Black wood (ebony): properties, application

Black wood (ebony): properties, application
Black wood (ebony): properties, application

Ebony is a generalized name, it means a set of tree species with black wood. The tree that is most often called black is the ebony tree, which grows in Africa (Zaire, Nigeria, Cameroon) and Ceylon (Sri Lanka, India).

tree black

Historical background

Ebony is called differently: mugembe, ebony tree, "tree of music", mpingo, "zebra tree". Since ancient times, people have used the bark, leaves and wood of the ebony tree, attributed magical properties to them. In the tomb of the pharaoh Tutankhamun, black wood products were found. This valuable material was brought to Egypt from East Africa. It was believed that weapons, the material of which was an ebony tree, could kill evil spirits and demons. Amulets symbolized courage, the courage of their owner, and, according to popular beliefs, brought strength and dexterity.

African tribes used ebony to make charcoal, because its wood has extraordinary hardness and great heat dissipation.

Ebony products were often attributed magical properties. For example, ebony boxes were intended forstoring magic items to preserve their quality.

Properties and characteristics

ebony oil

The ebony tree has a powerful trunk, reaching more than a meter in diameter. Height is about 10 meters. It grows very slowly, due to which it has a high density, 2 times higher than the density of oak. It takes many years to reach commercial size.

Ebony bark is of no value and is therefore used only in traditional medicine by African healers. The wood is hearty, very durable (density is 900-1000 kg/m3. at a moisture content of 15%), oily, which ensures resistance to any atmospheric conditions. Ceylon ebony has the densest texture.

With temperature fluctuations and changes in humidity, the structure remains stable. The core has a brown chocolate color, often with a lilac or light purple tint. The sapwood is less dense, yellowish in color. The wood is easy to polish and turn. Black wood is not subject to rotting and damage by insects (even omnivorous termites bypass it).

Ebony leaves are leathery, large, evergreen, but in rare cases can fall off during drought.

All tropical species have wood that has a beautiful natural matt sheen, but some varieties may also have a metallic sheen.

Ebony essential oil is quite problematic to obtain. It is used in the manufacture of perfumes because it adds depth andemphasizes neighboring perfume notes.

Features of the workpiece

Drying ebony is bad. When harvesting wood, the pre-drying method is used. It lies in the fact that about two years before cutting down, special circular notches are made on the trunk, this stops growth. In order to avoid excessively rapid drying, the wood after cutting is tightly covered from the sun and drafts and the ends are processed (lime or other similar material is suitable for this purpose).

"Music" tree

ebony leaf

Due to its density and water-repellent properties, ebony is successfully used in the manufacture of high-end musical instruments. Especially popular for wind instruments such as flute, clarinet, oboe. Also, ebony wood is used to make piano keys, fretboards and fingerboards for guitars and violins. The neck of the guitar, for the manufacture of which ebony is used, shifts the center of gravity of the instrument towards itself, which is important for professional performers. The well-polished ebony guitar shell does not create echoes if the pick suddenly jumps off the strings. The fretboards do not wear out and hold the frets perfectly.

Also, ebony wood can be used to wrap grand pianos and upright pianos that are made from fine-grained pine.

Furniture making

ebony fruit

Ebony wood has been used for inlay and veneer since the 17th century. In 1733 the import pricewood was reduced, as a result of which its widespread use began.

At the beginning of the 19th century, stylization for such cultures as Roman, Greek, Egyptian became fashionable. At this time, curule chairs, which were made from ebony wood, began to gain popularity. Outwardly very graceful and weightless, but in fact strong and heavy.

In Russia, the popularity of elite furniture made of ebony began with the time of Peter the Great, and from the 18th century, mahogany began to be used more often.

Today, ebony is used for furniture decoration elements, as well as for the manufacture of exclusive products. For underlined luxury, wood elements are combined with expensive metal components.

Sliced ​​ebony veneer is used for finishing and inlaid furniture, musical instruments.

Interior and souvenirs

Ebony wood, due to its unique properties, is ideal for mechanical processing in the manufacture of various items: figurines, knife handles, souvenirs.

ebony bark

The most skilled ebony carvers are the Makonde people. They make extraordinary expressive sculptures from ebony. The work uses the method of combining materials that are different in their texture: carefully polished elements and carved without processing.

Today, the value of ebony is also high, this elite material is used to make: chess, backgammon, canes, boxes for wine, cigars, decor elements, photo framesand paintings, blade handles and more.

Using fruits and leaves


The black tree has edible fruits that are distinguished by a tart taste (this is due to the accumulation of tannin in the tissues). However, it disappears when frozen and during storage. In some countries, the ebony leaf and its high-calorie flowers are eaten. Syrups, compotes and many other dishes can be prepared from them. Can also be consumed raw or dried.

The fruits of ebony, depending on the type and place of growth, can be of different sizes. Oriental persimmon, for example, has berries up to 10 cm in diameter.

Healing properties

ebony family tree

Europeans in the Middle Ages were confident in the anti-aging properties of the elixir of the tincture of the bark, core, fruits and flowers of ebony. It was also believed that ebony utensils could neutralize poisons.

Inhabitants of Mozambique and to this day ebony is used as a medicinal plant. Tinctures are used from the core, bark, leaves and flowers. Inhalation of therapeutic smoke is practiced for malaria, migraine, bronchitis. Medicines based on the roots of the tree are used to relieve stomach pain.

Some varieties of ebony

Moon ebony is unlike other types of ebony, because its wood has an unusual structure that forms bizarre stripes. The color of wood can have any shades from dark to light yellow andwhitish. Moreover, before the saw cut of the tree, it is impossible to recognize the color of the wood only by its appearance. This species is the rarest, it can only be found in the impenetrable Philippine forests. Only those trees whose age has reached 400 years or more are subject to felling.

Madagascar ebony grows, as the name suggests, on the island of Madagascar, as well as in the Seychelles. Anthracite black wood with a metallic sheen when cut fresh.

Ceylon ebony is one of the most expensive varieties of ebony. Grows in Malaysia, Indonesia, Ceylon. Wood color - dark brown.

Cameroonian ebony is deep black with some gray streaks. The most common variety of ebony. Valued below other species due to the open pores of the wood.

Macassar ebony grows in Indonesia. Its sapwood is yellowish-white, black in color, the heartwood has a characteristic pattern of stripes of brownish hues.

Due to its unique properties of wood and increased demand, as well as the fact that more than one hundred years must pass before reaching marketable age, ebony is becoming increasingly rare. Ebony has been listed in the Red Book since 1994.

Luxury items made from the finest ebony wood are exquisite and expensive decorations.

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