Rosewood - Encyclopedia

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ROSEWOOD, the name given to several distinct kinds of ornamental timber. That, however, so called in the United Kingdom is Brazilian rosewood, the palissandre of the French, the finest qualities of which, coming from the provinces of Rio de Janeiro and Bahia, are believed to be the produce principally of Dalbergia nigra, a leguminous tree of large dimensions, called cabiuna and jacaranda by the Brazilians. The same name, jacaranda, is applied to several species of Machaerium, also trees belonging to the natural order Leguminosae; and there can be no doubt that a certain proportion of the rosewood of commerce is drawn from these sources. Rosewood comes to the United Kingdom from Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, Jamaica and Honduras. The heartwood attains large dimensions, but as it begins to decay before the tree arrives at maturity it is always faulty and hollow in the centre. On this account squared logs or planks of rosewood are never seen, the wood being imported in half-round flitches 10 to 20 ft. in length and from 5 to 12 in. in their thickest part. Owing to its irregular form, the wood is sold by weight, and its value varies within wide limits according to the richness of colour. Rosewood has a deep ruddy brown colour, richly streaked and grained with black resinous layers. It takes a fine polish, but, on account of its resinous nature, it is somewhat difficult to work. The wood is very much in demand both by cabinet-makers and pianoforte-makers, by whom it is used both solid and in veneer.

The wood of Dalbergia latifolia, a native of the East Indies, used for ornamental furniture and carvings under the name of black wood, is frequently termed East Indian Rosewood. The Bois de Rose of the French, the Portuguese Pao de Rosa, and the German Rosenholz is a Brazilian wood, the produce of Physocalymma floribundum, called in the United Kingdom tulip wood, and very highly esteemed on account of its beautiful rose colour and grain.

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