Common Name: Honduras Rosewood
Dalbergia stevensonii is a medium-sized tree growing from 15 - 30 metres tall, often forking at a height of 6 - 8 metres[
]. The bole is fluted and can be 90cm in diameter[
One of the best known and most beautiful timbers of Belize, it is widely harvested from the wild. It has been exported in small quantities for more than 100 years[
]. This is one of 33 species named as being a suitable Hongmu (red wood) timber, used for producing high quality Chinese furniture following traditions from the Ming and Quing dynasty, which makes it a particularly valuable wood[
Central America - Belize.
Rainforests, mainly along the rivers, though also occurring in their inter-riverain and drier areas[
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Species in this genus are mainly found in the wild growing in sany soils and on limestone escarpments[
]. In cultivation they are likely to do well in a fertile, loam soil and a position in full sun[
This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby.
The heartwood is pinkish brown to purple with irregular black markings or zones, which are independent of the growth rings - these alternate dark and light bands give the wood an unusual and very attractively figured appearance[
]. The heartwood is sharply demarcated from the 25 - 50mm wide sapwood, which is white marked with yellow vessel lines when first cut, but turning yellow rather quickly afterwards[
]. The texture is medium; the grain straight to slightly roey; lustre is low to medium; the wood has no distinctive taste, but fresh heartwood has a rose-like odour which generally dissipates with age. It is this vanishing rose-like odour that is responsible for the name rosewood, not the presence of rose-like flowers as is commonly supposed[
]. The wood is very hard and heavy; the heartwood is highly durable in contact with the soil, although the sapwood soon decays[
]. Hardness makes this timber somewhat difficult to work - it is moderately difficult to saw and machine; it dulls cutting edges more readily than many other woods; ii planes well but must be held securely during planing to prevent vibration; it makes excellent turnings and finishes well, except, for some trouble with very oily specimens, but does not take a high natural polish[
Because of its unusual beauty and excellent, technical properties, Honduras rosewood is highly regarded for a number of specialized uses Manufacturers of musical instruments use the wood for finger boards for banjos, mandolins, and guitars, and for percussion bars in xylophones and other similar instruments. Well-figured wood is used also in guitar bodies, mandolin ribs, harp bodies, piano legs, piano pilasters, veneered piano cases, and organ stops. Some of the best figured wood is made into veneer for furniture, cabinets, carpet sweepers, billiard and pool tables, and bank and store fixtures. Darker and more highly figured wood is often used in brush backs, jewellery trays, and jewellery cases. Rosewood is employed in the manufacture of high-grade carpenter tools, and in other items like canes, moldings, picture frames, and novelties, and is used to some extent for molding, trim and other interior work in boats and shipbuilding. The rosewood from Brazil is used extensively for the handles of knives and small tools. Honduras
rosewood should be equally suitable for this use[
Like many species within the family Fabaceae, once they have been dried for storage the seeds of this species may benefit from scarification before sowing in order to speed up germination. This can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!) and then soaking them for 12 - 24 hours in warm water. By this time they should have imbibed moisture and swollen - if they have not, then carefully make a nick in the seedcoat (being careful not to damage the embryo) and soak for a further 12 hours before sowing[
Softwood cuttings of many species, especially if taken from younger plants, will root in a well-drained, sandy medium in a closed case with bottom heat[
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