What are these sticks?
December 16, 2010 11:09 AM   Subscribe

What is this? And where can I get a million of them (cheap)?

No, not the ruler! The twisty white stick-things!

They are woody, and very low density (like balsa wood). Appear to have been bleached. Spongy, hard core which becomes hollow away from the root-looking area.
posted by juliewhite to Science & Nature (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
They look like mushroom stems of some kind.
posted by cog_nate at 11:13 AM on December 16, 2010

or driftwood...
posted by patheral at 11:15 AM on December 16, 2010

They look like wood sticks that have been underwater for a long time, then dried out. Like driftwood.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:15 AM on December 16, 2010

Looks more like dried manzanita to me. You could get some out in the desert around SoCal, but I'm not sure if you could buy any
posted by InfidelZombie at 11:15 AM on December 16, 2010

Hollow wood wouldn't be manzanita, as manzanita is a hardwood, and I don't think it's likely to get lighter if soaked in the ocean and dried (though I could be wrong). This looks more like driftwood, the kind of stuff strewn on (central) California beaches. I'm sure similar material can be found on other beaches, too.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:38 AM on December 16, 2010

You can buy manzanita branches from florist and specialty stores (like The Juicy Leaf,) but they're extremely expensive when sold as branches. My mother just bought a large branch as a centerpiece and it cost over $250.
posted by egeanin at 11:41 AM on December 16, 2010

Sponginess + the tapered shape + the thick, fleshy fibers = probably dried mushroom stalks. Where did you get them?
posted by oinopaponton at 11:42 AM on December 16, 2010

Hollowness rules out any sort of wood - drift or otherwise.
posted by jon1270 at 11:50 AM on December 16, 2010

They look like the dried out cactus carcasses that you see in Californian/Mexican deserts. These cholla stalks are on the right track but they have more holes than your specimens.
posted by barnone at 11:53 AM on December 16, 2010

Response by poster: Purchased at a craft store several years ago, being sold as floral decor. About 30 stems were $5-7.

They are too woody to be a mushroom or fungus. It's also unlikely that they are driftwood - the surface texture was created by bleaching or sandblasting. $5-7 is too little profit for the pieces to have been collected off beaches and the colour is too uniform.
posted by juliewhite at 12:40 PM on December 16, 2010

They look kinda like saguaro cactus "ribs" when they dry out, though those are probably from a smaller species. You can find them in pet stores sometimes. This is the best photo I can find right now.
posted by lekvar at 12:42 PM on December 16, 2010

Gourd stems.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:43 PM on December 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Grapevine driftwood?
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:58 PM on December 16, 2010

It looks like pieces of bleached holdfast from some sort of seaweed. If you can find an entire holdfast you can chop it up into lots of small chucks like that.
posted by talkingmuffin at 12:59 PM on December 16, 2010

They look like roots, or parts of roots, that have been dried in the sun. Maybe from a sunflower?

I see things like this in my garden each year. Not exactly sure what plants they come from, but (in my garden at least) they are definitely roots.
posted by bricksNmortar at 1:36 PM on December 16, 2010

...pieces of bleached holdfast from some sort of seaweed...

Bingo. There is an infinite amount of this stuff along the Oregon coast.

No, I won't. I live too far from there.
posted by neuron at 4:51 PM on December 16, 2010

talkingmuffin is right.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:26 PM on December 16, 2010

Floral supply shop or craft store is where you get stuff like that. I think it's manzanita.
posted by theora55 at 10:27 PM on December 16, 2010

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