Dalbergia nigra

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Dalbergia nigra
Rio-Palisander, dunkel Holz.JPG
A veneer cut made of Dalbergia nigra.
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Dalbergia
D. nigra
Binomial name
Dalbergia nigra
  • Drepanocarpus microphyllus Wawra
  • Miscolobium nigrum Allemao
  • Pterocarpus niger Vell.

Dalbergia nigra, commonly known as the Bahia rosewood, jacarandá-da-baía, Brazilian rosewood, Rio rosewood, jacarandá-do-brasil, pianowood, caviúna, graúna, jacarandá-una or obuina is a species of legume in the family Fabaceae.


Dalbergia nigra produces a very hard and heavy wood, characteristically varied in colour from brick red through various shades of brown (medium to nearly black). Pieces that feature veins of black colouration called spider webbing or landscape grain are especially prized. Another distinguishing feature is its outstanding resonance. An evenly cut piece that is tapped emits a bright metallic ring that sustains. This property, combined with its beauty, has made Brazilian rosewood a favourite of musical instrument makers for centuries.

Brazilian rosewood is highly resistant to insect attacks.[2]

There are many species in the genus Dalbergia that can be confused with Dalbergia nigra, but the latter can be recognised by its colour and resin.[3] It may also be confused with Machaerium, which has a more compact parenchyma and lack large pores.[3]

Very little is known about the ecology and reproduction of the Brazilian rosewood.[2]

Former uses[edit]

The wood of this species has been much sought after since it was first introduced to the European and subsequently the world market, hundreds of years ago. Dalbergia nigra became popular in high grade furniture, such as that produced during the Regency period of late 18th and early 19th centuries—and more recently by Scandinavian makers, who produced furniture in the Danish Modern style. This species has also been used in various musical instruments, decorative wood-ware, knife handles and turnery. Much of the most highly figured material was sliced into veneers, which decorated items such as domestic and office furniture, wall panels, piano cases and it was also a favourite of marquetry artists.[citation needed]

Old growth Brazilian rosewood remains highly prized by classical and steel string guitar makers, who regard it as perhaps the best sounding wood for guitar backs and sides. It was used in instruments as long ago as the late Renaissance and Baroque eras, when luthiers used it for lute backs (ribs) and various parts of other stringed musical instruments. It was also used in woodwind instruments, such as bassoons, flutes and recorders.[citation needed]

Lastly, historically Brazilian rosewood was used as a major component in several well known perfumes, Chanel No. 5 being among them. The leaves and wood of the tree both yield "Rosewood Oil" that was a key ingredient in perfume making.[4]

Habitat and distribution[edit]

Dalbergia nigra is endemic to Brazil, and native to the Bahia interior forests ecoregion.[5]

It is endemic to the Atlantic Forest biome of southeastern Brazil, and only found in southern Bahia, Espírito Santo, Minas Gerais, and Rio de Janeiro states.[3]

It needs a habitat of wet and damp forest on rich soils to thrive.[5]

Conservational status[edit]

Dalbergia nigra is listed as vulnerable on the international IUCN Red List.[5] The trees' regeneration rates among existing populations are poor, possibly because the seeds of the few remaining fruiting trees are heavily predated by rodents.[2] In addition it is threatened by habitat loss, since most of the plant's forest habitats have been converted to farmland. Due to its endangered status, it was CITES-listed on June 11, 1992, in Appendix I (the most protected), and trade in it is restricted.[6]


  1. ^ The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species, retrieved 12 December 2015
  2. ^ a b c ARKive on Brazilian Rosewood
  3. ^ a b c Amendments to Appendices I and II of The Convention - Other Proposals Archived 2014-02-21 at the Wayback Machine CITES. March 1992.
  4. ^ New York Times, "Perfume trade fells the Brazilian rosewood" By Larry Rohteraug. 30, 2005
  5. ^ a b c Dalbergia nigra The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
  6. ^ How CITES works