Purpleheart trees grow in the tropical rain forest regions from Mexico to Southern Brazil. There are over 20 species throughout the world. Besides Mexico and Brazil, some of the other notable countries where purpleheart species can be found include: Dutch, British and French Guiana in South America, as well as Panama and other countries in Central America. Purpleheart trees in Brazil primarily grow in the Amazon regions. It thrives in moist, fertile soils that are well drained. Purpleheart is typically found in the lower elevations where it is hot and humid. It can tolerate partial shade, but grows best in direct sunshine. The forests in some regions have been somewhat exploited, and as a result, it is now listed as threatened. This can result in higher prices, and a greater difficulty in obtaining the lumber.
Purpleheart is a very hard, dense, and heavy exotic hardwood that weighs approximately 61 lbs/cu. ft. Also, it is a very beautiful wood that varies from rich purple to purple-brown in color. It ranks high for crushing strength, stiffness, and shock resistance. It has a straight to wavy grain pattern with occasional interlock. Also purpleheart has a moderate to fine uniform texture with small pores. It is not a particularly oily wood, but does possess a somewhat gummy resin. It is considered a very durable wood, and can resist water, insects, and decay.
Due to its hard nature and gummy sap, purpleheart can be somewhat difficult work with. When machining, the blades and cutters can become coated with resin and reduce the quality. In addition, purpleheart will burn easily, so sharp tools and sandpaper are recommended for best results. Also, when planing and jointing, tearing and splitting can occur, so thinner cuts will help solve this problem. Hand tool use is not recommended. Purpleheart turns smoothly, and carves well as long as sharp tools are used. Pre-drilling is required when using fasteners. Purpleheart accepts most adhesives well, and sands without difficulty. Staining is not a problem, but because of its beautiful natural colors, staining is not usually necessary. It accepts most finishes well, but lacquer-based finishes will help preserve purpleheart's natural colors. Waxes can be applied to a high luster.
Purpleheart is used for veneers and inlay work when making furniture, cabinets, and
Jewelry boxes. It is also used for tool handles, sports equipment, and parquet
flooring. Carvings such as sculptures, novelties, and artwork are very popular.
Purpleheart turns well, and because of its beautiful colors, such items as bowls, pool
cues, and fancy pens are in demand.
All Exotic Woods:
Wood Species Index
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