Mahogany. This is a wood well known to all of us. The tree is a native of the warmest parts of America, growing plentifully in the islands of Cuba, Jamaica, and Hispaniola, and also on the Bahama islands. The excellency of its wood for all domestic uses, is generally known, as it has been brought to England for nearly a century, in great quantities. It abounded formerly in the low lands of Jamaica, but it is now found only on hills and places difficult of access. This tree grows tall and straight, rising often sixty feet from the spur to the limbs, and is about four feet in diameter.
The foliage is a beautiful deep green, and the appearance made by the whole tree very elegant. Some trees have reached a hundred feet in height. In felling these trees, the most beautiful part is commonly left behind. The negro workmen raise a scaf-folding of four or five feet elevation from the ground, and hack up the trunk, which they cut into balks. The part below extending to the root, is not only of larger diameter, but of a closer texture than the other parts, most elegantly diversified with shades or clouds, or dotted like ermine with spots: it takes the highest polish, with a singular lustre. This part is only to be come at by digging below the spur to the depth of two or three feet, and cutting it through; which is so laborious an operation, that few attempt it. The Jamaica wood, for beauty of colouring, firmness and durability, is most valued. Mahogany has been used in medicine with the same effect as Peruvian bark.
Sandal Or Saunders Wood. Of this hard odoriferous wood there are three species; the Pterocarpus Draco, which is a West India tree thirty feet high, with a solid white wood, and the bark, when cut transversely, yields a blood-red resin, which is the dragon's blood of the shops; the P. Marsupium is a native of Coromandel, and has an orange-coloured wood; and the P. Santalinus, or red saunders tree of India, with a deep red, heavy, and very hard wood, used for fans and cabinet work. The white and yellow species are more fragrant than the red; the latter is much used for colouring drugs, spirits for thermometers, porter, etc. The White Saunders, or Santa-lum Album, belongs to another class and order, and is recommended in medicine as a good tonic. The same tree produces both yellow and white wood, the former being the central part of the tree is the most fragrant, hard and bright coloured; the latter is soft next the bark, and possesses little fragrancy. The yellow wood is that which is most used, and the older and larger the tree, the more fragrant and valuable the wood.
Yew. This tree furnishes a reddish wood, full of veins, flexible, very hard, smooth, and almost incorruptible. It is proper for turners and cabinet makers. The yew tree does not grow to a great height, but its trunk often attains an immense circumference.
Guaiacum, Lignum Vitae, Or Arbor Vitae. There are three species in the genus Guaia-cum, one of which is vulgarly known by the apellation of lignum vitae, and yields the guaiacum of the shops. It grows in most of the islands of the West Indies, where it becomes a very large tree. The wood is solid and ponderous, and so hard as to break the tools in felling the trees. It is seldom cut down for firewood, being difficult to burn; but it is of great use to the sugar planters, for making wheels and cogs for sugar mills. It is also brought to Europe, and wrought into bows, sheaves of ship-blocks, and other utensils ; but its principal use is in medicine. The bark and wood of this tree are much of the same nature. They are used in diet drinks to purity and cleanse the blood. Tinctures of the resin or gum-guaiacum, were long considered as specifies for the rheumatism, and are elegant sudorifics.
Aloes Wood, Calambac, Or Calambour. A kind of wood brought from China, usually sold under the denomination of lignum aloes. Sir Phillip Vernatti makes calambac and lignum aloes synonymous. Others consider calambac wood to be the best sort of aloes wood, growing chiefly in Malacca and Sumatra, and much used in India for making beads and crucifixes. There are three kinds of this wood, the calambac or finest aloe-wood is light, spongy, very fragrant, and varying from black to yellow, and often of a variegated colour. The common lignum aloes is more dense, and of a brown colour ; and the calambour is lighter, more bitter, of a green, black, or brown, and used by cabinet makers and inlayers.