Brazilwood is named for the Spanish ‘brasa’ meaning glowing coals or embers, due to its warm red heartwood. Brazilwood was recorded as a dyestuff in the early 14th Century, when it was traded to Europe from Indian Caesalpinia Sappan trees and used throughout the Middle Ages to create a variety of colours from oranges to reds, lavenders, pinks, and soft grey-blues.
In 1500, the Portuguese arrived on the coast of South America and discovered large numbers of trees growing there that were closely related to Brazilwood (in fact Caesalpinia Echinata), and named the country Brasil (Brazil), after the dye. Colonial Portugal maintained a monopoly on its export and increased felling to the extent that by the end of the 18th Century Caesalpinia Echinata was almost extinct. It remains an endangered species.
Tender’s Brazilwood is the original Caesalpinia Sappan known in Europe in the Middle Ages, and is an un-endangered flowering tree common across tropical South Asia.