Goncalo alves belongs to a large family of trees (Anacardiaceae) that claims over 600 species. Its relatives include the tropical cashew, pistachio, and the mango. A cousin, the smoke tree, often ornaments North American lawns, and except for its smaller size, bears much resemblance to its Latin American relation. The grayish-white sapwood of goncalo alves gives little notice of the color that lies underneath. In shades of brown and reddish-brown?frequently with dark, nearly black longitudinal stripes?the heartwood can be stunning, especially with Astronium fraxinifolium. Even in its plainer forms, goncalo alves has a soft luster. With age, the color deepens to a mahogany-like, dark-red hue. A dense wood with a specific gravity that can approach .95 (double that of hard maple), goncalo alves also has a texture that varies from fine to medium and a grain that varies from straight to interlocked and wavy. The wood weighs about 60 pounds per cubic foot air dry and rates as highly resistant to moisture, rot, and insect attack.
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