Common Name(s): Pyinma, Asian Satinwood, Crepe Myrtle
Scientific Name: Lagerstroemia spp.
Distribution: Southeast Asia
Tree Size: 100 ft (30 m) tall, 3-4 ft (1-1.2 m) trunk diameter
Average Dried Weight: 44 lbs/ft3 (705 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .55, .71
Janka Hardness: 1,090 lbf (4,850 N)
Modulus of Rupture: 14,120 lbf/in2 (97.4 MPa)
Elastic Modulus: 1,566,000 lbf/in2 (10.8 GPa)
Crushing Strength: 9,300 lbf/in2 (64.1 MPa)
Shrinkage: Radial: 4.4%, Tangential: 6.8%, Volumetric: 12.7%, T/R Ratio: 1.5
Color/Appearance: Heartwood typically golden to reddish brown, with paler yellow/gray sapwood. Colors tend to darken with age upon exposure to light. Curly grain figure very common in this species, with some pieces exhibiting outstanding curl.
Grain/Texture: Grain is usually straight, though some pieces have wavy or interlocked grain; texture is moderately coarse and uneven; good natural luster.
Endgrain: Ring-porous or semi-ring-porous; medium-large earlywood pores arranged in intermittent tangential rows, small to medium latewood pores; solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; tyloses common; growth rings distinct; rays not visible without lens; parenchyma aliform (winged and lozenge), confluent, and banded.
Rot Resistance: Rated as moderately durable to durable regarding decay resistance, with intermediate resistance to insect attack.
Workability: Generally easy to work, producing good results, though pieces with curly grain (as with any species of figured wood) will be inevitably more difficult to plane and machine without tearout. Doesn’t have the blunting effect on cutters that true satinwoods exhibit. Turns, glues, and finishes well—polishes to a high luster.
Odor: No characteristic odor.
Pricing/Availability: Prices are generally moderate for an imported wood. Pieces exhibiting an exceptional amount of figure may be more expensive, but Pyinma is generally priced very reasonably, even for figured wood.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Common Uses: Furniture, boatbuilding, general utility work (within its native range), turned objects, and other small specialty items.
Comments: It’s hard to tell if the wood is being selectively imported on account of its figure, or if the tree naturally produces a high percentage of curly figure, but from a wood buyer’s perspective, Pyinma is perhaps the curliest wood around. Nearly every piece shows some measure of curly grain, with some pieces having an almost three dimensional look on account of the heavy curl.
Unfortunately, Pyinma is being widely marketed today as “satinwood,” (or perhaps under slightly less confusing terms, such as “Asian satinwood,” or “Cambodian satinwood.”) Yet with the exception of it’s fantastic figure, Pyinma has little in common with the wood species that have been traditionally called satinwood, (it’s softer, lighter in weight, darker in color, much more porous, and of a coarser texture). But misnomers aside, Pyinma is still a great wood for many fine woodworking projects.
Related species of Pyinma, such as Lagerstroemia indica, are commonly sold as ornamental trees, and are referred to as Crepe Myrtle.