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Ocotea porosa

Ocotea porosa (syn. Phoebe porosa) of the family Lauraceae, the Laurel family

variously spelled imbuia, imbuya, embuia, and imbulia, I have seen botanical names of Ocotea porosa and Phoebe porosa both given for this species.

This species grows in Southern Brazil and is sometimes called Brazilian Walnut (but it is not a true walnut). It is a colorful, fine textured wood, prized by woodworkers. The heartwood is yellow-olive to chocolate brown, sometimes gray-brown, with variegated streaks and stripes. Grain pattern varies widely, with many different figures occurring in individual boards. It is hard and moderately heavy (about 42 pounds per cubic foot). Heartwood is durable. Emits a spicy, resinous scent and taste.

It is easy to work with hand and power tools, although grain tends to pick up when planing. Finishes to a high luster. Glues well.

Used for high grade furniture, cabinetry, joinery, paneling, flooring, gun stocks, musical instruments

Use of the term "burl" with this wood is often applied to what should really be called "blistered", which is NOT a burl at all, but looks a lot like one

my samples:

sample plank and end grain sold to me as imbuia / Phoebe parosa which is a mis-spelling of Phoebe porosa which is a synonym for Ocotea porosa

end grain closeup of the pieced directly above

END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above

plank and end grain of very light-colored imbuia

both side of a plank cut from the larger one above --- color is slightly too red; larger plank pictured above has correct color and fine sanding didn't change it any

end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above

END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above

plank and closeup

both sides of a plank --- the next several pics below are of smaller planks cut from this one.

both sides of a small plank cut from the larger one above

end grain and end grain closeup of the small plank directly above

END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above

both sides of a small plank cut from the larger one above

end grain and end grain closeup of the small plank directly above

plank and closeup --- the closeup pic has too much green

Imbuia plank pic contributed by Neal Kuwabara. We are not sure whether the figure is knots or burl, and Neal tells me that the plank is just a little darker than what shows up in the pic. Neal's voting for burl and since I haven't seen the plank, just the pic, I'm abstaining.

figured veneer and closeup

figured veneer and closeup

blistered veneer with and without sapwood --- the sapwood on the last pic is not quite as yellow as the real wood. NOTE: the first pic has both levels of enlargement so you can get a close up look at the twisty, interlocked grain. When I first got this, I thought it was a burl

web pics:

planks listed as imbuia / Ocotea porosa


a couple of planks with a lot of sapwood and fairly light heartwood. I bought both of these and they are shown among the samples at the top of this page

planks and a closeup

figured planks and a closeup of them

more figured planks

curly imbuia pics contributed by Kenny McCulloch, whom I thank for the contribution.

figured scales

planks listed as pomelle --- I'm doubtful about the red color

plank with a finishing agent applied

bowl blanks

turning stock

thin wood laid out for a guitar back

pen blanks that have been waxed

mottled plank

mottled plank and closeup


veneer listed as imbuia / Octotea porosa

veneer sheets listed as imbuia / Phoebe porosa, with the first being burl, the second "chicken scratch" (I have no idea what that is), and the last flat cut

blistered veneer

burl veneer

pomelle veneer

listed as pomelle veneer sheets and a closeup, this really look more like curly than pomelle

listed as "figured veneer", this is blistered veneer.

figured veneer

listed as figured burl veneer

this is all listed as burl veneer, but I believe that it is blistered veneer and the vendor made the same mistake I did when I first got a piece, in believing that it is a burl when it actually isn't.

burl veneer

bookmatched burl veneer

quartermatched burl veneer

listed as a root burl veneer

listed as a burl veneer, but actually blistered veneer, with unlikely color --- sometimes I just have to put in the silly pics I find on the Internet, just as a continuing validation of why I did this site in the first place.

a bar made from different colored planks of imbuia, showing a pretty good range of available colors.

guitar back made with fancy figured imbuia --- I'm sure it has a finishing agent applied and I'm not sure how accurate the color is or how much the finishing agent affected the color.


bowl by Bryan Nelson (NelsonWood). Bryan fine-polishes his bowls with 1200 or even higher grit sandpaper while they are spinning at high speed on the lathe and then finishes them there with a friction polish of his own devising, thus achieving a shine and color vibrancy that is beautiful to behold.