Purple heart is a very interesting and beautiful wood. There are over 20 different species that grow in Central America and the tropical South America. It is the dull brown heart wood of a white tree that turns purple after it has been cut. The color of purple can vary from dull to vibrant and is very pretty. After it has been exposed for a long period of time it can turn a brown color again. It is usually best kept out of direct sunlight. It usually has a tight grain but can rarely have an irregular grain, which usually is not ideal. The wood is hard, heavy, and dense. It does not dent very easily and you have to use sharp tools when working with it. When you work with purple heart you must work slow. When you are finishing this wood it will sand to a nice shine and it is best to use a lacquered based finish so you don't remove the purple color. Other finishing materials that work well with this wood are wax, water based finished, and oil based finishes will enhance the color dramatically.
Purple heart has a wide range of uses. Since it is a tropical wood is has a great resistance to water and can be used for various things from canoes to bridge construction in areas where it grows. In the U.S. it is mainly used as accents for various objects. Guitars, wood flooring, furniture, cabinets, jewelry, and just about anything else. It can be easily turned and used to make bowls and cups. It's price can range from inexpensive to moderate and can be found at just about any lumber store near school. I think a purple heart table would be a great idea. I think Aiden made one when he took the class.
Most of this information can be found at http://www.hobbithouseinc.com/personal/woodpics/#letterA