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Stag Horn Sumac Trees

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by basswidow, Mar 8, 2009.

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  1. basswidow

    basswidow Minister of Fire

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    I finally ID'ed the crud trees on my property. I've got tall pines and Stag Horn Sumac Trees. Ice took down a sumac and I cut and split it, but someone with more experience then me, said I might as well throw it all back into the woods. It's only a hour of my time wasted - so it's no big deal, but isn't all wood burnable if you make sure it's dry? He said it provides no BTU's and just smokes - it's a waste - trash wood. I looked at 2 lists rating firewood and this species of trash wood is not even on any of the lists - perhaps that should be a clue to me.

    I am sure he knows best.

    Should I throw it back into the woods or burn it next fall - mixing it in with better quality wood - just to used it ? He also helped me to ID the other wood I got - Cherry! Man I suck at tree identification! I am going back to the site tomorrow and hope to get all that's left (maybe 3 truck loads of hardwoods).

    Just wanted to say this site is awesome and I can't begin to say thanks to all of you for helping me shorten the learning process.

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  2. crazy_dan

    crazy_dan New Member

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    burn it... all wood has the same BTUs per pound. subtract the water weight and the remaining weight has the same btus per pound be it balsa or hedge
  3. JBinKC

    JBinKC Feeling the Heat

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    I am confused Staghorn sumac really doesn't get that big in diameter to warrant splitting so I think you might actually have ailanthus altissma aka tree of heaven and yup that is very poor firewood. It is actually a woody weed. But since you have gone through the effort of processing and if you have enough space to keep it I would save to burn but the wood does get punky fast.

    A seasoned 4-6 inch diameter log might provide a flame for 20-30 minutes tops, is very ashy and leaves no coal base. So you would need close to 4 times the volume of it in comparison to oak. Another thing to look forward to is it has a very unpleasant odor when burned so if you are close to neighbors do it when they are indoors.
  4. basswidow

    basswidow Minister of Fire

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    Too funny. Maybe they are not stag horn - maybe the heaven trees, the base of tree was big enough for a 4 way split. The part of the tree that was dead - was punky but what I split felt heavy and had a nice feel. The smaller diameter trees are Sumac for sure. I think I only have about 50 or 60 pieces - so I will mix a piece or two in along with some other better quality wood.

    Thanks for the advice. If anymore falls - I won't waste my time with it.

    My neighbor has a huge silver maple that I am hoping to work on.
  5. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Around here any staghorn sumac is nothing but brush. Certainly not big enough to even think about burning.
  6. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    Stag Horn Sumac is my favorite shade/ornamental tree....it's the tree with the conical red cluster of velvet like berries. It doesn't get very big but grows fast, you can trim it up like a big beach umbrella. When you get tired of it just wrap a chain around the stump...DONE!

    Pretty worthless as indoor fire wood though...nothing to it.
  7. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    I don't know anything about the Heaven Tree, but as JBinKC said staghorn sumac doesn't tend to grow very large or wide . . . the stuff I have seen here in Maine usually tops out at 15-20 feet tall with a diameter of 5 inches or less -- not really splittable wood.

    I think it's a pretty wood, but for some reason my wife hates the stuff . . . maybe because it grows like a weed.

    You can make "lemonade" out of it though . . . http://www.natureskills.com/lemonade_recipe.html
  8. JBinKC

    JBinKC Feeling the Heat

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    I am more apt to believe basswidow has an infestation of ailanthus vs staghorn sumac. Ailanthus has probably one of the most invasive root systems of any tree. Trees continually pop up along its length so if you have a tree that large you will likely have a large grove of them. They are called tree of heaven because they can grow 10 ft a year in optimal conditions

    The trees of the same size are impossible to tell apart without leaves. The best way to tell them apart is the leaves turn red in the fall with the staghorn sumac and yellow with the ailanthus and the stem of the compound leave is red with the ailanthus and stays green with the staghorn. (Oddly enough they both get that red cluster in the summer) Ailanthus leaves smell skunky also and the tree produces some juglone like the black walnut but at lower amounts. So if you grow tomatoes and peppers I would not over a long period of time exclusively use ailanthus based compost. Although it might not kill the plants outright like walnut compost it will have a detrimental effect on yield.

    I went through this ID problem years ago thinking I had staghorn sumac only to realize I had ailanthus.
  9. TreePapa

    TreePapa Minister of Fire

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    You forgot to mention the mess the Tree of Hades produces -- the awful seed clusters. I call them tree poop, a real pain in the donkey. If he does have ailanthus, he'll probably be tracking in those seeds, stuck to the sole of his boots. The dern things do grow like a weed around here, especially along freeway offramps. Cut 'em down! Kill the tree of hades! Burn 'em (well, not for heat) ... end of rant.

    Peace,
    - Sequoia
  10. SuburbanFarmer

    SuburbanFarmer Member

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    My grandfather made his maple tree taps from sumac - the core is very soft and easy to drill. He tapered one end and drove them into drilled holes in the trees. I still have some in the bottom of my tool box. Well dried sumac makes good kindling...
  11. Creek-Chub

    Creek-Chub New Member

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    I take it that the sumac you fellas are referring to is not the same as what we call "poison sumac" around here? Red "blossoms", weedy in nature, and gives you a rash from hell?
  12. lexybird

    lexybird Minister of Fire

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    yeah thas no good to burn ,not even really a tree .more of a nusiance brush ..you might as well bundle up some rag weed and burn it
  13. Chuck Pearson

    Chuck Pearson Member

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    Poison sumac grows in wet areas, has yellow blossoms, white berries, and gives you a bad rash. Staghorn sumac grows in upland areas, has red berries and does not give you a rash. Both are small trees, not likely to be big enough for firewood.
  14. DaveBP

    DaveBP Minister of Fire

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    If you have any sizeable staghorn sumac cut a section from it (so you can see the rings) and bring it indoors in the dark and hold a blacklight to it.

    Trust me, it's worth the experience.
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