> Hardwoods > Fabaceae > Dalbergia > cearensis
Kingwood (Dalbergia cearensis)

Common Name(s): Kingwood, violetta

Scientific Name: Dalbergia cearensis

Distribution: Brazil (and occasionally from Mexico)

Tree Size: 30-60 ft (10-20 m) tall,

                     less than 2 ft (.6 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 74.9 lbs/ft3 (1,200 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): 0.98, 1.2

Janka Hardness: 3,340 lbf (17,240 N)

Modulus of Rupture: No data available

Elastic Modulus: No data available

Crushing Strength: No data available

Shrinkage: No data available

Color/Appearance: Heartwood is a dark purplish or reddish brown with darker black streaks. Sapwood is pale yellow and sharply demarcated from the heartwood.

Grain/Texture: Grain is usually straight or occasionally interlocked. Fine, uniform texture and a high natural luster.

Rot Resistance: Reported as being very durable in decay resistance, and is also resistant to termites.

Workability: Tends to be difficult to work due to its high density. Kingwood has a moderate blunting effect on cutters, and tearout can occur during planing if interlocked grain is present. Can be difficult to glue due to natural oils and high density. Turns very well and takes a high polish.

Odor: Distinct, rosewood-like odor when being worked.

Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, kingwood has been reported as a sensitizer. Can cause eye and skin irritation, as well as pink eye. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Likely to be very expensive, and seldom available as lumber due to the small size of the tree itself. Kingwood is most often seen as smaller turning stock, with its cost being on par with other scarce rosewoods in the Dalbergia genus

Sustainability: Although kingwood is not evaluated on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, it is listed on CITES appendix II under the genus-wide restriction on all Dalbergia species—which also includes finished products made of the wood (though finished items under 10 kilograms are exempted).

Common Uses: Inlays, veneers, tool handles, and other small turned and/or specialty items.

Comments: So named from several French kings (Louis XIV and Louis XV) in the 17th and 18th centuries that preferred the wood in the use of fine furniture. Kingwood is considered a
true rosewood in the Dalbergia genus, and is among the densest of all rosewoods, with African blackwood (D. melanoxylon) being the only species with a higher average dried weight. There is very little mechanical data available on kingwood, though given its weight and its relation to other rosewoods, it’s likely to be extremely stiff, strong, and stable.

Another closely related species found in Mexico, D. congestiflora, bears a very close resemblance to kingwood and is sometimes called camatillo or Mexican kingwood. Information on how to distinguish between these two species can be found in the identification section below.

Images: Drag the slider up/down to toggle between raw and finished wood. The first sample shows a flatsawn section with cathedral-type grain, while the second sample is a quartersawn sample with some sapwood for reference.

A special thanks to Steve Earis for providing a wood sample of this wood species.

Kingwood (chess piece by Matthew Byrne)

Identification: See the article on Hardwood Anatomy for definitions of endgrain features.

Kingwood (endgrain 10x)
Kingwood (endgrain 1x)

Porosity: diffuse porous (occasionally appearing semi-ring-porous due to a subtle variation in pore size from earlywood to latewood)

Arrangement: solitary and radial multiples

Vessels: medium to large, few to moderately numerous; reddish-brown deposits occasionally present

Parenchyma: vasicentric, aliform, diffuse-in-aggregates, and banded (marginal)

Rays: narrow width; close spacing

Lookalikes/Substitutes: Another very similar species, Dalbergia congestiflora, is sometimes sold interchangeably as kingwood—though it’s more commonly called camatillo. The two woods have a very similar appearance and density, though they can usually be separated based on the parenchyma. True kingwood usually has more sparse and thin parenchyma bands (usually at the annual growth margins), while camatillo tends to have wider parenchyma bands that can be several cells wide.

Notes: Because of the very dark color of the heartwood, it can be helpful to use the lighter sapwood to look at the wood anatomy.

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Hammy Hamilton

Hello, I work restoring antique flutes, and have been doing a lot of research recently into the wood that they were made from, which are very often misattributed in sales catalogues and museum listings. One timber that is seen almost exclusively used in French flutes in the last half of the 19th century has often attracted comment from flute makers and collectors, but no one seems to really know what it is. One unusual aspect of it is the way it maintains the lighter colours, where most other woods used in flute making darken very quickly with exposure to light… Read more »

IMG_0328 2.JPG

I’m no wood expert, but am wondering about cocus wood. Daniel Pailthorpe plays on this in the BBC SO, having sourced one of the last pieces in Britain. Many 19th century flutes were made of cocus, I believe. You might ask or compare.

Bates woodworking

Kingwood used on the outer edge of this cutting board. Great dark heartwood and light yellow sapwood with this stuff. Great to work and really hard.

Screenshot 2022-02-14 043917.jpg

Real Kingwood for the enthusiasts.


I Made a Mk2 frag keychain and the spoon is of Kingwood:


All I know is my Father purchased it as “Kingwood” in the 1980’s. Thanks again.


I have sent a sample to a lab for analysis and will let you know the outcome!


Hi Eric:
FYI you were correct, the wood is Pau Ferro. Thanks again.


Thank you Eric. Attached are more photos.

Kingwood 03.jpg
Kingwood 05.jpg

Can someone help me to confirm the planks in the attached photo are Kingwood?

IMG_1740 (2).jpg
Joseph Melton

I would bet the turned object (Kingwood) above is Cocobolo. It doesn’t resemble Kingwood at all. At least, in your photo.


They are close relatives. There is cocobolo, kingwood, and para kingwood. The above photo is closest to kingwood.


As someone that works with kingwood daily as a turned object, I can attest that the wood in the photo is certainly kingwood (Dalbergia Cearensis). The grain in that particular piece exhibits grain patterns indicating long wet seasons and low levels of tannins. While most kingwood pieces are nearly a dark violet in color (hence the nickname violetwood), many are almost orange in color when subjected to long wet seasons.


These pictures don’t resemble Kingwood at all. Kingwood has knots and are very pinkish like. The picture resembles Pau Ferro or some other species. Here a set of a beautiful MG Kingwood back and sides.

Julia Xia

do you know high frequency vacuum wood dryer?Please check our websites

Marv Hamels

just informed this wood is now on the cites 2 appendix as well as most true central american rosewoods. anybody have more insight into this.

Jennifer C

We have worked with other types of Rosewood a lot, but this was a first for Kingwood. I think it is really pretty and like the mauve tones this particular piece has. These have a couple coats of CA and then a Carnauba wax top coat. Pretty!


I have an old furniture which looks very like Kingwood. Is this kind of furniture expensive?


Camatillo , ( Mexican Kingwood ) to me smells like pipe tobacco when being worked


I’ve been doing a bit more work with the Camatillo and it smells more like coconut surfboard wax


Well Eric I think you’re right about rosewood, but I’m not stopping because of the dust I’m quiting because its really hard to glue.

Jennifer C

Cyanoacylate (super glue) will glue it just fine. That is what you have to use and can even finish with it.


You could rub it down with acetone prior to gluing, and maybe try using titebond 2 or 3?


Until I flare like a balloon Eric I don’t think I will quit turning this wood but I will be careful not to let the sandpaper fly out of my hands again.
Thanks for the advice.


During a recent turning experience with Kingwood, when I was sanding with a piece of 400 sandpaper well it was turning to fast and it slipped out from under my hand and so the dust flew into my face I experienced a serious burning sensation in my nose and throat. Hope this helps.

Dave Langille

Recently I was turning a piece of Kingswood on the lathe and developed a severe rash on my turning hand and arm neck . I am not sentive to any other type of wood. Has any one else experienced a reaction such as this?

Lee Donald

Hey great site, lots of good info!
One question tho.. We have a sealed piece of wood (labeled “Eb”-I assumed Ebony) but after quartering it for turning projects it looks like either Kingwood or Cocobolo.
Both woods seem to have that “spice like scent” when worked and fairly close look.
Is it possible to post a picture or 2 for an answer?
-Lee D.

Bridgette Smith

dang I was really hoping to see an answer to your post Lee. I also had a sealed piece which I thought was Gaboon till I started turning. it is a very purple red with black streaking, has a good weight to it. I think smells like dill pickle when turning. Going through information on internet I am leaning towards Kingswood but would like to get a second opinion.