Characteristics of Rosewood

Written by jeremy cato
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Characteristics of Rosewood
You may have an item made from rosewood in your home. (Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Hardwoods are often used in high-quality furniture and flooring. Among the most common types of hardwood used in manufacturing are oak, cherry and apple. However, there is another group of fragrant hardwoods that are more rare and expensive. This group is rosewood, which has several characteristics that make it easily identifiable and luxurious.

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Fragrance

Rosewood gets its name from the sweet fragrance of its core wood. The fragrance is somewhat similar to fresh-cut roses. This fragrant quality is specific to "true rosewoods," which only come from wood of the genus Dalbergia. Some species within this genus are Dalbergia nigra, or Brazilian rosewood, and Dalbergia latifolia, or East Indian rosewood. Rosewood retains its sweet aroma long after it has been cut and formed into products.

Colour

Rosewood is usually a deep brown wood, though there are some species that are much lighter and darker. Rosewood is also characterised by darker veins that make the wood look slightly striped. There are also hardwoods that are sometimes called rosewood although they do not belong to the genus Dalbergia. These woods, such as Australian rose mahogany, are usually much darker than true rosewood.

Hardness

Though not all hardwoods are actually hard, rosewood is a particularly dense and hard specimen. Its strength and sturdiness make it perfect for a variety of products. Rosewood is used in many high-end luxury products, such as handcrafted pool cues, wooden chess pieces, musical instruments and handles. Rosewood is also used in luxury wood flooring. It takes well to polishing and waxing and retains its lustre for years.

Endangered Species

Many species of true rosewood are also critically endangered and protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. In some places, such as Madagascar, rosewood logging is illegal and a source of many logging crimes. Because true rosewood is endangered, products made from it tend to be expensive and rare.

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