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Pau Marfim

Pau Marfim (Balfourodendron riedelianum)

Pau Marfim is an imported hardwood


The range of pau marfim (Balfourodendron riedelianum) is rather limited, extending from the State of Sao Paulo, Brazil, into Paraguay and the provinces of Corrientes and Missiones of northern Argentina. In Brazil, it is generally known as pau marfim and in Argentina and Paraguay, as guatambu.


In color and general appearance, pau marfim wood is very similar to birch (Betula) or sugar maple (Acer saccharum) sapwood. Although growth rings are present, they do not show as distinctly as those in birch and maple. There is no apparent difference in color between heartwood and sapwood. The wood is straight grained and easy to work and finish, but it is not considered resistant to decay. In Brazil, average specific gravity of pau marfim is about 0.73 based on volume of green wood and ovendry weight. Average density of airdried wood is about 802 kg/m3 (50 lb/ft3). On the basis of specific gravity, strength values are higher than those of sugar maple, which has an average specific gravity of 0.56.

Primary Uses

In its areas of growth, pau marfim is used for much the same purposes as are sugar maple and birch in the United States. Introduced to the U.S. market in the late 1960s, pau marfim has been very well received and is especially esteemed for turnery.