Pernambuco is renown for its use in the making of violin bows. But after being first discovered in 1500 by Portugese explorers, the trees and its wood become highly coveted and traded throughout Europe for the red dye it produced. Considered a valuable commodity, it was the preferred red dye of luxury textile manufacturers. Its heartwood varies from a muted yellow-orange to orange to red or reddish-brown, and it slowly darkens with age. Grains are generally straight, though sometimes interlocked. Despite its great density, it has excellent working properties and, with its fine texture, finishes nicely, boasting an impressive natural luster.
Listed in CITES Appendix II, and listed as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List.
Why We Love This Wood
When many people think of the wood synonymous with Brazilian, they immediately think of Brazilian Rosewood. But, Pernambuco -- or "Brazilwood," as it is just as commonly known -- is responsible for the naming of the country, itself!:
"When Portuguese ships discovered the trees on the coast of South America, they found that the wood yielded a red dye?which made for a very valuable and lucrative trading commodity. They named the tree pau brasil, the term pau meaning wood, and brasil meaning red/ember-like. Such a vigourous trade resulted from this wood that early sailors and merchants referred to the land itself as Terra do Brasil, or simply, the ?Land of Brazil??and the name stuck." -- The Wood Database (http://www.wood-database.com/brazilwood/)
When considered in an historical context, it is surprising that the wood has never been transplanted in a similar climate or has sprung up in regional plantations. Since its discovery more than 500 years ago, it has remained a highly sought-after woood. It was pushed close to the brink of extinction back in the 18th century, thus its current "endangered" status and very limited availability come as no surprise.