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What Is Rosewood Lumber?

By Jennifer Leigh
Updated May 17, 2024
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Rosewood lumber is found throughout the tropics, but is particularly dense in the country of Brazil. It comes from a medium-sized tree that is heat-tolerant, and grows best in sunny parts of the world — this type of lumber is generally a dark shade, but varies depending on the location it is from and its age. It can be anywhere from purple-brown to deep brown, and is known for the striations in its appearance. The lumber has a waxy feel and is considered a hard type of wood. There are many uses for rosewood lumber in items such as flooring, furniture, sculptures, and musical instruments.

Genuine rosewood comes from the genus Dalbergia, which includes different varieties of trees from South America and Asia. There are other types of trees called rosewood because of their appearance, but if they are not a member of the genus Dalbergia, they are not real rosewood trees. There are many places where rosewood trees are grown in the world. Rosewood lumber is often exported from South American countries such as Honduras and Bolivia. The trees can be grown in many tropical climates, however, they can resist cold to a certain extent when grown in less tropical locations.

The properties of rosewood lumber make it a popular and sought-after choice for many applications. It has a pronounced, streaky grain with dark veining, which is attractive in places where it will be seen regularly, such as in wood flooring or furniture. Rosewood lumber is hard and heavy compared to many other types of wood, which means that it lasts for a long time and resists nicks in its surface. There are a variety of colors found in nature, so rosewood lumber does not usually need to be stained, but can absorb a simple polish easily to create a shinier surface.

Another interesting property of rosewood lumber is its smell, which is sweet and slightly floral. The name rosewood was developed because of the lumber's natural scent. Rosewood is utilized for such items as wooden sculptures, gaming equipment, and musical instruments because of its hard texture and beauty. It is a popular choice for cabinets and woodworking because of these same qualities.

When the lumber is prepared, it must be dried slowly to keep it from shrinking. It is not usually treated much more than this, however, because it naturally takes on a slight sheen. Rosewood is resistant to attack by fungus that can cause problems in other types of wood, which leads to its reputation as being a durable type of wood. Due to overharvesting in some areas, rosewood lumber is more expensive than other types of wood, particularly in areas where it does not grow naturally.

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