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A classic rosewood surface (Dalbergia nigra) Rio-Palisander, dunkel Holz.JPG
A classic rosewood surface ( Dalbergia nigra )

Rosewood refers to any of a number of richly hued timbers, often brownish with darker veining, but found in many different hues and colours. [1]


True rosewoods

Chess pieces in Dalbergia latifolia rosewood RosewoodPieces.jpg
Chess pieces in Dalbergia latifolia rosewood

All genuine rosewoods belong to the genus Dalbergia . The pre-eminent rosewood appreciated in the Western world is the wood of Dalbergia nigra . It is best known as "Brazilian rosewood"[ citation needed ], but also as "Bahia rosewood". This wood has a strong, sweet smell, which persists for many years, explaining the name rosewood. [2]

Another classic rosewood comes from Dalbergia latifolia , known as (East) Indian rosewood or sonokeling (Indonesia). It is native to India and is also grown in plantations elsewhere in Pakistan (Chiniot).

Madagascar rosewood ( Dalbergia maritima ), known as bois de rose, is highly prized for its red color. It is overexploited in the wild, despite a 2010 moratorium on trade and illegal logging, which continues on a large scale. [3]

Throughout southeast Asia, Dalbergia oliveri is harvested for use in woodworking. It has a very fragrant and dense grain near the core, but the outer sapwood is soft and porous. Dalbergia cultrata, [4] variegated burgundy to light brown in color, is a blackwood timber sold as Burmese rosewood. Products built with rosewood-based engineered woods are sold as 'Malaysian rosewood' or as D. oliveri.[ citation needed ]

Some rosewood comes from Dalbergia retusa , also known as 'Nicaraguan rosewood' or as cocobolo. Several species are known as Guatemalan rosewood or Panama rosewood: D. tucerencis, D. tucarensis, and D. cubiquitzensis. [5] [6] Honduran rosewood:D. stevensonii is used for marimba keys, guitar parts, clarinets and other musical and ornamental applications. [7]

Not all species in the large genus Dalbergia yield rosewoods; only about a dozen species do. The woods of some other species in the genus Dalbergia are notableeven famouswoods in their own right: African blackwood, cocobolo , kingwood, and Brazilian tulipwood.

Some species become canopy trees (up to 30 m high),[ citation needed ] and large pieces can occasionally be found in the trade.[ citation needed ]


The timber trade sells many timbers under the name 'rosewood' (usually with an adjective) due to some (outward) similarities. A fair number of these timbers come from other legume genera; one such species that is often mentioned is Bolivian Machaerium scleroxylon sold as 'Bolivian rosewood'. Another that may be found in market from Southeast Asia is Pterocarpus indicus , sold as 'New Guinea rosewood' (and related species). Dalbergia sissoo is a rosewood species from India and Bangladesh, usually known as sheesham or North-Indian rosewood. Its timber is extremely dense and has mild rot resistance but is porous, and its exterior is soft and susceptible to wood-boring insects. It is used for making cabinets and flooring, and for carving. It is exported as quality veneers. Due to its after-work quality when sealed and dyed, it is often sold as genuine rosewood or as teak. It has no discernible qualities of a genuine rosewood. Its strength is comparable with teak, but it has lower quality and price than teak or Dalbergia latifolia .[ citation needed ]

Although its wood bears no resemblance whatsoever to the true rosewoods, the Australian rose mahogany ( Dysoxylum fraserianum , family Meliaceae) and Australian blackwood, ( Acacia melanoxylon ) are also sold as rosewood. Acacia excelsa is also commonly known as ironwood or rosewood. [8] Australian rose mahogany, due to the strong smell of roses from freshly cut bark, is more mistakenly termed a "rosewood". [9]


Back of guitar made with East Indian rosewood (Dalbergia latifolia) RosewoodGuitarBack.jpg
Back of guitar made with East Indian rosewood (Dalbergia latifolia)

All rosewoods are strong and heavy, taking an excellent polish, being suitable for guitars (the fretboards on electric and acoustic guitars often being made of rosewood), marimbas, recorders, turnery (billiard cues, fountain pens, black pieces in chess sets, etc.), handles, furniture, and luxury flooring, etc.

Rosewood oil, used in perfume, is extracted from the wood of Aniba rosaeodora , which is not related to the rosewoods used for lumber. Rosewood is also used for bracelets and necklaces.


The dust created from sanding rosewood is known to be a sensitizing irritant and can trigger asthma and other respiratory ailments. Continual or heightened exposure can increase sensitivity. [10]

Status as an endangered species

In general, world stocks are poor through overexploitation. [11] Rosewood is now protected worldwide. At a summit of the international wildlife trade in South Africa, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) moved to protect the world's most trafficked wild product by placing all 300 species of the rosewood tree under trade restrictions.[ citation needed ] At CITES meetings in 2013, 2016, and 2019, additional rosewood species were listed for protection, triggering market booms in China. [12] [13]


A Chinese Ming Dynasty compound wardrobe made of huanghuali rosewood, latter half of the 16th century. Ming Dynasty Wardrobe.jpg
A Chinese Ming Dynasty compound wardrobe made of huanghuali rosewood, latter half of the 16th century.

List of rosewoods

From Dalbergia species:

Other than Dalbergia species

Related Research Articles

<i>Pterocarpus</i> Genus of legumes

Pterocarpus is a pantropical genus of trees in the family Fabaceae. It belongs to the subfamily Faboideae, and was recently assigned to the informal monophyletic Pterocarpus clade within the Dalbergieae. Most species of Pterocarpus yield valuable timber traded as padauk ; other common names are mukwa or narra. P. santalinus also yields the most precious red sandalwood in China known as Zitan. The wood from the narra tree and the Burmese padauk tree is marketed as amboyna when it has grown in the burl form. The scientific name is Latinized Ancient Greek and means "wing fruit", referring to the unusual shape of the seed pods in this genus.

<i>Dalbergia</i> Genus of legumes

Dalbergia is a large genus of small to medium-size trees, shrubs and lianas in the pea family, Fabaceae, subfamily Faboideae. It was recently assigned to the informal monophyletic Dalbergia clade : the Dalbergieae. The genus has a wide distribution, native to the tropical regions of Central and South America, Africa, Madagascar and southern Asia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cocobolo</span> Type of wood

Cocobolo is a tropical hardwood of Central American trees belonging to the genus Dalbergia. Only the heartwood of cocobolo is used; it is usually orange or reddish-brown, often with darker irregular traces weaving through the wood. The heartwood changes color after being cut and can be polished to a lustrous, glassy finish; being quite dense, sometimes having a specific gravity of over 1.0, it will sink in water. The sapwood is a creamy yellow, with a sharp boundary between it and the heartwood.

Ironwood is a common name for many woods or plants that have a reputation for hardness, or specifically a wood density that is heavier than water, although usage of the name ironwood in English may or may not indicate a tree that yields such heavy wood.

<i>Dalbergia melanoxylon</i> Species of plant

Dalbergia melanoxylon is a flowering plant in the family Fabaceae, native to seasonally dry regions of Africa from Senegal east to Eritrea and south to the north-eastern parts of South Africa. The tree is an important timber species in its native areas; it is used in the manufacture of musical instruments and fine furniture. Populations and genomic resources for genetic biodiversity maintenance in parts of its native range are threatened by overharvesting due to poor or absent conservation planning and by the species' low germination rates.

<i>Pterocarpus indicus</i> Species of legume

Pterocarpus indicus is a species of Pterocarpus native to southeastern Asia, northern Australasia, and the western Pacific Ocean islands, in Cambodia, southernmost China, East Timor, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, the Ryukyu Islands, the Solomon Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tulipwood</span>

Most commonly, tulipwood is the greenish yellowish wood yielded from the tulip tree, found on the Eastern side of North America and a similar species in some parts of China. In the United States, it is commonly known as tulip poplar or yellow poplar, even though the tree is not related to the poplars. It is notable for its height, which can exceed 190 feet. The wood is very light, around 490 kg per cubic meter, but very strong and is used in many applications, including furniture, joinery and moldings. It can also be stained very easily and is often used as a low-cost alternative to walnut and cherry in furniture and doors.

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<i>Pterocarpus santalinus</i> Species of legume

Pterocarpus santalinus, with the common names red sanders, red saunders, protect it Yerra Chandanam, Chenchandanam, red sandalwood, Rakta Chandana, and saunderswood, is a species of Pterocarpus endemic to the southern Eastern Ghats mountain range of South India. This tree is valued for the rich red colour of its wood. The wood is traditionally considered not aromatic. However, in recent years there has been a marked uptick in the use of red sandalwood as a component of incense, especially in the west. The tree is not to be confused with the aromatic Santalum sandalwood trees that grow natively in Southern India.

<i>Dalbergia sissoo</i> Species of deciduous tree

Dalbergia sissoo, known commonly as North Indian rosewood or shisham, is a fast-growing, hardy, deciduous rosewood tree native to the Indian subcontinent and southern Iran. D. sissoo is a large, crooked tree with long, leathery leaves and whitish or pink flowers.

<i>Dalbergia nigra</i> Species of legume

Dalbergia nigra, commonly known as the Bahia rosewood, jacarandá-da-Bahia, Brazilian rosewood, Rio rosewood, jacarandá-do-brasil, pianowood, caviúna, graúna, jacarandá-una or obuina is a species of legume in the family Fabaceae.

<i>Aniba rosaeodora</i> Species of tree

Aniba rosaeodora, also known as pau-rosa, is a species of Magnoliid tree in the family Lauraceae. Although sometimes wrongly referred to as rosewood this name is totally misleading; it is no tree of the genus Dalbergia. It grows in parts of the tropical rainforest of South America. It is an endangered species that sees exploitation for its essential oil.

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<i>Dysoxylum fraserianum</i> Species of tree

Dysoxylum fraserianum, commonly known as rosewood or rose mahogany, is a medium-sized to large tree native to New South Wales and Queensland. It is widely used with the purpose of street design and to provide shade in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. Rosewood ranges from the rainforest around eastern Australia from Bundaberg in Queensland to Wyong in New South Wales. At maturity, it can reach a height of 57 metres (200 ft). It is generally known for its strong scent of rose from its bark.

Blackwood may refer to:

<i>Dalbergia latifolia</i> Species of legume

Dalbergia latifolia is a premier timber species, also known as the Indian rosewood. It is native to low-elevation tropical monsoon forests of south east India. Some common names in English include rosewood, Bombay blackwood, roseta rosewood, East Indian rosewood, reddish-brown rosewood, Indian palisandre, and Java palisandre. Its Indian common names are beete, and satisal. The tree grows to 40 metres (130 ft) in height and is evergreen, but locally deciduous in drier subpopulations.

<i>Xylosandrus crassiusculus</i> Species of beetle

Xylosandrus crassiusculus, known generally as the Asian ambrosia beetle or granulate ambrosia beetle, is a species of tropical bark beetle in the family Curculionidae. It is native to Asia and has spread to Africa, Europe, Australasia and the Americas. The adult beetle is reddish-brown and some 2 to 3 mm long.

<i>Xylosandrus morigerus</i> Species of beetle

Xylosandrus morigerus, is a species of weevil widespread throughout Afrotropical, Australian, Neotropical, Oceania and Oriental regions. It is also introduced to Palearctic regional countries.


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  2. "Distinguishing Brazilian Rosewood, East Indian and Other Rosewoods - The Wood Database".
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  4. "Dalbergia cultrata Benth. — The Plant List".
  5. "Panama Rosewood Sets". Garnut Guitars.
  6. "TAXA: Data on a specific chosen botanical species Dalbergia cubiquitzensis ". Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  7. "Honduran Rosewood | The Wood Database - Lumber Identification (Hardwoods)". Retrieved 2016-10-19.
  8. "Acacia excelsa". World Wide Wattle. Western Australian Herbarium . Retrieved 2 October 2020.
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  11. "Dalbergia". ICUN Red List of threatened species. Retrieved 22 July 2022.
  12. Zhu, Annah Lake. "Restricting trade in endangered species can backfire, triggering market booms". The Conversation. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  13. Zhu, Annah Lake (January 2, 2020). "China's Rosewood Boom: A Cultural Fix to Capital Overaccumulation". Annals of the American Association of Geographers. 110 (1): 277–296. doi: 10.1080/24694452.2019.1613955 .