Tree Notes is about trees -- especially native trees, trees for wildlife, and trees in history.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The very best firewoods

Six excellent woods for heat


Here's a list of six of the best firewoods. (The number in parenthesis is millions of BTUs produced by a cord of this wood under optimal conditions.)

  • Sugar maple (25.0)
  • Red oak (25.3)
  • White oak (27.0)
  • Black locust (28.1)
  • Shagbark hickory (29.1)
  • Osage orange (30.7)
(Source: Wood Fuel for Heating, a University of Missouri extension service publication)

A few years ago, I did a lot of research on wood stoves as we prepared to buy a new one. In one online forum, I read an interchange between a New Englander and a Midwesterner. The Midwesterner wondered whether a certain brand of wood stove would withstand the hot fires he liked to made with hedge (Osage orange) firewood.

The New Englander replied that he made hot white oak fires all the time in his wood stove of that brand. He said with considerable scorn that he doubted if hedge could burn as hot as the fine white oak of the East Coast. He should have done a little research because, according to the University of Missouri publication linked above, he was mistaken.

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Enrich your life with the study of trees.

"The power to recognize trees at a glance without examining their leaves or flowers or fruit as they are seen, for example, from the car-window during a railroad journey, can only be acquired by studying them as they grow under all possible conditions over wide areas of territory. Such an attainment may not have much practical value, but once acquired it gives to the possessor a good deal of pleasure which is denied to less fortunate travelers."

Charles Sprague Sargent (1841-1927)

Print references I frequently consult

Benvie, Sam. Encyclopedia of North American Trees. Buffalo, NY: Firefly, 2000.

Brockman, C. Frank. Trees of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. Ed. Herbert S. Zim. New York: Golden, 1986.

Cliburn, Jerry, and Ginny Clomps. A Key to Missouri Trees in Winter: An Identification Guide. Conservation Commission of the State of Missouri, 1980.

Collingwood, G. H., Warren David Brush, and Devereux Butcher. Knowing Your Trees. Washington: American Forestry Association, 1978.

Dirr, Michael. Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs: an Illustrated Encyclopedia. Portland, Or.: Timber, 1997.

Elias, Thomas S. The Complete Trees of North America; Field Guide and Natural History. New York: Book Division, Times Mirror Magazines, 1980.

Grimm, William Carey. The Book of Trees;. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole, 1962.

Hightshoe, Gary L. Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines for Urban and Rural America: a Planting Design Manual for Environmental Designers. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1988.

Little, Elbert L. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees. New York: Chanticleer, 1996.

Martin, Alexander C., Herbert S. Zim, and Arnold L. Nelson. American Wildlife and Plants. New York: McGraw Hill, 1951.

Mitchell, Alan F., and David More. The Trees of North America. New York, NY: Facts On File Publications, 1987.

Randall, Charles E. Enjoying Our Trees. Washington: American Forestry Association, 1969.

Settergren, Carl D., and R. E. McDermott. Trees of Missouri. Columbia: University Extension, 1995.

Sternberg, Guy, and James W. Wilson. Native Trees for North American Landscapes: from the Atlantic to the Rockies. Portland: Timber, 2004.

Wharton, Mary E., and Roger W. Barbour. Trees and Shrubs of Kentucky. Lexington: University of Kentucky, 1973.

Wyman, Donald. Trees for American Gardens. New York: Macmillan, 1965.

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