Guatemalan Mora

Geographic Distribution:

The wood commonly known as Guatemalan Mora is of uncertain heritage and it’s botanical name is disputed.  It is possible that Guatemalan Mora is a member of the Inga genus.

It is important to note at this point that there is another wood known as Mora, which more specifically is Mora excelsa.  The existence of this species is why it is important to note the Mora I worked with as Guatemalan Mora, which as the name implies, comes from Guatemala.  M. excelsa comes from northern South America, mainly Guyana and Suriname and it is rarely imported to the United States.  Generally speaking, when a vendor offers “Mora” they mean Guatemalan Mora.

For the sake of simplicity and common understanding, I will refer to Guatemalan Mora from here forward.

General Characteristics:

The heartwood of Guatemalan Mora is a light to medium reddish brown with streaks of lighter and darker material.  This streaking is uncommon in M. excelsa and the presence of streaks of color is a good indicator that a piece labeled “Mora” is in fact Guatemalan Mora.

Guatemalan Mora has a straight to interlocked grain with a fine to medium texture.

Guatemalan Mora is very durable and has good weathering characteristics

Guatemalan Mora is also resistant to termites.

Working Characteristics:

Working with Guatemalan Mora can be difficult due to its hardness and density.

Despite its relative hardness, Guatemalan Mora is reported to have little dulling effect on cutting edges.

Guatemalan Mora turns well.

Guatemalan Mora also takes stains, glues and finishes well.

Pricing and Availability:

Guatemalan Mora should be moderately priced for an imported hardwood.

In this blog, I almost always recommend several vendors with whom I have done considerable business and in whom I have great confidence.  These vendors are: West Penn Hardwoods, Bell Forest Products, NC Wood, WoodTurningz, Amazon Exotic Hardwoods, Griffin Exotic Wood, Exotic Woods USA, Got Wood?, and Wood Turning Blanks 4U.

Of my favored vendors, WoodTurningz and Exotic Woods USA are both offering Guatemalan Mora in bowl blank formats.  Prices range from $18.50 for a 7″ x 7″ x 2″ up to $49.50 for a 8″ x 8″ x 3″ noted to be highly figured.

Woodfinder is an excellent website that is dedicated to advertising wood dealers.  In your search for Guatemalan Mora this can be an invaluable resource provided you use multiple search terms to capture all the possible listings.  I can’t speak to the quality of any of the listed dealers, but Woodfinder does have the advantage of allowing searches to be performed based on location which might allow an interested buyer to visit a listed wood dealer in person to hand pick pieces at a comfortable price.

A significant problem with using Woodfinder is that many vendors are listed for woods that, upon further investigation, they do not offer.  I don’t know if perhaps once they did and they didn’t update their listings or if some vendors use a standardized list of woods that include most everything conceivable with the idea that once you land on their page you will find something you want to buy even if you didn’t know it beforehand.  It happens to me all the time!

Common Uses:

Guatemalan Mora is commonly used in heavy construction (within the tree’s natural range), flooring, furniture, turnings, and other small specialty wood items.


Guatemalan Mora is not listed in the CITES Appendices nor is it on the IUCN Red List.

To the best of my knowledge, the United States government does not place any additional restrictions on Guatemalan Mora.

I realize that inherent in working with wood is the killing of a part of the natural world that may be slow to return and if I become deeply concerned about this fact, I will have to find a new hobby.  I hope that such a time does not come to pass or at least not any time soon.  In part because I am concerned about legally and responsibly obtained wood, I am reluctant to buy from sellers outside of well-established and known vendors.  I am highly unlikely, for example, to purchase any wood from auction sites, such as Ebay, because of uncertain sourcing and documentation, as well as the potential, even likelihood, of material being misidentified in order to achieve a higher selling price.