I did not expect these pieces to be mysterious but they are.
I got these as logs with circa 10-15 cm in diameter from my neighbor. He got a permit to fell some trees on the premises of a nearby former sanatorium when there were some conservation works performed and he also got a lot of wood when trees on his property were felled during roadside renovations. So he got a jumble-mix of local species from the roadside and some imported park species from the sanatorium.
I swapped a few nice pieces of wood with him for briquettes. At the time, I thought these are just pieces of European oak (Quercus robur) and indeed I almost tossed them when I got my hands on old oak boards which are easier to work with. But I cut them into prisms anyway and I got confused.
The bark and very small and densely packed growth ring do look like oak, but there the similarity ends.
The boundary between heartwood and sapwood is very pronounced. In this regard, the wood is more similar to walnut trees, although it could be oak too.
Walnut has more chocolate-dark-brown heartwood whereas this has a purplish tint to it. And locally grown walnuts have way bigger growth rings in my experience – easily three-four times bigger in fact, even on branches. And walnuts, irrespective of the growth ring size, have a big cellular pith in the middle, whereas these had almost none (like oak).
The sapwood also seems too white for European oak, which is more yellow-brown-ish. On its own, the sapwood looks like ash, but ash does not have a differently colored heartwood and it too has much bigger growth rings, although they could be this size on branches.
The sapwood was almost completely destroyed by wood borers, even though the wood was stored in dry conditions the whole time. I did not have a lot of wood borer damage on any other wood that I was storing (except basswood, elm, and ash, none of which is this).
And all the wood borers stopped at the heartwood boundary as if by magic. I have observed this phenomenon on elm and oak trees that died standing in the forest.
The lignin rays are visible but way smaller than they are in oak. In this regard, the wood is similar to beech or sycamore. But it also could be an oak branch and not an oak trunk.
It is pretty wood, it would make nice knife handles, but I do not know what it is for sure and that is a bit of a problem. All I know for sure is that it has grown within 200 m of my house and I am about 90% sure it is not local species because most of those I can recognize at a glance. Thus by process of elimination, I think it might be Northern red oak (Quercus rubra), but I cannot be sure since I never held a piece of definitive red oak in my hand and internet search is of limited use here.
But it fits the known criteria – it is grown around here, there is a huge tree nearby, it sometimes even sprouts in random places from nuts buried by jays (I have a seedling in my garden), and it is not local species.