Monkey Pod 101
Whether setting the table for a party, styling a dresser or organizing a desk, wooden serve ware is a must-have. The warm tone and subtle texture of walnut or monkey pod adds character and charm to each of these settings. Luckily, these versatile and stylish pieces are readily available and priced to sell.
What is Monkey Pod?
Golden brown in color with dark-brown streaks, this beautiful wood comes from ornamental trees native to South and Central America. Despite having been introduced to and heavily used in Hawaii, the monkey pod tree, also known as a raintree, is not indigenous to the islands. However, Hawaii popularized the wood through their production of carved bowls designed as souvenirs for tourists. Now, much of the wooden serve ware sold on the islands of Hawaii is manufactured in either Thailand or the Philippines.
Simple pieces, such as bowls and plates, are easy to find and often available at very wallet-friendly prices. Luckily, the low price tag doesn’t necessarily mean low quality. These pieces are quite durable and can often be found in great condition.
Average price: $5 to $10
To begin your own collection of wooden serve ware, start by going local. Head to flea markets, vintage shops and thrift stores before turning to online sellers, whose shipping costs might be as much as your piece. Often tossed together amid other wood pieces like oak magazine caddies and accordion-style peg racks, these plates and bowls are easy to miss but worth the hunt.
Stamped “Harry’s Cabinet & Curio,” this divided leaf tray was made of monkey pod wood in Hawaii. The design, known as “Mango,” can do so much more than divvy up appetizers at a cocktail party. The beautiful leaf design is ideal for organizing, making it a stylish way to house jewelry.
Average price: $20 to $30
Unlike other serve ware, water won’t be a main component in cleaning these vintage beauties. Instead, opt for a simple wipe down with a damp cloth—but never allow a piece to sit in liquid. It will weaken the finish or cause it to bubble. Be sure to store them in a well-ventilated area, as dry air can cause damage like cracking.
There is no denying that pineapples are incredibly popular in the world of home décor, but this isn’t their first time in the spotlight. Thanks to the tiki and Hawiiana craze of the 1950s, there is plenty of retro pineapple to go around. Large bowls are a little harder to come by, but you might snag a set of matching small bowls on your next trip to the flea market. These pieces are perfect for serving up snacks or corralling keys.
Average price: $30 to $45 (for large)
Looking to refinish a piece? Before you start sanding away, try to determine the wood species to ensure you use the proper oil—though mineral oil is most always a safe choice. For quick touchups on nicked corners and small scratches, a little stain on the corner of a rag or even a stain marker will do the trick.
Despite the fact that this shallow bowl with a simple little pedestal is harder to come by, it is an inexpensive item to add to a collection. It boasts a “Real Vermillion Walnut” sticker and was made in Springfield, Missouri, in the 1960s.
Average price: $20 to $30