A Close Look at Exotic Wood Types – Top 16 Picks

Types of Exotic Woods

In the vast world of woodworking, the allure of exotic woods extends beyond the familiar classics. Journey with us as we explore the characteristics, origins, and diverse applications of 16 remarkable exotic wood types, each with its own distinct charm. From the dense elegance of African Blackwood to the captivating patterns of Zebrawood, this guide will unravel the secrets behind some of the most sought-after exotic woods.

What is Exotic Wood?

According to Google, the term “exotic” means something “unusual or interesting because it comes from a different country or culture.”

Exotic can refer to something that is different or rare but also interesting or beautiful.

These are rare and beautiful timber species found in different parts of the world. Most of these are hardwoods that originate from tropical regions.

Exotic wood can also refer to species that is not native to a particular country and is imported from a foreign, usually distant, country.

One thing common in almost all exotic wood types is that they are scarce. This is because these are usually concentrated in a single location or region. Exotic hardwoods are also generally very beautiful, durable and strong.

16 Different Rare Wood Types & Their Properties

1. African Blackwood

African Black exotic wood

Known for its jet-black color and dense, fine grain, African Blackwood hails from the dry regions of Africa. This prized wood is a favorite among woodwind instrument makers due to its excellent tonal qualities. It’s also used in crafting high-end furniture and intricate wood carvings, showcasing its exceptional workability and natural beauty.

The timber is very durable in terms of decay resistance. It is usually difficult to work with and is very expensive. Common uses include bodies for musical instruments, tool handles, carving, etc.

2. Anigre

angire exotic wood

Anigre, originating from tropical Africa, is celebrated for its pale yellow to pinkish-brown hue and straight grain. With a fine texture and lustrous finish, it’s a preferred choice for cabinetry, veneers, and high-end furniture. Anigre’s versatility and subtle elegance make it a staple in both contemporary and traditional designs.

3. Balsa


While Balsa is often associated with lightweight model airplanes, its versatility extends beyond the skies. Native to South America, Balsa is exceptionally light and easy to work with, making it ideal for applications where weight is a crucial factor. Despite its lightweight nature, Balsa maintains surprising strength, making it suitable for various projects, including crafting models, prototypes, and even some furniture components.

4. Bubinga

bubinga exotic timber

With its varying colors, bold grain patterns, and wavy textures, Bubinga stands out as a captivating wood species from central Africa. Ranging from pinkish-red to reddish-brown, Bubinga finds its place in cabinetry, fine furniture, and musical instruments, offering both visual appeal and acoustic excellence.

5. Black Ebony

black ebony rare wood

Synonymous with luxury and sophistication, Black Ebony boasts a deep black color and a smooth, polished finish. Originating from Africa and Southeast Asia, this dense and finely-textured wood is prized for its use in ornamental carvings, high-end furniture, and musical instruments. The stark contrast it creates when paired with lighter woods adds a touch of timeless elegance.

6. Cumaru


Known as Brazilian Teak, Cumaru is a hardwood native to South America. Its rich, reddish-brown color and impressive durability make it a popular choice for outdoor decking, flooring, and even tool handles. Cumaru’s resistance to insects and decay ensures its longevity, making it an excellent investment for outdoor projects.

7. Jatoba (Brazilian Cherry)


Often referred to as Brazilian Cherry, Jatoba originates from the Americas and features a warm, reddish-brown color with dark streaks. This robust and durable wood is commonly used in flooring, furniture, and even heavy construction due to its resistance to wear and tear. Its natural luster and vibrant hue add a touch of warmth to any space.

8. Black Limba (Frake)

black limba

Native to West Africa, Black Limba, also known as Frake, is admired for its light color and dark streaks, creating a unique contrast. Used in cabinetry, fine furniture, and veneers, Black Limba’s distinctive appearance and workability make it a favorite among designers seeking a blend of elegance and character.

9. African Mahogany

african mahogany

African Mahogany, originating from tropical Africa, showcases a reddish-brown color that deepens over time. With its straight grain and medium texture, it is a popular choice for furniture, cabinetry, and veneers. African Mahogany’s stability and workability contribute to its widespread use in both classic and modern designs.

10. Makore


Hailing from West Africa, Makore features a pink to reddish-brown color with a fine, even texture. This hardwood is commonly employed in high-quality furniture, cabinetry, and architectural millwork. Makore’s versatility and resistance to decay make it a reliable choice for various interior applications.

11. Merbau

merbau exotic wood

Originating from Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Merbau is renowned for its rich, dark brown to reddish-brown color and distinctive grain patterns. This hardwood is favored for outdoor decking, flooring, and boat building due to its durability and resistance to pests and decay. Merbau’s natural oils contribute to its longevity in harsh environments.

12. African Padauk

african padauk

African Padauk, with its striking orange to deep red color, is native to tropical Africa. This hardwood is highly valued for its stability and vibrant appearance, making it a popular choice for fine furniture, flooring, and decorative veneers. African Padauk’s ability to add warmth and character to any project sets it apart in the world of exotic woods.

13. Rosewood


The term “Rosewood” encompasses several species, each prized for its rich, reddish-brown hues and intricate grain patterns. Originating from various parts of the world, Rosewood is a favored choice for high-end furniture, musical instruments, and ornamental carvings. Its natural oils contribute to a polished finish, enhancing its visual appeal.

14. Sapele


Native to tropical Africa, Sapele features a lustrous, reddish-brown color with a distinctive ribbon-like grain pattern. This hardwood is commonly used in cabinetry, flooring, and furniture, offering both durability and a timeless aesthetic. Sapele’s versatility and workability make it a reliable choice for a range of interior applications.

15. Wenge

wenge exotic wood

Native to tropical Africa, Sapele features a lustrous, reddish-brown color with a distinctive ribbon-like grain pattern. This hardwood is commonly used in cabinetry, flooring, and furniture, offering both durability and a timeless aesthetic. Sapele’s versatility and workability make it a reliable choice for a range of interior applications.

16. Zebrawood


Zebrawood, native to West Africa, earns its name from the bold dark stripes resembling a zebra’s pattern. With a pale golden-yellow color and dark brown streaks, Zebrawood is a visually striking choice for decorative veneers, furniture, and flooring. Its unique appearance adds an exotic touch to interior spaces.

Some other woods such as Ipe, Lignum Vitae, Pink Ivory, and Purple Heart are also considered exotic timber for their unique appearance and/or strength.

Where To Buy Different Exotic Wood Types Online?

Now that you know all about the top types of exotic timber, I hope you’re ready to order your first exotic timber. Whichever type of timber you need in whatever quantity and size, we can make it available for you.

CameroonTimberExportSarl is a top manufacturer and supplier of African exotic hardwoods. We export our products to many countries, including but not limited to UAE, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Brazil, Italy, the U.K., Germany, and more. Contact us if you need help choosing the right exotic timber for your project.