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Species – Zebrawood

Species Information - Zebrawood

Species Information

Zebrawood is a term that was once used for several tree species, and is characterized by zebra-like strips. The original use of Zebrawood was in describing Astronium graveolens, which is a large tree native to Central America. However, during the 20th century, the most popular and important source of Zebrawood came from the Microberlinia brazzavillensis, which is a tree native to West Africa – and this remains the chief source of Zebrawood. Other sources of Zebrawood in the past have included the Brazilian Astronium fraxinfolium, African Brachystegia spiciformis, the Pacific Guettarda speciosa, and the Asian Pistacia integerrima.

In the 20th century, Zebrawood was no longer applied to any of the Astronium species.

The Zebrawood “proper” used in flooring is the Microberlinia from West Africa (including Gabon, Cameroon and Congo). It is considered a threatened species in its native habitat while simultaneously growing in popularity here in the West. As a result, significant reforestation efforts have been made, but aren’t keeping up with the pace of harvesting.

Prada’s flagship store in Manhattan extensively uses Zebrawood, which resulted in protests from environmentalists. The result (back in 2002) was a promise from Prada never to use wood from endangered forests ever again.

Aside from the more typical uses (flooring, furniture), Zebrawood is also used in stocks for handguns, in exotic guitars, and (in the past) in Cadillac and Mercedes-Benz cars. While it’ tends to be a fairly expensive piece of wood, Zebrawood is typically not as expensive as other exotic woods, such as Ebony or Rosewood.

Scientific Names

Origin

Zebrawood hails from various locations, depending on the source of the wood. Locations include Central America, Central Africa, Brazil and the Pacific. The Zebrawood proper wood is the Microberlinia brazzavillensis, from Africa.

Crossover Names

In the 18th century, a popular rossover name was palmaletto or palmalatta. Microberlinia is also referred to as Zebrano or Zingana.

Janka Rating

The Microberlinia brazzavillensis species has a Janka hardness of 1,830.

Zebrawood Janka Scale Rating 1,830

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

Appearance

The heartwood of Zebrawood is a light brown or cream color that also features its iconic blackish-brown streaks, making the wood resemble a zebra. The strips of the wood can be either wavy or chaotic, depending on how the wood is cut. Flatsawn wood features wavy lines, while quartersawn wood results in a more chaotic look. Zebrawood has a coarse texture and open pores. The grain is typically wavy or interlocked.

Workability

Because of the interlocked grain of Zebrawood, this (like many tropical woods) can make it very difficult to work with. Tearout is common. It glues and finishes well, however, transparent pore filler might be required for the large open pores, which occur on both dark and light surfaces. Zebrawood is known to have an unpleasant smell when being worked.

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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