Puriri is also known as New Zealand Mahogany, Teak, Oak or Walnut. It is found in the northern North Island, from sea-level to 800 m above sea-level and tends to grow best on fertile or volcanic soils. Puriri grow up to 20 metres high, with a trunk up to 1.5 metres in diameter, sometimes thicker, and a broad spreading crown. The thin bark is usually smooth and light brown in colour, and can also be very flaky.
Puriri is one of the few native trees with large colourful flowers, which are tubular, ranging from fluorescent pink to dark red, rose pink (most
common) or sometimes even white with a yellow or pink blush. These flowers, and the resulting hard-cored fleshy fruit, provide food for native birds year-round.
Puriri timber is usually greenish dark-brown, but sometimes nearly black or streaked with yellow. It was often used for implements and structures requiring strength and durability. While Puriri has a cross-grain making it difficult for carving, Mäori used it for garden tools and weapons which had a long life, and for hinaki (eel traps) because it was one of the few timbers that would sink.
Unfortunately, sources of Puriri are still quite rare, and many sources are spoiled by the Puriri moth that burrows in the wood, making the wood difficult to use.
Puriri is an incredibly dense wood. It can be quite difficult to work with however, and can splinter. However, it is a beautiful dark brown colour, and provides a great contrast to other native woods. I have used it for trim and accent pieces in guitar bodies before. It is also widely used as wood for fretboards. Because it is hard to come by, as well as the damage caused by the Puriri moth, it makes it difficult to get lengths suitable for anything more substantial than fretboards and details / features.