Where does the name Brazil come from?

Pau Brasil at GoBrazil

Everything has its origins. The name of our beloved country “Brazil” is not an exception. Have you ever thought what does it mean or where does it come from?
If not, get ready for the surprise: Brazil is probably the only country which name comes from the tree!
The name is shortened from Portuguese “Terra do Brasil” (engl. land of brazilwood).
One of the most important features of brazilwood is heavy wood with the presence of extract which yields a red dye called brazilin.
At the country’s discovery time, these species were wide spread all along the Atlantic Forest. The situation changed with the arrival of Portuguese. Very quickly they recognized the high quality or the wood and started to sell it to the European market. The wood itself was transformed to furniture and musical instruments and the extract for production of the red dey.
Excessive exploitation led to a steep decrease in the number of brazilwood trees in the 18th century, causing the collapse of this economic activity. Nowadays, the species is nearly extirpated in most of its origin areas. Brazilwood is listed as an endangered species by the world conservation union, and it is cited in the official list of endangered flora of Brazil.
A federal law currently prohibits the illegal exploitation of the few ones that still exists.
Brazil is also taking various measures for restoration and replanting of the species.
GoBrazil is also doing its part – we planted one exemplar in our garden. It is doing well, though it is growing very slow. One can see that indeed the tree is very delicate.