What’s So Special about Spalted Wood?

Decorative wood can feature a multitude of unusual forms and effects, and spalted wood is no exception. Read on to discover why it is highly prized in the making of extraordinary wood veneer.Maple Ambrosia Spalted Wood Speakers

Spalted Wood as a Design Element

Spalted wood has blackish irregular lines that are caused by fungal decay. This wood is often used to create a stunning wood veneer. Spalting is usually seen in dead trees, but it can also take place in living trees that are, as woodworkers would say, weathered down or stressed. This makes it an eco-friendly veneer.

Spalted is derived from the old German word “spalt,” which means to split. The special patterns and colors, ranging from black brown blue gray to orange, makes it extremely popular, especially amongst interior designers.

Which Trees are Likely to Show Spalting?

Closeup of Spalted Wood MapleSpalting takes place in various species of trees, but most often in maples, beeches and birches. The rate of spalting is usually different for each type of wood and is dependent on environmental and climate factors. Spalting usually takes place in temperatures ranging from 70-90 degrees Fahrenheit and moisture around 30%.

Types of Spalting in Decorative Wood

Spalting that occurs in decorative wood can be split into four major kinds. Essentially, spalted wood could feature one, or even all of these amazing forms, which are beautifully showcased in wood veneer products.

  1. Zone Lines – This is characterized as thin red, brown and black streaks, winding lines, and dark dotting. This kind of spalting does not take place because of a certain kind of fungus. Rather, it is an interaction zone where various fungi have established barriers to keep their resources protected.
  2. White Rot – Though the term may sound a bit unappealing, the look is great! This is characterized as the bleaching effect and white pockets seen in spalted wood. It’s usually found in hardwoods and is caused by a concentration of the white hyphae (branching filaments) of a fungus in an area, which creates the bleaching effect.
  3. Spalted Wood by Herzog Veneers

  4. Pigmentation –Also called sapstain or bluestain. This particular kind of spalting takes place when the dark-pigmented fungal hyphae develop in the sapwood of a tree. A visible color change is seen if there is a good amount of hyphae in that area.
  5. Ambrosia Beetle – Some wormholes and color variations are introduced by the ambrosia beetle. They have a symbiotic relationship with some of the other fungus. Ambrosia beetles and ambrosia fungi became completely dependent on each other.

One of a Kind Wood Veneer

Due to the unique patterns in spalted wood, it is much sought after in decorative wood markets. It is used to make gorgeous wood veneer for high quality vintage furniture and as the creative inspiration for many other features and items of beauty. One of Mother Nature’s most intriguing creations, every piece of spalted wood is an absolute one of a kind, and as such, is treasured by artisans and craftsmen alike. Look for spalted wood veneer for your next unique project.


Sabrina Parisette-HerzogSabrina Parisette-Herzog is a 5th generation wood veneer specialist. Owner and President of Herzog Veneers, Inc., and a graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont, she and her husband Sam started the company in High Point, NC in 1982.
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