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Best use for weedy box elder trees?

 
Julie Alberlan
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My husband and I are buying a neglected little farm with many scrubby box elder trees (also known as ashleaf maple). The trunks are probably 6" diameter on average. They need to be taken out because they are growing too close to other trees and in other undesirable places. What's the best use for this wood? Firewood? Hugel beds? Something else? If used in a hugel, will the branches sprout suckers, or is it not as aggressive as say, willow.

Thanks for any input!
 
allen lumley
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Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
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Julie Alberlan : A late ''Welcome to Permies !'' Do a search for - ' Boxelder Trees - What do they tell us ' - in the Forums; Growies >> Forest Garden. Also look down
below your signature line. There is a grouping of 'Similar threads' (that you might be interested in!) I've been at this a while and only found out tonight that clicking
on a picture will make it bigger !

Brenda Groth Says these trees can be Coppiced and will often grow back from the stumps, this usually means cutting in the fall. At 6'' They are still a young stand of
trees and should Coppice well ! I leave it to the other members to check on that, and whether the limbs can be Pollard'd! these trees shed a lot of leaves which are
good for mulching, and have edible seeds and young leaves for animals !

Outside of kindling, hugel-beds are probably ideal, as old logs hold acre feet of water !

For the Future/Good of the Craft ! Be safe, keep warm ! As always, your comments are solicited and Welcome ! PYRO-LOGICAL Big AL !
 
Julie Alberlan
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Hi, Allen. Thanks for the reply and the welcome from a fellow NYer. I will do more searches on them in other forums. I chose the one that seemed to fit best, but I forgot to search in others.

Come to think of it, I do know that box elders will coppice. They grow in my flower beds in my current location. I cut them out every year and they grow back. I didn't think of it as "coppicing" but as "annoying me". A matter of context, I suppose. Unfortunately, these specimens will have to come out, as they are growing too near buildings, other trees, and many are growing out of a random mound of dirt that is about five feet high and right in the middle of everything.

I have also heard that box elders (because they are in the maple family) can be tapped, but I haven't tried it. There may be a few larger ones on the property that I could try that with.
 
allen lumley
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Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
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Julie A : Sounds like you have a working plan ! If you want to try Getting Maple sap from them remember the ratio with sweet maple is 40 gall of sap to one of syrup.
Thats a lot of time to work to gather the sap for a taste. I think that The ratio is just enough worse so that no one here considers box elder worth tapping !

Yellow Birch Trees are Much sweeter and pioneers used to make birth beer (contains the same amount of alcohol as ginger ale-at least to start!) for themselves, and
inner bark was scraped to make a 'wintergreen-like' syrup as trading material with the general store who might use it to flavor Slippery elm bark lounges for a sore
throat ! Much less work to make sap= syrup ! It's down fall is it splits and burns too well ! What part of N.Y.?

For the Future/Good of the Craft ! be safe,keep warm ! As always, your comments and questions are solicited an Welcome ! Pyro allen !
 
Julie Alberlan
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Hi, Allen. I am in Western NY, in Stafford. We're not exactly neighbors, but it's nice to network nonetheless. Yellow birch, eh? I will be researching that as well. Have you heard of the sweet sap silver maple? It is available from St. Lawrence Nurseries, in your neck of the woods. It is supposedly sweeter than a sugar maple.

Julie
 
allen lumley
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Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
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Julie Alberlan : Bill McKentley is a personal friend, I have broken bread with him many times! Raither than try to impress you with my opinion of him, I will say that
he has a great reputation, and you should always be happy you had the chance to do business with him ! If he says it's sweeter, its because he has tasted it !

A lifetime ago I could have driven Route 5 in my sleep, it was a lot quieter then ! Now i'm in the middle of a 3 month long plan to move 'stuff' from / to Canadagua
and not getting any traction from my end !

For the Craft ! As always, your comments questions are solicited and are Welcome ! PYRO ALLEN
 
Chris Sims
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We have tapped our box elder trees for many years. You can't kill a box elder no matter how hard you try (other than using poison, which we don't), so you might as well get something out of them. Therefore, we don't worry about tapping young trees much smaller than the 10" diameter recommended for sugar maples. The ratio is about 60:1 sap to syrup, and the syrup tends to crystallize quickly, so we don't take it all the way to syrup but can it as "liquid sweetener." By putting pots full of sap on the woodstove, the sap steams off gently, using no energy we wouldn't be using to heat the house anyway.

Other than that, we take advantage of the rapid growth of box elders to use them as forage for our sheep. They love the leaves and nibble at the bark. The branches burn reasonably well, not the greatest, but not the worst, either. The new-growth branches are supple and good for weaving into fences, etc. We also use branches for chipping or hugelkulture. At the moment, we have a box elder branch with a nice curve to it that might just make a pretty good snath for my scythe.
 
Mark Vander Meer
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Box Elders react well to pruning, meaning they shape well. Strong horizontal branches. They are great shade trees and don't get too tall for an urban setting. I have many in my yard. They also provide excellent logs for our sawmill, great figure and color. I like the tapping for syrup.
 
Terry Paul Calhoun
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Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
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Why does Box Elder thrive under Ailanthus that will let almost nothing else grow? Does anyone else have Box Elder growing in conjunction with Ailanthus?

We have a copse of disturbed land (~20 years ago) that is mostly those two trees. It's a strange landscape because, while the Ailanthus grow slim and straight, with little branching until their canopy at ~60', the Box Elder have gone lateral, sideways, and in all manner of strange angles and shapes, apparently seeking southern sun out from under the Ailanthus canopy. Almost nothing else grows under the highly allelopathic Ailanthus; even Common Buckthorn struggles.

I was just reading about the tremendous critter food value of the Box Elder and it made me wonder if the Box Elder might be "permitted" to be there because Box Elder litter feeds the Ailanthus in some kind of symbiosis?

Anyway, I plan to remove them all this year and am working on the best ways to put the harvested wood to use. This thread's helpful.
 
Alder Burns
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In my experience, boxelder is a fair firewood....better than poplar or willow, certainly, but not as hot as really hard things like oak and maple. Ailanthus by comparison will hardly stay burning at all....you have to partner the logs with something more flammable to keep it going......
 
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