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Million dollar trade: The West African tree that bleeds while being smuggled into China.

The Rosewood tree is one of the most trafficked species on earth. When it’s cut it bleeds a blood red sap. Having exhausted stocks elsewhere, Chinese traders have turned to West Africa. BBC Africa Eye are in Senegal where it is illegal to fell or export a Rosewood tree.

Rosewood is a tree. It is an evergreen. It grows in a tropical climate. It grows up to 25 M.

All genuine rosewoods is said to belong to the genus Dalbergia. The pre-eminent rosewood appreciated in the Western world is the wood of Dalbergia nigra. It is best known as “Brazilian rosewood”, but also as “Bahia rosewood”. This wood has a strong, sweet smell, which persists for many years.

The most widely traded illegal wild product in the world today is rosewood, an endangered hardwood prized for its use in traditional Chinese furniture.

Almost all of the rosewood is headed to China, where its lustrous red interior is used in traditional hongmu furniture, and a single bed made from Madagascar rosewood can cost $1 million.

Rosewood is the most trafficked form of flora or fauna in the world, measured by value or volume, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. It’s traded far more than elephant ivory, rhino horn, and pangolin scales put together, and is often called the “ivory of the forest.”

Conservationists are so concerned about the fate of rosewood in part because it takes many decades to grow to a commercially viable size and centuries to reach full maturity.


There are many species of rosewood which come from all around the world. Depending on the source country, the colour of rosewood can vary from nearly ebony through dark browns to rich reds and therefore make it an ideal choice for furniture and decorative items.

The origin of the rosewood also affects its strength, durability and hardness with Indian and African rosewood being the hardest.



Rosewood is commonly used for furniture, musical instruments, decorative items and veneers.

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