The wood known to wood workers as Hormigo, Macacauba, Macawood, and/or Orange Agate comes from trees of the Platymiscium spp. (P. dimorphandrum, P. pinnatum, P. trinitatis, P. ulei) which are native to Central and South America. It is difficult to determine which of the common names are most often used. My piece of Hormigo was sold to me as Orange Agate but I have chosen to refer to it as Hormigo because I have other wood in my stocks that was sold to me under that name as well.
For the sake of simplicity and common understanding I will hereafter refer to the Platymiscium spp. as Hormigo with the awareness that other common names are in use.
The color of the Hormigo heartwood can be highly variable ranging from a bright red to a darker reddish or purplish brown, frequently with darker stripes. When the wood is referred to as “Hormigo,” various suffixes are used to describe the heartwood color: “Hormigo Negro” for darker pieces or “Hormigo Rojo” for orangish red pieces.
The clearly demarcated sapwood of Hormigo is yellow to white.
The grain of Hormigo is straight to interlocked, with a medium to fine texture.
Hormigo features a high natural luster.
Hormigo heartwood is rated as durable to very durable regarding decay resistance, with good resistance to insect attacks as well. The sapwood however is perishable.
Overall, Hormigo features good working characteristics for both hand and machine tools, though areas of interlocked grain should be approached with care to avoid tearout.
Hormigo is able to take a very high natural polish.
Hormigo turns and glues well.
There is no reported characteristic odor associated with Hormigo although to me the wood smelled distinctly sweet and spicy with strong floral tones.
Pricing and Availability:
Hormigo is commonly imported under a variety of common names, and in a number of forms (lumber, turning blanks, flooring, etc.). Hormigo prices are generally moderate for an imported exotic 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, NCWood, WoodTurningz, Amazon Exotic Hardwoods, Griffin Exotic Wood, Exotic Woods USA, Got Wood?, and Wood Turning Blanks 4U. Note: ALWAYS green turn wet blanks from NCWood and Wood Turning Blanks 4U as their wax will not hold for extended drying periods.
At this time none of these fine vendors is offering Hormigo under any common name. A simple Internet search returns some vendors with pen blanks but few, if any, selling bowl sized blanks. For a commonly imported hardwood, it proves elusive.
Woodfinder is an excellent website that is dedicated to advertising wood dealers. In your search for Hormigo, 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!
Hormigo finds use in the following applications: Furniture, cabinetry, veneer, musical instruments, turned objects, and small specialty wood items.
Hormigo is not listed with the Convention in International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Appendices, nor is it on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.