COCOA-WOOD, or Cocus, is imported from the W. Indies in logs from 2 to 8 in. diameter, sawn to the length of 3 to 6 ft., tolerably free from knots, with a thick yellow sap: the heart, which is rarely sound, is of a light yellow brown, streaked, when first cut with hazel and darker brown, but it changes to deep brown, sometimes almost black. Cocoa-wood is much used for turnery of all kinds, and for flutes; it is excellent for excentric turning, and in that respect is next to the African black-wood.
An apparent variety of cocoa-wood from 2 to 6 or 7 inches diameter, with a large proportion of hard sap of the colour of beechwood, and heart wood of a chesnut brown colour, is used for treenails and pins for ship-work, and purposes similar to lignum-vitae, to which it bears some resemblance, although it is much smaller, has a rough bark, the sap is more red, and the heart darker and mora handsomely coloured when first opened than lignum vibe; it is intermediate between it and cocoa-wood. Another but inferior wood, exactly agrees with the ordinary cocoa-wood, but that the heart is in wavy rings, alternately bard and soft
Cocoa-wood has no connection with the Cocoa-nut, which is the fruit of a palm-tree common to the East and West Indies, the Cocos nucifera; neither can it have any relation to the other endogenous trees which produce the Coquilla nut, the Attalia funifera according to Mortius, and Cocos lapidea of Gartner, or of the Cacao Theobroma, or the Chocolate-nut tree.
It is really singular that the exact localities and the botanical name of the cocoa-wood that is so much used, should be uncertain: it appears to come from a country producing sugar, being often imported as dunnage, or the stowage upon which the sugar hogsheads are packed: it is also known as Brown Ebony, but the Amerimnum Ebenus of Jamaica seems dissimilar.
I have scarcely found any specimens of it in the various collections recently examined. The piece in Mr. G. Loddiges' collection from Rio Janeiro, (with Portuguese names,) was marked Cocoa, by which it is generally designated in this country, as cocus-wood is the name given by the wholesale merchant. The cogwood of the West Indies, used for the cogs of wheels and building purposes, is a similar but lighter-coloured wood of larger size.
In Mr. Tyrie's collection of Cubanel woods, in Sir W. Symonds's museum, there are nine woods of about the same density and general character as cocoa-wood; they are arranged the lightest first, with their Spanish names; the figures denote the apparent diameters of the trees from which the speci-mens were cut: No. 108, Acacio real, hazel brown, slightly veined. (8 inches); No, 141, Navaco, very like cocoa but much lighter (3 in.); No. 144, Gateado, more veined, ruddy cast (4 in.); No. 5, Yayti, slightly darker than last, with greenish cast; No. 12, Almiqui, chesnut-brown, only more ruddy, very rich tint (4 in.); No. 133, Carillo, the complexion of tolerably dark walnut, sap is paler than cocoa, (5 in.); No. 42, China, very near to cocoa in colour, specimen had a very small heart and much sap; No. 101, Granadilla, greenish cast, (8 in.); No. 72, Mabao, rather darker than cocoa, the heart apparently 15 or 18 in. diam., one inch of sap left on the specimen; Nos. 108,12, and 72, appear to be desirable woods.
The Cocoa wood of commerce is not easy to trace to any of the twees of the West ladies, the cocoa plum is Chryrobalanus Icaco, which forms only a sharp; Cocco loba uvifera, or mangrove grape tree, grown huge and yields a beautiful wood for cabinet-work, but which is light and of a white colour. In appearance and description it comes near to the Greenheart or Laurus chloroxylon which is also called Cogwood