Scientific name: Swartzia spp
Comprising 4 species: swartzia ingifolia, swartzia grandifolia, swartzia leiocalycina, swartzia panacoco
This species is widely distributed in South America and confined to Brazilian Amazonia.
Curacao de negro is a medium-sized tree (10-30m tall, 40-60cm diameter). It is a relatively fast growing species when grown in favorable conditions.
This species is well known for its attractive 'leopard-skin' bark, consiting of a grey/green/white patchwork, and is used in landscape design and street planting in Brazil.
The tree grows very straight and does not have a buttress form despite its heavy weight.
It is also known for its medicinal properties, in which seeds, fruits, roots and rind are used in the treatment of anemia, gastro duodenal diseases, tuberculosis and other pulmonary problems as well as diabetes
Curacao de negro is also called pau ferro, which means iron wood and this species is considered one of the hardest woods to saw by hand. The wood is remarkable for its high density and dry weight at over 1150KG per M3, which makes it one of the heaviest woods in the world.
It is not widely used because it is extremely hard. In industrial production, tools often need to be sharpened every couple of hours while in comparison this only needs to be done once a month when working European Beech.
The wood is dark brown to black and turns darker when freshly cut and exposed to oxygen and light.
The difficulty of working this wood is the main reason why it is rarely seen outside Brazil despite its amazingly beautiful features, where brown is often featured on a black background in the wood, which is very rare.
Under the Canopywood code of conduct, harvesting this species in limited numbers does not in any shape or form threaten this species from extinction in the area from where it originates. In fact it helps preserve other trees of the same gender nearby.