Another example of a maverick timber is the phenomenon known as rippled. In the case of ash, sycamore or maple, this occurs occasionally and in the case of oak and walnut, very rarely. It can be caused in one of two ways. A mild version which is caused by stress. An example of this would be a tree growing out of a south facing bank curving up towards the sun and developing a healthy ‘belly’ of growth on that side, leaving its impoverished back straining to keep it up and trying to prevent it from toppling forward; this might cause a mild stress ripple in the back of that tree.
The more dramatic rippling is caused by incorrectly coded DNA on the gene responsible for producing the growth promoting auxin (similar or equivalent of our hormones). The mutation causes the timber to grow in one direction as opposed to straight up towards the light. It’s as if the auxin recognises this and counter demands that the growth direction should change, which it does, by going in the opposite direction. This ding-dong, undulating wave-like growth causes a rippling refraction of light when the timber is planked, planed and polished.
The Germans have cloned maple trees with this genetic ‘defect’ and have plantations of rippled maples growing for future use in the backs of violins. We Brits have a long way to go.