Unlike most other hardwoods, the sapwood of Hard Maple lumber is most commonly used rather than its heartwood. Sapwood color ranges from nearly white, to an off-white cream color, sometimes with a reddish or golden hue. The heartwood tends to be a darker reddish brown. Birdseye Maple is a figure found most commonly in Hard Maple, though its also found less frequently in other species. Hard Maple can also be seen with curly or quilted grain patterns.
Curly maple is so called because the ripples in the grain pattern create a three dimensional effect that appears as if the grain has curled along the length of the board. Other names for this phenomenon are: tiger maple, fiddleback maple, (in reference to curly maples historic use for the backs and sides of violins), or flamed maple.