Purple Heart is a trade name commonly used to describe several species of the genus Peltogyne whose wood displays a distinct purple color. Because of this striking aesthetic, Purple Heart wood is traded globally and adds significant value to the timber stands in which it grows.
Purple Heart wood is also exceptionally strong. Purple Heart lumber has demand in both local and international industrial lumber markets for use in truck decking, bridges, docks and other heavy outdoor construction.
But what gives Purple Heart wood it’s purple color?
Scientists recently isolated the purple pigment from Peltogyne mexicana and identified it as a quinone methide peltogynoid (Gutierrez-Macias et al. 2016). In addition to being helpful words to remember in your next game of Scrabble, this compound shows important antioxidant activity. Antioxidants are thought to have anti-disease benefits. Given the tendency of Purple Heart wood to irritate the skin and eyes of woodworkers however, it’s still better suited for looking than eating.
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