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Ipe is an extremely dense tropical hardwood with excellent durability and performance characteristics, and strength similar to teak (two to three times harder than oak). The sapwood is yellowish-white to whitish in color, becoming light orange when dry. The heartwood is olive-brown in color, with lighter or darker streaks. The grain ranges from straight to very irregular and intercrossed in narrow bands, with a fine-to-medium texture and low luster. The figure consists of fine stripes in the radial surface, and the pores are primarily solitary and inconspicuous.
Formal Name: Tabebuia Serratifolia
Other Names: Ironwood, Brazilian Walnut, Cortez, Lapacho Negro, Pau Lope
Ipe is found throughout continental tropical America and some of the Lesser Antilles. It grows on a variety of sites, from ridge tops, to riverbanks and marsh forests throughout South American and Costa Rica.
Ipe is quite difficult to work, especially with hand tools, because it has a blunting effect on most cutting edges. The wood finishes smoothly, except where the grain is very intercrossed. Pre-drilling is required when nailing the wood.
It is often used for exterior residential and commercial applications, including as boat docks, decking, boardwalks, outdoor furniture, pool decking and park benches, particularly for projects near the ocean air. It is also used in wood flooring, where durability and high shock resistance are needed. Ipe is also popular for fine furniture and for decorative veneers.