Where does rosewood grow?

ROSEWOOD – Grow Rosewood in the U.S.

Grow Rosewood right here in the U.S.

Rosewood is on the verge of extinction. Brazil banned Rosewood logging some years ago and some predict the imminent extinction of Madagascar Rosewood from years of illegal logging and political upheavals. A 2013 census revealed that as much as 90% of the country’s virgin Rosewood forest had been harvested. Demand from China in particular, have driven this tree to the edge.

Calculate The Value Of A Rosewood Tree

As timber investors struggle to find new areas to grow Rosewood to work around these import bans, they may be missing an opportunity to grow Rosewood right here in the United States. Two regions in the U.S. are suitable for this tree – Florida and Southern Arizona.

The temperature is warm enough (very hot in the summers) and threat of frost is rare. As a precaution, a structure would need to be constructed to protect the trees. A fence and open cover structure would be sufficient.

Rosewood Tree Plantations

In its natural habitat, a Rosewood tree grows relatively fast like most tropical trees, about 3 to 4 feet per year to a maximum height of 100 feet or so. Out of its natural environment in the U.S. Rosewood would grow half as fast.

Seedlings instead than seeds are imported from Brazil (no import ban on these) and transplanted in a specially designed plantation. Instead of planting Rosewood trees in rows, trees are planted in a large 5-acre spiral. The spiral shelters the trees from storm and wind. The spiral accelerates tree growth by 10% or more. Spiral plantations also save tremendous amount of water – less than half the irrigated water of a parallel tree row plantation.

The trees are ready for harvest in about 30 years where every second tree is cut to thin the plantation so the remaining trees can build diameter.

Rosewood Plantation Opportunities

Partner with us to grow Rosewood in the States. We are currently pooling investor funds to build Rosewood plantations in Florida and Arizona. Project lands will be parceled to individual partners to create a secured asset with and provide an exit strategy.

Contact Us For More Information

Types Of Rosewood Trees

There are many types of Rosewood including Brazilian Rosewood, Indian Rosewood and Madagascar Rosewood. These are true rosewoods. Today, inferior tree species that resemble rosewood are passed off as true rosewood. Some of these are Bolivian Rosewood, Australian Rosewood (which is actually a Mahogany) and New Guinea Rosewood. Rosewood is prized for musical instrument and furniture inlays.


The Rosewood tree is prized for its dark red heartwood. Rosewood is a tropical hardwood with a tight, even grain. Rosewood is heavy and hard, but relatively easy to work with. Rosewood has a strong sweet smell, which persists over many years, even in furniture that may be hundreds of years old. Amazingly, just scratching or refinishing antique furniture will release the smell of roses.

Rosewood Essential Oil

The tree is also important for the the manufacture of Rosewood essential oil. It is used externally for skin conditions such as acne, scars and stretch marks. Internally it is used as a cold and flu remedy. Rosewood oil is steam extracted from Rosewood chips.

The following comments where collected from a national wood products discussion forum using Rosewood in the United States.

Comment from contributor A:

In general, rosewoods contain extractives that interfere with gluing. The best approach seems to be to glue only freshly planed or sanded surfaces. (Cocobolo–Dalbergia retusa–is notorious for being virtually unglueable.) The same extractives also interfere with finishing. Penetrating oil finishes generally work well. If you want to use a film-forming finish like lacquer or varnish, an initial sealer coat of shellac should help prevent the extractives from inhibiting curing of the finish.

Comment from contributor B:

An important thing to consider when buying Brazilin Rosewood is to make sure it comes with paper work showing that it predates the Brazilian ban on exports or at least was approved for export from a reliable source. It would save a lot of trouble if we grew it here in the States – down South maybe?

More Tropical Trees

Black Ebony | Paulownia | Mahogany | Eucalyptus | Teak

An Introduction to Wood Species, Part 8: Rosewood

This Wood Species series of entries comes to us from guest writer Rob Wilkey, an Atlanta-based woodworker and industrial designer whose expertise is in small home goods, furniture, and large installations.

Over the next few articles, we’ll be analyzing a number of common imported wood species. This week’s featured species:

Rosewood lumber is harvested from a handful of trees in the Dalbergia genus, all of which emit a sweet, rose-like scent when cut or sanded. The wood of these trees is prized throughout the world for its remarkable coloration and density. Certain species of rosewood have been in such demand that they are now threatened with extinction, and are heavily protected by international laws. In fact, CITES trade regulations restrict Brazilian Rosewood and the Madagascan ‘Bois de Rose’ from crossing international borders in any form.

Despite these heavy trade restrictions, illegal logging of Brazilian Rosewood and Bois de Rose still occurs, and sources providing it in large quantities are frequently under scrutiny. Many other species of rosewood are less restricted in their trade, and are arguably just as beautiful as the protected woods. The different rosewood species range in color from lighter brown to deep reds, browns and purples. Most rosewoods also exhibit very dark streaks along their growth rings, creating striking patterns in flatsawn boards. The softer sapwood is a light, pale yellow, and is sometimes included on a piece for contrast.

The heartwood of the various rosewood species ranges from 2000lbf to 3000lbf on the Janka hardness scale, making it remarkably dense compared to more common lumbers. The wood is also extremely resistant to rot and water damage. Rosewood’s fortitude has its downside, however, as the wood can dull blades and damage power tools if not handled carefully. The lumber is straight-grained and diffuse-porous with medium-sized pores. Rosewood can be sanded or planed to a very smooth surface, but the pores of the wood will show as pits in the surface unless filled with finish or grain filler. The tight growth rings of certain rosewood species can sometimes exhibit a unique grain pattern referred to as ‘spider webbing.’ This strange effect appears as if the tree’s growth rings are overlapping each other and changing direction, as seen in the Brazilian Rosewood veneer below.

Rosewood has a high oil content throughout the wood, which can sometimes cause issues in gluing the wood. Most finishes work beautifully on the rosewood, and can really intensify the contrast and colors of the wood. Rosewood is also a tonewood, producing a bright and clear tone. East Indian Rosewood is possibly the most common species used for guitar fretboards due to its smooth surface and durability. High-end acoustic guitars are also commonly constructed with rosewood backs and sides.

Rosewood is also used in the construction of luxury furniture, paneling, veneer and various small objects. The slow growth and small size of Dalbergia genus trees results in the available lumber being rather small and often prohibitively expensive. For this reason, rosewood should be reserved for use on objects that are intended to be treasured for generations.

* * *

In next week’s article, we’ll look at ebony, and learn why the darkest genus of wood is also one of the most expensive.

Material Matters: Wood

” An Introduction to Wood Species, Part 1: Properties & Terminology
” An Introduction to Wood Species, Part 2: Pine
” An Introduction to Wood Species, Part 3: Oak
” An Introduction to Wood Species, Part 4: Maple
” An Introduction to Wood Species, Part 5: Walnut
” An Introduction to Wood Species, Part 6: Cherry
” An Introduction to Wood Species, Part 7: Mahogany
” An Introduction to Wood Species, Part 8: Rosewood
” An Introduction To Wood Species, Part 9: Ebony
” An Introduction To Wood Species, Part 10: Teak

How Boards are Made:
” How Logs Are Turned Into Boards, Part 1: Plainsawn
” How Logs Are Turned Into Boards, Part 2: Quartersawn
” How Logs Are Turned Into Boards, Part 3: Riftsawn

Wood Movement:
” Wood Movement: Why Does Wood Move?
” Controlling Wood Movement: The Drying Process
” Dealing with Wood Movement: Design and Understanding

Brazilian Rosewood

Brazilian rosewood is endemic to the coastal Brazilian Atlantic Forest, one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. Of the over 8,000 plants species that grow there, Brazilian rosewood is one of the largest, growing to a height of 40m. It can also be recognised by its dark branches that grow in zigzag patterns and by its feathery leaflets.

The tree is able to withstand a broad range of climatic conditions from tropical lowland forest to sub-montane forest. Nitrogen fixing bacteria and fungi in its roots allows the species to survive in nutrient deficient soils. Throughout a short period between November and December its flowers are pollinated by insects, mainly bees and it produces fruit from January until September.

Like all rosewoods, the species has a strong sweet smell reminiscent of the fragrance of roses. The high oil content of the wood also makes it desirable for use as an essential oil for fragrance cosmetics and for use in medicines.

Its timber is heavy and strong, making it highly resistant to insect attack and decay. It is therefore much sought after in local markets as a building material for use in flooring, structural beams and wall panelling/lining. Worldwide, its timber, being highly resonant, is also used to make musical instruments.

Brazilian rosewood is threatened by illegal logging and habitat loss. Today, the Brazilian Atlantic Forest retains just 7% of its original cover and the Brazilian rosewood now only occurs in fragmented, small populations with low genetic variability in the Brazilian states of Bahia, Minas Gerais, Espırito Santo, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. Furthermore, the regeneration of this species may be limited, possibly as a result of high seed predation by rodents.

In 1992, in response to the threat of logging, Brazilian rosewood became one of the first ever tree species to be listed on Appendix 1 of CITES, prohibiting international trade in the timber or other products from this species. Despite its inclusion the species continues to be illegally logged and traded internationally. For example, in 2009, 249 sheets of Brazilian rosewood timber were seized by TRAFFIC police in Rotterdam.

Conservation of small populations of this species is already taking place in protected areas such as the Serra do Mar State Park, an area covering over 315,000 ha that helps to connect smaller fragmented areas of forest.

An organisation in Brazil known as Dalbergia Preservation is creating small plantations of the species for reforestation. They also aim to protect remaining trees to assure that the seed stocks needed for future plantations are genetically diverse.

Their longer term aim is to create sustainable plantations of this species to meet future demand. To address this aim they offer seeds or seedlings to small communities to grow on their own land, which both enhances the representation of Brazilian rosewood trees in the agricultural landscape and also provides communities with some extra income.

The need for protection of the remaining Brazilian Atlantic Forest has been recognised, and 35.9% now has some form of protected status. Despite the high rate of deforestation, the Atlantic Forest is still considered one of the world’s top five biodiversity hotspots. This status justifies sustained efforts to conserve the forest community and iconic species such as the Brazilian rosewood.

Selected References

Carvalho A.M.d. (1997) A synopsis of the genus Dalbergia (Fabaceae: Dalbergieae) in Brazil. Brittonia, 49, 87-109

Santiago G.M., Garcia, Q., and Scotti, M.R (2002) Effect of post planting inoculation with Bradyrhizobium sp and mycorrhizal fungi on the growth of Brazilian rosewood, Dalbergia nigra Allem. ex Benth., in two tropical soils. New Forests, 24, 15-25

Varty, N. 1998. Dalbergia nigra. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.2.


This tree profile was researched and written by Bianca Bergamino and edited by Dr David Burslem, University of Aberdeen, with further edits provided by the GTC team in 2013.

Photo credit: Mauricio Mercadante

Did you know?

The timber of Aquilaria crassna is known as the ‘Wood of the Gods’ and has been highly appreciated for thousands of years.

Regenerating Rosewood

The history of the Amazon could easily be written as a chronological inventory of products discovered—and then over-exploited—in the world´s richest forest. Quinine, rubber, mahogany, animal skins, oil, gold: each chapter would tell of how another useful wonder of nature was found and, almost without exception, driven to the verge of extinction to the detriment of the ecosystem as a whole.

While bulldozers, chainsaws, and pipelines are a few of the more familiar symbols of rainforest destruction, one of the most unexpected episodes in this history relates to environmental harm to feed essential oil distillation equipment.

This is the seldom told true story of one of the world’s best smelling trees—and thankfully, an opportunity to write a new, more hopeful chapter.

Scent of the rainforest

Palo rosa, or Brazilian rosewood, is a large canopy tree named for the rich floral aroma of its leaves, branches, bark, and wood. In the beginning of the 20th Century, this sweet rose-like scent caught the attention of the perfume industry, leading to a period of extreme over-harvesting. But harvesting is probably too nice a word. Finding the aromatic essential oil in every part of the plant, trees were literally dug out of the ground, roots and all.

The wood was shredded or chipped as finely as possible and then passed through makeshift distillation equipment set up in the middle of the jungle. Entire populations of rosewood were wiped out in huge areas of Brazil and Peru. Before long, rosewood exports declined sharply due to a lack of available raw material, and the perfume industry turned to synthetic scents and chemical equivalents. There are only a few people in the region of Madre de Dios, Peru that remember this brief, glorious, tragic burst of wealth from such an unlikely source.

Today, Brazilian rosewood (Aniba rosaeodora) is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Red List of Threatened Species, as well as Brazil´s official list of endangered flora. Trade in rosewood-derived products such as essential oil and wood for guitars is controlled by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species).

Seeds of the rare Brazilian rosewood tree were hidden inside intercepted by federal agents at Los Angeles International Airport before they could be smuggled to Fiji. – Photo Credit: Office of Law Enforcement/USFWS

Seeds of the rare Brazilian rosewood tree were discovered by federal agents hidden in airplane parts by John Shea who was attempting to smuggle the seeds to Fiji. Shea was convicted in September 2015 of violating the federal Endangered Species Act and fined $100,000. – Photo Credit: Office of Law Enforcement/USFWS

By Scott Flaherty
John Shea was a collector with a business plan to collect enough seeds of the rare Brazilian rosewood tree to start a plantation in Fiji, where he would eventually harvest and sell the highly-prized and highly-profitable rosewood to manufacturers of guitars and other products. Executing the plan, however, was illegal and one the La Mesa, California, resident literally never got off the ground.

In May 2013, federal wildlife agents received a tip that Shea might attempt to smuggle Brazilian rosewood seeds out of the U.S. As he was preparing to board an international flight from Los Angeles to Fiji, Shea was met by special agents with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and officers of Customs and Border Protection who asked him about his travel plans. That’s when his business plan began to unravel.
“We asked him if he was travelling with any rare seeds,” said Special Agent Ed Newcomer with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement in Torrance, Calif. “He initially denied carrying any seeds on his person or in his luggage but, after additional questioning on that subject, Shea admitted that he was carrying seeds. When asked if he was traveling with prohibited seeds, he hesitated again, looked away, noticeably swallowed and said ‘yes,’ admitting to traveling with Brazilian rosewood seeds which he spontaneously described as ‘highly endangered.”

The Brazilian rosewood tree is unique to the Amazon basin in Brazil and is valued for its unique hard wood. The slow growing trees take decades to mature into a tree that can produce lumber. Boards from a mature tree can sell on the black market for thousands of dollars per board. The pursuit of profits from this valuable wood has resulted in widespread poaching of trees and destruction of forests. The species (Dalbergia nigra) is so rare it is provided the highest level of protection (Appendix 1) under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora, or CITES, and the federal Endangered Species Act.

CITES is an agreement between 175 nations, including the U.S. and Fiji, to protect native wildlife and plants including their seeds and roots. Trade in species covered by CITES is controlled, and requires permits issued by both the exporting and importing countries. Shea had neither.

“He told me that he hoped his plantation would serve some role in the conservation of the Brazilian rosewood tree, which he acknowledged was highly endangered. He also told me he had put together a business plan for the venture,” Newcomer said. “He claimed to not know what the seeds were worth, but told me he bought seeds from EBay for about $1 a piece.” The agents later learned the truth.

Shea’s plan began in 2012 with the help of a friend who helped him smuggle seeds out of Brazil and into the U.S. In an effort to avoid detection, they sent the seeds through Thailand, Italy, and Germany, where the trees are not naturally found.

A search of Shea’s luggage and other packages checked with the airline turned up more than 7,000 seeds. He even had a dozen seeds in his wallet.

“The seeds were concealed inside parts for a motorcycle and an ultra-light aircraft, as well as inside a drink bottle,” said Erin Dean, Resident Agent in Charge of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement in Torrance, Calif. Shea admitted to storing an additional 7,000 seeds at his home near San Diego, which were later recovered by Fish and Wildlife agents. More than 14,652 Brazilian rosewood seeds were eventually seized by law enforcement. Shea was arrested and initially charged with smuggling and violating the Endangered Species Act.

On September 16, 2015, Shea pleaded guilty in federal court in Los Angeles to violating the Endangered Species Act. U.S. District Court Judge Otis Wright sentenced Shea to two days imprisonment and one year of supervised release and ordered him to pay a $100,000 fine, the maximum fine allowed under the federal Endangered Species Act.

“We felt that the maximum fine was appropriate because it reflects the seriousness of the crime and the judge agreed,” said Dean. “The Brazilian rosewood tree is perhaps the most well-known endangered species of plant and the demand for the tree is contributing to deforestation and violent crime in Brazil.”

Pursuant to a plea agreement between Shea and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Shea avoided the more serious penalties associated with smuggling, which is a felony.

As for the seeds, Newcomer said the bulk of the seeds were transferred to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., where some may be planted at the National Botanical Gardens while the others are maintained for research. Approximately 1,000 seeds were transferred to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for study and to use for comparison on possible smuggling cases in the future.

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More information on the web:

Dalbergia Sissoo Information – Learn About Indian Rosewood Trees

What is Indian rosewood? Yes, it’s that prized cabinet wood used to make fine furniture, but it’s also a very handsome shade tree with a fragrance that will turn your backyard into a sensory delight. If you are thinking of growing an Indian rosewood (Dalbergia sissoo), you’ll need to learn in advance the requirements for Indian rosewood care. Read on for other Dalbergia sissoo information and tips about inviting Indian rosewood trees into your garden.

What is Indian Rosewood?

Before you decide to plant Indian rosewood trees, you might ask: what is Indian rosewood? It’s a tree native to the Indian subcontinent. Its scientific name is Dalbergia sissoo, and it’s rich in common names too, including Dalbergia, Himalaya raintree and penny leaf tree.

Dalbergia sissoo information tells us that rosewoods are attractive deciduous trees growing vigorously to some 60 feet tall and 40 feet wide. They do best in USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11, but can also be grown in zone 9 after establishment.

Growing an Indian Rosewood

Why grow an Indian rosewood tree? Many gardeners appreciate the rosewood trees for their powerful fragrance. The trees fill with tiny flowers in the springtime, inconspicuous in appearance but bearing a very strong, sweet fragrance.

The flowers are followed by interesting pods, slender, flat and brown. The wood is prized for making fine furniture.

Indian Rosewood Care

If you start growing an Indian rosewood, you’ll find that the trees are not high maintenance. Indian rosewood care won’t take too much of your time. In fact, Dalbergia sissoo information notes that rosewood trees grow so readily that they are considered invasive in some parts of Florida.

Plant Indian rosewood trees in a full sun area or under high shade. These trees tolerate a vast range of soil types, from very dry to very wet.

Provide your tree with adequate irrigation when you plant it, and keep it up until the roots are well established.

Prune the tree into a well-formed, single leader tree. The wood is known to be brittle, so prune out branches with tight branch crotches to prevent them from breaking off down the road and injuring the tree.

The making of traditional Chinese furniture is an art form whose craftsmanship dates back as far as 1,000 BC. The furniture is made from hongmu, or “red wood,” a dense, fragrant, and most importantly, hardy wood that allows Chinese artisans to use joinery and doweling instead of glue and nails. Sometimes the word is carved into elaborate patterns or landscapes. Other times its fashioned into sleek seating arrangements that recall imperial China.

On the other side of this market are the forests in Africa and southeast Asia where these hardwoods, more commonly known as rosewood, originate. Of the 33 woods classified as rosewood in China, 16 are endangered or approaching that point. Rosewood substitutes are also starting to come under pressure. Of those, the most threatened may be the Mukula tree, a slow-growing hardwood unique to southern and central Africa that is easily passed off as traditional rosewood.

Chinese photographer Lu Guang, who won the 2003 World Press Photo award for his work on peasants infected with HIV in Henan province, traveled to Katanga province in the DR Congo as well as eastern China last year documenting the expanding Mukula industry. The project, commissioned by Greenpeace, follows its supply chain from the DRC—where it’s used for traditional medicine, dye, and a source of pollen for bees used in honey production—to processing centers in China and upscale furniture showrooms.

Greenpeace/Lu Guang A Mukula forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Greenpeace/Lu Guang Mukula logs awaiting transportation at a lumberyard in Katanga province in the DRC.

There are no official statistics for how many Mukula trees have been felled, but demand for the wood is so high that Zambia has banned exports of the wood. In China, a tonne of Mukula sells for between 17,000 and 22,000 renminbi per tonne ($2,500 and $3,200 a tonne). Greenpeace estimates that as much as 15,000 tonnes of the wood are sold each month from just four of the biggest Mukula markets in Zhang Jiagang in eastern China, home to the country’s largest Mukula processing industry. China’s rosewood furniture market was worth at least 100 billion renminbi ($15 billion) in 2012.

Local authorities are making some efforts to curb the trade. The DRC arrested 14 Chinese nationals in May on suspicion of illegal logging and export of Mukula wood. Still, any serious effort to moderate Mukula logging will have to come from China.

“As the most influential timber market in the world, China can and should support African countries’ efforts to tackle illegal logging and timber trade,” said Wenjing Pan, Greenpeace’s senior global campaigner.

Greenpeace/Lu Guang Loggers in Katanga province, DRC are paid around $5 per day. Greenpeace/Lu Guang Loggers in Katanga province in the DRC. Greenpeace/Lu Gang Mukula logs in a timber yard in Zhangjiagang in eastern China, home to the largest mukula market in the country. Greenpeace/Lu Guang A supervisor at Hebei Dacheng Rosewood Furniture Factory in Zhangjiagang, a coastal Chinese city, inspects a container of recently arrived Mukula wood. Greenpeace/Lu Guang Workers cut Mukula timber in a rosewood factory in Jinhua in eastern China. Greenpeace/Lu Guang Workers fashion furniture out of Mukula wood in Zhangjiagang in eastern China. Greenpeace/Lu Guang Furniture makers work with Mukula wood in Jinhua, in China’s eastern Zhejiang province. Greenpeace/Lu Guang A worker at a furniture factory in Jinhua carves a table made out of Mukula wood. Greenpeace/Lu Guang Hand carvings in traditional Chinese rosewood furniture. Greenpeace/Lu Guang Chinese rosewood furniture in a showroom. Greenpeace/Lu Guang Traditional Chinese furniture made with rosewood.

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