USDA Forest Service
Forest Products Laboratory
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Wood Technical Fact Sheet

Dalbergia retusa


Family: Leguminosae

Other Common Names: Granadillo (Mexico, Guatemala), Funera (El Salvador), Palo negro (Honduras), Nambar (Nicaragua, Costa Rica), Cocobolo, Cocobolo prieto (Panama).

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

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

The Wood:

General Characteristics: Somewhat variable in color when freshly sawn but heartwood usually becoming a deep rich orange red with black striping or mottling on exposure Texture fine; grain straight to interlocked; oily; without distinctive taste, odor slightly pungent and fragrant when worked. Fine dust may cause dermatitis.

Weight: Basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) 0.80 to 0.98; air- dry density 62 to 76 pcf.

Mechanical Properties: No data available, but is denser and stronger than Brazilian rosewood (see D. nigra).

Drying and Shrinkage: Reported to have excellent drying properties, free of surface and end checking. A kiln schedule similar to T1-B1 has been suggested. Shrinkage is usually low; high stability in use. Very low moisture absorption.

Working Properties: Reported to have excellent machining characteristics; natural oils give the wood a good polish, but make it unsuitable for gluing. Fine dust may produce rash resembling ivy poisoning.

Durability: Durability is high, has very high resistance to marine borer attack.

Preservation: No data available.

Uses: Highly favored in the cutlery trade for handles, inlay work, brush backs, musical and scientific instruments, jewelry boxes, chessmen, and other specialty items.

Additional Reading: (55), (56)

55. Record, S. J., and G. A. Garratt. 1923. Cocobolo. Yale University School of Forestry. Bull. No. 8. New Haven, Conn.

56. Record, S. J., and R. W. Hess. 1949. Timbers of the new world. Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn.

From: Chudnoff, Martin. 1984. Tropical Timbers of the World. USDA Forest Service. Ag. Handbook No. 607.