Sissoo or Indian rosewood (Dalbergia sissoo)
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Dalbergieae
Genus: Dalbergia

275; see text.

  • Acouba Aubl.
  • Amerimnon P.Browne
  • Coroya Pierre
  • Ecastaphyllum P.Browne
  • Miscolobium Vogel
  • Triptolemea Mart.
Spines of D. armata
Trunk of D. lanceolaria
Flowers of D. lanceolaria
Pods of D. lanceolaria
Chess pieces in D. latifolia rosewood
Flowers of D. miscolobium
Wood from a Dalbergia sp. - MHNT

Dalbergia is a large genus of small to medium-size trees, shrubs and lianas in the pea family, Fabaceae, subfamily Faboideae. It was recently assigned to the informal monophyletic Dalbergia clade (or tribe): the Dalbergieae.[2][3][4] The genus has a wide distribution, native to the tropical regions of Central and South America, Africa, Madagascar and southern Asia.

Fossil record

A fossilDalbergia phleboptera seed pod has been found in a Chattian deposit, in the municipality of Aix-en-Provence in France.[5] Fossils of †Dalbergia nostratum have been found in rhyodacite tuff of Lower Miocene age in Southern Slovakia near the town of Lučenec.[6] Fossil seed pods of †Dalbergia mecsekense have been found in a Sarmatian deposit in Hungary.[7]Dalbergia lucida fossils have been described from the Xiaolongtan Formation of late Miocene age in Kaiyuan County, Yunnan Province, China.[8]


Many species of Dalbergia are important timber trees, valued for their decorative and often fragrant wood, rich in aromatic oils. The most famous of these are the rosewoods, so-named because of the smell of the timber when cut, but several other valuable woods are yielded by the genus.

Species such as Dalbergia nigra known as Rio, Bahia, Brazilian rosewood, palisander de Rio Grande, or jacaranda and Dalbergia latifolia known as (East) Indian Rosewood or Sonokeling have been heavily used in furniture given their colour and grain. Several East Asian species are important materials in traditional Chinese furniture.

The (Brazilian) tulipwood (D. decipularis) is cream coloured with red or salmon stripes. It is most often used in crossbanding and other veneers; it should not be confused with the "tulipwood" of the American tulip tree Liriodendron tulipifera, used in inexpensive cabinetwork.

The similarly used (but purple with darker stripes), and also Brazilian, kingwood is yielded by D. cearensis. Both are smallish to medium-sized trees, to 10 m. Another notable timber is cocobolo, mainly from D. retusa, a Central American timber with spectacular decorative orange red figure on freshly cut surfaces which quickly fades in air to more subdued tones and hues.

Dalbergia sissoo (Indian rosewood) is primarily used for furniture in northern India. Its export is highly regulated due to recent high rates of tree death due to unknown causes.[clarification needed][citation needed] Dalbergia sissoo has historically been the primary rosewood species of northern India. This wood is strong and tough, with color golden to dark brown. It is extremely durable and handsome, and it maintains its shape well. It can be easily seasoned. It is difficult to work, but it takes a fine polish. It is used for high quality furniture, plywoods, bridge piles, sporting goods, and railway sleepers. It is a very good material for decorative work and carvings. Its density is 770 kg/m3.

African blackwood (D. melanoxylon) is an intensely black wood in demand for making woodwind musical instruments.

Dalbergia species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Bucculatrix mendax which feeds exclusively on Dalbergia sissoo.

The Dalbergia species are notorious for causing allergic reactions due to the presence of sensitizing quinones in the wood.


All Dalbergia species are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).[9] All but Dalbergia nigra are listed in Appendix II, with D.nigra listed in Appendix I.


Dalbergia comprises the following species:[10][11]


  1. ^ a b "Genus: Dalbergia L. f." Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2007-10-05. Archived from the original on 2009-05-07. Retrieved 2010-11-26.
  2. ^ Lavin M; Pennington RT; Klitgaard BB; Sprent JI; de Lima HC; Gasson PE (2001). "The dalbergioid legumes (Fabaceae): delimitation of a pantropical monophyletic clade". Am J Bot. 88 (3): 503–33. doi:10.2307/2657116. JSTOR 2657116. PMID 11250829.
  3. ^ Vatanparast M; Klitgård BB; FACB Adema; Pennington RT; Yahara T; Kajita T (2013). "First molecular phylogeny of the pantropical genus Dalbergia: implications for infrageneric circumscription and biogeography". S Afr J Bot. 89: 143–149. doi:10.1016/j.sajb.2013.07.001.
  4. ^ Cardoso D; Pennington RT; de Queiroz LP; Boatwright JS; Van Wyk B-E; Wojciechowskie MF; Lavin M (2013). "Reconstructing the deep-branching relationships of the papilionoid legumes". S Afr J Bot. 89: 58–75. doi:10.1016/j.sajb.2013.05.001.
  5. ^ "Fossil specimen - Dalbergia phleboptera SAPORTA".
  6. ^ Miočenna flóra z lokalit Kalonda a Mučin, Jana Kučerová, ACTA GEOLOGICA SLOVACA, ročnic 1, 1, 2009, str. 65-70.
  7. ^ Distribution of Legumes in the Tertiary of Hungary by L. Hably, Advances in Legume Systematics: Part 4, The Fossil Record, Ed. P.S. Herendeen & Dilcher, 1992, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, ISBN 0 947643 40 0
  8. ^ The Megafossil Legumes from China by Gao Shuang-Xing & Zhou Zhe-Kun, Advances in Legume Systematics: Part 4, The Fossil Record, Ed. P.S. Herendeen & Dilcher, 1992, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, ISBN 0 947643 40 0
  9. ^ "Appendices I, II and III". Convention on Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna. 2010-10-14. Retrieved 2019-12-20.
  10. ^ "ILDIS LegumeWeb entry for Dalbergia". International Legume Database & Information Service. Cardiff School of Computer Science & Informatics. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  11. ^ USDA; ARS; National Genetic Resources Program. "GRIN species records of Dalbergia". Germplasm Resources Information Network—(GRIN) [Online Database]. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  12. ^ Dalbergia altissima Pittier is accepted on a provisional basis, but will have to be renamed because Dalbergia altissima Baker f. has priority.
  13. ^ Some sources consider Dalbergia assamica to be a synonym of Dalbergia lanceolaria.
  14. ^ Some sources consider Dalbergia cubilquitzensis to be a synonym of Dalbergia tucurensis.
  15. ^ Some sources consider Dalbergia funera to be a synonym of Dalbergia calderonii.
  16. ^ POWO: Dalbergia nigrescens Kurz (retrieved 29 November 2020)