Reply by Gene Howe

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Posted on Iron Wood questions

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Gene Howe

11063 posts in 3628 days

#1 posted 04-01-2012 12:17 AM

The “Iron wood” we, here in the southwest USA, are most familiar with comes from the Olneya tesota tree found only in the Sonoran deserts of north western Mexico and Arizona. It’s a very slow growing tree and the wood is dense, heavy and extremely hard. I would compare it’s qualities to Ebony.
The Seri Indians of the region carve it and scrape it smooth with glass shards. Because of their thickness, beer bottle shards are preferred.
Olneya tesota trees that would yield 8/4 are becoming very rare. In fact, the species is becoming scarce, altogether. It is illegal to export raw Olneya tesota lumber from Mexico. The US honors that and will confiscate it at the border. Most of the trees found in the Arizona portions of the Sonoran desert are on federal land and also illegal to harvest.
Iron wood is a pretty non-specific nomenclature. There are many species so termed.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

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