Scientific Name: Chlorocardium rodiei (syn. Ocotea rodiei)
Distribution: Northeastern South America
Tree Size: 75-100 ft (23-30 m) tall, 1.5-2 ft (.5-.6 m) trunk diameter
Average Dried Weight: 63 lbs/ft3 (1,010 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .81, 1.01
Janka Hardness: 2,530 lbf (11,260 N)
Modulus of Rupture: 26,900 lbf/in2 (185.5 MPa)
Elastic Modulus: 3,573,000 lbf/in2 (24.64 GPa)
Crushing Strength: 13,290 lbf/in2 (91.7 MPa)
Shrinkage: Radial: 8.2%, Tangential: 8.9%, Volumetric: 16.5%, T/R Ratio: 1.1
Color/Appearance: Heartwood tends to be a pale olive green color with darker streaks. Yellowish green sapwood is poorly distinguishable from heartwood.
Grain/Texture: Grain tends to be straight to interlocked, with a fine to medium grain, and good natural luster.
Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; large pores in no specific arrangement, few; solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; tyloses and other gum deposits occasionally present; growth rings indistinct; rays narrow, normal spacing; parenchyma vasicentric.
Rot Resistance: Greenheart is rated as very durable, and is also resistant to most insect attacks. It’s also considered to be one of the best-suited woods for use in marine environments, and has good weathering characteristics.
Workability: Generally somewhat difficult to work on account of its density, with a moderate to high blunting effect on cutters. Sections with interlocked grain should be machined with care to avoid grain tearout. Gluing can be difficult in some pieces, and precautions for gluing tropical species should be followed. Turns and finishes well. Responds moderately well to steam-bending.
Odor: No characteristic odor.
Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Greenheart has been reported as a sensitizer. Greenheart has also been observed to cause a number of other health effects, such as wheezing, cardiac and intestinal disorders, and the tendency for wood splinters to become infected. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.
Pricing/Availability: Seldom available in the United States in lumber form, Greenheart is usually sold for decking or other outdoor materials. Prices should be moderate for an imported exotic species, but finding a source may be a problem.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is reported by the IUCN as being data deficient. It was formerly listed on the Red List as vulnerable (due to a population reduction of over 20% in the past three generations, caused by a decline in its natural range, and exploitation), but this listing has been disputed by the Guyana Forestry Commission.
Common Uses: Boatbuilding, docks, decking, posts, fishing rods, pool cues, and other turned wood items.
Comments: Greenheart is perhaps the stiffest wood in the world, with an average modulus of elasticity of an astounding 3,716,000 lbf/in2! However, the wood also has a fairly high movement in service, and should not be used in situations where stability is critical.
Greenheart logs are reported to occasionally violently split apart upon sawing—sending pieces of the wood flying. As a result of this unusual characteristic, sawyers wrap chain around the sections of the log that have already been sawn.