Design Primer: Ambrosia Maple
Today’s post is both a mini materials lesson and a hint of an upcoming DIY project that’s still in the works. Keep an eye out for the finished piece in the coming weeks.
I was introduced to Ambrosia Maple while shopping for a slab for an upcoming project and thought I would share the story behind it with you all... along with a little sneak peek of what I’m currently working on. Despite its appearance, Ambrosia Maple is not an exotic wood- it's actually the result of an infection of sorts in that causes common Maple to take on its unique appearance.
Another term for it is Wormy Maple, which gives you a hint of the root cause- if you look closely you can see sets of holes at the heart of the discolored streaks. This is where the ambrosia beetles bore into the wood taking with them a type of fungus that creates food for its larva. (Stick with me here, I’m sure you didn’t think you would be reading about larva on a design blog.) The result is a discoloration in the wood that resembles a ghost, with the pale gray streaks surrounding the wormholes and the holes as the eyes. While it may not be the most appetizing of stories, the result is beautiful, and I think a bit romantic when you consider the fact that something so beautiful came from something that would otherwise be regarded as a negative.
As far as materials go neither the holes nor the fungus comprises the integrity of the wood; though it is a bit softer than some other species of maple, making it easier to work with. It polishes up beautifully (I can personally attest to this) and is commonly used both in furniture and for ornamental purposes.