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BOLIVIAN ROSEWOOD

Machaerium spp.

Machaerium spp. of the family Fabaceae (syn Leguminosae) the legume, pea, or bean family. These are primarily Machaerium scleroxylon but also include Machaerium aculeatum and Machaerium pedicellatum and perhaps others.

A "false" rosewood, in that it uses the term "rosewood" in the name but it is not a true rosewood (genus Dalbergia)

There are a number of species that are sold as morado / Bolivian rosewood / santos rosewood / pau ferro, and many other common names apparently somewhat indistinguishably. I note that most, but not all, of those sold as santos rosewood / pau ferro tend to have more color than most of those sold as Bolivian rosewood / morado. Also, I note that I have rarely if ever seen veneer listed as Bolivian rosewood, but I have seen plenty of veneer listed as santos rosewood, where as I rarely find planks listed as santos rosewood. I find that some lumber yards carry this wood as Bolivian rosewood and some carry it as morado and these are almost always the more bland purple and purple-brown colors. If you see it in a lumber yard as santos rosewood, it is likely to be the more colorful variety. It SEEMS that these are at least two different, and distinguishable, species, but I have not been able to determine the differences between/among them and the names seem to be used somewhat interchangeably with all of them referencing Machaerium scleroxylon. To further add to the confusion, there is another group of related woods, Peltogyne spp. (related because they are also in the family Leguminosae) that are sold as pau ferro and morado.

SO ... in the listings on this page I've included all of these woods and I've broken out, where I know it, distinctions among woods sold as morado, Bolivian rosewood, and santos rosewood. I may put in a few sold with other common names.

The confusion around these species may be just mine, but I think it likely that there is some confusion among at least some wood vendors as well, or it could be that there is confusion, or just indifference to the botantical distinctions, where the wood is harvested. For all I know, the trees could be externally indistinguishable.


THE ROSEWOODS, REAL and OTHERWISE



my samples:
NOTE: these pics were all taken in very bright incandescent lighting --- colors will vary under other lighting conditions


this little turning that I did to exhibit the wild grain that can occur in this wood also exhibits two other things. First, color-darkening with age. the first two sets of pics each show a facet of the turning paired with the same view taken 9 years later and showing the darkening due to ageing. Second, how camera use can influence the colors shown. All of the first 4 pics were taken in strong incandescent light but the 5th pic was taken with a flash, which is much brighter and brings out colors that just can't be seen in normal light (the colors shown are accurate). More comments and details on all this is given at the bottom of this page along with enlargements of all the views.


both sides of a sample plank of Bolivian rosewood (moradillo) / Machaerium scleroxylon --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. The labeled side is raw but the 2nd side has been sanded to 240 grit and so shows details better.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


sample plank and end grain sold to me as pau ferro / Machaerium scleroxylon


end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


small thick plank, sold to me as Bolivian rosewood, and closeup with end grain. The light-colored lines on the end grain pic are sanding scratch marks, not rays


both sides of a plank, sold to me as santos rosewood, and end grain --- I cut this end off for my own sample because of the obvious flaw in the center of the butt end (which make it unusable in my bowls), which should not be taken as representative of this wood.


end grain closeup and END GRAIN UPDATE of the piece directly above


small plank sold to me as Bolivian rosewood


end grain closeup of the piece directly above


lumber yard pile showing some nice color variety in planks sold as Bolivian rosewood (I moved some of the more interesting pices to the top of the pile for the pic)


planks, sold as Bolivian rosewood, photographed at a lumber yard --- the middle plank looks much more like canary to me, and it could well be since that yard also sold canary.

NOT a raw wood color
flooring sample, sold as Bolivian rosewood, that has been finished with a hard, shiny finishing agent that has clearly deepened and enriched the color. For some reason, every picture I took of this sample came out WAY too orange and I had to finally give up and do digital color correction that has produced a very accurate representation of the wood, but has left the white background showing as dark gray.


the piece directly above, after I sanded off the finish


Even with just an 80-grit belt sanding, this little plank (sold to me as morado) took a pretty nice polish as you can see from the way it reflects the flashbulb light (if you enlarge it, you'll see a lot of sanding marks very clearly). See the bottom of the page for this piece of wood in use.


a turning stick sold to me as morado --- the end grain shot was taken again with the wood moistened with water.


plank sold to me as morado and closeup --- the apparently lighter color of the wood in the closeup is due to the bright light up close.


plank, sold to me as morado, and closeup


small plank sold to me as morado and end grain


end grain closeup and END GRAIN UPDATE of the piece directely above


small plank sold to me as morado and end grain


end grain closeup and END GRAIN UPDATE of the piece directly above


planks sold to me as morado


both sides of a sample plank of Bolivian rosewood (morado) / Machaerium scleroxylon --- HUGE enlargements are present. This piece was cut from the lower of the two planks directly above. The color on these pics is correct; the piece has been in my garage for years and has acquired a slight age patina.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


a pair of planks and end grain closeups of them --- the pics are from a correspondent who sent them to me for ID


veneer sheets all sold to me a santos rosewood and all appear to be flat cut (perhaps some rift cut), colors are accurate --- this is a very attractive wood with a lot of variety in color. All of these veneer sheets came from one lot that I bought, although they probably came from different trees since this was a very mixed lot.


veneer sheet, sold to me as santos rosewood, and a closeup


veneer sold to me as santos rosewood --- 2 long pieces and a couple of closeups


veneer sheets sold to me as santos rosewood --- the first 2 sheets are from the same flitch, the 3rd from a different lot entirely.


pics contributed by Danny Tjan (whom I thank for these and other contributions to the site) of some really wild sheets of santos rosewood veneer. These sheets have the kind of "cloud" figure that one normally associates with zircote. Very cool.

web pics:




planks listed as Bolivian rosewood


planks listed as Bolivian rosewood / Macherium scleroxylon


planks listed as Bolivian rosewood and with what appears to me to be a totally realistic color representation



planks listed as morado


planks listed as morado / Machaerium scleroxylon


planks of morado; this pic was provided by Barry Johnston, whom I thank.


a set of thins listed as morado


this guitar set was listed as morado, but there are some species other than Machaerium spp. which have morado as a common name and I can only believe that either this is one of them or else the colors in this pic are totally incorrect.


both sides of a set of planks sold as morado. I find the bright orange color unlikely


both sides of a pair of planks (sold as morado) and a closeup of one of them. I find the bright orange color unlikely


plank (sold as morado) with COMPLETELY unbelievable color. I know the vendor for this piece and he is completely honest, just doesn't have time/interest to do color correct pics.


plank sold as santos palisander


turning stock


plank and guitar-back thinwood pair both listed as pau ferro


veneer sold as santos palisander


pen blanks that have been oiled and waxed


pen blanks


flooring


plank, listed as Bolivian rosewood and closeup


guitar set sold as Bolivian rosewood



planks listed as santos rosewood


planks listed as santos rosewood, but these are more like what I would call Bolivian rosewood


both sides of a plank listed as santos rosewood


turning stock listed as santos rosewood


bowl blank listed as santos rosewood but clearly more like what I would list as Bolivian rosewood


scales sold as morado


veneer sold as santos rosewood --- three pics from the same long sheet


veneer, all listed as santos rosewood and obviously flat cut --- I've almost never seen this wood offered as quartersawn, probably because the flat cut grain pattern is so attractive and quartersawn is relatively bland and would sell as well


veneer listed as santos rosewood, all from the same vendor and she always "corrects" her pics so that they show a shine that as near as I know is NEVER in the wood (I have bought quite a lot from her and none of the woods ever show any of the shine that she puts in her pics)


quartersawn veneer listed as santos rosewood


vflat cut veneer sheets, all from the same vendor and listed as santos rosewood


flat cut veneer sheets, listed as santos rosewood, and closeup --- the color in these is not believable no matter WHAT you call them but I know this vendor and many of his pics come out green or yellow regardless of what color the wood is --- he's not dishonest, just busy and indifferent to good photography.


veneer, all from the same vendor and listed as santos rosewood --- I strongly believe that these pics have an unrealistic washed out color and are too violet-colored


flat cut veneer, all from the same vendor, listed as santos rosewood but with a very unlikely golden color


bookmatched veneer listed as santos rosewood


bee's wing veneer listed as santos rosewood




all of the pictures in this set are from the BogusColorVendor, so I seriously doubt the particularly bright colors (in fact, I doubt ALL the colors --- this vendor is just incredibly dishonest in their representation of the wood they sell)

These were all listed as Bolivian rosewood and I'm pretty confident that the wood from these boards is all the same lightly-purple-tinted wood as seen in several of my own samples and that the orange color shown here is mostly just a product of this dishonest vendors photo process (a small amount of it might be that the wood DOES get slightly more colorful when moistened, but not to this extent).


planks


plank closeup




plank and detail


plank and detail


plank and detail


both sides of a plank and a closeup


planks sold as Bolivian rosewood (see detailed comments at the top of this section on the BogusColorVendor


These are also from the BogusColorVendor but they must have given their regular photographer the day off and hired a temp who was honest, as these pics seem to have a very accurate color.





three views of a 5"x3" morado bowl turned and photographed by John Fuher. Thanks for the pics John. HUGE enlargements are present which really show the grain beautifully, although John had the F-stop too low so only the foreground is in focus.


guitar back


bowl listed as Bolivian rosewood ... looks to me like what I mostly see listed as Santos rosewood


two views of a vase listed as morado


flooring listed as morado


bowls by Bryan Nelson (NelsonWood)





a single turning sample of a piece sold to me as Bolivian rosewood that was done to show the varied aspects of the grain pattern in this rosewood, and aren't they beautiful. This is not a burl or anything, this is just a wood that has spectacular grain patterns. I haven't done color correction yet, but this is pretty accurate except that it is slightly overexposed (too bright) and maybe with a slightly redder tint than that wood has. The coating is polyurethane (several coats) which significantly enriched the color. The same piece, aged 9 years, is shown below.


the same piece as directly above but 9 years later. Most of that time was spent in a closed box that sustained some water damage and mildew. This piece was affected only in that the polyurethane finish was degraded in somewhat. These pics have just the tiniest hint too much red and the darkening of the color over the 9 years is accurately show here.


The same piece as directly above (again, 9 years after the pics above that). This was taken up close with a flash and this very bright light brings out colors that simply don't show up in normal light. That's the main reason that the original pics (taken in a bright light, but not as bright as the flash) show more color.


laminated bowl with a morado section. The pic to the left is fresh off the lathe and the one on the right is after one coat of natural stain. To both the left and right of the morado are aromatic red cedar. The color on the stained pic is slightly too red. This piece of morado is the same as the sample at the top of the page.