ROSE-WOOD is produced in the Brazils, the Canary Isles, the East Indies, and Africa. It is imported in very large slabs, or the halves of trees that average 18 inches wide The best is from Rio de Janeiro, the second quality from Bahia, and the commonest from the East Indies: the latter is called East India black-wood, although it happens to be the lightest and most red of the three; it is devoid of the powerful smell of the true rose-wood, which latter Dr. Lindley considers to be a species of Mimosa. The pores of the East India rose-wood appear to contain leas or none of the resinous matter, in which the odour like that of the flower Acacia armata, arises. Rose-wood contains so much gum and oil, that small splinters make excellent matches.
The colours of rose-wood are from light hazel to deep purple, or nearly black: the tints are sometimes abruptly contrasted, at other times striped or nearly uniform. The wood is very heavy; some specimens are close and fine in the grain, whereas others are as open as coarse mahogany, or rather are more abundant in veins: the black streaks are sometimes particu-larly hard, and very destructive to the tools.
Next to mahogany, it is the most abundant of the furniture woods; a large quantity is cut into veneers for upholstery and cabinet work, and solid pieces are used for the same purposes, and for a great variety of turned articles of ordinary consumption.
In the Brazils the ordinary rose-wood is called Jacaranda Cabuna; there is a sort which is much more free from resinous pores that is called Cabuna only: and a third variety, Jacaranda Tarn, is of a pale red, with a few darker veins; it is close, hard, and very free from resinous veins, its colours more resemble those of tulip-wood. There are six, if not ten, varieties in Mr. - 's collection at the Admiralty.
Mr. Edwards says that at the time when rose-wood was first imported there was on the scale of Custom-House duties, "Lignum Rhodium, per ton, £40," referring to the wood from which the "oil of Rhodium" was extracted, which at that time realized a very high price. The officers claimed the like duty on the furniture rose-wood; it was afterwards imported as Jacaranda, Palisander, and Palaxander-wood, by which names it is still called on the Continent. The duty was first reduced to six guineas, then in 1842 to one pound, and in 1845 the duty was entirely removed; the consumption has proportionally increased. It is now only known as rose-wood, some logs of which have produced as much as £150, when cut into veneers.
Rose-wood is a term as generally applied as iron-wood, and to as great a variety of plants in different countries, sometimes from the colour and sometimes from the smell of the woods. The rose-wood which is imported in such large quantities from Bahia and Rio Janeiro, called also Jacaranda, is so named according to Prince Maximilian, as quoted by Dr. Lindley, because when fresh it has a faint but agreeable smell of roses, and is produced by a Mimosa in the forests of Brazil. Mr. G. Loddiges informs me it is the Mimosa Jacaranda.
The rose-wood, or candle-wood, of the West Indies, is Amyris balsamifera according to Brown, and is also called Sweet-wood, while Amyris montana is called Yellow candle-wood, or rose-wood, and also yellow saunders. Other plants to which the name is also applied, are Licaria guianensis of Aublet, Erythroxylum areolatum, Colliguaya odorifera, Molina, etc.
The rose-wood of New South Wales is Trichilia glandulosa; that of the East Indies, if the same as what is there called Blackwood, is Dalbergia latifolia.
The lignum rhodium of the ancients, from which the oil of the same name and having the odour of rases was prepared, has not yet been ascertained; it has been supposed to be the Genista canariensis, and by others, Convolvulus scoparius.