Pau Santo (Zollernia paraensis)

Pau Santo (Zollernia paraensis)

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Common Name(s): Pau Santo, Brazilian Blackheart

Scientific Name: Zollernia spp.

Distribution: Brazil

Tree Size: 65-100 ft (20-30 m) tall, 2-3 ft (.6-1 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 70 lbs/ft3 (1,115 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .87, 1.12

Janka Hardness: 3,280 lbf (14,590 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 27,230 lbf/in2 (187.8 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 2,588,000 lbf/in2 (17.85 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 13,850 lbf/in2 (95.5 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: 5.0%, Tangential: 9.6%, Volumetric: 14.7%, T/R Ratio: 1.9

Color/Appearance: Heartwood dark brown, sometimes with a grey or green hue. Sapwood is pale yellowish, and is sharply demarcated from the heartwood.

Grain/Texture: Grain tends to be interlocked. With a fine even texture and excellent natural luster.

Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; solitary and radial multiples; medium to large pores in no specific arrangement, few; mineral/gum deposits occasionally present; parenchyma banded; narrow rays, spacing normal.

Rot Resistance: Rated as moderately durable to durable; good insect resistance.

Workability: Moderately difficult to work on account if its density and interlocked grain. Natural oils may interfere with gluing and finishing. Turns well.

Odor: No characteristic odor.

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

Pricing/Availability: Very seldom available. Limited quantities of craft lumber or turning blanks may be available for a mid to high price for an imported hardwood.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, and is reported by the IUCN as being a species of least concern.

Common Uses: Guitars (backs and sides), turned objects, and knife handles.

Comments: Sometimes called Brazilian Blackwheart, woods in the Zollernia species tend to be very dark colored, and very oily. The wood is sometimes used as a substitute for Lignum Vitae.

Related Species:

None available.

Related Articles:

None available.

Scans/Pictures: A special thanks to Steve Earis for providing the wood sample and turned photo of this wood species.

Pau Santo (Zollernia paraensis)

Pau Santo (sanded)

Pau Santo (sealed)

Pau Santo (sealed)

Pau Santo (endgrain)

Pau Santo (endgrain)

Pau Santo (endgrain 10x)

Pau Santo (endgrain 10x)

Pau Santo (turned)

Pau Santo (turned)



  1. Alvaro Carpio September 21, 2018 at 4:31 pm - Reply

    Hi Eric,

    I received a couple of 6 in. long x 5 in per side from the Amazon region. As you can see it is a very dark brown/black wood with very clear sapwood. It is also very dense, hard and heavy . According to the people that sent me these pieces, it is called Palo Cruz, and the scientific name Peruvian books assigned, it is a TEBEBUIA NODOSA. I thought it is like Brazil´s King wood.

    Do you have an idea of what kind of tree it comes from ? According to Wikipedia, Palo Cruz occurs in Northern South America, and, it is not a big tree in the Amazon basin, as it mentions it grows up to 8/9 meters tall, thus the diameter is also small. In the case of these pieces, original diameter is at 6 in. at the most.

    Best regards


    Ps. Should you require additional pics. pls let me know

  2. Soslan Lokhov July 13, 2017 at 9:12 am - Reply

    Is this same as Palo Santo?

  3. Eric Eaton January 2, 2016 at 10:06 pm - Reply

    I don’t know where I’m supposed to post this but here it is..I recently started a restoration on a sewing machine cabinet for my wife and this was the wood that was under the veneer..the cabinet is from 1927. The veneer was all but falling it poplar or some other kind of wood?

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