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Tree-of-Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) for firewood

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by wahoowad, Feb 2, 2006.

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  1. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

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    Owners of a new homesite were having a lot of landscaping done and told me I could take home some of the logs for firewood. I had asked because I saw some hickory and cedar. I filled up the back of my pickup truck in the dark last night and this morning I realize I have mostly Tree-of-Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) and maybe one log each of the hickory and cedar. I see mixed info online about burning it - one site says it is great, another says terrible for firewood. Am wondering if I should bother to take the time to cut it to length and split it.

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  2. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    you should try burning yourself and be the tie breaker and tell us how you made out

    now for the real question

    i've never heard of tree of heaven what is it like?
    i'm here in mass maybe we don't have that type of tree here??????????
  3. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

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    Unfortunately it needs to season so I won'tbe able to burn any soon. It seems like a soft wood (my fingernail compressed the wood pretty easy) but at least one website called it a hardwood. I am finding wood pretty easy and just trying to learn if some woods should simply be avoided if I could spend my time on other wood. I scored access to a downed Sycamore this morning (already bucked into 18 logs no less!) so I could potentially set the tree-of-heaven logs aside and spend my limited time on the Sycamore. Odds are I'll buck the tree-of-heaven and just not split it, and split the sycamore instead.
  4. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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    Yeah...we know what you meant!

    Corey
  5. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    thanks dylan
    one more question
    does it stink when you cut it
    you get the smell all over your hands
  6. jabush

    jabush Feeling the Heat

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    Hi All......new guy here. Ya know, long time lurker first time poster.

    Alanthus altissima is an exotic, very INVASIVE tree species. If not controlled it will get established in a wood lot and completely take over. It can do this due to lack of natural competition, allelopathic properties as well as the billions of seed the bigger trees produce each year. This tree also sprouts seedlings via "runners" in the root system. In addition to this, if you cut or otherwise girdle a large Alanthus it reacts by putting out literally thousands of sprouts from the root system. This tree is very hard to control.
    Also, do not cut and handle this tree if you have open cuts or sores on your hands unless you are wearing gloves. The sap of this tree can cause heart problems once it gets in your system.

    As far as burning it, I haven't yet. I do have some chunks of one that blew down on my property a year or so ago, so I guess I could throw a piece or two in my stove and report back. It would be cool to find out it burns well as I have a couple larger "mama" trees and lots of saplings to control on the back of my lot. But believe me, whether I burn it or not those Alanthus have to go!!

    In case anyone's curious. I've been a Forester for 16 years and currently serve as the Statewide Forester with the MD State Highway Administration. We have a very aggressive Alanthus altissima control program along our state roads.

    Anywoo....seems like a good group here. I've learned a lot just reading through the older posts am and hoping to contribute some usefull info to y'all along the way.

    joel
  7. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

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    jabush - is it considered a hardwood or softwood? I've read both but neither website was authoritative.

    I would guess softwood since it is probably fast-growing as an invasive species.
  8. jabush

    jabush Feeling the Heat

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    I consider it a hardwood because it is deciduous. But you're right...the faster it grows, the less dense the wood is, and this tree grows pretty fast. When I bucked up the one that blew over, the green wood felt pretty dense and heavy, but later in the year I grabbed some of it to move it and it felt considerably lighter once it was dry. Like I said, I'll grab some and throw it on my split pile to dry (its been wet here) and post back regarding how it burns. If it burns pretty well then I've found a use for the two mama trees out back. Of course, being a "scrounger" I've also got my eye on some big knarly mulberries that are growing out there as well as a 20+dbh Sassafras that is standing dead.
  9. annette

    annette Member

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    This has been an interesting thread. There are a few wild lots near my house, and in the last few years the trees of heaven have taken over. They're crowding out the sumac, which I would much rather see (and smell!) How come TOH are ineffective at crowding out poison ivy? :( I'd really like to do something about them. I just searched around to see if that copper-nail thing I'd heard of really works (no, it doesn't) and I read an interesting article about the difficulty in eradicating them--I guess I'll have to use scary chemicals! The hack-and-squirt way seems pretty good. The article I read was: http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/fact/aial1.htm

    According to this site: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/tree/ailalt/management_considerations.html :

    "Tree-of-heaven wood resembles ash (Fraxinus spp.) wood in appearance and quality. It is easily worked with tools and glue, and takes a finish well. Tree-of-heaven wood properties are summarized in Alden [2] and Moslemi and Bhagwat [117]. Berchem and others [11] and Adamik and Brauns [1] provide information on properties and potential uses of tree-of-heaven wood fiber. Zasada and Little [176] provide information on tree-of-heaven cultivation.

    Tree-of-heaven is an important timber and fuelwood tree in China, and is planted for timber and afforestation in New Zealand, the Middle East, eastern Europe, and South America [8,74,144,163,176].

    Other products: In China, tree-of-heaven is grown commercially as a host for Attacus cynthia, a silkworm that produces coarse, durable silk [74,165]. Tree-of-heaven is a food for honey bees worldwide. Initially bad-tasting, tree-of-heaven honey ages to a high-quality, flavorful product [29,112]."


    I'm wondering if my county extension will hook me up with a few ounces of scary chemical. That would be nice!
  10. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

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    So I finally burned some. It was not seasoned although I do not know how long the logs were down before I split them. The splits seemed dense and I have a feeling this wood will be fairly light once it is seasoned. But it had started to develop a few splits in the end so I figured I'd toss one in. It burned easily and quickly, didn't smolder at all and I don't even recall any steam or moisture from the ends. I've only been throwing it in with other very dry woods so maybe I'll do a whole load by itself and see.
  11. jabush

    jabush Feeling the Heat

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    I never did grab any from the back of my property. When I checked it out, the pieces that I had left were real punky and covered with fungus. Now that I think about it those pieces have probably been out there closer to 2 years. They were nasty enough that I didn't want to bring them in the house or even pick them up.
    I'll be cutting live one's soon so I'll put some of that aside for next year.
  12. the_guad

    the_guad New Member

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    I'm burning wood that I had delivered to me and the splits have an awful smell to them that definitely translates to foul smelling smoke that seems to permeate EVERYTHING! I'm burning some pine to cover it and trying to heat up the stove to burn off any residue. If this is tree of heaven wood, I would recommend that everyone take a pass on any splits.
  13. bruce56bb

    bruce56bb New Member

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    wahoo, keep us posted on the sycamore also. i have no experience with it but it is rated fairly low according to the firewood ratings ive read.
  14. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

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    bruce56bb - the sycamore is wet so won't get burned until next season. I did have a few large branches that were dry and they burnt just fine, but it wasn't a full load of just sycamore.
  15. ourhouse

    ourhouse Minister of Fire

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    Don't waste you'r time. I've tried it before and it was no good. Its also the only tree Iknow that can grow to 30" out of a crack in a sidewalk with no other dirt around.
  16. jabush

    jabush Feeling the Heat

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    Yea man. Definitely invasive...if you see it....kill it before it multiplies!!
  17. ourhouse

    ourhouse Minister of Fire

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    You got that right jabush! Cut them all!!!
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