Family: Anacardiaceae, the cashew family.
Origin: Mexico, Central America and South American countries including Ecuador, Columbia, Venezuela and Brazil.
Other common names: Tigerwood, Kingwood, Bosona, Zorrowood, Gateado, Urunday-para, Mura and Bois de zebre.
The tree: It is a tall, symmetrical tree growing to heights of 100 ft. and more in a dry environment with a trunk diameter of up to 3 ft. Isolated trees have deeply ridged bark whereas trees in major growth areas have thin, smooth bark, mostly brown with some whitish and reddish patches. Its leaves are pinnately compound.
Appearance: Goncalo alves is golden-brown to reddish-brown with dark streaking. The grain is wavy, sometimes having a mottled figure that some compare with rosewood. It has a fine texture and the luster is dull to medium.
Density: The wood is hard and heavy. Average reported specific gravity is .68 to .97(ovendry weight/green volume), equal to an air-dried weight of 53 to 80 pcf. Janka hardness is 1850 pounds of force.
Drying & shrinkage: Timber is difficult to dry with a tendency to warp and check so care has to be taken. Shrinkage on drying is rated low. Average reported shrinkage values (green to ovendry) are 4.5% radial and 7% tangential and 10% volumetric.
Working properties: Due to its varying density and interlocking grain, its workability also varies, but as a whole, is somewhat difficult to work with. It finishes well and has a high natural polish. Pre-boring is recommended for nails and screws and cutting edges should be kept sharp. It turns and carves well. Possible adverse reactions from the dust and wood include dermatitis and irritation to skin and eyes.
Durability: Its heartwood is highly durable.
Uses: It is often used to make the dampers in grand pianos but also has many other uses including boat building, furniture and cabinetry, turnery, carvings, fine plywood, flooring, shutters and bobbins, knife handles and can be sliced for veneers and paneling.
Availability: Though the trees grow abundantly, the supplies are limited in the U.S. on a commercial scale and the timber is considered fairly expensive.