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ROSEWOOD, CAMATILLO

Dalbergia congestiflora

Dalbergia congestiflora of the family Fabaceae (syn Leguminosae) the legume, pea, or bean family, also known as Guatamala rosewood and Mexican kingwood. I have occasionally seen this wood erroneously listed as Dalbergia congestifolia. The Plant List does not list that as a valid species name and I have been informed by a very reliable source that "congestifolia" is nonsense when applied to camatillo, as it would imply botanical characteristics that are not possessed by that species.

I have no experience of the strong purple in some of the web pics shown below BUT ... I have now heard from two correspondents, Todd Levy and another gentleman in Canada who has over 5,000 BF of this wood and I have added their comments to this page; they are consistent except that Todd feels that the really strong purple tints are correct and the other gentleman feels that they are a bit too much. The Canadian gentleman also tells me that if this wood is subjected to too much humidity while drying, it can develop a brown stain that cannot subsequently be removed.

Further, Todd tells me that the purple is fresh-cut wood which then turns brown over time. See the guitar pics at the very bottom of the page for full examples of some very fresh purple wood, the same wood aged slightly, and what Todd calls the "depleted" brown color. Todd further says "Like cocobolo and tulipwood, the wood is bright just after belt sanding and fades to a darker purple after exposure, for the newer growth. In old growth pieces, which are very rare, the long-term depletion of the oils is what leaves the orange color and only veins of dark purple remain.

Many of the pieces on this page were specifically listed as Dalbergia congestiflora (or, mistakenly, as Dalbergia congestifolia) but since this is the only species that uses camatillo as its common name, I have not bothered to distinguish those which were so designated. I have noted when they were listed as "Mexican kingwood" because that needs to be distinguished from "Brazilian kingwood" which is on this site under its more common name of just "kingwood".

This wood is extremely dense; the heartwood is about 80 lbs/cuft and it will easily sink in water. It takes a polish like glass.


THE ROSEWOODS, REAL and OTHERWISE





my samples:


both sides of a sample plank of Mexican kingwood / Dalbergia congestiflora --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a very small "plank"


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above --- not a very impressive update, I'm sorry to say (well, the fine grain detail does show up a lot better in the sapwood anyway)


face grain closeup of the piece directly above and taken under a VERY bright light which has emphasized the color


pic submitted by Todd Levy, who says this color is accurate even though it is totally bland compared to every other piece of camatillo pictured on the site. These pieces have been moistened for the pic. Todd tells me that he believe all of the other pics below, including the bright purple ones, to be accurate representations of this wood, which apparently has colors over a very wide brown/purple range.



All of the pics in this section are from 3 planks loaned to me for processing into samples by David Clark whom I thank for the loan of the wood and cuss for the extra work :-)

These were listed as Mexican kingwood / camatillo

The three planks pro-rated out to densities of 83lbs/cuft, 79lbs/cuft, and for the one with a fair amount of sapwood, 68lbs/cuft. This REALLY dense wood takes a polish like glass. In fact, the pieces are so heavy relative to most woods that I thought when I first received the planks that the vendor had made a mistake in telling me that these were seasoned.

All of the pics of the raw planks were taken, unfortunately, with my camera mistakenly set to underexpose the pics and no amount of color correction will get the pics back to quite the right color and vibrancy. The processed pics on the other hand are fine and show it quite well. Some samples show a noticeable different color from one side to the other, and that is accurate. Also, the 6" samples show somewhat brighter colors than the 12" samples even though they are from the same planks. That's because I did a bit more sanding on the 6" samples and thus removed a bit more of the patina.


This is the set of pics displayed by the vendor and my attempt to recreate the same boards in the same positions and the same distance from the camera so as to show what the vendor pics look like relative to the wood that I received, and then a set of closeups of the unprocessed planks exactly as received. The color variation shown in my own closeup pic is significant (and shows up much better in the first enlargement) but clearly nothing like what shows up in the vendor pics. This is the only pic of the raw pieces where I did not have my camera set to the wrong exposure offset so this is a very good representation of the unprocessed planks

I do not attribute to the vendor any attempt to mislead regarding the appearance of the wood. I believe that the greater color variation in the vendor's pics is perhaps somewhat due to different lighting conditions for the different pic but much more importantly to the fact that this wood is well known for having a bright purple/violet color when fresh cut but turning to a more subdued purplish-brown after only a modest amount of ageing.


PLANK #1


both sides of one end of plank #1 (see note above about poor contrast in these pics)


both sides of a 12" long sample processed from the end plank #1 shown directly above


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of the other end of plank #1 (relative to the 12" sample directly above)


both sides of a 6" sample from the end of plank #1 shown directly above


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


PLANK #2


both sides of one end of plank #2 (see note above about poor contrast in these pics)


both sides of a 12" long sample processed from the end plank #2 shown directly above


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of the other end of plank #2 (relative to the 12" sample directly above)


both sides of a 6" sample from the end of plank #2 shown directly above


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


PLANK #3


both sides of one end of plank #3 (see note above about poor contrast in these pics)


both sides of a 12" long sample processed from the end plank #3 shown directly above


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of the other end of plank #3 (relative to the 12" sample directly above)


both sides of a 6" sample from the end of plank #3 shown directly above


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above)


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above



web pics:


planks with color that is more than a little hard to believe --- my correspondent informed me that the purple is TOO purple but the red ones in the middle are just right (this wood has a wide color range).


planks and turning stock listed as Mexican kingwood


planks and turning stock listed as camatillo rosewood; the extreme purple is believable if these are freshly milled


plank pic provided by Steve Earis, whom I thank for this and many other contributions to the site. Steve has this as Mexican kingwood so I assume it is Dalbergia congestiflora. It certainly looks like it.


closeup pic, provided by Todd Levy, of a particularly colorful and attractive piece


both sides of a plank with sapwood --- my correspondent says the color on this one is right on.


plank


planks, all from the same vendor --- my correspondent says the color on these is right on so presumably this is seasoned wood with none of the fresh-cut purple color


planks --- my correspondent says the color on these is right on.


turning sticks all from the same vendor


turning stock


both sides of a plank and a closeup of one section --- my correspondent says the color on these is right on.



both sides of a plank and a closeup of one section


a plank listed as "figured" but I think it's just high grain figure, not what one normally means by "figured" (which is curly or mottled or something like that).




These are all from the BogusColorVendor, so the colors are suspect



both sides of a plank and a closeup of one section



both sides of a turning piece and a closeup of one section


planks

end of BogusColorVendor samples



guitar pics provided by Todd Levy, whom I again thank for this and other contributions to the site. Todd reiterated to me when he sent this batch of pics, that this wood has a wide range of colors and both the purples and brown on this page are good representations of the wood. These guitar pics are color correct but note that the next to last pic is a set of full front and back shots of the same guitar when the wood was very fresh and the final pic is of the front of a very similar guitar after it had aged and darkened a bit.