Canary wood is known by more than 40 common names and includes a variety of species within the genus Centrolobium. The genus name means "many lobes on the leaves." The picture here is for C. robustum, which is found in Brazil, but all the various species that are sold as canary wood (with other common names such as porcupine wood, arariba and putumuju) are so similar in appearance and properties that they can be safely lumped together.

The natural range of the genus is from Panama to southern Brazil. The mature trees are typically more than 100 feet tall and 4 feet in diameter. It is in the legume family, so it has pods with seeds, looking somewhat like the maple seed and its wing.

One of the most important characteristics of this wood is its excellent sound properties. Musical instruments and even speaker systems develop excellent sounds, according to the connoisseur. Although supplies of this wood are limited, the price of this species is worth the wonderful sound qualities. The wood's deep red color also makes it attractive for cabinetry and fine furniture.

In addition to beautiful color, the wood is also highly resistant to attacks from decay fungi, and termites and other insects. It is resistant to marine borers and so has been used for heavy ship construction, including keels and planking. It is impervious to liquids, like white oak, and so has been used for tight cooperage (barrels holding liquids) in the past.

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