Greenheart (Chlorocardium rodiei)
Greenheart (Chlorocardium rodiei)

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Common Name(s): Greenheart

Scientific Name: Chlorocardium rodiei (syn. Ocotea rodiei)

Distribution: Northeastern South America

Tree Size: 75-100 ft (23-30 m) tall, 1.5-2 ft (.5-.6 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 63 lbs/ft3 (1,010 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .81, 1.01

Janka Hardness: 2,530 lbf (11,260 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 26,900 lbf/in2 (185.5 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 3,573,000 lbf/in2 (24.64 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 13,290 lbf/in2 (91.7 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: 8.2%, Tangential: 8.9%, Volumetric: 16.5%, T/R Ratio: 1.1

Color/Appearance: Heartwood tends to be a pale olive green color with darker streaks. Yellowish green sapwood is poorly distinguishable from heartwood.

Grain/Texture: Grain tends to be straight to interlocked, with a fine to medium grain, and good natural luster.

Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; large pores in no specific arrangement, few; solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; tyloses and other gum deposits occasionally present; growth rings indistinct; rays narrow, normal spacing; parenchyma vasicentric.

Rot Resistance: Greenheart is rated as very durable, and is also resistant to most insect attacks. It’s also considered to be one of the best-suited woods for use in marine environments, and has good weathering characteristics.

Workability: Generally somewhat difficult to work on account of its density, with a moderate to high blunting effect on cutters. Sections with interlocked grain should be machined with care to avoid grain tearout. Gluing can be difficult in some pieces, and precautions for gluing tropical species should be followed. Turns and finishes well. Responds moderately well to steam-bending.

Odor: No characteristic odor.

Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Greenheart has been reported as a sensitizer. Greenheart has also been observed to cause a number of other health effects, such as wheezing, cardiac and intestinal disorders, severe throat irritation, and the tendency for wood splinters to become infected. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Seldom available in the United States in lumber form, Greenheart is usually sold for decking or other outdoor materials. Prices should be moderate for an imported exotic species, but finding a source may be a problem.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is reported by the IUCN as being data deficient. It was formerly listed on the Red List as vulnerable (due to a population reduction of over 20% in the past three generations, caused by a decline in its natural range, and exploitation), but this listing has been disputed by the Guyana Forestry Commission.

Common Uses: Boatbuilding, docks, decking, posts, fishing rods, pool cues, and other turned wood items.

Comments: Greenheart is perhaps the stiffest wood in the world, with an average modulus of elasticity of an astounding 3,716,000 lbf/in2! However, the wood also has a fairly high movement in service, and should not be used in situations where stability is critical.

Greenheart logs are reported to occasionally violently split apart upon sawing—sending pieces of the wood flying. As a result of this unusual characteristic, sawyers wrap chain around the sections of the log that have already been sawn.

Related Species:

None available.

Related Articles:


Greenheart (Chlorocardium rodiei)
Greenheart (sanded)

Greenheart (sealed)
Greenheart (sealed)

Greenheart (endgrain)
Greenheart (endgrain)

Greenheart (endgrain 10x)
Greenheart (endgrain 10x)
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I bought a plank of greenheart back in 1995 and ripped several staves from which I crafted bows, backed with sinew & snakeskins. Best shooting bows I have made, with zero string-follow. Still have one stave left that’s been kept in a PVC tube ever since ’95.


I have two numbers for Modulus of Elasticity; 3,573,000 and 3,716,000. Which is correct?


I’ve used it for hand plane soles on Krenov style hand planes I built using Jamaica Dogwood(Fish Fuddle) as the body. Never a problem with cross grain movement on the 3×1/4 in pieces. God knows how they dry the stuff. It was used as dock pilings here in Key West with the decks and cross timber of Purple Heart.

Christopher M Mantz

This stuff is great for canoes

Bettina Hooper

I hope you didn’t do this Will- greenheart is quite toxic for a wood. Please look at the toxicity guidelines above. Like with many toxins, some people are more sensitive than others; I’ve seen people hospitalized because of a greenheart splinter while others can work with it every day for years and never suffer ill effects.

jeff mead

That’s what Wenge does to me, I got a splinter and it felt like I had been shot, incredible pain and temporary loss of vision.

Last edited 1 year ago by jeff mead
Mark White Lures

Love this wood. Thought it resembled Lignum Vitae. Similar look and feel. Both are very dense and make excellent fishing lures.


Greenheart was used for big game fishing rods before there was fiberglass.


Due to it’s very high modulus of elasticity I am considering using a piece of Greenheart as the top and bottom parts on a cider press. My only concern is about the sawn wood expectantly violently splitting whilst it is being machined.

I’m wondering how common this might be on a piece of 8×8 inch timber?

Yann le Gallois

I know you posted this a long time ago but I wouldn’t use Greenheart anywhere near food or drink production. All the best.

jeff mead

If it’s not too late I’d make different plans on what to use on a cider press, many people have experienced toxicity from green heart.

Ed Collins

I have been using moderate amounts of greenheart since 1982 and have suffered no apparent ill effects.(I use about 1 2X10X7′ plank per year to make yo-yos). At that rate, I have enough supply until I’m around 200 years old. The only side effect I’ve noticed is the hair on top of my head has thinned considerably from when I started using it 40 years ago.I enjoy using it so much I am willing to risk eventual baldness rather than cease using it. I also think the “splinters are poisonous” is mostly a myth; the splinters are so stiff, they… Read more »

Nicola Aitken

Great Answer! We are greenheart importers and sawillers based in Scotland and have never experienced toxicity. There is urban myth about toxicity but it is not something we have ever experienced in many many years of working with it. Yoyo’s being made with it sounds fabulous! I will look up your article. With regards, Nicola

Ed Collins

Hi Nicola, thanks for your reply regarding greenheart myths. Of course, I do wonder if your workers who handle greenheart much more than I do are all bald as a cueball. You can also check out my website: “” which has a link to my page about salvaging my greenheart planks. Regards, Ed Collins