Common Name: Purpleheart, amaranth, violetwood
Local Name: Nazareno
Botanical Name: Peltogyne spp.
The Tree: Purpleheart is a
very tall, handsome canopy tree, averaging 120 to 150 feet in height in the natural
rainforest, with diameters of 2 to 4 feet, and a clear, straight, cylindrical bole of 60
to 90 feet, above a moderately buttressed base. Nazareno is leguminous or nitrogen-fixing.
Status: Purpleheart has been
exploited extensively for years because of its high strength and durability as well as its
unusual color and beauty. It is increasingly rare, and is nearing extinction in parts of
its original range. Purpleheart is listed as
threatened in "Arboles Maderables en Peligro de Extinción en Costa Rica."
The Wood: One of the most
distinctive woods in the world, purpleheart is prized for its very unusual deep purple
color. When freshly cut, this dense hardwood is light brown. Within minutes the surface
turns an astonishing bright purple. Upon prolonged exposure to sunlight, the color
gradually changes to a chocolate-purple color. This beautiful wood is straight to wavy
grained, fine and uniform textured and fairly smooth with a medium to high luster.
Purpleheart turns smoothly, is easy to glue, takes finishes well and is highly durable.
Uses: Purpleheart reaches the
world market only in small quantities. It is prized for fine inlay work, turnery, fine
furniture and cabinetry, parquet flooring, decorative and figured veneer, and many
specialty items such as handles, billiard cue butts and carving.
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