Cocuswood (Brya ebenus)
Cocuswood (Brya ebenus)

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Common Name(s): Cocuswood, Jamaican Ebony

Scientific Name: Brya ebenus

Distribution: The Caribbean (primarily Jamaica and Cuba)

Tree Size: 30-50 ft (9-15 m) tall, 3-6 in (8-15 cm) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 72 lbs/ft3 (1,160 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .92, 1.16

Janka Hardness: 3,720 lbf (16,550 N)

Modulus of Rupture: No data available

Elastic Modulus: No data available

Crushing Strength: No data available

Shrinkage: No data available

Color/Appearance: Medium to dark reddish brown, with darker blackish streaks. Color darkens with age. Sharply demarcated sapwood is pale yellow.

Grain/Texture: Grain is usually straight or slightly wavy. Fine, even texture with good natural luster.

Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; solitary and radial multiples; medium pores in no specific arrangement, few to very few; mineral/gum deposits common; parenchyma vasicentric, diffuse-in-aggregates, and banded; narrow rays, spacing close.

Rot Resistance: Rated as durable to very durable. 

Workability: Despite its high density, Cocuswood is easy to work.

Odor: No characteristic odor.

Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Cocuswood has been reported to cause skin irritation. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Exports are essentially non-existent. Due to past exploitation, samples and turning blanks are exceptionally rare, and  are likely to be very expensive.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. However, due to intense exploitation in previous centuries, for all intents and purposes, Cocuswood has been commercially exhausted.

Common Uses: Turned objects, woodwinds (flutes, oboes, bagpipes, etc.), carvings, inlays, and other small specialty items. 

Comments: Because of this wood’s great density and hardness, coupled with its coloration, Cocuswood has sometimes been referred to as Jamaican Ebony. In the form of a tree, it is more commonly known as the Jamaican Rain Tree.

Traditionally, Cocuswood has been considered one of the very finest of tonewoods, used extensively for woodwind instruments in the 1800s. Today, the preferred tonewood for woodwinds has largely been superseded by African Blackwood (Dalbergia melanoxylon).

Related Species:

None available.

Related Articles:

None available.

Scans/Pictures:

Cocuswood (Brya ebenus)
Cocuswood (sanded)
Cocuswood (sealed)
Cocuswood (sealed)
Cocuswood (endgrain)
Cocuswood (endgrain)
Cocuswood (endgrain 10x)
Cocuswood (endgrain 10x)

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William Thwaites
William Thwaites

Can this wood be used for making cutting boards?
Also, what about carving spoons?

Robert Rowe
Robert Rowe

The data lists Janka Hardness as 3,720 lbf (16,550 N). In my experience, wood for cutting board use is best chosen from species with a Janka hardness of less than 2,000 lbf., harder woods may be destructive to edges of good kitchen knives.

Also, this is a smaller tree, yielding smaller blocks or boards and has low availability, it would make for a VERY expensive cutting board!