Scientific name Dalbergia
Higher classification Faboideae
|Lower classifications Indian rosewood, Dalbergia odorifera, Dalbergia nigra, Dalbergia cochinchinensis, Dalbergia melanoxylon|
Sheesham tree or dalbergia sissoo
Dalbergia is a large genus of small to medium-size trees, shrubs and lianas in the pea family, Fabaceae, subfamily Faboideae. It was recently assigned to the informal monophyletic Dalbergia clade of the Dalbergieae. The genus has a wide distribution, native to the tropical regions of Central and South America, Africa, Madagascar and southern Asia.
A fossil Dalbergia phleboptera pod has been recovered from the stage Chattian of the Oligocene epoch in the municipality of Aix-en-Provence in France. Fossils of Dalbergia nostratum have been recovered from rhyodacite tuff of Lower Miocene age in Southern Slovakia near the town of Lučenec.
Many species of Dalbergia are important timber trees, valued for their decorative and often fragrant wood, rich in aromatic oils. The most famous of these are the rosewoods, so-named because of the smell of the timber when cut, but several other valuable woods are yielded by the genus.
The pre-eminent rosewood appreciated in the western world is D. nigra known as Rio, Bahia, Brazilian Rosewood, Palisander de Rio Grande, or Jacarandá; heavily exploited in the past, it is now listed on CITES Appendix I. The second most desired rosewood in the western world is D. latifolia known as (East) Indian Rosewood or Sonokeling. Most rosewoods are a rich brown with a good figure. Note that only a small number of Dalbergia species yield rosewood. Several East Asian species are important materials in traditional Chinese furniture.
The (Brazilian) Tulipwood (D. decipularis) is cream coloured with red or salmon stripes. It is most often used in crossbanding and other veneers; it should not be confused with the "tulipwood" of the American Tulip Tree Liriodendron tulipifera, used in inexpensive cabinetwork.
The similarly used (but purple with darker stripes), and also Brazilian, Kingwood is yielded by D. cearensis. Both are smallish trees, to 10 m. Another notable timber is Cocobolo, mainly from D. retusa, a Central American timber with spectacular decorative orange red figure on freshly cut surfaces which quickly fades in air to more subdued tones and hues.
Dalbergia sissoo (Indian rosewood) is primarily used for furniture in northern India. Its export is highly regulated due to recent high rates of death due to unknown causes. Dalbergia sissoo, which has historically been the primary rosewood species of northern India.This wood is strong and tough. It is extreme durable and handsome and it maintains its shape well. It can be easily seasoned. It is difficult to work but it takes a fine polish. It is used for high quality furniture, plywoods, bridge piles, sport goods, railway sleepers and so forth. It is a very good material for decorative works and carvings. Its density is 770 kg/m³ and with color golden to dark brown.
African blackwood (D. melanoxylon) is an intensely black wood in demand for making woodwind musical instruments.
Dalbergia species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Bucculatrix mendax which feeds exclusively on Dalbergia sissoo.
The Dalbergia species are notorious for causing allergic reactions due the presence of sensitizing quinones in the wood.
Dalbergia comprises the following species: