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Species – Purpleheart

Species Information - Purpleheart

Species Information

Purpleheart, formerly known as Peltogyne, is a group of 23 species of flowering plants found in the Fabaceae family. It comes specifically from various rainforests in Brazil and beyond.

Purpleheart trees aren’t typically large trees. They’re known to grow no larger than 150 feet tall, with a trunk diameter of roughly 1.5 meters. The flowers of the Purpleheart feature five white petals. The tree also produces a fruit, which is a pod that contains one single seed.

In terms of wood, Purpleheart is considered extremely dense and water resistant. As such, it’s ranked as one of the hardest woods on the planet. There have been claims that Purpleheart is so durable that it can be used as truck decking.

Purpleheart is prized for its inlay work, woodturning, cabinetry, flooring and furniture. It’s also a popular choice for musical instruments, like the inlay work of a guitar.

Overall, you’ll typically see Purpleheart used in smaller projects (like inlay work), because it’s fairly expensive.

Overharvesting of some species of Purpleheart have caused these species to become endangered in certain areas where they were once abundant.

Scientific Names

Peltogyne spp.

Origin

Purpleheart hails from the tropical rainforests of Brazil, Guyana, and Suriname.

Crossover Names

Purpleheart is also often referred to as Amendoim or Amaranth.

Janka Rating

The Janka hardness rating for Purpleheart is a resounding 2,520.

Purpleheart Janka Scale Rating 2,520

*The Janka rating measures the resistance of a sample of wood to denting and wear. Click Here for more info.

Appearance

Purpleheart is prized for its breathtaking heartwood, which when cut quickly transforms from a light brown to a rich purple color. If you expose the wood to ultraviolet light, it darkens to a brown color with a slight hue of the wood’s original purple. The longer the wood is exposed to UV (including sunlight), the more the light purple becomes a chocolate-purple color. However, that effect can be minimized through the use of a finish containing a UV inhibitor.

The grain of Purpleheart is typically straight, but it can also be wavy or irregular at times. The wood resists both decay and most insect attacks, although it’s been known to be susceptible to marine borers’ attacks.

Workability

If you choose to work with Purpleheart, chances are you’ll encounter some unique challenges along the way. If the wood is heated with dull tools, or if the cutter speeds are too high, Purpleheart can give off a gummy resin that will clog the tools and slow down the machining process.

Also, depending on the grain orientation, Purpleheart can be difficult to plane without tearout. Most species of Purpleheart do not contain a characteristic odor, although some species are known to have a pungent scent.

Pre-drilling Purpleheart is always recommended. The wood can be quite brittle if drilling near the end of the board, and is likely to split, thus tighten screws with caution.

Take careful precautions with burning while routing, as burn marks are difficult to remove.

CLICK HERE to view all of our hardwood flooring.

Click below for a detailed discription of the different species of hardwood.

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