Commercial Timbers

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H. G. Richter and M. J. Dallwitz

Dalbergia nigra Fr. All. (Rio Palisander, Brazilian rosewood)

Nomenclature etc. FABACEAE-FABOIDEAE. Trade and local names: Rio Palisander, Rio Jacarandá, Brasilianisches Rosenholz (DE); palissandre Brésil, palissandre Rio (FR); Brazilian rosewood (GB); cabiúna, camboré, caviuna legitima, jacarandá, pau preto, urauna (BR); palissandro (IT); palisandro (ES); palissander Rio (NL). Listed in CITES Annex I.

Tree. Geographic distribution: tropical South America.

General. Growth ring boundaries indistinct or absent. Heartwood basically brown to purple, with streaks (black). Sapwood colour distinct from heartwood colour. Odour distinct (aromatic, sweet). Density 0.72–0.8–0.96 g/cm³.

Vessels. Wood diffuse-porous. Vessels arranged in no specific pattern, in multiples, commonly short (2–3 vessels) radial rows. Average tangential vessel diameter 75–175–250 µm. Average number of vessels/mm² 1–2–4. Perforation plates simple. Intervessel pits alternate, average diameter (vertical) 8–11 µm, vestured. Vessel-ray pits with distinct borders (predominantly). Tyloses in vessels absent. Other deposits in heartwood vessels present (dark brown).

Tracheids and fibres. Fibres of medium wall thickness. Average fibre length 1130–1350–1600 µm. Fibre pits mainly restricted to radial walls, simple to minutely bordered. Contents mostly brown.

Axial parenchyma. Axial parenchyma banded. Axial parenchyma bands marginal (or seemingly marginal), fine, up to three cells wide. Axial parenchyma apotracheal and paratracheal. Apotracheal axial parenchyma diffuse and diffuse-in-aggregates. Paratracheal axial parenchyma vasicentric (also weakly aliform and paratracheal unilateral). Axial parenchyma fusiform and as strands. Average number of cells per axial parenchyma strand 2(–3).

Rays. Rays 9–12 per tangential mm, multiseriate (also if only few), 2–3 cells wide. Rays composed of a single cell type (homocellular); homocellular ray cells procumbent.

Storied structures. Storied structure present, all rays storied, axial parenchyma storied, vessel elements storied, fibres storied.

Mineral inclusions. Crystals present, prismatic, located in infrequent ray cells or axial parenchyma cells. Crystal-containing ray cells procumbent. Crystal-containing axial parenchyma cells chambered. Number of crystals per cell or chamber one. Cystoliths absent. Silica not observed.

Physical and chemical tests. Heartwood not fluorescent. Water extract not fluorescent. Ethanol extract fluorescent (greenish blue).

Illustrations. • Macro images. Dalbergia nigra. Transverse. Tangential. • Transverse section. Dalbergia nigra. • Tangential section. Dalbergia nigra. • Radial section. Dalbergia nigra.


The interactive key allows access to the character list, illustrations, full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting specified attributes, summaries of attributes within groups of taxa, and geographical distribution.

Cite this publication as: ‘Richter, H.G., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2000 onwards. Commercial timbers: descriptions, illustrations, identification, and information retrieval. In English, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish. Version: 25th June 2009. http://delta-intkey.com’.

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