November 04, 2002
The photo above shows several diamond willows that have been fashioned into decorative walking sticks. Diamond willow is not a species of willow, but apparently results from a fungus (Valsa sordida - possibly other types of fungi as well). The species of willows that are attacked by this fungus are prevalent in northern climates and can be found along riverbanks and lakes, beside sloughs, and in bogs and swamps. The fungus preferentialy attacks the forks of branches and twigs and causes the "diamond" pattern. Eventually, the branch will die, but because the roots aren't injured, new shoots may be produced.
Mr. Laninga, who lives in a cabin in the north woods of Alberta, Canada has taken advantage of the fungus by collecting diseased branches and turning them into walking sticks. The first step is to let them dry for about 1 year. Then the "diamonds" are thoroughly cleaned, and the willow is sanded several times before varnishing.