6 trees to plant for great firewood

If you’re planning to plant trees this winter, here are six good options that make excellent firewood.

1. Fruit trees

Apple, pear, plum, peach, cherry, and quince all produce good firewood. Apple, in particular, is beautifully fragrant when it burns – it’s often used to smoke meat and cheese – creating a sweet, spicy scent. It’s also a hardwood, burning for a long time. If you’re pruning fruit trees, keep the wood to use in your woodburner or fireplace.

2. Oak

Most oak varieties make excellent firewood, but the ones that burn particularly well are common English oak (Quercus robur), red oak, (Q. rubra), and northern pin oak (Q. ellipsoidallis). The wood splits well, burns very hot, smells fragrant, and doesn’t spark. The bonus is they can be coppiced (after 10 years or so), and reharvested indefinitely.

3. European ash

Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) is rapid-growing, cold-hardy, and likes moist sites. The wood has a low moisture content, so burns when almost green, which means it can be cut late in the season if your firewood supplies are inadequate. It also splits well, doesn’t spark, burns hot, and produces very little smoke.

4. Manuka

It self-sows, grows fast, copes with everything – drought, frost, cold, wet, acidic conditions, shade – isn’t palatable to stock, its flowers give you gorgeous honey, and it doesn’t grow too tall. Leptospermum scoparium is also an excellent pioneer shelter tree (its natural role in native bush). You can split it when it’s green, use the flaky bark for kindling, and enjoy a very hot fire with little ash.

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5. Alder

Generally, alder varieties are fast-growing, produce early spring flowers that are great for bees, and the wood dries quickly. Options include Italian (Alnus cordata), black (Alnus glutinosa), and red (Alnus rubra).

6. Casuarina (she-oak)

Casuarina cunninghamiana is a fast-growing shelter tree. Its foliage is a nutritious fodder for livestock, and its roots fix nitrogen. Finger-thick prunings are good for firewood, but it grows so fast, you can cut off thicker branches each year. It’s a slow-burning wood, leaving little ash behind.

NZ Life and Leisure This article first appeared in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine.

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