Common Name(s): Santos Mahogany, Cabreuva
Scientific Name: Myroxylon balsamum
Distribution: Southern Mexico and Central and South America
Tree Size: 65-100 ft (20-30 m) tall, 2-3 ft (.6-1.0 m) trunk diameter
Average Dried Weight: 57 lbs/ft3 (915 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .74, .91
Janka Hardness: 2,400 lbf (10,680 N)
Modulus of Rupture: 21,570 lbf/in2 (148.7 MPa)
Elastic Modulus: 2,380,000 lbf/in2 (16.41 GPa)
Crushing Strength: 11,680 lbf/in2 (80.6 MPa)
Shrinkage: Radial: 3.8%, Tangential: 6.2%, Volumetric: 10.0%, T/R Ratio: 1.6
Color/Appearance: There is a fair degree of color variation between boards of Santos Mahogany, ranging from a lighter golden brown to a darker purplish red or burgundy. The color tends to turn more red/purple with age. Quartersawn sections can show a striped or ribbon pattern.
Grain/Texture: Grain is usually interlocked, with a medium to fine texture. Good natural luster.
Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; medium pores in no specific arrangement; commonly in radial multiples of 2-3; reddish brown heartwood deposits common; growth rings usually indistinct, sometimes distinct due to discontinuous bands of marginal parenchyma; rays not visible without lens; parenchyma vasicentric and confluent.
Rot Resistance: Rated as very durable in regards to decay resistance, with mixed reports on susceptibility to insect attack.
Workability: Santos Mahogany has a noticeable blunting effect on cutting edges. Working characteristics are rated as fair to poor, on account of both its density and its interlocked grain. Staining or gluing can sometimes be problematic, though the wood finishes well.
Odor: Santos Mahogany has a very distinctive spicy scent when being worked. Trees from the Myroxylon genus are used to make Balsam of Peru, an ingredient used in perfumes.
Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Santos Mahogany has been reported to cause skin and respiratory irritation. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Common Uses: Flooring, furniture, interior trim, and heavy construction.
Comments: Despite its name, Santos Mahogany is not really related to true Mahogany (Swietenia genus), nor is it even in the Meliaceae family, as is the case with African Mahogany (Khaya genus) and Spanish Cedar (Cedrela odorata). Santos Mahogany can have a Mahogany-like appearance, though it is typically much denser, harder, and stronger than true Mahogany—and also much more difficult to work.
Santos Mahogany trees, sometimes called Balsamo, are used in the production of the substance called Balsam of Peru, used as a fragrance in perfumes.