Tzalam Wood (Lysiloma spp.) Uses and Properties

Because it looks like American Black Walnut, Tzalam wood is also called Mayan Walnut. The color ranges from light to medium brown and can look reddish or purple. It is an exotic hardwood with a price in the middle range.

The plant is a strong pioneer species that quickly takes over areas where fires or trees have been cut down. It can be utilized as a pioneer species to establish the necessary circumstances for re-growing native forests or a woodland garden.

In the Caribbean and central America, the plant is often used in farming with trees. It gives bees food, fixes nitrogen from the air, improves the soil, and is a good source of wood.

The wood is very strong, easy to work with, smooth when finished, and takes a high natural polish. It is used to make furniture, wheels, parquet, interior trim, bobbins and shuttles, veneer, and handles for knives.

Different parts of Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean are where tzalam comes from. Its cream-colored sapwood is easy to tell apart from its light to dark brown, smooth to pronounced-grained heartwood. The tree can grow up to 25 to 30 meters tall, and cabinetmakers love its wood.

Tzalam-sawn wood has become popular because of its hardness and reddish-brown color. Architects use it for both outside and inside projects. Tzalam is a very hard wood that does well in bad weather.

Tzalam is a popular choice for pool loungers and other outdoor furniture along the Caribbean coast because it can stand up to the weather and still look nice.

tzalam wood

Tzalam is sold under other names

The flooring industry often sells Tzalam as “Caribbean Walnut,” “Tzalam,” “Caribbean Walnut,” “Sabicu,” “False Tamarind,” “Mayan Walnut,” or “Aztec Walnut.” However, Tzalam is not in the genus Juglans, which most people think of when they hear the word “walnut.”

Instead, Tzalam is in the genus Lysiloma, which has leaves that look like feathers and long, flat seed pods.

Tzalam wood maintenance    

Tzalam is much stronger than teak, and furniture made from it can last a very long time if it is taken care of properly. They are also easy to clean and keep up. All you have to do is sweep, vacuum, and mop the floor with a regular cleaner.

The warranty on Tzlam wood is for at least 10 years. This means that with proper care, this furniture can keep its color and quality for at least 10 years.

Is Tzalam hard or softwood       

Tzalam wood is an exotic hardwood with a price that falls in the middle range. It is easy to work with and glues, turns, and finishes well.

Tzalam Wood identification

Since the Tzalam tree is like the jacaranda, it can grow in the wild. It spreads seeds as it grows, allowing other trees to grow in the region. It’s said to last a long time and resist most insect attacks.

Color and appearance

The sapwood is yellowish cream with reddish undertones. In the light and dark heartwood, brown tones prevail, with coppery and purple undertones. Sapwood and heartwood are easily distinguished.

Grain and texture

Straight grain with a smooth, open feel. Medium luster.

Endgrain is porous, but the pores aren’t in a specific pattern, and there aren’t many of them. There are solitary and radial multiples of 2-3, and sometimes heartwood deposits.

Narrow rays can’t be seen without a lens, and the spacing between them is normal. Parenchyma is vasicentric, lozenge, confluent, and banded (marginal).

Strength and Durability

Tzalam is a heavy and solid wood, which means manufacturing furniture from it is difficult because it involves a lot of physical labor.

However, this does not exclude the creation of exquisite furniture from this sort of wood. Tzalam wood does not fade like teak or other woods used for outdoor furniture.

Although heartwood is particularly resistant (class 1 according to ASTM D 2017-71) or resistant (class 2 according to EN 350-1) to decay fungi, using it for outdoor service in contact with the ground is rather problematic.

Termite resistance is moderate, although marine borers are unlikely to be resistant.

Water resistance

Tzalam wood is so sturdy and resistant to weather, water, and humidity that it has recently been used to build numerous docks in Mexico.


Somewhat tough to work within various machining operations, especially when interlocking or very uneven grain is present.

Hard-edge tools (tungsten carbide, stellite) are advised to achieve high-quality surfaces and edges. It has a beautiful finish and is simple to lacquer and glue. Nailing and screwing require preliminary drilling due to their hardness.

Tzalam wood uses

Because of its wonderful colors, it is widely used in carpentry and joinery for beautiful furniture. Interior and exterior building, flooring, and molded products all use it. Because of its strong resistance to deterioration, it is commonly used for outdoor furniture.

Tzalam wood for flooring

In the United States, high-end wood floors and hand-scraped engineered wood floors made of Tzalam are becoming increasingly popular.

Tzalam wood is so tough that it is often used to build docks in Mexico because it can stand up to the weather and the outdoors.

tzalam furniture

Tzalam wood furniture

Tzalam is a popular choice for pool loungers and other outdoor furniture along the Caribbean coast because it can stand up to the weather and still look nice.

The best wood for outdoor furniture is tzalam. One of the few problems with tzalam is that the tree’s branches are very thin, making it hard to make furniture with many curves.

Tzalam is much stronger than teak; if you take care of furniture made from it, it can last for many years.

Tzalam wood alternatives

You can also find out about other types of wood that have similaritis and might be good alternatives to substitute Tzalam wood.

Parota wood

Parota has light to medium brown heartwood. Sometimes the heartwood has a slight reddish-brown color.

Most of the time, the heartwood of Parota has darker brown lines running through it. The sapwood is a light, creamy yellow and can be easily told apart from the heartwood.

Peruvian walnut

Peruvian walnut, commonly known as nogal, is a species in the same genus as the black walnut and has many characteristics. Despite its name, Peruvian walnut is native to South America and as far north as Mexico.

Cocobolo wood

Cocobolo is known for being one of the most beautiful and expensive kinds of wood. Rosewood’s natural qualities have caught the attention of woodworkers and artists, who have used it to make a wide range of things.

Teak Wood

Teak is the hardest, most durable, and strongest timber available. Because of this, it is the best choice for long-lasting outdoor furniture.

It has been used to build ships and high-end yachts and boats since the Middle Ages and is still used today.