SNAKE-WOOD, Letter or Speckled wood, is used at Demerara, Surinam, and along the banks of the Orinoko, for the bows of the Indians. The colour of the wood is red hazel, with numerous black spots and marks, which have been tortured into the resemblance of letters, or of the scales of the reptile; when fine it is very beautiful, but it is scarce in England, and chiefly used for walking-sticks, which are expensive; the pieces, that are from 2 to 6 in. diameter, are said to be the produce of large trees, from three to four times those diameters, the remainder being sap.
Dr. Bancroft says, "Bowrra courra, as it is called by the Indians, by the French bois du lettre, and by the Dutch Letter hout, is the heart of a tree growing 30 feet in height with many branches," etc.
Canjica paise, No. 64, in Mr. Morney's collection of Brazilian woods, is somewhat like snake-wood, but less beautiful; it is much less red, and the marks are paler and larger. If not an accidental variety, the wood would be worth seeking.
" The above must not be confounded with the Snake-wood of the West
Indies and South America, the Cecropia, of which there are three species ail furnishing trees of straight and tail growth, and a wood of very light structure, presenting sometimes distinct and hollow cells. The Balsas, or floats, used by the Indians of South America for fishing, etc. are very commonly constructed of this wood." - J. Myers.
It is thought by some to be the Tapure guianensia of Aublet.