Wand quality ash will only be found in trees populated by Meliae nymphs (commonly mistaken for dragonflies) and should be harvested in Spring or early Summer, shortly after the tree has shed it’s lilac like blossoms.
As the leaves of the ash are said to be repellent to snakes, ash wands are not recommended for those aspiring to Slytherin House. A fiercely loyal wand, it performs best only for its original owner. Particularly good with defensive spells.
For a beech tree to be of wand quality, it must grow within “shouting distance” (75 yards) of a sugar maple, though that maple needn’t necessarily be of wand quality itself.
You may expect a dignified wisdom, a clarity of thought, and a sincere open-heartedness in those who use a beech wand. As wands are often paired with witches and wizards in their youth, you may not see these characteristics right away. But these noble attributes will be nurtured and enhanced by the magic they exercise with these esteemed wands. Beech wands favor the resilient and resourceful wizard, those who are clever, subtle, and playful in their craft.
Not to be confused with the more picturesque paper birch (Betula papyrifera), we use the Golden Birch. Wand quality birch are easier to spot from a distance than other trees, as a wand birch will be found arching dramatically such that its crown nearly touches the ground. As you approach the tree, listen carefully for a light buzzing sound, particularly in the heat of summer. The North American Wood Nymph will often nest at the base of the golden birch and while they are mostly harmless, their song can give one an immediate and severe headache. Humming loudly to yourself while you harvest the wood should keep this affliction at bay.
I am surprised at the scarcity of birch wands, for I find them enormously charming. My own dear Aunt Seraphina, from whom I learned wandcraft, carried a birch wand (Dittany root core, 9”) and there was no shortage of magic in her. Too often dismissed as a domestic wand, the tool of gardeners and cooks, the birch wand has a proud history in more ancient wandlore. In other parts of the world, particularly Scandinavia, Russia, and the Baltic states, birch wands still enjoy a powerful reputation as the wands of spiritual leaders. On our own shores, the Wabanaki used birch almost exclusively for centuries, although the Passamaquoddy proudly claim, “We do not require sticks of any sort.”
In practice, birch wands are modest. This is not the wood for a showman or a braggart. It is a humble, strong, Yankee wood that derives its pride and its beauty from its utility.
Wand wood in the black cherry will be found in mature plants (at least 10 years old) where the smooth, banded bark has evolved into the dark, cracked, burnt-looking bark of an established tree. The fruit of a wand-quality cherry tree is highly prized by Acadian Pixies (descendants of Cornish Pixies unwittingly brought to the New World by fishermen in the early 17th century). They will not surrender the tree willingly and the wandmaker is advised to bring along an assistant accomplished in stunning spells to hold the pixies at bay while harvesting his stock. Also of note to aspiring potions masters, the pits of the cherry’s fruits are a helpful ingredient in many poisons.
Cherry wands have faced some bad publicity in the past few centuries. The Japanese varieties (Prunus serrulata) can be exceptionally lethal. When paired with any of the Supreme Wand Cores (unicorn hair, dragon heartstring, or phoenix feather), even simple stunning spells have been known to kill. For this very reason, even though I harvest from a different breed of cherry, I refuse to install those cores in my cherry wands. As I learned my craft, studying at the workbench of my aunt, she warned me, “If someone thinks a cherry wand needs anything stronger than a mermaid hair, they’re up to something!”
Cherry wands exhibit a curious phenomenon singular to their species. When the wand is first placed in the hand of a wizard of ill intent, it will vibrate ever so slightly. It will not do this for its master or anyone else of moral character. And indeed it will not repeat the vibration in subsequent handling by the malicious wizard. If you are matched to a cherry wand and you allow others to examine it, watch their faces carefully as they first make contact.
The only species of tree whose population is more magical than not. To discern a magical maple is as simple as checking for sap. If it is mature enough to be tapped for syrup, it may be tapped for wands. The wandmaker is cautioned however. Venturing onto muggle lands to examine their maples is particularly unwise in the American state of New Hampshire where the population is decidedly wary of strangers (particularly wizards wandering in the woods with a hatchet and a duffel bag full of dragon claws). Just to the west, across the Connecticut River, one may find a more docile population who, as a habit, do not ask too many questions.
Witches and wizards chosen by maple wands are consummate students—though how this manifests varies widely. They may be most content alone with their books, or just as likely to wander the earth for years to indulge a whim. Either way, Maple wizards are never quite done with their education. The wands react positively to this intellectual stimulation. The more engaged the student, the more responsive the wand.
Speaking as a wandmaker, I can testify that maple wands are the most exciting to craft. The timber gives a light, sweet smell to the shop, they take all manner of core easily, and they are, to my eye, the most handsome. I have often mused, “One can never be bored with maple on one’s bench.”
To find a red oak of magical ability, first examine the surroundings. Magical oak will stand alone; there will not be another mature tree within 50 yards. The leaves of the red oak have points varying from 7 to 9. The magical oak will have several leaves with just 5 points. Wand wood should be harvested from the primary trunk of the tree as close to a 5 points branch as is feasible.
Wands made with red oak, like anything crafted with that noble timber, have a well deserved reputation of strength and beauty. Those who pair well with red oak wands are, in a word, quick. Sharp-tongued, quick-witted, these witches and wizards can be the most amusing person in the room, and often the easiest to anger. These wands are therefore rather capable dueling wands.
While the poplar is a common enough tree, wand quality poplar is rare. The tree must be found growing directly at the waterline of a river which flows through an area of magical population. For example, it is known that the Connecticut River passes through an established Dragon Refuge Area, therefore the poplars that grow along that river, though far from dragons, may have been “contaminated” with their magic. Look for gillyweed growing nearby, as this is the surest sign of a magical presence.
If you ever happen upon a wizard with a poplar wand, you may know at once that you can trust him. These precocious wands gravitate to the honest and humble. They will not respond to spells of questionable intent and have even been known to rebound when casting the unforgivable curses, choosing to punish their own master before they would perform such unethical magic.
Wandmakers as far back as Pliny the Elder recognized, “The shadow of the walnut trees is poison to all plants within its compass.” The muggle word for this is “allelopathic.” This is worthy of note to potions masters as walnut bark and the shell of the nut are helpful ingredients in many useful concoctions.
Black walnut is hostile to other trees and so too the magic derived from a walnut wand can be decidedly aggressive, but not necessarily dark. A mother’s love may be aggressive, it is seldom dark. Black walnut wands often choose witches and wizards of high intelligence and quiet disposition. These wands favor the inventive and the cunning. Walnut wands may require a bit of a learning curve—a getting-to-know-you period. They can be subtle and even secretive, but once trained, are highly effective, loyal wands.