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The heartwood is a dull brown when freshly cut, becoming deep purple on exposure. After extended exposure, the wood deepens in color to a rich brownish-red. The off-white sapwood is sharply demarcated from the heartwood. The texture ranges from medium to fine with a medium to high surface luster. The grain may be straight, but is sometimes interlocked and wavy or irregular.
Formal Name: Peltogyne spp.
Other Names: Violetwood, Ameranth
Most Purpleheart comes from the Guianas and from the Amazon region of Brazil. Other species are found throughout Mexico and Central America.
Purpleheart is a very heavy, dense wood that can be difficult to work with either hand or machine tools. The density, combined with a gummy resin, produces a moderate to severe blunting effect on tools, requiring slow feed rates. The wood is best worked in machines equipped with specially hardened steel blades. The wood glues easily, but can be difficult to nail. Pre-boring is recommended. It turns smoothly and takes finishes well. Lacquer finishes and polishes will preserve the color.
Purpleheart is most often used in heavy construction, including bridge building, fresh water piling and dock work. Less rarely, it is used decoratively in turnery, marquetry, cabinets, fine furniture and parquet flooring.