Ipé’s heartwood, is typically reddish brown, sometimes with a greenish tinge, often with lighter or darker striping. Ipé wood comes in good long lengths with limited warp. Sapwood is a much lighter white or yellow. Ipé hardwood has no distinctive odor.
Heartwood can vary in color from reddish brown, to a more yellowish olive brown or darker blackish brown; sometimes with contrasting darker brown/black stripes. In certain species, there are powdery yellow deposits within the wood. Ipé can be difficult to distinguish visually from Cumaru, another dense South American timber, though Ipé tends to be darker, and lacks the subtle yet characteristic vanilla/cinnamon scent while being worked.
Overall, Ipé is a difficult wood to work, being extremely hard and dense, with high cutting resistance during sawing. Ipé also has a pronounced blunting effect on cutting edges. The wood generally planes smoothly, but the grain can tearout on interlocked areas. Also, Ipé can be difficult to glue properly, and surface preparation prior to gluing is recommended. Straight-grained wood turns well, though the natural powdery yellow deposits can sometimes interfere with polishing or finishing the wood.