Chinese Furniture Materials:
Boxwood (Huangyang) 黄杨木


Boxwood (Buxus L.) is a small tree and shrub. Due to the limited size of the material, it is rarely used for full-sized pieces of furniture, but more often for small, carved objects or as decorative inlay. Boxwood is very durable and dense (.83-.93 g/cm3), and its fine even texture makes it especially suitable for carving.

Numerous varieties, which all produce material of similar characteristics, are widely distributed throughout China; noted timber varieties are also harvested in Hubei, Jiangxi, and Sichuan. The tree grows very slowly, with some varieties reaching only 10-15 cm diameter after 100 years; forests of Laoshan in Shandong produce boxwood trees with diameters reaching 30 cm.

The sapwood and heartwood of boxwood are indistinguishable, and their freshly cut pale-yellow color turns to a warm brownish-yellow tone after exposure. The grain is usually very straight, but can also be irregular. The timber is difficult to dry and especially prone to splitting. Freshly worked boxwood has an earthy fragrance. Because of its extremely small vessel cells, the texture is exceptionally smooth and fine, and the surface polishes to a silky luster.

Extract from:

Evarts, Curtis. C. L. Ma Collection: Traditional Furniture from the Greater Shanxi Region, 1999.