Padauk (aka Vermillion)
Padauk [pah-DOWK] is a very durable exotic wood from central and tropical west Africa that delivers a highly resonant medium tone.
Padauk is a heavy dense wood that resists dents well and is very resistant to termites.
Bone Rattling Facts
Padauk offers excellent acoustical properties for musical instruments. It is well suited for hand-held musical instruments due to its exceptional resonance and dimensional stability.
Indeed, a Wikipedia entry says Padauk "is valued for making drums in Africa due to its tonal resonance." It goes on to explain that Padauk is favored for stringed instruments because of its "tonal attributes and durability."
And the international not-for-profit group, PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa), confirms that "the wood has a high resonance quality as its damping of vibrations is low." The group explains that Padauk was used in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon for large telegraph slit drums, war drums and xylophones.
Figures below are approximate (but pretty darn close)
Padauk leaves contain large amounts of vitamin C and are eaten as a cooked vegetable.
- Padauk was used as a dye and sizing agent to produce the traditional red printed bandanas popular in 19th century England.
- It is the source of "true barwood dye" which colors the red tail-like raffia ornaments worn on the backs of Bulu women in Cameroon.
- The wood is used in ritual ceremonies for circumcision, initiation, and marriage.
- Powdered Padauk wood baked with a slice of lime treats wounds in Gabon.
- Other medicinal applications include a salve to ward off skin parasites; an enema to treat dysentery; an analgesic for toothache and gonorrhea; and a treatment for dysentery and hemorrhoids.
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Pterocarpus soyauxii (aka: Pterocarpus delevoyi, Pterocarpus osun, Pterocarpus tinctorius)
Padauk is known by more than 65 common names.
African coral wood
Bois de rose
Vermillion (aka Andaman Padauk "Pterocarpus dalbergioides")
The grain is usually straight and often interlocked.
Texture varies from fine to medium to coarse.
The surface gives a natural sheen.
The freshly milled heartwood ranges in shades of brilliant crimson or brick red to reddish-purple streaks to bright-orange. Color variation between logs is slight. The color darkens over time to dark reddish-brown.
The sapwood is white when freshly cut, but turns brownish yellow or gray with exposure to sunlight.
Freshly cut Padauk emits a faint aromatic scent.
Sawdust from Padauk wood might cause respiratory and dermatological problems in some people.
Works well with hand and machine tools. Excellent turning wood. Glues easily and holds nails and screws well. Pre-drilling fastener holes is advised. Polishes very well and finishes nicely without a stain. The sawdust is fine and easily becomes airborne. Dust mask is advised.
Pterocarpus soyauxii is among the 10 most important export timbers in Gabon. The species occurs scattered or in small groups in evergreen and deciduous forests from sea-level to 500 meters where it prefers the moist but well-drained deep soil.
The International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) declares that this species is a frequent source of timber which is exported in low quantities and only occasionally. PROTA reports that "Pterocarpus soyauxii is rather widespread in Central Africa and current exploitation rates do not seem to endanger the species." This is substantiated by the World Conservation Monitoring Center which reports that Padauk is "Generally widespread, secure, and abundant within most of its range."
Padauk is native to central and tropical west Africa. It often grows in small groups and is common in dense equatorial rain forests.
The tree grows from 100 to 130 feet (30 to 40 m) tall. The trunk diameter averages 24 to 48 inches (60 to 120 cm) but can reach 60 inches (150 cm). Trunks are usually straight and cylindrical. They are clear of branches to about 70 feet (21 m).