Spalted Maple happens when maple wood has started the decomposition process but was halted when harvested, treated, and dried to prevent any further decay. The deep colored lines give a unique distinct look.
Some of this old wood was milled from the beams taken out of Charlotte West Virginia warehouse and grocery store built at the turn of the twentieth century. These beams were approximately 16 inches in width and up to 20 feet long. The lengths the tree was fully mature and likely another 100 to 300 years old.
Spalting happens by a fungus and the lines were created by a bacteria that is drawn up (osmosis) through the roots which then put up a defense or wall against outside organisms. Preventing further decay or wood rot is an essential step in preserving old wood for resale. In most cases, thorough drying stops any further decay and sometimes treatment with mild chemicals help.
The spalted lumber is still commonly used and desired for flooring, furniture, home decor, and many other uses where the beautiful distinct lines in wood with deep character is preferred.