heartwood, the central, woody core of a tree, no longer serving for the conduction of water and dissolved minerals; heartwood is usually denser and darker in color than the outer sapwood. Before the synthesis of aniline dyes, the heartwood of several tropical trees (sold collectively under the commercial name brazilwood ) was used to produce blue, purple, and red dyes. As a tree becomes older, the heartwood increases in diameter, whereas the sapwood remains about the same thickness. See wood.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.