Writing about Bluewood represents a great deal of investigation and some degree of luck. In the end I believe that I was the victim of an eBay scam artist.
The wood was sold to me as, and I do quote, “Blue Brazil talow wood” on eBay in 2009. If you can find references to that exact string than you are better Internet search master than I can claim to be.
“Tallowwood” usually refers to a type of Eucalyptus sp., often sourced from plantations in Brazil, that is commonly used as a flooring material. It is so named because it tends to be greasy to the touch until finished. However, this wood is most certainly not blue.
Searches for a blue wood frequently yield references to Blue Mahoe, properly known as Talipariti elatum, which is native to the Caribbean, particularly Jamaica and Cuba although it is widely planted throughout the region. Despite the common name, T. elatum heartwood is generally more gray than blue, although it can have a bluish cast.
The wood I worked with was a vibrant blue throughout and it did not at first appear to be dyed because the color, while intense, was somewhat variable and not as overtly blue as dyed wood that I have seen sold commercially or that I have dyed myself.
Finally, through persistence and a good deal of luck, I discovered a wood turning forum where someone displayed pens made from exactly the same wood that I had. The turner didn’t provide any additional details and most of the string commentary was useless, as is so often the case with forum threads, but eventually by using terms similar to those used in the thread I discovered the potential identity of the wood sold to me as “Blue Brazil talow wood.”
My wood MIGHT be scientifically known as Condalia hookeri, or more commonly by the following names: bluewood condalia, brasil, brasilwood, bluewood, logwood, purple haw, or capul negro.
C. hookeri is native only to the dryer areas of the Edwards Plateau and South Texas Plains of Texas, as you might have guessed. The C. hookeri tree is more generally described as a shrub although it can reach over 30 feet in height.
However, I am not in further doubt as to the actual identity of the wood that I worked with because other sources of information say that the heartwood is a bright red color, which would account for the use of the term “brasil” which can refer to a red color in Portuguese. Yet another source claims that the wood is grayish although a blue dye can be extracted from it.
Other sources describe the wood as being very hard, and yet the wood I worked with was quite soft. Again, this throws considerable doubt on the actual identification of the wood that I worked with being actual C. hookeri despite the common names matching up.
The actual identity of the wood I worked and that I will choose to call Bluewood from here forward may never be known with total certainty, but I will proceed to present what limited information I have regarding the wood from C. hookeri.
Due to the limited size of the tree/shrub that produces Bluewood, the general characteristics of the wood are not well documented.
Bluewood is never harvested commercially and only rarely harvested and processed by small scale hobbyist, so its specific working characteristics have not been documented. I will share my very limited experiences below.
Pricing and Availability
At this time, I cannot find a single seller of Bluewood anywhere so it is safe, I think, to say that availability is extremely limited to nonexistent.