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Author Topic: Madagascan Rosewood tonewood profile  (Read 706 times)
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« on: January 08, 2009, 12:51:03 AM »

Hi Folks!

For your viewing pleasure, I have just published a profile on Madagascan Rosewood as part of my ongoing tonewood database. As always, improvements, corrections and additional information/ your own experiences are much appreciated- I'll update the profile citing you and linking back to you!

I can't link pics directly to here so do pop by to
for the full Visual presentation. As always, I present the text portion of the interview for your consideration- although I do highly recommend popping by to see the pics!

Warmest regards,

Dalbergia greveana| Tonewood Profile | ”Madagascan Rosewood”

Tonewoods Database

All pictures - Click to enlarge!
Please email with any corrections/ additional info
We aim to keep each profile as complete as possible & your help is appreciated!

Madagascan Rosewood sold in the US and EU market consistents of a groups of true rosewoods found in Madagascar. The timbers are all rather similar but some have a distinct geographical distribution and ecolog. I hope to cover most of the common species.

Quick Facts
Scientific name: Dalbergia greveana
Trade names: African Blackwood
Janka: 13,350 N
Uses: Back & sides, drop tops, veneer
RIYL: Rosewoods
Bling factor: Spiderwebbing not uncommon
Availability: Limits
CITES status: Not listed. No restrictions

Natural History

Dalbergia grevaena is widespread over western Madagascar where it is an endemic, deciduous tree 20m tall, 50cm in diameter occuring in dry forest and woodland up to 800 m in altitude.
The wood is used locally for construction and firewood. The Mikea people from the south-western Madagascar hold the tree sacred and use a paste made from rubbing branches on stones with water as a medicine against various ailments.

According to Prota, a not for profit foundation dedicated to gathering information on the flora of Tropical Africa, Dalbergia greveana used to represent the bulk of timber exports from western Madagascar.


Compared to other true rosewood species [Dalbergia] from Madagascar, Dalbergia greveana appears to have poor natural regeneration. Prota states “Dalbergia greveana seems to be overexploited, and may soon disappear from the timber market because of stand depletion”.

Physical properties
The heartwood is purplish brown with darker stripes with a straight grain, fine, even texture.

It has a Janka rating of around 13,350 N and a specific gravity of 1.08. It has a propensity for checking and splitting and needs care when air dried. However this timber is very stable once dry.
Of note, studies of extracts from the bark has shown activity against gram-positive bacteria in vitro.

As a tonewood…
As a tonewood, Madgasacan Rosewood has been championed as a substitute to Brazilian Rosewood although it’s rarity and over-exploitation may push it towards a similar fate to Rio.

Subjective tone…

I would classify this wood as providing a dark and bell-like overtone content with a slow response.


Very limited in larger sizes.

Similar woods/ Alternatives

Dalbergia humbertii resembles Dalbergia greveana and is mainly found in the Ankarana Massif in northern Madagascar, and yields a similar quality rosewood.

Dalbergia suaresensis Baill. also resembles Dalbergia greveana, and is restricted to the area around Antsiranana in northern Madagascar. The wood has traditionally benn used in cabinet making. Both of these are classified as endangered in the IUCN Red list.

Tonewoods Database

Prota database
US deparment of agriculture-  topical timbers of the world.
Bolza, E. & Keating, W.G., 1972. African timbers: the properties, uses and characteristics of 700 species. Division of Building Research, CSIRO, Melbourne, Australia. 710 pp.
Du Puy, D.J. et al. The Leguminosae of Madagascar. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom, 2002.
Sanda, F. Conservation et valorisation des Dalbergia (Fabaceae) de Madagascar par micro propagation in-vitro et recherché d’activité anti-microbienne. Mémoire pour l’obtention du diplôme d’étude approfondie, Département de Biologie et Ecologie végétale, Faculté des Sciences, Université d’Antananarivo, Madagascar. 2004
Takahashi, A. Compilation of data on the mechanical properties of foreign woods (part 3) Africa. Shimane University, Matsue, Japan. 1978

Pictures copyright individual holders. Alberico guitar picture courtesy of luthierscollection.

Any infringement of copyright is entirely unintentional. Any copyright issues should be address to: We will attempt to resolve these issues quickly. We accept that we can make mistakes and omissions thus, any additions or corrects will be cheerfully accepted!

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« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2009, 03:16:24 AM »

great site!!!  thanks for posting!

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« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2009, 02:15:43 PM »

Thanks Terence.

I own a Martin HJ-38 with Madagasan B&S and the info is much appreciated.


Larrivee 00-03MT Forum IV  #30 of 29
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« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2009, 12:32:12 AM »

thanks for the kind words Folks. Just a quick note to say that there's a typo at the start- it should be Madagascan rosewood not african blackwood.

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