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Caragana arborescens

Caragana arborescens of the family Fabaceae (syn. Leguminosae) the legume, pea, or bean family

Also known as the Siberian pea shrub or Siberian pea tree, this is a small twisted tree/shrub that may go to 12" in diameter (rarely) but is more commonly 6" or less, and thus is useful to craftspeople only for carving and small art objects. The heartwood is dark red and the sapwood is yellow. My thanks to Dan Johnson for bringing this species to my attention.

my samples:
NOTE: these pics were all taken in very bright incandescent lighting --- colors will vary under other lighting conditions
NOTE: all of my own samples are of sapwood sections of branches provided by Bruce Selyem, who also provided me with numerous
excellent shots of many of his pens, crafted from numerous woods, now shown on various pages of the site. Thanks Bruce.

both sides of each half of a modest sized branch that Bruce sent to me already cut in half. Bruce said that although this part of the branch was all sapwood (except for some TINY heartwood areas right at the pith) the same branch closer to the bole had substantial heartwood and he provided the pic directly below to show that:

Bruce's pic showing a section of the branch closer to the bole and showing some heartwood.

the end grains of both halves and end grain closeups of both ends of one of the halves

END GRAIN UPDATEs from directly above. Unlike my normal 1200 grit, this was only done to 400 grit

two small branches, and a closer shot of the one I sanded to be approximately round

end grain closeups of both ends of the rounded small branch above

I wanted to show the fact that for pen turners this wood isn't quite as boring as the other pics above would seem to indicate, even if you have only sapwood. There is a nice grain pattern, as you can see, if the pen blank is taken from near the pith. These pics were shot in daylight and getting the color corrected turned out to be impossible.

web pics:

end grain

plank listed as Siberian pea tree / Caragana arborea

plank pics submitted by Dan Johnson.

planks with dubious purple color (note that even the background is purple)


pen blanks

knife handle

a kaleidoscope and a ring


several views of a couple of lidded boxes turned by Les Elm, whom I thank for the pics. They are finished with 1 coat of BLO and 2 coats of Minwax Satin WOP. They measure approx. 3-1/4" Tall x 1-7/8" OD x 1-13/16" ID.

vase (smaller than it might look in the pic)