Ziricote (Cordia dodecandra)
Ziricote (Cordia dodecandra)

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Common Name(s): Ziricote

Scientific Name: Cordia dodecandra

Distribution: Central America and Mexico

Tree Size: 30-65 ft (10-20 m) tall, 2-3 ft (.6-1.0 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 50 lbs/ft3 (805 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .65, .81

Janka Hardness: 1,970 lbf (8,780 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 16,400 lbf/in2 (113.1 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 1,585,000 lbf/in2 (10.93 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 9,270 lbf/in2 (63.9 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: 3.5%, Tangential: 6.7%, Volumetric: 9.8%, T/R Ratio: 1.9

Color/Appearance: Color ranges from medium to dark brown, sometimes with either a green or purple hue, with darker bands of black growth rings intermixed. Ziricote has a very unique appearance, which is sometimes referred to as “spider-webbing” or “landscape” grain figure. Quartersawn surfaces can also have ray flakes similar in appearance to those found on quartersawn Hard Maple. The pale yellowish sapwood is sometimes incorporated into designs for aesthetic effect, or to cut down on wastage.

Grain/Texture: Grain is straight to slightly interlocked. Medium to fine texture, with good natural luster.

Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; solitary and radial multiples; large to very large pores in no specific arrangement, few; tyloses occasionally present; parenchyma vasicentric, confluent; wide rays, spacing normal to wide.

Rot Resistance: Ziricote is reported to be naturally resistant to decay.

Workability: Overall, Ziricote is fairly easy to work considering its high density. The wood tends to develop end and surface checks during drying, which can be problematic: though the wood is stable once dry. Also, pieces are usually available in narrow boards or turning squares, with sapwood being very common. Ziricote turns and finishes well, and in most instances, it can also be glued with no problems. (On rare occasions, the wood’s natural oils can interfere with the gluing process.)

Odor: Ziricote has a mild, characteristic scent while being worked, somewhat similar to the smell of Pau Ferro.

Allergies/Toxicity: Ziricote has been shown to cause cross reactions once an allergic sensitivity to certain woods has been developed. Woods that can cause initial sensitivity include:  Pau Ferro, Macassar Ebony, Cocobolo, and most rosewoods. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Likely to be quite expensive, exceeding the price of some rosewoods, and approaching the cost of some types of ebony. Also, planks of Ziricote commonly have varying amounts of pale sapwood included, which can contribute to high wastage if not incorporated into a project.

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

Common Uses: Furniture, veneer, cabinetry, gunstocks, musical instruments (acoustic and electric guitars), turned objects, and other small specialty wood items.

Comments: A truly unique-looking wood, Ziricote has very few imitators; perhaps only the occasional piece of figured Brazilian Rosewood exhibits the same spider-webbing grain figure.

Related Species:

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

Ziricote (sanded)
Ziricote (sanded)
Ziricote (sealed)
Ziricote (sealed)
Ziricote (endgrain)
Ziricote (endgrain)
Ziricote (endgrain 10x)
Ziricote (endgrain 10x)
Ziricote (turned)
Ziricote (turned)
 
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Russ

I just acquired a 5ft x 2ft x 4in live edge slab of ziricote. Not sure exactly what to do with it. Thinking of a coffee table. Open to suggestions.

Brad

This is one of the most beautiful woods I have ever made anything with. It is unbelievable hard. I had an allergic reaction to it that had me break out in hives and cough for hours. Unfortunately it was worth it. I made a humidor for a good friend. With its dark brown (almost) black grain it contrasted with an Amercian cherry checker board very well.

John Volcko

Turned Ziricote

Mimi

Has anyone tried using Ziricote in the making of jewelry?

Ed D.

Easier to work with than most rosewoods and ebony. Expensive – yes, but yields a nice product.

Lorenzo, PhD.

WARNING:
-This wood darkens with age when finished and lightens without finish.
-Easily the most expensive wood you can get your hands on.
-Disc sanders leave marks on the wood, especially the endgrain.
-Standard wood glue sticks out like a sore thumb when used with this wood.
-This wood is unbelievably dark, so any burns or scuffs will be easy to spot.
-If you already to this warning, chances are you have messed up in some way and want to try to find out what is wrong.

Angus Steven

Do you think I can make cutting boards out of ziricote?

Bert

Yes.

Guido Masoero

piatti in ziricote fatti a Torino Italy

Josh Sicilian

Im building an ash bookcase and using Ziricote to make bookends. Ziricote is fantastic and contrasts nicely with the black ash. Does anyone have a recommended finish for it? The endgrain will be exposed (featured) and I’d like to preserve the color as it is. Polyurethane, varnish, lacquer, shellac, oils, wax????? Anything would help on brands would be great. As a note to anyone intending to work with it. It is very dusty, and the dust is somewhat sticky. The wood cuts cleanly and doesn’t seem prone to burn marks on a tablesaw….. but it is a bit of a… Read more »

Karl

I use Ziricote to build classical guitars and ukuleles. I finish them with shellac applied as French Polish techniques. I also spray it with nitrocellulose lacquer. Be careful when spraying nitrocellulose it is very explosive. You can also just fill the pores with a sanding sealer and just buff it with Caranuba wax. This is a very beautiful wood. I can suggest just about any finish. I would stay away from polyurethane because they seem to darken with age. I would suggest that you use only fresh shellac when applying the finish to the wood. Use only anhydrous alcohol if… Read more »

Rob Wilkey

@d807f2928121401759ae5027b7ffc18e:disqus, Ziricote is strange, because unfinished pieces tend to lighten with age, developing a grayish-green patina on the exterior of the wood. Finished pieces, however, seem to slowly darken with age.

Curly Pio

I frequently use Ziricote (Ciricote) for projects that are to have inlaid wood. Because of the darkness of Ziricote, almost any other wood contrasts well.

Malcolm Fielding

I own an octave mandola made by UK maker Andy Brown which has back and sides made in ciricote (the Mexican spelling for this Mexican tree). It not only looks stunning but has great tonal qualities. I also use it in my wood turning for things like lace bobbins and spinning spindles. It seems to darken a moderate amount with age.