A good wood craftsman knows the most consistent thing about wood, is that it’s never consistent. Each tree has an origin story and each grain is never the same. However, the more familiar you become with wood, the easier it is to remember all its complexities. Here on the west coast, there are many native trees that have some of the most beautiful wood to familiarize yourself with. Alligator Juniper, California Buckeye & Mesquite trees are all native to the south west region of the United States.
Many wood enthusiasts consider Alligator Juniper a rare find. This 30-50 ft tall tree is native to Mexico, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Named for its distinctive grooves that resemble alligator skin – rough and uniquely patterned. Alligator Juniper is the largest southwestern Juniper and has berry-like cones that have been used in food and teas. In addition, Alligator Juniper is wonderful firewood because it has a cedar like aroma that pleasantly fills the room and is even available as an incense or oil fragrance. Most importantly, you may find Alligator Juniper firewood, you may not easily find charming furniture such as the root base table we have available in our showroom.
California Buckeye Burl is…you guessed it – native to California, found in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Buckeye trees have multiple trunks and are sculptures that add to the landscape design. The splendor of the California Buckeye is in its burl. A burl is a tree growth typically found on the trunk, when cut it reveals kaleidoscope swirls of gold and black. It’s grandeur is often awed over and used to create unusually designed guitars, rings, sculptures and tables. In our showroom, we have a Buckeye Burl tabletop with turquoise inlay and a natural edge complimented by a base. The tabletop and base are both made from the tree trunk.
Mesquite wood, you may know as simply smoking wood. Native to the desert southwest and Mexico, Mesquite trees range in size from 10 to 60 feet depending on the species. The red orange sap is used for medicinal healing and mesquite beans are used for coffee, boiled and roasted for meals. Mesquite wood is red to chocolate brown in color and with the right finish can resemble the elegant color of mahogany. Mesquite trees are multi-purpose, the wood can make furniture such as a live-edge mantel, table, shelf, or counter top. A mesquite piece of furniture is a high-end treasure with aesthetic additions like coral inlay or pebble inlay.
There are so many wood species, however these 3 are simply some of our western favorites! These trees memories and your own may have crossed paths during your California and Arizona travels. With this in mind, when looking for the right type of wood to add to your home consider these admired designer choices.