Random Width Jatoba (Thumbnail)Jatoba, Brazilian Cherry Hymenaea Courbaril:  May reach 100′ in height and have a trunk of 2’ – 4’ in diameter.  The tree also boasts a large canopy and has bright green leaves in matched pairs, with white, fragrant flowers that are pollinated by bats.  Although it’s widely named “Brazilian Cherry,”  it bears absolutely no relation to the domestic Cherry (Prunus Serotina) that is found in North America, except that its natural color is close to the  stained color of domestic Cherry. Jatoba is the most popular South American species by far. The lumber planks are 5” – 12” wide and the lengths are 8’ – 14’ long.

Distribution: Central and South America

General Characteristics: The sapwood color of the Jatoba species looks somewhat grayish-white. The  heartwood color pattern varies from salmon red to a light orange-brown color when fresh, to a reddish dark brown color once dry. The Brazilian Cherry hardwood often comes with dark streaks  within the color pattern or curly figure found in certain boards.

Hardness/Janka: Score of 2820 points (119% harder than Red Oak)

Grain: The grain patterns are usually bland and undefined, though the wood has a certain depth of luster that’s hard to define. It has a medium to coarse texture with large pores. The grain tends to be wavy and interlocked, care needs to be taken when planing.

Variations Within Species and Grades: For the most part only the heartwood of the tree is used for select flooring. Color variation between the sapwood and heartwood is drastic.  Quarter Sawn or Vertical Grain Brazilian Cherry is also available, with a straight grain, striations and ribbon grain. Albert J. Constantine, author of the book Know Your Woods, says that wood from this tree has “a characteristic of woods in the family of Leguminosae – when the wood is planed it seems to glow from within.” Your floor can be as multifarious as the raindrops of the tropics.

Customized Species and Grades: There are some limitations within this specie, pointed out in this piece. But for a free and easy floor it is hard to beat Jatoba. See National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) for application guidelines.