Indian Rosewood, also known as Shisham, Bombay blackwood, Bombay rosewood, palisander, is well-known the world over as a beautiful timber as well as an excellent turnery wood.
It grows in the dry deciduous forests throughout the India peninsula, but attains its best growth in the Western Ghats region of South India. After teak, it is the most important cultivated timber tree in India, planted on roadsides and as a shade tree for tea plantation
Shisham is a beautiful, usually single-stem, deciduous tree with a dome-shaped crown of lush green foliage. On wet sites it may remain evergreen. The tree reaches a height of 20-40 meters with a girth of 1.5- 2.0 meters. Leaves are alternate with 5-7 unequal-sized leaflets origination from the same stem. Leaflets are leathery, dark green up to 15 cm long. Flowers are white, 0.5-1.0 cm long. The brown pods are oblong and pointed at both ends, containing 1-4 smooth brown seeds. The bark is grey, thin with irregular short cracks and exfoliates in long flakes. The root system is well developed, consisting of deep tap roots and long lateral roots
Shisham is very dense, hard and strong. It has high bending and crushing strength, low stiffness and medium shock resistance. The heartwood varies in colour from golden brown to dark purple brown with dark purple or purple-black streaks, giving an attractive figure; the sapwood is yellowish, sometimes with a purplish tinge, sharply demarcated. The grain is narrowly interlocked producing a ribbon-like figure; the texture is uniform and moderately coarse.
- Rosewood has low luster and is fragrant, especially when freshly cut.
- Density, Air- dry 750-850 kg/m3
- Shrinkage, Green to Oven-dry Radial Tangential 2.7%5.8%
- Modulus of rupture (MOR) 116 MPa
- Modulus of elasticity (MOE) 12 GPa
- Compression parallel to grain 56-65 MPa
- Janka Side Hardness 3200
The timber, air dries fairly rapidly but must be protected against too rapid drying to avoid surface chaffing and end splitting. It kiln dries well but slowly, and the colour improves during this process.There is small movement in service and it has excellent dimension stability.
There is severe blunting of cutting edges, and is fairly hard to saw or machine due to calcareous deposits present in some of the vessels(the heart is usually boxed out in conversion). Nailing is difficult. Glues satisfactorily and requires grain filling for an excellent polished or waxed finish.
Rosewood is very durable and moderately resistant to termites. The sapwood is liable to attack bypower post beetles. An oily substance present in the wood not only makes it susceptible of a high degree of finish, but also tends to waterproof it and make it resistant to the influence of moisture, even when left in contact with water indefinitely.
Indian Rosewood is among the finest cabinet, furniture and veneer timbers. It is widely used in making fine furniture, carvings, knives handles and many musical instruments, such as guitar and violins, due to its acoustic qualities.