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What is Diamond Willow?

by Hannah Ray

What is diamond willow, where can it be found, and what is the “diamond” characteristic all about…??

Some Interesting Information About Diamond Willow Wood.

I make root wood frames, real barn wood frames, driftwood frames, and other custom wood frames out of various types of repurposed wood. But the most popular (and my favorite) have always seemed to be the diamond willow wood frames. I have sold many a frame made from diamond willow wood as a traditional 5th or 9th anniversary willow wood gift.

Why Is It Called Diamond Willow?

It is called “diamond willow” not because of its density or hardness (willow is not typically a very hard wood), as you might assume. Diamond willow trees are actually just willow trees that have been affected by a fungal growth. In response to this, the main stems and branches produce peculiar “diamond” shaped cankers, seemingly as a result of the the tree growing around, or away from, an affected area. This often seems to cause not only the cool diamond shapes in the surface of the wood, but crazy, bending growth behaviours in the stems and branches, themselves.

Of the six or so species of willow that are known to be particularly susceptible to “diamonding”, the most common is Salix bebbiana, which is indigenous to Canada and the Northern US.

Where to Find Diamond Willow Wood

I first discovered diamond willow in Southern Alberta, a few years ago. In Western Canada, it seems to be the most plentiful region, as far as I can tell. I have found it to grow quite sparsely further north in the province, and even found it in Southern BC, where I live, even though the consensis I had gathered suggested that it was not known to exist here, but mainly just in the Northern region of the province.

Diamond willow wood tends to grow mostly in low-altitude, marshy areas.

If you can find “fallen” stocks of this wood (like old, discarded fence posts) that have been weathered for many years, it is amazingly beautiful wood. Look in ditches along fence lines in rural valleys, marshy areas, or near water. Willow wood loves water, and the diamonding phenomenon tends to happen in willow wood that grows in these type of regions.

In the US, diamond willow trees are more plentiously found in the northern regions, but can be found as far south as Missouri.

Magnificent Wood

You have likely seen walking sticks carved out of diamond willow wood. The bark is removed, and the wood sanded smooth and lacquered. I had a friend who used to carve them, and other things. I accompanied him on a diamond willow harvesting excursion once, and when we had returned with the wood, I ran a piece through a table saw. That is when I discovered just how amazing this wood truly is (and soon found myself making elegantly rustic, if not rather unusual picture frames with it)!

The irregularity of the grain patterns and colouring inside this wood can be just fantastic!

You can find more in-depth information about diamond willow wood at Wikipedia.

Unique Wood Frames

I had carved a couple of very interesting things from diamond willow wood, but found that I could craft unique picture frames from it, which became very popular with the people who saw them. These rather unusual picture frames quickly drew many amazed responses at farmer’s markets, and I was soon in business online.

I have handcrafted many custom wood frames, including driftwood frames and other live edge frames. The diamond willow frames have always been the most popular.

Give a Diamond Willow Wood Gift.

A willow wood gift from a spouse is a tradition for a ninth anniversary. We have sold many frames as a willow wood gift for a 5th or 9th anniversary.

Whether you are looking for diamond willow wood frames, or just a unique wood frame for a gift or a canvas or family portrait, check out the current unique wood frames in stock on the website https://craigs-unique-frames.com/shop.

I also handcraft custom wood frames up to 11×14 in size (bigger if they don’t require glass).

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