Hardwood Flooring Product Profile: What Is Cumaru?
Cumaru hardwood floors creates a beautiful foundation for any home. Here are the highlights of this unique and supremely decorative wood floor species.
Cumaru, also known as Brazilian teak, isn’t actually a teak at all. And it’s not originally from Brazil; it’s native to Venezuela and it grows in the most abundance in that country. What cumaru actually is, however, could be said to be much more interesting than any of these facts.
It’s magical, you see. And, on top of that, cumaru may very well be the cure for everything that ails you.
But we’ll get to that story in a second.
What you need to know, first and foremost, is that this tree bears many similarities to classic teak, which means it creates a beautiful foundation for any home and generates a wonderful hardwood floor. It’s also a sustainable wood with outstanding durability and hardness, which means that it will last a lifetime in your home. Let’s explore why cumaru wood is both magical and practical.
Latin name: Dipteryx odorata
Janka Hardness rating: 3330
Common color spectrum: Medium to dark brown
Stability: More stable than red oak
Do you believe in magic?
Teak is a beautiful wood, but it’s not cumaru. The biggest difference between the two woods is that cumaru is actually a fruit-bearing plant in the pea family, which produces pods known as tonka beans. And it is these beans that are the source of its potential magic.
Tonka beans have been used for spells and wish-fulfillment practices in the Caribbean and in South America for generations. The reason is tied to the fact that this tree can grow for over a thousand years, and is one of the very few in the world to be able to do so. Its longevity and ability to produce a huge volume of seeds on a single tree every four years ensured that the cumaru was of interest to pagan beliefs: the cumaru was a symbol of everlasting life.
By wishing on a pod, carrying it for many years, or even by crushing and then burying the seeds in the ground, it was thought that the cumaru’s powers of long life and fertility could be passed on to the believer.
Do you believe in modern medicine?
It’s not all hokum: this species is the real deal. Tonka beans aren’t for eating, but they are both fragrant and potent. Sometimes used as a vanilla substitute and as a flavoring for pipe tobacco, their seeds are also used for their protective and curative properties.
But the tree’s most important use today is as a pharmaceutical ingredient. Traditionally, tonka beans have been used as a cure for depression and other mental health issues, as well as to increase immunity and resistance to disease. In recent years, the bean was also found to contain a chemical, which is known to enhance anticoagulant properties. Cumaru, called coumarin in the pharmaceutical trade, is now a key ingredient in the drug warfarin which helps to protect people with heart problems and blood clotting issues.
Let’s not forget about the wood
Ah yes, it’s resemblance to teak. Like that other hardwood, cumaru is extremely durable and will remain in excellent condition over a long time, when used either indoors or outdoors. It may be more difficult to work with than teak as it is more dense and has a finer grain than teak, but it makes for an excellent flooring option because of these wonderful properties.
The other aspect of cumaru that makes it an attractive option for the home is that the grain of the wood is infused with silica, the same chemical component that is used to create computer chips. Silica is actually a form of quartz, which is why this wood is so incredibly hard and dense. What matters to interior design, however, is that the grain can be sanded to one of the smoothest finishes in the business. In this way, having a cumaru floor is akin to installing a more malleable and usable stone floor with the look and feel of wood, and one that can be easily cut to size.
A fantastic option
Magic or not, cumaru is a fantastic option for your next home improvement project. The wood feels wonderfully smooth, looks elegant, and, unfinished, it bears the very faint scent of vanilla. It’s also a tree that grows in abundance, which means that buying hardwood floors made from cumaru have little to no impact on the environment.
And, if you have a few scraps of cumaru left over from your interior design project, consider making that wish. You never know what might happen.