry is Prunus avium

Prunus is a genus of 120 to 400 species that contain fruitwoods like cherry, plum and almond. The species are native to North America, Asia, Europe and the Mediterranean region. All species look alike microscopically. The word prunus is the classical Latin name for the cherry tree.

COMMON NAMES: American cherry, capulin, black cherry, black wild cherry, cabinet cherry, chisos wild cherry, capollin, capuli, capulin, cerezo, detze, Edwards Plateau cherry, escarpment cherry, ghoto, gila chokecherry, mountain black cherry, muji, plum, rum cherry, southwest choke cherry, southwestern chokecherry, tnunday, wild black cherry, wild cherry, whisky cherry, New England mahogany, xeugua

European cherry is also known as cerisier, English cherry, gean, mazzard, mazzard, merisier, meurisier, and kers

TYPE: hardwood

COLOR: The sapwood may be light yellow or white or pinkish and is a fairly narrow band around the heartwood. The heartwood is salmon pink to brownish, sometimes with a greenish tinge, darkening upon exposure to a deep reddish brown with a golden luster. Cherry’s color ages extremely well, deepening and taking on a rich patina with age, particularly with exposure to sunlight. Relatively rare pieces will have red heartwood.

ODOR: mild, aromatic scent, but no characteristic taste

SOURCES: cherry is found in the eastern half of the North American continent, from the plains of the United States to the Atlantic Ocean and from the Great Lakes and up into Canada, down to the Gulf of Mexico (generally it occurs only in high elevations in Mexico). “European” cherry occurs in Europe, Africa, and Southeast Asia and “American black cherry” sometimes occurs in Europe.

USES: cabinetry, interior furniture, chests, quality joinery, paneling, architectural woodwork, caskets, woodenware, toys, professional and scientific instruments, novelties, musical instruments, gun stocks, bobbins, canoes, tobacco pipes, printing and engraving blocks, skis, tool handles, kitchen ware, pattern making, ship framing, planking, and ship interiors

TREE: reaches a height of 100 ft (30 m), with a diameter of 4 to 5 ft (1.2 to 1.5 m). It is shrubby under poor growth conditions and at the northern limit of its range. It does best on the rich, moist soil of the Appalachians.

COCOBOLO

BOTANICAL NAME: Dalbergia retusa of the Family Leguminosae

COMMON NAMES: grenadillo, granadillo (Mexico, Guatemala), Funera (El Salvador), Palo negro (Honduras), Nambar (Nicaragua, Costa Rica), Nicaragua rosewood, Cocobolo prieto (Panama), palisandro, caviuana, Uruana, Funera, Pallisander

TYPE: hardwood

COLOR: the heartwood is a mix of brilliant colors ranging from deep reds to an attractive mix of streaks and markings of red, black, purple, yellow and orange. I’ve seen pieces that were almost pure orange with very dark streaks (one of my samples in the pictures) and other pieces are very dark purple, looking almost exactly like Brazilian Rosewood (another of my samples in the pictures). The heartwood frequently contains violet and light purple when freshly cut, but this deepens to an orangish brown with shades of purple in a matter of days. Sapwood is pale, almost white.

ODOR: odor slightly pungent and fragrant when worked

SOURCES: Pacific regions of Central America and extending from Panama to southwestern Mexico. Of limited occurrence, usually in the drier uplands.

USES: Considered one of the most important woods in cutlery business for knife handles (can be soaked in soapy water with minimal ill effects). Also used for tool handles, brush backs, chess pieces, carving, jewelry boxes, canes, utensils, buttons, musical and scientific instruments, parquet floors, hunting bows, pool cues, automobile dashboards, bowls, jewelry boxes, and other expensive specialty items, and decorative veneer. Highly regarded for turning because of the extreme beauty of the figure. Also used for fine furniture and cabinetry and fine inlay work.

TREE: small to medium-sized tree 45 to 60 ft high with trunk diameters of 20 to 24 in.; usually of poor form.

CYPRESS

BOTANICAL NAMES AND COMMON NAMES:

Cypress, Cordia alliodora
East African cypress, Cupressus sempervirens
North American Cypress, Taxodium distichum has common names: white cypress, tiderwater red cypress, Louisiana red cypress, red cypress, black cypress, buck cypress, cow cypress, pond cypress, bald cypress, gulf cypress, yellow cypress, swamp cypress, southern cypress
Lawson cypress (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana)
false cypress seems to have 3 botanical names: Chamaecyparis lawsoniana, Chamaecyparis nootkatensis, and Chamaecyparis thyoides)
Himalayan cypress (Cupressus torulosa)
Nootka cypress (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis), like North American Cypress, is aka yellow cypress
Murray River cypress, Callitris glauca and Callitris columellaris
Fitzroy cypress (Fitzroya cupressoides) has common name patagonian cypress

TYPE: softwood

ODOR:

SOURCES: North American Cypress grows in wet, swampy areas along the Eastern Coast of the United States, from Delaware to Florida and west along the Gulf to the Mexican border in Texas and north up the Mississippi River Valley. This water-loving tree grows best in the swampy areas of Florida and the lower Mississippi river.

USES: Cypress has many exterior and interior uses. Cypress heartwood is extremely decay and insect resistant due to the naturally occurring preservative known as cypressine. It is an ideal choice for house construction, docks, beams, decks, flooring, paneling and siding. Cypress can also be milled to make doors, windows, rails, and even caskets. The ancient Egyptians used cypress to produce the pharaoh’s caskets, and in the Middle Ages, craftsmen used it to carve enormous cathedral doors.

TREE: can reach heights of up to 145 feet.

EBONY

BOTANICAL NAME: Diospyros spp. of the family Ebenaceae

COMMON NAMES: african ebony, black ebony, true ebony, cameroon ebony, nigerian ebony, etc., according to country of origin. Also kanran, kayu malam, kukuo, and Msuini.

TYPE: hardwood

COLOR: the blackest wood in existance, although it can have subtle lighter colored streaks and in some cases can have as much contrast as its sister wood, Macassar Ebony, although that is rare. Generally it has an almost uniformly black heartwood with yellowish white sapwood.

ODOR: some reports say there is an odor but none gave any indication of its characteristics

SOURCES: central to southern Africa and S.E. Asia

USES: piano keys, musical instruments, turnery, inlay, novelties, billiard cues, brush backs, luxury furniture, tool handles, and knife handles. An outstanding contrast wood for laminations, marquetry, fancy articles and inlay.

TREE: 30 to 50 meters high with trunk diameter of 100 to 200 cm

KINGWOOD

takes its name because of its popularity in France with Louis XIV and Louis XV

BOTANICAL NAME: Dalbergia cearensis of the family Leguminosae

COMMON NAMES: violete, violetta, and violet wood

TYPE: hardwood

COLOR: rich, violet-brown heartwood with black veining. Cream-colored sapwood. One report said the heartwood is sometimes nearly blue.

ODOR:

SOURCES: Northeastern Brazil (from Ceara to southern Bahia)

USES: small size of tree and scarcity of supply generally restricts most uses to inlays, marquetry, turned articles, and sculpture. Some veneer is made.

Koa

Koa belongs to the thorn-less, phyllodinous group of the Acacia subgenus Heterophyllum (Whitesell 1990). Like other phyllodial species, mature Koa trees do not have true leaves. Instead they produce phyllodes, or flattened leaf petioles. Young seedlings have bipinnate compound true leaves with 12 to 15 pairs of leaflets. Where forest light is sufficient, seedlings stop producing true leaves while they are small less then 2m tall. Trees growing in dense shade retain true leaves longer.

A native tree of Hawaii, Koa (Acacia Koa) has long since been sought after for its historic and cultural significance. It was once used for just about all building and manufacturing applications but, because it is not an easy wood to work with, it was replaced as other easier to work with woods became available. It is considered by many woodworkers and furniture makers to be one of the most beautiful, precious and rare tropical hardwoods. Now it is primarily used for making furniture, musical instruments, veneers and heirloom pieces.

Taking approximately 50 years to mature, this tree can reach heights of 100 feet and have a trunk that is over 4 feet in diameter at its base. It is a unique wood with grain that varies from a golden reddish brown to dark brown with streaks of darker browns and black. When finished, the wood is highly lustrous, with beautiful hues of gold, red, and brown.

OSAGE ORANGE

BOTANICAL NAME: Maclura pomifera of the Family Moraceae

Osage orange is unique in that it is monotypic, a genus with only one species, (Maclura pomifera) although at one time there were many species of Maclura. It is a member of the Breadfruit family.

COMMON NAMES: Osage orange, bois d’arc, bodark, bowdark, bow wood, hedge apple, mock orange, prairie hedgeplant, yellowwood, Osage

The trees originally grew in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, and the tree takes its name and its identity from its early use for making archery bows and war clubs by the Osage Indians, who occupied the area.

the “orange” in its name refers to its very distinctive greenish-yellow fruit that loosely resembles an orange in shape and texture, but is, in fact, neither orange in color nor edible.

COLOR: vivid lemon-yellow to yellowish-orange color, sometimes greenish yellow. Over time the color will mellow from a bright yellow to a more golden yellow or honey/tan. Outstanding for contrast in laminations.

GRAIN: tight grain, but thin sheets tend to snap easily along the grain if pressured. May have strong and interesting, but not really exotic, grain patterns.

TEXTURE: Very hard, heavy, strong, resilient (it is used to make bows) along its length but somewhat brittle across the grain.

ODOR: The fruit of the tree has been found to be a natural cockroach repellent, due to its strong cedar-like aroma that the bugs dislike.

A single piece of the fruit in a room will drive the bugs away, according to Peattie, and a distillate of the fruit has been developed that is stronger and even more effective in insect control.

SOURCES: The Western United States

TREE: Can grow as tall as 60 feet but generally are much shorter. Logs are usually 6 to 8 feet long and 12 to 16 inches in diameter. It is a deciduous tree that grows in the southern and central United States. Its wood is similar to locust, and its primary assets are its strength and resilience — features which led to its early use by local Indians for bows.

PADAUK

BOTANICAL NAME: Pterocarpus soyauxii of the family Leguminosae, but this is just the most common of a number of woods that go under the generic name padauk

COMMON NAMES: African padauk, Angola paduak, barwood, bosulu, burma padauk, camwood, comwood, corail, African coralwood, muenge, mbe, mbil, mututi, ngula, vermillion, and yomo. In the US, Vermillion is the most common “other name”.

TYPE: hardwood

COLOR: Heartwood colors are variously described as including rich red, blood red, brick red, purple red, reddish orange, pinkish red, and sometimes with dark streaks, and my experience supports all of that. Sapwood is pale beige. The heartwood’s color can fade with exposure to the sun, so some users add UV inhibitors to retard the process. The color will deepen significantly if left open to the air.

ODOR: spicy when first cut

SOURCES: “Central and West Africa” is most commonly mentioned, but I’ve also seen specific references to Cameroon, Zaire, Angola, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Nigeria, and at least one source mentioned India as well and I’ve seen one reference to South America and one to Asia. I have no idea whether or not it actually grows outside Africa.

USES: Excellent turning wood – used for fancy turnery such as knife and tool handles. Prized for high end cabinets and furniture, it is also used for carving and scupting, and as an accent wood. Other uses include veneer, inlay, bobbins, flooring, billiard tables, marquetry, toys, joinery, dowels, shuttles, spindles, stencil & chilsel blocks, sporting goods, paddles, and boat building.

TREE: Average height is 100 feet, but the tree can grow to 130 feet with diameters of 2 to 5 feet and wide buttresses.

Purpleheart
Scientific name: peltogyne paniculata
Description: Heartwood is yellowish red to brick red with occasional darker lines which on exposure tone to attractive golden brown. Turns well and produces an excellent finish.
Region: Suriname
Keywords: Turning blank, Suriname, Purpleheart
Redwood
Name Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)
Type Softwood.
Other Names Also known as California redwood, coast redwood, sempervirens, and Humboldt redwood.
Sources Grows along Pacific coast of United States in California and Oregon.
Appearance Generally straight grained with a fine to coarse texture. Light red to deep reddish brown heartwood and nearly white sapwood. Very prominent growth rings.
Physical Props Light and soft with moderately low bending and crushing strength, low shock resistance, moderate stiffness, poor steam bending, very good decay resistance and good stability in service.
Working Props Works easily with hand or machine tools but has some tendency to splinter. Turns well. Nails and screws easily but has poor holding properties. Glues quite satisfactorily. Accepts and holds paints exceptionally well.
Uses Used mainly for building construction (siding, sash, doors, finish) as well as tanks, silos, fences, decks, outdoor furniture, boxes, crates, novelties, turnery, shakes, and boat building.
SYCAMORE

BOTANICAL NAMES: various, including Platanus occidentalis, Platanaceae Sycamore, Platanus hybrida (European Sycamore), Acer pseudoplatanus (English Sycamore), and others

Sycamore (Platanus spp.), also known as buttonwood or plane, is composed of five to nine species which grow in Eurasia [2] and North America [8]. 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 Platanus that grows there. The word platanus is the classical Latin and Greek name of Platanus orientalis L., oriental planetree, from the Greek word for broad, referring to the leaves.

COMMON NAMES: Buttonball, buttonball-tree, buttonwood, California button, cotonier, lacewood [but not to be confused with true lacewood, which is a wood in its own right], oriental planetree, plane, planetree, water beech

COLOR: The sapwood of sycamore is white to light yellow, while the heartwood is light to dark brown.

ODOR: odorless and tasteless.

SOURCES: England, some parts of Europe, the eastern United States, from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico and from the Atlantic coast west to the Great Plains. Other ?

USES: Furniture (especially drawer sides), containers, millwork, flooring, veneer, pallets, boxes, plywood, pulp wood, paper, particleboard.

TULIPWOOD

BOTANICAL NAME: Dalbergia frutescens (I have also seen reports saying Dalbergia variabilis and Dalbergia decipularis, but these seem to be mistaken)

NOTE: Tulipwood’s name is occasionally confused with the North American tulip tree (liriodendron tulipfera), better known as yellow poplar, but the two have nothing in common.

Tulipwood is a true rosewood

COMMON NAMES: bois de rose, Brazilian tulipwood, jacaranda rosa, pau de fuso, pau rosa, pinkwood

TYPE: hardwood

COLOR: Heartwood is cream colored to salmon colored but dominated by stipes of red, violet, purple and rose — generally the red streaking dominates. The sapwood is yellow to yellowish white. Heartwood color fades with age. This is a strikingly beautiful wood.

ODOR: distinct — a fragrant scent reminiscent of flowers when the wood is cut

SOURCES: all reports agree on northeastern Brazil as the primary source, some also say Central and Latin America; Brazil, Colombia, Guyana and Venezuela

USES: this wood was a favorite in French furniture in the Empire period but because of the small size and very high cost it is generally found today only in inlays, marquetry, turnery, and other small decorative fancy goods .

TREE: Grows 20′ to 35′ high and less than 16″ in diameter. The growth is slow, with trees taking as much as centuries to mature even though they are quite small.