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Veneered tabletop with lacewood; MFA# 2019.1803
Lacewood (Silky oak) (Grevillea robusta)


A common name wood from numerous trees with striking patterns in their cut planks. Most species are found in Australian, southeast Asia, or South America. Two significant types are:

1) A pink wood with a distinctive ornamental figuring obtained from species Cadwellia sublimis native to Australia. Lacewood has a straight grain and coarse texture that is similar to Oak. Lacewood has a silver sheen and is used for veneer, inlays, cabinetry, flooring, boxes, and furniture.

2) A reddish brown wood quartersawed from sycamore trees (Platanus occidentalis) native to the eastern United States. It is sold commercially as lacewood because the quartersawed wood has a grain pattern with characteristic flake-shaped markings. The surface is fine-grain and it polishes to a high gloss. The wood is used for tool handles, furniture, flooring, and veneer.

3) Other trees include: Gravillea robusta (eastern Australia); Lagetta lagetto (Caribbean), Roupala montana (South America). Roupala brailiensis (Brazil); Panopsis spp. (Brazil)

Lacewood (side cut)

Synonyms and Related Terms

lace wood; Brazilian Lacewood, South American Lacewood

1) Cadwellia sublimis; silky oak; northern silky oak; selano; bulk oak; oongaary; golden spanglewood

2) Platanus occidentalis; platano (It.); sycamore; Oriental plane 

Physical and Chemical Properties

1. Tall tree, often reaching 30 m. Bark if thin. Leaves are entire and large, reaching 65cm length. Flowers occur in spring-summer producing profuse cream-white coverage, woody oval follicles and numerous winged seeds. Specific gravity = 0.60 (air dry); weight = 37 ppcf

2. Large tree reaching to 40 m and 2 m diameter. Bark is mottled, flaking off in large masses. Leaves are alternate, palmately nerved, broadly ovate or orbicular, 10 to 23 cm (4 to 9 in) inches long.

Additional Images

Resources and Citations

  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997