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Swartzia benthamiana

Swartzia benthamiana of the family Fabaceae (syn. Leguminosae) the legume, pea, or bean family. It is possible that there are other Swartzia species that are sold as wamara, but I can't seem to pin that down exactly.

I have now found another species, Swartzia leiocalycina, that also has wamara as a common name (among many others) but its end grain update shows a significantly different structure from my other samples, both of wamara and of bastard wamara, BUT ... it is identical to the end grain characteristics of katalox (Swartzia cubensis), to which wamara is closely related.

note that the following species on this site have some considerable similarities and are hard/impossible to distinguish by face grain appearance. The end grain, however, shows clear differences: katalox / wamara / queenwood

my samples:
NOTE: these pics were all taken in very bright incandescent lighting ("soft white" at 2700K)
colors will vary under other lighting conditions

This first plank was provided by Joe Melton, whom I thank for this and numerous other contributions

both sides of a small plank

end grain of each end

both end grain closeups of the piece directly above

END GRAIN UPDATE from the left end grain shot directly above

both sides of a sample plank of wamara / Swartzia leiocalycina --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by Mark Peet whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. NOTE: I have other samples that were presented to me as Swartzia leiocalycina (which can be seen on the queenwood page) and this piece is CLEARLY not the same species, BUT ... I have only limited confidence in the identification of the other pieces, all of which are from the same vendor. This piece has end grain that is similar to wamara and since it is identified as wamara, I've put it on this page but I am not confident in the botanical designation. Another fact to consider is that the only other "wamara" I have (at the top of the page) was given to me by someone whom I trust for the ID but HE could have been misled as to the botanical designation.

end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above

END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above

two planks --- upper piece untouched, lower piece sanded; see comments below

end grain and end grain closeup of the sanded piece

END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above --- this update process, which was done from the other end of the piece, brought back the bright purple.

Joe also sent along these pieces, which were labeled "bastard" wamara. This is clearly a different spieces, even if related (as the common name suggests), but I can't find it in my references, so I'm leaving it here for now.

The striking thing about this is that the vibrant purple color went away when I sanded it. Fortunately, Joe was kind enough to send two pieces so I left one of them untouched to show the difference. The piece that I sanded had (as the other piece still does) a dull blackish-purple face grain patina but a side grain of vibrant purple. Thinking that the dull patina would sand off and show the same bright purple as the side grain, I ground away at it with my heavy duty (floor-model) belt sander and was surprised that the patina seemed to go quite deep into the wood. SO ... I sliced off 1/8" and it STILL had the dull purple color. So then I sanded the side grain and saw the bright purple fade to the dull purple that you see here. Obviously, the conclusion is that the purple color surfaces with exposure, like some purpleheart. In fact, this wood seems VERY like some purpleheart.

web pics:

planks --- these look much more like my samples of queenwood than they do wamara, but since they were listed as wamara, I'm leaving them on this page.

planks listed as coracao de negro / Swartzia benthamiana. I have never otherwise heard of the name "coracao de negro" and it was not among the 26 common names that are in my database for Swartzia benthamiana. I suspect that the colors in these pics are pretty accurate.


scales --- given the radical difference between these pics and the rest on this page, I wonder if it is in fact the same wood, but this is how it was listed, so this is where I've put it.