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Acer app.

Acer spp. of the family Aceraceae. Native to North America.

"Ambrosia" is a term applied to maple when it has been infested by the ambrosia beetle. I do not know for sure if it is limited to any particular ones of the 60+ species of the genus Acer that are sold as various types of maple, but I do know that it occurs in big-leaf (aka red) maple (Acer rubrum) and that it is often listed as "wormy soft maple" (and Acer rubrum is one of the two main maples listed as "soft maple", the other one being Acer saccharinum) so generally I would expect ambrosia maple to be Acer rubrum or Acer saccharinum, but I doubt it is limited to those two species.

The fungus is eaten by the beetle and then gets into the tree sap when the beetle eats into the tree, and it spreads both through the worm-hole and up and down in the tree (carried along by the sap) and causes discoloring of the wood in streaks. It is these streaks which are so desirable to woodturners as it produces a beautiful pattern in the wood which is clearly seen when the wood is turned on a lathe.

This kind of insect attack / wood figure is not limited to maple, but that is the wood in which it is most well known.

The number of beetle holes will vary from very few up to what looks like a major infestation, as you can see from the pics on this page.


my samples:
NOTE: these pics were all taken in very bright incandescent lighting ("soft white" at 2700K)
colors will vary under other lighting conditions

plank and closeup

some small planks cut from the big one directly above. Note that these appear more white, but that's just because the large plank had a mild patina and was a little dirty. These are freshly sanded.

side grain of the same planks

end grain of the 3 small planks directly above

end grain closeups of the pieces directly above

andother end grain closeup and the associated END GRAIN UPDATE

side grain closeups of the 3 planks above

planks shot at a lumber yard. HUGE enlargements are present

misc planks photographed at lumber yards. HUGE enlargements are present

planks shot at a lumber store. HUGE enlargements are present

spalted ambrosia maple scales loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.

NOT a raw wood color
finished table top shot in a wood store. HUGE enlargements are present

veneer sheet and closeup sold to me as wormy red maple veneer

sold to me as wormy red maple veneer

web pics:

flat cut, quartersawn, and end grain

log ends

log ends and a closeup


freshly milled ambrosia maple

a pair of ambrosia maple slabs and various closeups

large ambrosia maple slabs (the longest is 8 feet) and some closeups

slab and closeup of the wet part

slab and a closeup moistened for the pic

moistened closeup of a slab


a particularly clean ambrosia maple plank and a closeup


curly maple that has the ambrosia markings

bookmatched planks not identified as curly, but they clearly are

bookmatched planks listed as ambrosia soft maple

plank listed as wormy maple, which is actually a misnomer. Wormy maple is maple that has worm tracks in it. This is ambrosia maple, which has holes made by the ambrosia beetle.


turning blanks that I belive have been moistened or waxed --- at any rate, this is not the natural color of the wood, which is likely to be much less orange/golden

bowl blanks with some particularly dark streaks

bowl blanks

pen blanks that I believe have been moistened in some way --- these were listed as ambrosia, but I don't see it; I think they are spalted and the vendor is confused.

bowl blank (two views) that is listed as spalted although the spalting is quite weak, especially by the standards of maple, which spalts quite impressively

spalted ambrosia maple plank

bowl blank

bowl blank from curly maple that has the ambrosia markings ... very neat

turning blocks

turning stock

turning stock end grain with both levels of enlargement present

turning block with color that is not believable --- could be due to a wax coating

veneer listed as curly wormy maple

listed as curly, but I can't see a hint of curl from this pic and the color is not believable

veneer listed as wormy red maple


veneer listed as wormy maple

curly maple with ambrosia markings

listed as figured ambrosia but doesn't even look like ambrosia of any kind to me, just a crappy spalt (but it IS curly)

bookmatched curly planks and closeup --- I find the orange color highly dubious but cannot say for sure that is has to be false.

a floor of ambrosia maple --- 3 views

speaker enclosure and a closeup of the rear of the left speaker --- this appears to be ambrosia planks, not veneer

door made from ambrosia maple

belt buckle made from curly ambrosia maple

guitar back with bookmatched ambrosia maple --- WOW, just wow !

various bowls --- ambrosia maple is a favorite of turners because of the striking results such as these

two views of a bowl --- both levels of enlargement are present

spalted ambrosia maple bowl

bowl shot at a woodworking show. HUGE enlargements are present.

a very nice wood find for the owner ... bowl of wood that is both curly and ambrosia

top and bottom of a bowl that is particularly heavy in streaks

two views of a bowl made from ambrosia maple that has some curl to it. The different colors in the two pics are a good illustration of why I started this web site. Even considering a finishing agent, I doubt that either one of the pics has the color quite right and obviously there's no way they can both be right.

winged ambrosia maple bowl shot at a craft show. The finish is Danish oil. HUGE enlargements are present. This was not really the best angle to shoot this bowl because this particular piece of ambrosia maple is particularly well suited to this bowl but that doesn't show up in this pic as well as it did in the actual bowl. You can see what I mean a little better in the enlargements.

hollow form and platter


ambrosia maple vase that I shot at a craft show --- HUGE enlargments are present

Nice big ambrosia maple vase with a high gloss polyurethane finish, shot at a woodworking show. HUGE enlargerments are present.