What is dragonwood?

It’s rare that I’m stumped when I try to find something on Google, but this one beat me.  Somebody on the woodcarving forum asked about “dragonwood.”  Always curious, I thought I’d look it up.

Dragonwood appears to be very commonly used for the trunks and larger branches of artificial (silk) trees.  It’s also commonly used to make perches for pet birds, and I gather somewhat less commonly used to make cat trees and cheap furniture.  That’s all interesting, but I couldn’t find a picture of a dragonwood tree or anything that gave me the botanical name of the silly thing.  The best I could find is that it grows in Florida.

Somebody else on the forum posted an answer this afternoon, identifying the wood as Lyonia Ferruginea (rusty staggerbrush), a shrub or small tree that grows in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.  In case you’re interested, that person also indicated that it’s good carving wood.

I’m really surprised that this one stumped me.  The common name dragonwood (less often, “dragon wood”) is used in a lot of places, but I was unable to find a any reference that showed its botanical name.  I figured I could find it just like I can type “bottle brush tree” and get the botanical name.  No such luck.

One resource said that “dragonwood” was a corruption of the original “draggin’ wood”, which describes how they get the wood out of the thicket after it’s cut.

Hopefully anybody else looking for a description of dragonwood will find this post and not have to wade through a few dozen pages of links to fake plants and parrot cage goodies.

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