Oak Tree Firewood

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The oak tree genus is made up of hundreds of species and is found on every continent except Antarctica.  North America contains the largest number of oak species, with 90 species occurring in the United States alone.  Oak trees can live well over 200 years and provide hundreds of benefits for humans and wildlife.  Any of the oak species produce excellent firewood; Red and White Oaks are very popular in our area.  Oak is also a densely packed hardwood tree. This means that once it is split and seasoned, the wood burns for a long time in either a wood stove or a fireplace.  It also has the characteristic of producing large amounts of heat (BTUs) and creates a good coal bed.  Because it is tight-grained and hard it does pop, snap, and spark as it burns.  In fact, oak firewood will burn 3-5 times longer than pine firewood of the same size.  The downside to using oaks for firewood are that they tend to be a more expensive and like other hardwoods need 1-2 years for seasoning.

Oak-01

 

 

Oak Tree Identification:

Leaves:   Look for a lobe and sinus pattern on the oak leaves.  The lobes of the leaf are the fingers or extensions that come out from the stem.  Oak leaves may have pointed or rounded lobes, depending on the species of tree. Between each lobe is a sinus, which is an indentation in the leaf that accentuates the lobes.  Sinuses may be deep or shallow, and wide or narrow.  Many of the Oak species are marcescent, which means they don’t drop their dead leaves until the Spring.  This makes them easy to spot out in the winter season.

Oak leaves Oak_winter

Leaf Color:  Look at the deep green color of the leaves.  Most oak tree leaves sport a deep green hue during the summer months, but transform into red and brown colors for the fall.  The oak tree is one of the most colorful fall trees, which is another reason they are popular in many types of landscaping today.  Some oak leaves also emerge in a red or pink shade in early spring, but quickly change to their standard green color by summer.

Fall color, Oak leaves

Flower/Fruit/Nut:   In spring, a single oak tree produces both male flowers (in the form of catkins) and small female flowers.  The fruit is a nut called an acorn.  Each acorn typically contains one seed and takes 6–18 months to mature, depending on species.  Look for acorns on the tree or around the base of the tree.  Acorns may vary in size and color, but most are characterized by a bumpy top and smooth bottom.

Oak_acorn Oak_acorns2

Bark:  Look for hard, grey bark with deep grooves and ridges.  The color of the bark may fluctuate somewhat between oak species, but is is nearly always a shade of gray.  Oak trunks also tend to get massive, with some species boasting an overall girth of 30 feet or more.

Oak_bark2Oak_wood

 

Oak_firewood

Size:  Look at the size of the tree.  Oak trees tend to grow fairly large and round, with some reaching heights of 100 feet or more.  The trees are very full, with many reaching widths similar to their heights.

Oak_white

 

Red Vs. White Oaks:  Red oaks have leaves with lobes which are divided at the tip with sharp points on either side, reddish wood, and usually round, flat-topped acorns; whereas white oaks have rounded lobes, white wood, and long, narrow acorns with round tops.

Red Oak Leaves/Acorns

Oak_rubra

White Oak Leaves/Acorns

oak_whiteoak

Other uses for Oak trees:

  • Furniture-making, flooring, timber-frame buildings, ship-building, and veneer production.
  • European and American Oaks are used to make barrels for wines, sherry, and certain spirits.
  • Oak wood chips are used for smoking fish, meat, and cheeses.
  • The bark of the Cork Oak tree(grown in the Mediterranean Sea Region) is used to produce wine stoppers.
  • Oak bark is rich in tannin and is used for tanning leather.
  • Acorns can be used for making flour and can be roasted to make acorn coffee.
  • As a landscaping tree they make great shade trees and many have great fall color.
  • Oak trees are keystone species (supporting large amounts of wildlife) and are important components of hardwood forests.

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