Arctostaphylos spp. of the family Ericaeae. Reportedly includes about 60 species, not all in the genus Arctostaphylos, the most prominent of which for wood turners are the following, which grow in the western areas of the USA and Mexico: Arctostaphylos andersonii, Arctostaphylos glauca, Arctostaphylos manzanita, Arctostaphylos pungens, Arctostaphylos pringlei, Arctostaphylos tomentos, Arctostaphylos uvaursis, and Arctostaphylos viscida
A exceptionally hard wood that grows as anything from a shrub to a very small tree (up to 20 feet high has been reported) and generally has very twisted branches and thus is not available as even small lumber. Because of the hardness, this stuff will take a polish like glass.
It is widely used for parrot perches because of the hardness. Available (infrequently) for turning, especially the burl which generally grows on the root of the shrub/tree and is expensive when available. Generally the burl will have numerous voids and may include stones since it develops on the
The wood is also used for smoking flavor in cooking in those locations where it is plentiful.
Here's a sample of what the tree/bush looks like. This one may be just a bit extreme in the number of trunks, but not by much. This certainly illustrates my statement above that lumber is not something you get from this "tree".
my samples: NOTE: these pics were all taken in very bright incandescent lighting ("soft white" at 2700K) colors will vary under other lighting conditions
both sides of a sample plank of whiteleaf manzanita / Arctostaphylos viscida --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.
end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above
I got this batch of small pieces, all from the same tree, and show them here as a group mainly to show the hard, thin, black bark. It was probably more reddish when the tree was alive. All of the remainder of the pics in this section of my own samples are of various surfaces from this batch except for the "quartersawn split" one which is not shown here. HUGE enlargments are present for many of these pics including this one.
limb end grain and closeup
various rift cut surfaces --- if I had sanded down to a much finer grit than the 200 I used, the grain patters would still be faint, but they would be much more visible than what you see here.
surface closeups --- again, the sanding has obscured the grain lines; the middle pic is by far the best for getting some sense of what they look like, particularly along the bottom middle.
quartersawn surface closeups showing the nice small ray flakes that you can find in manzanita
This little stick split exactly along the rays and is shown here along with a closeup and with no sanding, just to show how the rays show up on a perfectly quartersawn ("quartersplit ?") surface.
end grain closeups. Because of the hardness of the wood, my sanding down to only 200 grit leaves VERY obvious scratches that pretty much obscure the rays, which are not very strong but which can be seen clearly in the quartersawn shots above. Note that the growth rings are faint, but clearly present. The slightly brighter red of the first pic is accurate.
both sides of a chunk of manzanita cut out from the large branch section shown above. HUGE enlargements are present
both ends of the piece directly above
end grain closeups from directly above
END GRAIN UPDATE and face grain closeup from directly above. The face grain closeup shows lots of tiny ray flakes in the enlargements
flat cut, quartersawn, end grain
common manzanita (Arctostaphylos pungens) from The Wood Book --- both levels of enlargement are available for all 3 views
both sides of a pair of moistened planks
turning blocks with such a light color that I doubt they are really manzanita although they were listed that way.
just listed as a burl, this is most likely a root burl
root burls with a somewhat washed out color which I think is at least somewhat due to the photography
burls, undoubtedly with a finishing agent on them to enhance the color
sets of pics showing burl dry and then wet
pair of pistol grips make from a root burl. The first pic is the grips just sanded and the second is finished. I think the washed out color of the unfinished grips is at least somewhat due to the photography because a good finish will greatly enhance the color of wood, but it won't change gray to brown.