Is Grain Orientation important for Pointy Sticks and, if so, how should the grain be oriented relative to the long axis of the Pointy Stick?
Short answer: Yes.
For Pointy Sticks intended to poke/stab/penetrate, your best bet would be end grain of tight interlocking grain (a), which is typically associated with higher density woods such as Iron Wood, Ebony and Lignum Vitae. If weight is an issue then go with end grain of a straight grained wood - quarter sawn of course ((b). Balsa, Obeche, some Pines and a few Firs should be avoided as they are too soft for Pointy Sticks.
For a Right To Left Scratching Pointy Stick go with Riff Sawn stock oriented as shown in (c1). The grain will be compressed during "scratching" and thus less likely to "tear out" or break off.
For a Left To Right Scratching Pointy Stick go with Riff Sawn stock oriented as shown in (c2).
AVOID the grain orientation shown in (d). A Pointy Stick made with this grain orientation will fail if any shear force is applied to the "point". It's also difficult to find stock of sufficient length to make a Pointy Stick much over 30 inches that has this grain orientation and this grain orientation tends to make your Pointy Stick bow and twist, sgnigicantly reducing its effectiveness.