Recently I cut down a Boxelder tree that had a severe decay column beginning far out on the main stem and running down the center of the heart wood. The degradation of heart wood into soft, damp, brownish punk halted about halfway down the stem. It was in the decayed section where I first noticed a bright red coloration in the wood. It formed a ring between the punky center and the still-solid heartwood. The bright red coloration continued down the stem all the way to ground level.
What I am wondering is whether the red color was part of a response by the tree to slow down the spread of decay, or whether the color was a sign of an advanced growth of the decay organism prior to obvious wood cell breakdown? Also,might the color indicate an antioxidant? I've seen purple staining in solid yellow wood of citrus trees, but never any wood with such a bright red stain.
The tree had about 50-55 annual rings, becoming miniscule at about age 20. The tree was heavily overgrown by a very large tree of the same species.
Thanks, Joe. Another thing I noticed about the tree, which was about 11" diameter, is that it had many gall-like swellings of dormant buds all along the lower stem. These were about 4 or 5 inches across and domed to about 1 or 2 inches.
After seeing the woodworker's use of the wood, I'm sorry it didn't go to someone who might have appreciated it. The tree was in Chico, California (northern Sacramento Valley).