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In our last blog post we covered three popular exotic wood options, that C3 Forest Products obtains from a sustainable forestry program in Costa Rica. The country is well known for its tropical forest cover and stunning trees, and we are blessed to have access to these beautiful resources.
Wooden products, made from the rain and cloud forests of this beautiful country, are a rich reminder of the magic country and its people. In this post, we will cover Matchwood, Old Fustic, and Bully Tree wood.
Our hope is that this will give you a better idea of the best wood for your project, as well as a stronger attachment to the piece, knowing its history, construction, and lifeline.
Yagrumo macho (Didymopanax morototoni) is a well-known pioneer species throughout the tropical Americas. In commerce, the common name is morototo or matchwood because the wood is used for match splints in several countries. The light weight wood is also often substituted for certain grades of balsa.
A striking tree easily recognized by its distinctive branching, crown, and leaves, the Matchwood tree has a smooth, gray, ringed trunk, and large umbrella like top. The trunk is often 6-18" in diameter and wood is pale brown throughout, soft, fairly lightweight, and fine textured.
Frequently found in the upland forests and old open woodlands in Peru, the Macho tree is also common on the savannah margins and prefers open forests with abundant light. It can also be found widespread in the wet forests of Costa Rica.
Matchwood is also known as Mountain Trumpet, because of it's unique shape. The heartwood of this stunning tree is light brown with some gray, and a narrow band of sapwood that is nearly white. It is easily worked with and has a fine finish perfect for planing, shaping, mortising, and sanding. Resistance to screw splitting is excellent, making it a great option for custom furniture. Matchwood is in limited supply and a hot commodity in the United States.
Old Fustic, also known as Dyers Mulberry and Argentine Osage Orange, comes from the Macluria Tinctoira tree and is common in the West Indies and South America. The tree produces a yellow dye, called fustic, primarily used for coloring khaki fabric for U.S. military apparel during World War 1. This application is what the tree is best known for, however, there are other uses as well. The leaves can also be used to feed silkworms.
Yellowood is another common name for the wood, as the dye produced has a yellow tone when added to wool with chromium salts.
The Fustic tree is a spiny, deciduous plant; sometimes a shrub, but more commonly becoming a tree growing 15 - 30 meters tall with a dense, spreading crown.
Fustic wood is a light to bright yellow that can age to a darker medium brown with time. The grain is interlocked with a fine to medium texture, and has larger pores in no specific arrangement, commonly in radial multiples of two to three. Growth rings are also very distinct due to seemingly marginal parenchyma; narrow or medium rays that are often visible. The wood is very hard and dense and takes stains, glues, and finishes well. It is very durable and has good weathering characteristics.
It is often used in heavy construction for flooring, furniture, turnings, and other small specialty wood items.
Working with this wood can be difficult due to its hardness and density, but it also has little dulling effect on cutting edges, making it a great option for custom tabletops. Old Fusitc is in limited supply and is another wood option that is very valuable in the United States because of its rarity.
Bully Tree Wood, scientifically known as Pilón, is renowned for its very heavy, dark maroon–colored wood, which is very appreciated in the custom wood product industry. It has an excellent durability, with a specific weight between 0.6 and 0.65 and a density between 0.63 and 0.79 g/cm3. This wood shows acceptable resistance to the attack of termites and the timber is frequently used for general heavy construction (interior and exterior), marine pilings, boat construction, structures for bridges, railway ties, etc., and for furniture and decorative veneer.
Drying is fast and easy; however, it may cause twisting, making the wood somewhat difficult to work. A clear difference can be noticed between sapwood and heartwood. In greenwood, the sapwood is reddish-brown or pink while the heartwood is dark red, reddish-brown, or deep red-brown, being similar to black walnut in appearance.
Bully Tree Wood is renowned for its very heavy, dark red-maroon–colored wood, which is a wood appreciated in the industry. has a straight or interlocked grain; wood with interlocked grain has a striped or ribbon-like.
Shop any of the wood products above at our online store, and stay tuned for our next post where we will discuss Jatoba, Tempisque, and Araracanga.