Pheasantwood (Senna siamea)

Pheasantwood (Senna siamea)

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Common Name(s): Pheasantwood

Scientific Name: Senna siamea (syn. Cassia siamea)

Distribution: Native to South/Southeast Asia, widely planted throughout the tropics

Tree Size: 50-65 ft (15-20 m) tall, 1-1.5 ft (.3-.5 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 50 lbs/ft3 (800 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .62, .80

Janka Hardness: 1,490 lbf (6,640 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 12,440 lbf/in2 (85.8 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 1,581,000 lbf/in2 (10.90 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 10,150 lbf/in2 (70.0 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: ~4%, Tangential: ~7%, Volumetric: ~12%

Color/Appearance: Heartwood is a medium to dark brown, to nearly black, with ligher brown contrasting stripes, sometimes with a red or yellow hue. The striping is due to very wide parenchyma bands, which can give it an appearance somewhat similar to Wenge, though Pheasantwood’s stripes tend to be lighter and with better contrast, especially once a finish has been applied.

Grain/Texture: Grain can be interlocked or wavy, with a coarse texture. Pores naturally filled with resinous material which creates a smoother surface than other open-grained woods with large pores. Good natural luster.

Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; large to very large pores in no specific arrangement, few to very few; solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; reddish brown gum deposits abundant; parenchyma confluent, with wide bands of parenchyma typically as thick as the pores; narrow rays, spacing normal.

Rot Resistance: Rated as durable, though susceptible to insect attack.

Workability: Produces moderaately good results with hand and machine tools, though Pheasantwood has a high cutting resistance, and also produces a pronounced blunting effect on cutters. Glues, turns, and finishes well.

Odor: No characteristic odor.

Allergies/Toxicity: Cavities within the wood can sometimes contain a powder that causes eye and skin irritation, as well as skin discoloration. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Reported to be rare, and not commonly available. Usually only available as small turning squares and short lumber. Expect prices to be in the upper range for an imported hardwood.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Musical instruments (ukeleles and guitars), turned objects, carvings, and other small specialty wood items.

Comments: So named for the wood’s resemblance to the coloration and patterns found on the tail-feathers of pheasants. Pheasantwood exhibits the most figure on flatsawn sections of wood.

Related Species:

None available.

Scans/Pictures:

Pheasantwood (Senna siamea)

Pheasantwood (sanded)

Pheasantwood (sealed)

Pheasantwood (sealed)

Pheasantwood (endgrain)

Pheasantwood (endgrain)

Pheasantwood (endgrain 10x)

Pheasantwood (endgrain 10x)

Pheasantwood (turned)

Pheasantwood (turned)

 
  • Robert M Boughton

    Your Pheasant Wood is almost certainly jichimu, a Chinese hardwood also known as Chicken Wing or Phoenix Tail Wood because of its usual signature feathery, colorful grain similar to some chicken and pheasant plumage. There are two kinds, old and new. You seem to have a cut of the new, which is still available but less desirable because it is coarse, straight, rigid and therefore apt to break with unclear, dark purplish-black straight grains. The furniture shown, on the other hand, appears to be of old jichimu, one of the three most prized Chinese hardwoods for furniture, in particular antique. Old jichimu is said to have been out of use since the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The Chinese tariff alone for a piece of jichimu to a Most Favored Nation is $300. Finding a price on the wood itself is difficult, but one site lists it at $3/4.2kg with a min. order of one ton for home deco use. Jichimu is indigenous to Hunain Island and is rare, and also is considered one of China’s three most precious hardwoods.

    It is often confused with Wenge, which you have on your site. I’ve been doing research for a guest blog on real jichimu smoking pipes.