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                  .....Costa Rican Hardwoods

Cocobolo Wood

The Artisan’s Choice



Treasured by the Costa Rican people, Cocobolo (Dalbergia retusa), is one of the true tropical rosewoods. It is the heaviest and darkest member of the rosewood family typically reaching 45 to 60 feet in height beneath the canopy in the natural rainforest. It is found predominately in Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

Cocobolo is an exotic wood possessing a richness of color and durability. Colors and markings range anywhere from reddish-orange to a deep rich burgundy red or rose all the way to dark brown or black.. Cocobolo has a fine texture with straight to interlocked grain. Most desirable in a piece of cocobolo is a light brown to orange background with distinct black streaks throughout. The amount of figure and contrasting color varies widely from tree to tree.

Costa Rican Cocobolo (not to be confused with the Mexican variety of cocobolo - dalbergia granadillo) is a strong, hard, and fairly heavy wood with natural oils that give the wood a rich satin luster without stain. It is this exotic finish, excellent working characteristics, and denseness that make it a favorite of Costa Rican artisans. The natural oils tend to waterproof the wood and make it resistant to the influence of moisture, even when left in contact with water for long periods of time. Cocobolo is twice the weight of walnut, and is so dense it will not float!

Cocobolo is so rare that it rarely reaches the world market. The Costa Rican government regulates the cutting of all Cocobolo trees. In order to preserve the natural rainforests of Costa Rica, most of the cocobolo wood available today is cut from privately owned fincas, or farms, on which cocobolo trees were planted and allowed to mature. 


Goncalo Alves (Ron-ron)

Striped Rainforest ‘Porcelain’



One of the world's most coveted woods, ron-rón is distinguished by remarkable and abundant black banding known as "tiger" or "zebra" striping.

Ron-ron ranges in color from light to reddish brown to deep mahogany red-brown with a striking figure created by beautiful, bold, brown to nearly black irregular markings or striping. The texture is fine to medium and uniform, with a fine grain, varying from straight to interlocked and wavy. In spite of its high density, goncalo alves turns readily, carves well, finishes very smoothly, and takes a beautiful natural polish.

This highly durable wood exceeds the strength values of any well-known U.S. wood species.

The wood's amazing workability allows craftsmen to achieve remarkable shapes and finishes that are hard to replicate using other precious woods. The secret is a natural oil contained in dry ron-rón that makes for even density and few imperfections. The artists who turn, sculpt and polish it liken this wood to porcelain or marble.



A Golden Jewel  



This species' whitish or pale yellow sapwood envelopes a spectacular heartwood that changes color as the tree gets older. The heartwood of young mora trees ranges in color from bright yellow to a magnificent golden hue. As the tree ages, the color mellows to dark caramel, densely marbled with bands of yellow.

Years ago when mora wood was more plentiful, its resistance to weather made it a favorite with farmers for fence posts. Today, it's too scarce and expensive to use for anything but small crafts. 



Guayacan Real (Iron Wood)

Rain Forest Hard Case



Known in Latin as lignum vitae or "wood of a lifetime," guayacán or "iron wood" is one of the hardest woods in Costa Rica. Its sapwood is light yellow and surrounds a beautiful heartwood that, when freshly cut, displays greenish bands of varying widths and tones. Exposure to oxygen and light deepens the milled wood to a rich, dark brown. The wood contains a green, translucent oil known as "guayacol," - an excellent lubricant

The few artisans who know this very hard wood say its high density doesn't make it less workable than other hardwood species. The results achieved with ironwood are stunning.


Purpleheart Wood


Purpleheart, 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.

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 many parts of the world. Today less and less of this exotic wood is reaching the world market.


  Trebol, macacauba or macawood



The keys of Costa Rica's finest marimbas are made of cristóbal, which emits a melodic, woody tone when struck. Its highly workable, strong and compact grain can be sanded and polished to an almost acrylic sheen.

Its straw-yellow sapwood envelopes a caramel-colored heartwood that's ribboned with broad, widely spaced banding of a darker tone. The effect gives cristóbal a look like none other. Milled cristóbal also possesses a sweet, caramel-like aroma that announces its presence in the wood shop even before its striking beauty catches the eye. 


Because of the great beauty and high value of its wood, cristóbal has been heavily exploited and is now in danger of extinction outside of national parks and preserves.



Hymenaea courbaril

Family: Fabaceae/Caesalpiniaceae (bean family); Trade name: Brazilian cherry, jatoba

Guapinol (Hymenaea courbaril) is excessively hard, heavy, and very strong wood. While the sapwood of jatoba is gray-white, the heartwood tends to a salmon-red to orange-brown color when freshly milled, becoming russet or rich deep red color with dark streaks over time. Therefore, the color will change dramatically when seasoned. In direct sunlight, the color change will occur within a few days. Out of sunlight, it will oxidize slowly over 6 months. Water-based finishes tend to retard the color change, while oil-based finishes enhance it. With its inherent beauty, rich coloring, and extreme hardness, this species is understandably one of the most popular exotic woods. The guapinol tree is rare and in danger of extinction due to heavy exploitation, reason enough to plant some of these beautiful trees, aside from their high-value wood.

Although Jatoba is sometimes referred to as Brazilian Cherry or South American Cherry, it is not a cherry tree and it is in no way, botanically or otherwise related to the Black Cherry. Brazilian cherry is prized for its pleasing color, beauty, and durability and is used in fine furniture and cabinetry (sometimes it is compared with mahogany). It is commercially useful for flooring, stair treads, parquet, architectural details, joinery and turnery, and decorative veneers. 


Enterolobium cyclocarpum

 Enterolobium cyclocarpum, commonly known as Guanacaste, Caro Caro, or Elephant Ear Tree, is a species of flowering tree in the pea family, Fabaceae, that is native to tropical regions of the Americas, from central Mexico south to northern Brazil (Roraima) and Venezuela. It is known for its large proportions, its expansive, often spherical crown, and its curiously shaped seedpods. The abundance of this tree, especially in Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica where it is prized for the shady relief it provides from the intense sun, coupled with its immensity, have made it a widely recognized species. It is the national tree of Costa Rica.

The tree represents universal equilibrium and sacred creation, the renewal of one's faith on earth, the power of Mother Nature, the power of free choice given by God and the transient condition of human life on earth.

It is a symbol of stability and growth; it provides a better perception of the valleys and mountains and represents the growing pride of Costa Rican identity.

The strong and firm roots represent the attachment to life. Its hard trunk represents the will and the branches are the protectors of creative peace. The top of the tree is associated with spiritual consciousness.

Teca (teak)

Tectona grandis


Teak (Tectona), is a genus of tropical hardwood trees in the mint family

Teak is indigenous to India, Burma, Thailand, Indochina and Java. but it has been extensively planted for timber or as an ornamental within its natural range and throughout the tropical regions of the world, including East and West Africa, the West Indies, from Cuba and Jamaica to Trinidad, and from Panama to Brazil. It is also grown in southern Florida. The species is now being cultivated in Costa Rica.

Teak is a yellowish brown timber with good grains and texture. It is used in the manufacture of outdoor furniture, boat decks, and other articles where weather resistance is desired. It is also used for cutting boards, indoor flooring, countertops and as a veneer for indoor furnishings.

Teak, though easily worked, can cause severe blunting on edged tools because of the presence of silica in the wood. Teak's natural oils make it useful in exposed locations, and is termite and pest resistant. Teak is durable even when not treated with oil or varnish.

(myroxylon balsamum)


Balsamo, also called Peruvian Balsam or Quina, is a red/orange wood with medium-fine grain and a distinctive pleasant scent. The scent is like a distinctive mild perfume. The extract of the bark is used for its medicinal/antiseptic properties.






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