From ancient times wood has played an important role in the development of mankind. The hardest woods in the world have always been given the hardest of roles; or the most important tasks, which cannot be left to chance.
Before man learnt to smelt iron, wood was all we had; and even now in the modern age, wood is still an important building material; it is used for building construction, especially in the roofing systems, doors, and furniture around the house.
Wood was the primary material used to build maritime vessels, and it still plays an important role in that industry. The information below could be translated to mean the most valuable types of wood.
Top 100 Hardest Woods In The World
1. Australian Buloke
The Australian buloke is also known as the Bull Oak, its scientific name is Allocasuarina luehmannii. This is a flowering plant that is native to the southeast of Australia, and that is generally accepted to have the hardest wood in the world. It did not get this hard wood by accident; it got it as a result of making adaptations to enable it survive the harsh environment of southern Australia.
For example; instead of having broad leaves, this plant has its leaves reduced to scales. The scales then cluster together in bands of about ten. Furthermore, in order to reduce the area available for transpiration, this plant sends its branches upright such that the tree resembles one big narrow blade of grass. In order to hold up such a structure, the wood needs to be strong.
The Australian Buloke grows to heights of around 15 meters or 49 feet. While the wood from this tree is not particularly big; it makes up for this in strength. The wood is highly prized; it is not very common in the markets.
The Barauna is considered an endangered species because of the continued harvesting because of the strength of the wood. This is a species of flowering plant that is related to the cashew tree. The scientific name is Schinopsis brasiliensis, and it is also known Barauna, or Brauna.
This tree is mostly found in South America; it was once abundant in Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay. Since medieval times, the people of South America have known how hard this wood was, and so it has been used in construction for ages.
Even today, the Barauna is the first choice of wood for the construction on churches and residential buildings. It is somewhat less used for furniture, but it is excellent for making furniture because the wood is solid, and cannot be destroyed by insects.
Quebracho is a kind of willow that is native to the forests of Paraguay, Argentina, and Bolivia. The name Quebracho means “Axe Breaker” in Spanish; this is taken from a characteristic of this tree which is hardness. The hardness in turn comes from the abundance of tannin which gives the wood a distinctive red look, especially towards the center of the wood.
Quebracho trees usually grow to a height of around 15 meters, although the trees go not become very wide in diameter. One good thing about this tree species is that the tree grows to be very upright, and branchlets are also upright.
These trees have been exploited for at least a century for their tannin which is used to make leather. This exploitation has resulted in the loss of about 85% of the original habitat of this species, and as a result, if something is not done urgently, it will be difficult to find this wood.
Guayacan is a family of trees that are endemic to the Caribbean region, and that also exist in South America. The trees are flowing plants; and it is national flower of Jamaica. Interestingly, this tree was first noted for its medicinal qualities; its Latin name “Lignum vitae” means “Tree of Life,” because it is known to cure coughs, arthritis, and other ailments.
However, the quality for which is has been best known for at least two centuries is hardness. This is the hardest of the commercial woods; evidence of this is the longevity of products made from it. The oldest ship in the world still floating was made from this tree; as well as some important parts of a World War II submarine.
Even now, whenever a product needs to be made to have extraordinary strength, toughness, and density, the Guayacan tree is brought as a possible solution. This tree also serves domestic purposes, it is used to make pestles, mallets, mortars, and furniture. Products made from this wood are expected to last a lifetime.
Gidgee is a type of tree which may be known by several names including the stinking wattle, stinking gidgee, or gidjiirr. The scientific name of this plant is Acacia cambagei, and it is mostly found in the semiarid and arid Queensland area of Australia.
The name Acacia cambagei comes from the fact that the leaves of the tree produce a smell that resembles boiled cabbage, gas or sewage; which is why it is called “stinking gidgee.”
The Gidgee has made several adaptations to enable it survive the semi arid conditions where it grows. Perhaps that putrid smell is to ward off herbivores from eating its leaves. The tree is remarkably strong; it grows to heights of up to 12 meters. The foliage of individual trees are not usually wide; but it may have the appearance of being very broad because the trees usually grow in communities that are very tight, and that look like one single tree.
Snakewood gets its name from the camouflage pattern design of the wood when sawn. It comes from Australia, although there are also similar species in places like South America, North America, and some parts of Asia.
Acacia eremaea is a shrub or tree of the genus Acacia and the subgenus Plurinerves. This is the first species recognized with the name “snakewood,” and it is endemic to Western Australia. This plant does not grow to be very tall; the maximum height is around 4 meters or 13 feet. The lack of height is to reduce the transpiration, and also to make it less susceptible to the wind.
The wood is very strong and durable; and the reputation it has gained has made it one of the most expensive types of wood in the market. People only use this type of wood when they have something that needs very hard wood.
Verawood is a kind of flowering plant known as Bulnesia. The tree is known to produce small yellow flowers. There are many different types of trees in this plant family; one of which is Bulnesia arborea, which is a native of Colombia and Venezuela. The scientific name is known as Maracaibo lignum vitae.
Verawood is one of the hardest woods in the world; and is immensely popular for the building of furniture, and other items that are built to last. Vera wood is not very red; rather it has a light brown color, with micro dark markings.
It also has many medicinal uses; the native people of Colombia and Venezuela use it to prepare herbal tinctures.
8. Camel Thorn
Camel Thorn is an extremely tough kind of acacia tree. Despite that name it has very little to do with camels, but plenty to do with giraffes and elephants. The scientific name for this plant is Vachellia erioloba, and the tree is also known as the giraffe thorn, mokala tree, or Kameeldoring in Afrikaans.
Camel thorn is a native of the dry, sandy areas in South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia, as well as Angola, Mozambique, Zambia and Eswatini.
The tree has tiny clustered leafs (to reduce the area for transpiration), and the leaves grow to thick, wide foliage which can be as high as 20 meters. However, this growth takes several years, because this tree is extremely dense, and slow growing. An interesting evolutionary feature of this plant is that it has sharp thorns protecting its leaves, flowers and fruits; the thorns look like barbed wires, and can reach 6cm in length.
9. African Blackwood
African Blackwood is a flowering plant in the family Fabaceae. It is related to Camel thorn listed above. The scientific name is Dalbergia melanoxylon, and the tree is also known by other names such as grenadilla, or mpingo. The tree is native to those areas that are seasonally dry in Africa in countries like Senegal, Eritrea and then the north-eastern parts of South Africa.
The major characteristic of this tree is that the wood is black; that may already identify it as hard wood, because it shows density, and the abundance of natural chemicals.
The tree is small, reaching 4–15 meters tall, making it one of the smaller members of its family. The small leaves are arranged up to 6–9 leaflets, while the flowers are white and come in thick clusters. The fruit is a pod, containing one to two seeds.
The wood is used for making many different items, including musical instruments, furniture, and many other things.
10. Grey Ironbark
Grey Ironbark is a flowering plant, a hardwood tree that is native to New South Wales in Australia. It is of the eucalyptus family; its scientific name is Eucalyptus paniculata. The defining feature of this tree is that it has dark-coloured, deeply furrowed barks- “ironbark” on the main trunk as well as on the branches.
The leaves are lance-shaped; they measure between 50mm to 180mm, and are shinny. Grey Ironbark are imposing trees; they can reach heights of 50meters or 164 feet, and can tower over buildings.
The tree is upright, and even the branches grow quite upright. It produces flowers that are white in color, and the fruits are thick pods.
The following is a more complete list of the hardest woods in the world.
||Southern red oak
||Aromatic red cedar
||Northern silky oak
||Northern silky oak
||Western white pine
||Eastern white pine
||Atlantic white cedar
||European silver fit
The hardest woods in the world are varied and come from diverse locations in the world; but there are a few things to take note of; some of these woods are not commercially available because a lack of conservation has threatened to make the species extinct. The acacia and eucalyptus species feature quite prominently on this list; they are very solid trees, and they thrive in some of the harshest places on earth.