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CHITTAMWOOD
(often called "chittum")

Sideroxylon lanuginosum

Sideroxylon lanuginosum (syn. Bumelia lanuginosa and Bumelia rufa) of the family Sapotaceae. Bumelia retusa does not have chittamwood as one of its common names but it is a close relative and appears on this page. Native to Northern Mexico and the Southern part of the USA from Arizona across to South Carolina and in the middle of the country up to Illinois.

The scientific name was recently changed from Bumelia lanuginosa and while the plant is commonly refereed to as Gum Bumelia by botanists, I have put it on this site using the name chittamwood because that seems to be the name (along with chittam or chittum or chittimwood or chittumwood) more commonly used by craftspeople in the USA. Other common names include antswood, black haw, brazos bumelia, buckthorn, chittimwood, coma, ironwood, shittamwood, false buckthorn, gum bumelia, gum elastic, gum woolybucket, slowwood, stifftwig, tempesquistle (Mexico), Texas bumelia, woolybucket bumelia, wooly buckthorn, wooly bumelia, and zapotillo (Mexico).

Because of similarities in plant size and wood appearance (and cross-use of common names), it is sometimes confused with buckthorn and smoketree and it also looks similar to osage orange although I am not aware of its being confused with that particular wood.

Grows as anything from a large shrub up to a small tree reaching a maximum of about 40ft high and 1ft in diameter, so is not available in lumber form and is generally seen only in craft projects such as pens and small bowls.

my samples:


both sides of a sample plank of gum bumelia / Sideroxylon lanuginosum NOTE: I don't know how I managed to screw up the camera on this one but the colors are not quite right on this whole set and I can't get color correction to make them much better> The color should be pretty much the same as the sample directly below.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of gum bumelia / Bumelia lanuginosa --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. Bumelia lanuginosa is a synonym for Sideroxylon lanuginosum.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of gum bumelia / Sideroxylon lanuginosum --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. NOTE: the orange in these pics is too bright; should be slightly more subdued towards tan.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of gum bumelia / Sideroxylon lanuginosum --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of gum bumelia / Sideroxylon lanuginosum --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of gum bumelia / Bumelia lanuginosa --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. Bumelia lanuginosa is a synonym of Sideroxylon lanuginosum.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above

The following set of pics are of a small cut from a branch which piece was sent to me (as "chittum") by Frank Ogle, who obtained it from a mountainous area near Huntsville, AL. Frank buffed the piece before sending it to me, so I got a shot of it that way, then I sanded it down and took the others. As you can somewhat tell, when buffed, the piece was lightly iridescent. This is obviously a very nice wood, even though it is only available in very small sizes. Thanks, Frank, for the contribution to the site and the helpful discussion of chittamwood vs buckthorn, which spurred my own research into chittamwood, buckthorn, and smoketree.


small cut from a limb, buffed and raw


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above



Not chittamwood but related



both sides of a sample plank of bumelia / Bumelia retusa --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. NOTE: this wood is NOT chittamwood but it is in the same genus and does not have its own page on the site so is here for comparison. Bumelia retusa is a synonym for Sideroxylon americanum.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


chittamwood burl pen made and photographed by Tony Clements who contributed this pic. Thanks Tony.



The Wood Book pics


flat cut, quartersawn, end grain
chittimwood (Bumelia lanuginosa, also listed as wolly buckthorn and gum elastic) from The Wood Book --- both levels of enlargement are available for each of the 3 views. Bumelia lanuginosa is now considered just a synonym of Sideroxylon lanuginosum.

web pics:


planks listed as chittum


turning stock listed as chittum wood


this was listed as chittum root burl, but I see no evidence that it is in fact a root burl --- it looks more like just plain stem wood.


pen blanks listed as chittum burl


chittum burl pen and blanks


pens listed as chittum burl


chittum knife handle


knife handles listed as chittum burl


gun grips listed as chittum burl


small sculpture listed as chittum burl