What is Ambrosia Maple?

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Forum topic by fisherdoug09 posted 10-17-2012 04:54 PM 4169 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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111 posts in 1764 days

10-17-2012 04:54 PM

Hi fellow Lumberjocks, a question, about Ambrosia Maple. I live in western Montana and have a very limited source of hardwood suppliers. I have seen over time many of you have made wood projects from Ambrosia Maple. I asked my local hardwood dealer about this and he has never heard of it. Is there another name for this wood? Its a beautiful wood and I would like to find a source for it. Thanks Doug

26 replies so far

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Bill White

4021 posts in 3050 days

#1 posted 10-17-2012 04:59 PM

As I understand it, the maple is “infected” by the ambrosia beetle which causes the coloring in the wood.
Hope this helps. Might wanna Google to get a more definitive answer.


View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 2248 days

#2 posted 10-17-2012 05:00 PM

It’s maple that is affected by the ambrosia beetle once the tree is dying or dead. It leaves unique looking tunnels/figure in maple. The beetle affects other woods too, but people are most attracted to the maple.

-- jay,

View Tennessee's profile


2017 posts in 1604 days

#3 posted 10-17-2012 05:03 PM

Never heard it called anything but Ambrosia maple. Pretty common here in the South. Just a beautiful wood.

-- Paul, Tennessee,

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2202 posts in 2248 days

#4 posted 10-17-2012 05:03 PM

BTW, you see more and more luthiers using it for their guitars, like in this back and side set here…

It’s kinda pretty when finished up.

-- jay,

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2202 posts in 2248 days

#5 posted 10-17-2012 05:06 PM

Yep,I know that some species of the ambrosia attack walnut and oak as well. I’m sure there are others. Maple is the common, pretty one.

-- jay,

View CharlieM1958's profile


16143 posts in 3308 days

#6 posted 10-17-2012 07:07 PM

Another example:

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

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2202 posts in 2248 days

#7 posted 10-17-2012 07:08 PM

Gorgeous, Charlie!

-- jay,

View SASmith               's profile


1810 posts in 2077 days

#8 posted 10-17-2012 07:26 PM

My local sawmill calls it wormy maple. Most ambrosia maple around here comes from Silver Maple. I have seen it in Sugar Maple and Sycamore too.
The discoloration is caused by ambrosia fungi which is carried by the ambrosia beetle.

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

View chrisstef's profile


13588 posts in 2096 days

#9 posted 10-17-2012 08:45 PM

Ive heard it called wormy maple up here in new england as well. Great to work with and if you can find curly ambrosia maple its amazing looking.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View WDHLT15's profile


1416 posts in 1566 days

#10 posted 10-18-2012 02:34 AM

I think that it is very beautiful. All the work of a little beetle and a hitchhiking fungus!

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View huff's profile


2826 posts in 2375 days

#11 posted 10-18-2012 12:15 PM

Another example of wormy maple (Ambrosia Maple).

-- John @

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2202 posts in 2248 days

#12 posted 10-18-2012 12:42 PM

Awesome box, John!

-- jay,

View bondogaposis's profile


3451 posts in 1441 days

#13 posted 10-18-2012 12:43 PM

Here is a quote from Wikipedia on the subject.

“Ambrosia beetles are beetles of the weevil subfamilies Scolytinae and Platypodinae (Coleoptera, Curculionidae), which live in nutritional symbiosis with ambrosia fungi and probably with bacteria. The beetles excavate tunnels in dead trees in which they cultivate fungal gardens, their sole source of nutrition. After landing on a suitable tree, an ambrosia beetle excavates a tunnel in which it releases spores of its fungal symbiont. The fungus penetrates the plant’s xylem tissue, digests it, and concentrates the nutrients on and near the surface of the beetle gallery. The majority of ambrosia beetles colonize xylem (sapwood and/or heartwood) of dying or recently dead trees. Species differ in their preference for different parts of trees, different stages of deterioration, in the shape of their tunnels (“galleries”).

So Ambrosia maple is wood from a tree that has had fungus introduced by the Ambrosia beetle, it creates a very striking and random patterns in the wood. Beautiful stuff.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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2826 posts in 2375 days

#14 posted 10-18-2012 12:46 PM

Thanks Jay,

it’s actually a full size chest. I got the idea while making a band saw box one day.

-- John @

View Bluepine38's profile


3223 posts in 2175 days

#15 posted 10-18-2012 02:14 PM

Have you tried Superior Hardwood, just before you get to Missoula on the south side of hwy 93? They have
a pretty good selection and are very knowledgeable. If you need special wood, they can order it. A friend
just got a good selection of long mahogany boards in to redo a Chris Craft he is restoring. Hope you are having
fun with your fishing, and that the smoke is finally gone from your valley for the year.

-- As ever, Gus-the 76 yr young apprentice carpenter

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