Purpleheart sapwood is pinkish-cinnamon with a light brown
streaks and is from 2 to 4 inches wide in mature trees. The
heartwood is a dull brown color when freshly cut but oxidizes to a violet
when exposed to light. When exposed to sun and rain, the
purple color will become black. Luster is
medium, and the straight-grained wood is fine and even in
texture. The odor and taste are not distinct. It is hard
and heavy. The mechanical properties of purpleheart are intermediate between
greenheart and oak. One outstanding property of the wood
is its ability to withstand sudden shock.
Purpleheart must be worked slowly through machines and all cutter tools must be of high-speed steel to produce fine cabinetwork. Some tearing occurs when planing when
the grain is interlocked. The wood has a tendency to split when nailed. Most finishes can be used satisfactorily, but to preserve the rich natural color wax is
often the only coating applied. The wood is dimensionally stable.
Because of its good mechanical properties and durability,
purpleheart is used for heavy outdoor construction such as
bridges and dock work. It is reported to have good acid resistance and can
be used in chemical
plants for vats and filter press plates. As a flooring material,
it has excellent abrasion resistance. An important
use in Brazil is for making spokes for cartwheels. When exported,
its biggest use is for billiard cure butts. Other uses in
the U.S. include decorative veneer, inlay, marquetry, tool handles and general
A dye produced from the wood is used for textile fabrics.