AskDefine | Define rosewood

Dictionary Definition



1 hard dark reddish wood of a rosewood tree having a strongly marked grain; used in cabinetwork
2 any of those hardwood trees of the genus Dalbergia that yield rosewood--valuable cabinet woods of a dark red or purplish color streaked and variegated with black [syn: rosewood tree]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. The fragrant wood of Dalbergia nigra, a Brazilian tree in the legume family. This has a sweet smell.
  2. Any of several dozen woods, resembling that of Dalbergia nigra in some respect.
  3. The wood of a South American tree, Aniba rosaeodora, in the laurel family, with fragrant wood from which an essential oil is distilled.

Extensive Definition

This article is about rosewood timber. For other uses, see Rosewood (disambiguation).
Rosewood refers to a number of richly hued timbers, often brownish with darker veining but found in many different colors. All rosewoods are strong and heavy, taking an excellent polish, being suitable for flooring, furniture, turnery, musical instruments, billiard cues, and chess sets (the black pieces). In general, supplies are poor through overexploitation. Some species become canopy trees (to 30 m high), and big pieces can occasionally be found in the trade.

Species and classification

Most "rosewoods" belong to the family Fabaceae. The pre-eminent rosewood appreciated in the western world is, or was, Dalbergia nigra, Brazilian Rosewood (now a CITES-listed endangered species). It is also known as Rio rosewood or Bahia rosewood. This wood has a strong sweet smell, which persists over the years, explaining the name "rosewood".
Another classic rosewood is Dalbergia latifolia known as (East) Indian rosewood or sonokeling. About a dozen species of the large genus Dalbergia are commonly called rosewoods. They can be found in tropical America, Southeast Asia, and Madagascar. The woods of some other species in the genus Dalbergia are notable, even famous, woods in their own right: African Blackwood, cocobolo, kingwood, and tulipwood. The Indian souvenir trade tries to sell objects made of Dalbergia sissoo (sometimes stained purple) as if they were rosewood. The wood of some other species is usable for toolhandles at best.
The timber trade will sell many timbers under the name 'rosewood' (with an adjective) due to outward similarity. A fair number of these timbers come from other legume genera, mainly Dalbergieae; one such species that is often mentioned is Machaerium scleroxylon.
Peruvian Rosewood is from Ocotea cernua which is in the Lauraceae and thus a rather unrelated tree to other "rosewoods" of the timber trade.
rosewood in Czech: Palisandr
rosewood in German: Palisander
rosewood in French: Palissandre
rosewood in Italian: Palissandro
rosewood in Kannada: ಬೀಟೆ
rosewood in Hungarian: Paliszander
rosewood in Malayalam: വീട്ടി
rosewood in Dutch: Palissander
rosewood in Norwegian: Rosentre
rosewood in Polish: Palisander
rosewood in Russian: Палисандр
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