Cocuswood is the very dense hardwood of a Caribbean flowering tree called the ‘Brya ebenus’.
‘Brya ebenus’ belongs to the pea family ‘Fabaceae’ and is native to the Caribbean islands of Jamaica and Cuba. It also goes by the quite romantic name of Jamaica Rain Tree because it blossoms bright yellow-orange flowers right after it rains.
Cocuswood’s lovely medium to dark reddish-brown colour is further enhanced with dark blackish streaks. With time, its colour darkens. The grain of cocuswood tends to be straight or a bit wavy. It has a wonderful natural lustre and a fine, even texture.
So absolutely nothing to do with coconuts or coconut trees at all! Really!
With its amazing density, hardness and colour, it’s no wonder that this wood was considered to be one of the very best tonewoods and was widely used in the manufacture of woodwind instruments in the 1800s. It was an exotic, tropical alternative to woods such as boxwood, which were widely used at the time. Flutes, oboes and bagpipes were crafted in cocuswood as well as other items such as carvings or inlays.
Back then cocuswood was all the rage and sadly, due to this previous over-exploitation and the small size of its natural habitat, this wonderful natural resource has been commercially exhausted. So, it is not a protected species, but extremely expensive and difficult to source – making it a very special wood indeed.