High Grade Timber Created by Weevils?

Ambrosia, the heavenly food of the gods, delivered unto Olympus by a flock of doves and bestowing immortality and everlasting beauty to all who taste it; or a brand of tinned custard depending on your view point.

It was this miraculous liquid that undid all of the years that Penelope had waited for Odysseus, restoring her youth after the 20 years they had spent apart and that caused Tantalus to forsake the god’s hospitality and condemn himself to an eternity of punishment.

Tinned custard not-withstanding the very word ambrosia conjures up all of the romance of antiquity; the strains of a lyre echoing through white marble temples glittering beneath the hot Mediterranean sun, beautiful nymphs bathing in the cool, crystal blue waters of the Aegean – no wonder that scientists heard the word and immediately thought of a small weevil that eats fungus…

Over millions of years the beetle and the fungus have evolved a complex symbiotic relationship wherein the beetle carries the fungus around, giving it the opportunity to see the world, meet new and interesting people and stay in the finest accommodation. The beetle searches out fallen trees to lay its larvae in and as it flies through the forest the fungus hitches a ride. Nothing comes for free in this life though, so as the fungi gorge themselves on the nutrients in the timber the beetles eats the growing colonies of the tiny organisms.

Try as it might, the beetle can’t reach all of the fungus and it spreads through the tree down the xylem, tiny bundles of tubes that carry nutrients and water up the trunk. This rogue fungus causes bands of discolouration in the wood, known as enlargements, which are highly prized by turners and furniture makers for their distinctive colouration and patterning.

When our buyers visited the states last year they were extremely excited to see such a high grade product.

Not widely available in the UK, these 50mm solid planks of soft maple (acer saccharum) have been heavily inoculated with the ambrosia fungus. The organism itself is destroyed during the kilning process leaving the beautiful figure caused by the discolouration behind, and can be used to enhance a variety of wood working projects, most notably turning for bowls and platters, or planks for table and bar tops. What makes these boards even more special is that they are supplied waney edged, leaving the whole width of the board available or if you’re feeling extra adventurous you can leave the boards au naturel and preserve the waney edge for that natural rustic feel.

So why not come down and take a look at some of these extra special boards at Thorogood Timber? Maybe you’ve got a special project in mind, or you’re looking for inspiration on a fancy new piece of furniture? Either way it’s worth coming down just to see what those artistic beetles can do!

Blog | 8 years AGO