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Title: American Forest Trees
Author: Gibson, Henry H.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: HENRY H. GIBSON]




Edited by Hu Maxwell

Hardwood Record

Copyright 1913 by
Hardwood Record
Chicago, Ill.

The Regan Printing House


The material on which this volume is based, appeared in Hardwood Record,
Chicago, in a series of articles beginning in 1905 and ending in 1913,
and descriptive of the forest trees of this country. More than one
hundred leading species were included in the series. They constitute the
principal sources of lumber for the United States. The present volume
includes all the species described in the series of articles, with a
large number of less important trees added. Every region of the country
is represented; no valuable tree is omitted, and the lists and
descriptions are as complete as they can be made in the limited space of
a single volume. The purpose held steadily in view has been to make the
work practical, simple, plain, and to the point. Trees as they grow in
the forest, and wood as it appears at the mill and factory, are
described and discussed. Photographs and drawings of trunk and foliage
are made to tell as much of the story as possible. The pictures used as
illustrations are nearly all from photographs made specially for that
purpose. They are a valuable contribution to tree knowledge, because
they show forest forms and conditions, and are as true to nature as the
camera can make them. Statistics are not given a place in these pages,
for it is no part of the plan to show the product and the output of the
country’s mills and forests, but rather to describe the source of those
products, the trees themselves. However, suggestions for utilization are
offered, and the fitness of the various woods for many uses is
particularly indicated. The prominent physical properties are described
in language as free as possible from technical terms, and yet with
painstaking accuracy and clearness. Descriptions intended to aid in
identification of trees are given; but simplicity and clearness are held
constantly in view, and brevity is carefully studied. The different
names of commercial trees in the various localities where they are
known, either as standing timber or as lumber in the yard and factory,
are included in the descriptions as an assistance in identification. The
natural range of the forest trees, and the regions where they abound in
commercial quantities, are outlined according to the latest and best
authorities. Estimates of present and future supply are offered, where
such exist that seem to be authoritative. The trees are given the common
and the botanical names recognized as official by the United States
Forest Service. This lessens misunderstanding and confusion in the
discussion of species whose common names are not the same in different
regions, and whose botanical names are not agreed upon among scientific
men who mention or describe them. The forests of the United States
contain more than five hundred kinds of trees, ranging in size from the
California sequoias, which attain diameters of twenty feet or more and
heights exceeding two hundred, down to indefinite but very small
dimensions. The separating line between trees and shrubs is not
determined by size alone. In a general way, shrubs may be considered
smaller than trees, but a seedling tree, no matter how small, is not
properly called a shrub. It is customary, not only among botanists, but
also among persons who do not usually recognize exact scientific terms
and distinctions, to apply the name tree to all woody plants which
produce naturally in their native habitat one main, erect stem, bearing
a definite crown, no matter what size they may attain.

The commercial timbers of this country are divided into two classes,
hardwoods and softwoods. The division is for convenience, and is
sanctioned by custom, but it is not based on the actual hardness and
softness of the different woods. The division has, however, a scientific
basis founded on the mechanical structures of the two classes of woods,
and there is little disagreement among either those who use forest
products or manufacture them, or those who investigate the actual
structure of the woods themselves, as to which belong in the hardwood
and which in the softwood class.

_Softwoods_--The needleleaf species, represented by pines, hemlocks,
firs, cedars, cypresses, spruces, larches, sequoias, and yews, are
softwoods. The classification of evergreens as softwoods is erroneous,
because all softwoods are not evergreen, and all evergreens are not
softwoods. Larches and the southern cypress shed their leaves yearly.
Most other softwoods drop only a portion of their foliage each season,
and enough is always on the branches to make them evergreen. Softwoods
are commonly called conebearers, and that description fits most of them,
but the cedars and yews produce fruit resembling berries rather than
cones. Though the needleleaf species are classed as softwoods, there is
much variation in the absolute hardness of the wood produced by
different species. The white pines are soft, the yews hard, and the
other species range between. If there were no other means of separating
trees into classes than tests of actual hardness of wood, the line
dividing hardwoods from softwoods might be quite different from that now
so universally recognized in this country.

_Hardwoods_--The broadleaf trees are hardwoods. Most, but not all, shed
their foliage yearly. It is, therefore, incorrect to classify deciduous
trees as hardwoods, since it is not true in all cases, any more than it
is true that softwoods are evergreen. Live oaks and American holly are
evergreen, and yet are true hardwoods. In a test of hardness they stand
near the top of the list.

There are more species of hardwoods than of softwoods in this country;
but the actual quantity of softwood timber in the forests greatly
exceeds the hardwoods. Nearly two hundred species of the latter are
seldom or never seen in a sawmill, while softwoods are generally cut and
used wherever found in accessible situations.

As in the case of needleleaf trees, there is much variation in actual
hardness of the wood of different broadleaf species. Some which are
classed as hardwoods are softer than some in the softwood list. It is
apparent, therefore, that the terms hardwood and softwood are commercial
rather than scientific.

Palm, cactus, and other trees of that class are not often employed as
lumber, and it is not customary to speak of them as either hardwoods or

_Sapwood and Heartwood_--Practically all mature trees contain two
qualities of wood known as sap and heart. The inner portion is the
heartwood, the outer the sap. They are usually distinguished by
differences of color.

The terms are much used in lumber transactions and are well understood
by the trade. The two kinds of wood need be described only in the most
general way, and for the guidance and information of those who are not
familiar with them. Differences are many and radical in the relative
size and appearance of the two kinds of wood in different species, and
even between different trees of the same species. No general law is
followed, except that the heartwood forms in the interior of the tree,
and the sapwood in a band outside, next to the bark. In the majority of
cases young trees have little heartwood, often none. It is a development
attendant on age, yet age does not always produce it. Some mature trees
have no heartwood, others very little.

The two kinds of wood belong to needleleaf and broadleaf trees alike;
but palms, owing to their manner of growth, have neither. Their size
increases in height rather than in diameter. With palms, the oldest wood
is in the base of the trunk, the newest in the top; but in the ordinary
timber tree the oldest wood is in the center of the trunk, the youngest
in the outside layers next the bark. It is the oldest that becomes
heartwood, and it is, of course, in the center of the tree. The band of
sapwood is of no certain thickness, but averages much thicker in some
species than in others. The sapwood of Osage orange is scarcely half an
inch thick, and in loblolly pine it may be six inches or more.

Heartwood is known by its color. The eye can detect no other difference
between it and the surrounding band of sapwood. There is no fundamental
difference. The heart was once sapwood, and the latter will sometime
become heartwood if the tree lives long enough. As the trunk increases
in size and years, the wood near the heart dies. It no longer has much
to do with the life of the tree, except that it helps support the weight
of the trunk. The heartwood is, therefore, deadwood. The activities of
tree life are no longer present. The color changes, because mineral and
chemical substances are deposited in the wood and fill many of the
cavities. That process begins at the center of the trunk and works
outward year by year, forming a pretty distinct line between the living
sapwood and the dead and inert heartwood.

For some reason, the heartwood of certain species is prone to decay.
Sycamore is the best example. The largest trunks are generally hollow.
The heart has disappeared, leaving only the thin shell of sapwood, and
this is required not only to maintain the tree’s life and activities,
but to support the trunk’s weight. In most instances the substances
deposited in the heartwood, and associated with the coloring matter,
tend to preserve the wood from decay. For that reason heart timber lasts
longer than sap when exposed in damp situations. The dark and variegated
shades of the heartwood of some species give them their chief value as
cabinet and furniture material. The sapwood of black walnut is not
wanted by anybody, for it is light in color and is characterless; but
when the sap has changed to heart, and its tones have been deepened by
the accumulation of pigments, it becomes a choice material for certain
purposes. The same is true of many other timbers, notably sweet and
yellow birch, black cherry, and several of the oaks.

It sometimes happens that when sapwood is transformed into heart, a
physical change, as well as a coloring process, affects it. Persimmon
and dogwood are examples, and hickory in a less degree. The sapwood of
persimmon and dogwood makes shuttles and golf heads, but after the
change to heartwood occurs, it is considered unsuitable. Handle makers
and the manufacturers of buggy spokes prefer hickory sapwood, but use
the red heartwood if it is the same weight as the sap.

_Annual Rings_--The trunks of both hardwoods and softwoods are made up
of concentric rings. In most instances the eye easily detects them. They
are more distinct in a freshly cut trunk than in weathered wood, though
in a few instances weathering accentuates rather than obliterates them.
A count of the rings gives the tree’s age in years, each ring being the
growth of one year. An occasional exception should be noted, as when
accident checks the tree’s growth in the middle of the season, and the
growth is later resumed. In that case, it may develop two rings in one
year. A severe frost late in spring after leaves have started may
produce that result; or defoliation by caterpillars in early summer may
do it. Perhaps not one tree in a thousand has that experience in the
course of its whole life. Trees in the tropics where seasons are nearly
the same the year through, seldom have rings. Imitations of mahogany are
sometimes detected by noting clearly marked annual rings. It is
difficult for the woodfinisher to obliterate the annual rings, but some
of the French woodworkers very nearly accomplish it.

No law of growth governs the width of yearly rings, but circumstances
have much to do with it. When the tree’s increase in size is rapid,
rings are broad. An uncrowded tree in good soil and climate grows much
faster than if circumstances are adverse. Carolina poplar and black
willow sometimes have rings nearly three-fourths of an inch broad, while
in the white bark pine, which grows above the snow line in California,
the rings may be so narrow as to be invisible to the naked eye.

There is no average width of yearly rings and no average age of trees. A
few (very few) of the sequoias, or “big trees” of California, are two
thousand years old. An age of six or seven centuries appears to be about
the limit of the oldest of the other species in this country, though an
authentic statement to that effect cannot be made. There are species
whose life average scarcely exceeds that of men. The aspen generally
falls before it is eighty; and fire cherry scarcely averages half of
that. Of all the trees cut for lumber, perhaps not one in a hundred has
passed the three century mark. That ratio would not hold if applied to
the Pacific coast alone.

_Spring and Summerwood_--These are not usual terms with lumbermen and
woodworkers, but belong more to the engineer who thinks of physical
properties of timber, particularly its strength. Yet, sawmill and
factory men are well acquainted with the two kinds of wood, but they are
likely to apply the term “grain” to the combination of the two.

Spring and summerwood make the annual ring. Springwood grows early in
the season, summerwood later. In fact, it usually is the contrast in
color where the summerwood of one season abuts against the springwood of
the next which makes the ring visible. The inside of the ring--that
portion nearest the heart of the tree--is the springwood, the rest of
the ring is the summerwood. The former is generally lighter in color.
Sometimes, and with certain species, the springwood is much broader than
the other. The summerwood may be a very narrow band, not much wider than
a fine pencil mark, but its deeper color makes it quite distinct in most
instances. In other instances, as with some of the oaks, the summerwood
is the wider part of the annual ring. The figure or “grain” of southern
yellow pine is largely due to the contrast between the dark summerwood
and light springwood of the rings. The same is true of ash, chestnut,
and of many other woods.

_Pores_--Wood is not the solid substance it seems to be when seen in the
mass. If magnified it appears filled with cavities, not unlike a piece
of coral or honeycomb; but to the unaided eye only a few of the largest
openings are visible, and in some woods like maple, none can be seen.
The large openings are known as pores. They are so prominent in some of
the oaks that in a clean cut end or cross section they look like pin
holes. Very little magnifying is required to bring them out distinctly.
A good reading glass is sufficient.

Pores belong to hardwoods only. The resin ducts in some softwoods
present a similar appearance, but are far less numerous. All pores are,
of course, situated in the annual rings, but in different species they
are differently located as to spring and summerwood. In some woods the
largest pores are in the springwood only and therefore run in rings.
Such woods are called “ring porous,” and the oaks are best examples. In
other species the pores are scattered through all parts of the ring in
about the same proportion, and such woods are called “diffuse porous,”
as the birches. Softwoods have no pores proper, and are classed

_Medullary Rays_--A smoothly-cut cross section of almost any oak, but
particularly white oak and red oak, exhibits to the unaided eye narrow,
light-colored lines radiating from the center of the tree toward the
bark like spokes of a wheel. They are about the breadth of a fine pencil
mark, and are generally a sixth of an inch or less apart. They are among
the most conspicuous and characteristic features of oak wood, and are
known as medullary or pith rays.

Oak is cited as an example because the rays are large and prominent, but
they are present in all wood, and constitute a large part of its body.
They vary greatly in size. In some woods a few are visible unmagnified;
but even in oak a hundred are invisible to the naked eye to one that can
be seen. Some species show none until a glass is used. Some pines have
fifteen thousand to a square inch of cross section, all of which are so
small as to elude successfully the closest search of the unaided eye.

The medullary rays influence the appearance of most wood. They determine
its character. Oak is quarter-sawed for the purpose of bringing out the
bright, flat surfaces of these rays. The prominent flecks, streaks, and
patches of silvery wood are the flat sides of medullary rays. In cross
section, only the line-like ends are seen, but quarter-sawing exposes
their sides to view.

That explains in part why some species are adapted to quarter-sawing and
others are not. If no broad rays exist in the wood, as with white pine,
red cedar, and cottonwood, quarter-sawing cannot add much to the wood’s

_Grain_--The grain of wood is not a definite quality. The word does not
mean the same thing to all who use it. It sometimes refers to rings of
yearly growth, and in that sense a narrow-ringed wood is fine grained,
and one with wide rings is coarse grained. A curly, wavy, smoky, or
birdseye wood does not owe its quality to annual rings, yet with some
persons, all of these figures are called grain. The term sometimes
refers to medullary rays, again to hardness, or to roughness. Some
mahogany is called “woolly grained” because the surface polishes with
difficulty. The pattern maker designates white pine as “even grained”,
because it cuts easily in all directions. The handle maker classes
hickory as “smooth grained”, because it polishes well and the sole idea
of the maker is smoothness to the touch. There are other grains almost
as numerous as the trades which use wood. In numerous instances “figure”
is a better term than “grain.” Feather mahogany, birdseye birch, burl
ash, are figures rather than grains. There is no authority to settle and
decide what the real meaning of grain is in wood technology. It has a
number of meanings, and one man has as much authority as another to
interpret it in accordance with his own ideas, and the usage in his
trade. It is a loose term which covers several things in general and
nothing in particular.

_Weight_--The weight of wood is calculated from different standpoints.
It has a green weight, an air-dry weight, a kiln-dry weight, and an
oven-dry weight. All are different, but the differences are due to the
relative amounts of water weighed. Sawlogs generally go by green weight;
yard lumber by air-dry or partly air-dry weight; while the wood used in
ultimate manufacture, such as furniture, is supposed to be kiln-dry.

The absolute weight of wood, with all air spaces, moisture, and other
foreign material removed, is about 100 pounds per cubic foot, which is
1.6 times heavier than water; but that is not a natural form of wood. It
is known only in the laboratory.

The actual wood substance of one species weighs about the same as
another. Dispense with all air spaces, all water, and all other foreign
substance, and pine and ebony weigh alike. It is apparent that the
different weights of woods, as between cedar and oak for example, are
due chiefly to porosity. The smaller the aggregate space occupied by
pores and other cavities, the heavier the wood. That accounts for the
differences in weights of absolutely dry woods of different kinds,
except that a small amount of other foreign material may remain after
water has been driven off. Florida black ironwood is rated as the
heaviest in the United States, and it weighs 81.14 pounds per cubic
foot, oven-dry. The lightest in this country is the golden fig which is
a native of Florida also. It weighs 16.3 pounds per cubic foot,
oven-dry. When weights of wood are given, the specimen is understood to
be oven-dry, unless it is stated to be otherwise: it is a laboratory
weight, calculated from small cubes of the wood. Such weights are always
a little less than that of the dryest wood of the same kind that can be
obtained in the lumber market.

_Moisture in Wood_--The varying weights of the same wood indicate that
moisture plays an important part. No man ever saw absolutely dry wood.
If heated sufficiently to drive off all the moisture, the wood is
reduced to charcoal and other products of destructive distillation.

The pores and other cavities in green timber are more or less filled
with water or sap. This may amount to one-third, one-half, or even more,
of the dry weight of the wood. The water is in the hollow vessels and
cell walls. A living tree contains about the same quantity of water in
winter as in summer, though the common belief is otherwise. It is
misleading to say that the sap is “down” in one season and “up” in
another, although there is more activity at certain times than in
others. Strictly speaking, there is a difference between the water in a
tree, and the tree’s sap; but in common parlance they are considered
identical. What takes place is this: water rises from the tree’s roots,
through the wood, carrying certain minerals in solution. Some of it
reaches the leaves in summer where it mixes with certain gases from the
air, and is converted into sap proper. Most of the surplus water, after
giving up the mineral substance held in solution, is evaporated through
the leaves into the air; but the sap, starting from the leaves which act
as laboratories for its manufacture, goes down through the newly-formed
(and forming), layer of wood just beneath the bark, and is converted
into wood. This newly-formed wood is colorless at first. It builds up
the annual ring, first the springwood very rapidly, and then the
summerwood more slowly.

The force which causes water to rise through the trunk of a tree is not
fully understood. It is one of nature’s mysteries which is yet to be
solved. Forces known as root pressure, capillary attraction, and
osmosis, are believed to be active in the process, but there seems to be
something additional, and no man has yet been able to explain what it

The seasoning of wood is the process of getting rid of some of the
water. As soon as lumber is exposed to air, the water begins to escape.
Long exposure to dry air takes out a large percentage of the moisture
which green wood holds, and the lumber is known as air-dry. But some of
the original moisture remains, and air at climatic temperature is unable
to expel it. The greater heat of a drykiln drives away some more of it,
but a quantity yet remains. The lumber is then kiln-dry. Greater heat
than the drykiln’s is secured in an oven, and a little more of the
wood’s moisture is expelled; but the only method of driving all the
moisture out is to heat the wood sufficiently to break down its
structure, and reduce it to charcoal.

Wood warps in the process of drying unless it seasons equally on all
sides. It curls or bends toward the side which dries most rapidly. Dry
wood may warp if exposed to dampness, if one side is more exposed and
receives more moisture than another. It curls or bends toward the dryer

Warping is primarily due to the more rapid contraction or expansion of
wood cells on one side of the piece than on the other. Saturated cells
are larger than dry ones.

Moisture in wood affects its strength, the dryer the stronger, at least
within certain limits. Architects and builders carefully study the
seasoning of timber, because it is a most important factor in their
business. The moisture which most affects a wood’s strength is that
absorbed in the cell walls, rather than that contained in the cell
cavities themselves.

Some woods check or split badly in seasoning unless attended with
constant care. Checking is due chiefly to lack of uniformity in
seasoning. One part of the stick dries faster than another, the dryer
fibers contract, and the pull splits the wood. The checks may be small,
even microscopic, or they may develop yawning cracks such as sometimes
appear in the ends of hickory and black walnut logs. Greenwood checks
worse in summer than in winter, because the weather is warmer, the
wood’s surface dries faster, and the strain on the fibers is greater.
Phases of the moon have no influence on the seasoning, checking,
warping, or lasting properties of timber.

_Stiffness, Elasticity, and Strength_--Rules for measuring the stiffness
of timber are involved in mathematical formulas; but the practical
quality of stiffness is not difficult to understand. Wood which does not
bend easily is stiff. If it springs back to its original position after
the removal of the force which bends it, the wood is elastic. The
greatest load it can sustain without breaking, is the measure of its
strength. The load required to produce a certain amount of bending is
the measure of its stiffness. Flexibility, a term much used by certain
classes of workers in wood, is the opposite of stiffness. A brittle wood
is not necessarily weak. It may sustain a heavy load without breaking,
but when it fails, the break is sudden and complete. A tough wood
behaves differently, though it may not be as strong as a brittle one.
When a tough wood breaks, the parts are inclined to adhere after they
have ceased to sustain the load. Hickory is tough, and in breaking, the
wood crushes and splinters. Mesquite is brittle, and a clean snap severs
the stick at once.

Builders of houses and bridges, and the manufacturers of articles of
wood, study with the greatest care the stiffness, elasticity, strength,
toughness, and brittleness of timber. Its chief value may depend upon
the presence or absence of one or more of these properties. Take away
hickory’s toughness and elasticity and it would cease to be a great
vehicle and handle material. Reduce the stiffness and strength of
longleaf pine and Douglas fir and they would drop at once from the high
esteem in which they are held as structural timbers. Destroy the
brittleness of red cedar and it would lose one of the chief qualities
which make it the leading lead pencil wood of the world.

There are recognized methods of measuring these important physical
properties of woods, but they are expressed in language so technical
that it means little to persons who are not specialists. For ordinary
purposes, it is unnecessary to be more explicit than to state a certain
wood is or is not strong, stiff, tough and elastic. Some species possess
one or more of these properties to double the degree that others possess
them. Different trees of the same species differ greatly, and even
different parts of the same tree. Most tables of figures which show the
various physical properties of woods, give averages only, not absolute

_Hardness_--In some woods hardness is considered an advantage, but not
in others. If sugar maple were as soft as white pine, it would not be
the great floor material it is; and if white pine were as hard as maple,
pattern makers would not want it, door and sash manufacturers would get
along with less, and it would not be the leading packing box material in
so wide a region.

It is generally the summer growth in the annual rings which makes a wood
hard. The summerwood is dense. A given bulk of it contains more actual
wood substance and less air and water than the springwood. For the same
reason, summerwood gives weight, and a relationship between hardness and
weight holds generally. It may be added that strength goes with weight
and hardness, but it is not a rule without apparent exceptions.

Some woods possess twice or three times the hardness of others. Among
some of the hardest in the United States are hickory, sugar maple,
mesquite, the Florida ironwoods, Osage orange, locust, persimmon, and
the best oak and elm. Among the softest species are buckeye, basswood,
cedar, redwood, some of the pines, spruce, hemlock, and chestnut.

The hardness of wood is tested with a machine which records the pressure
required to indent the surface. The condition of the specimen, as to
dryness, has much to do with its hardness. So many other factors
exercise influence that nothing less than an actual test will determine
the hardness of a sample. A table of figures can show it only
approximately and by averages.

_Cleavability_--Wood users generally demand a material which does not
split easily, but the reverse is sometimes required. Rived staves must
come from timbers which split easily. Many handles are from billets
which are split in rough form and are afterwards dressed to the required
size and shape. In these instances, splitting is preferable to sawing,
because a rived billet is free from cross grain.

The cleavability of woods differs greatly. Some can scarcely be split.
Black gum is in that list, and sycamore to a less extent. Young trees of
some species split more readily than old, while with others, the
advantage is with the old. Young sycamore may generally be split with
ease, but old trunks seem to develop interlocked fibers which defy the
wedge. A white oak pole is hard to split, but the old tree yields
readily. Few woods are more easily split than chestnut. With most
timbers cleavage is easiest along the radial lines, that is, from the
heart to the bark. The flat sides of the medullary rays lie in that
plane. Cleavage along tangential lines is easy with some woods. The line
of cleavage follows the soft springwood. Green timber is generally, but
not always, more easily split than dry. As a rule, the more elastic a
wood is, the more readily it may be split.

_Durability_--In Egypt where climatic conditions are highly favorable,
Lebanon cedar, North African acacia, East African persimmon, and
oriental sycamore have remained sound during three or four thousand
years. In the moist forests of the northwestern Pacific coast, an alder
log six or eight inches in diameter will decay through and through in a
single year. No wood is immune to decay if exposed to influences which
induce it, but some resist for long periods. Osage orange and locust
fence posts may stand half a century. Timber from which air is excluded,
as when deeply buried in wet earth or under water, will last
indefinitely; but if it is exposed to alternate dampness and dryness,
decay will destroy it in a few years.

It is apparent that resistance to decay is not a property inherent in
the wood, but depends on circumstances. However, the ability to resist
decay varies greatly with different species, under similar
circumstances. Buckeye and red cedar fence posts, situated alike, will
not last alike. The buckeye may be expected to fall in two or three
years, and the cedar will stand twenty. Timbers light in weight and
light in color are, as a class, quick-decaying when exposed to the

The rule holds in most cases that sapwood decays more quickly than heart
when both are subject to similar exposure. The matter of decay is not
important when lumber and other products intended for use are in dry
situations. Furniture and interior house finish do not decay under
ordinary circumstances, no matter what the species of wood may be; but
resistance to decay overshadows almost any other consideration in
choosing mine timbers, crossties, fence posts, and tanks and silos.

Decay in timber is not simply a chemical process, but is due primarily
to the activities of a low order of plants known as fungi, sometimes
bacteria. The fungi produce thread-like filaments which penetrate the
body of the wood, ramifying in and passing from cell to cell, absorbing
certain materials therein, and ultimately breaking down and destroying
the structure of the wood. Both air and dampness are essential to the
growth of fungus. That is the reason why timbers deep beneath ground or
water do not decay. Air is absent, though moisture is abundant; while in
the dry Egyptian tombs, air is abundant but moisture is wanting, fungus
cannot exist, and consequently decay of the wood does not occur. Nothing
is needed to render timber immune to decay except to keep fungus out of
the cells. Some of the fungus concerned in wood rotting is microscopic,
while other appears in forms and sizes easily seen and recognized.

Timber may be protected for a time against the agencies of decay by
covering the surface with paint, thereby preventing the entrance of
fungus. By another process, certain oils or other materials which are
poisonous to the insinuating threads of fungus, are forced into the
pores of the wood. Creosote is often used for this purpose. Attacks are
thus warded off, and decay is hindered. The preservative fluid will not
remain permanently in wood exposed to weather conditions, but the period
during which it affords protection and immunity extends over some years;
but different woods vary greatly in their ability to receive and retain
preservative mixtures.

The better seasoned, the less liable is timber to decay, because it
contains less moisture to support fungi. It is generally supposed that
timber cut in the fall of the year is less subject to decay than if
felled in summer. If it is so, the reason for it lies in the fact that
fungus is inactive during winter, and before the coming of warm weather
the timber has partly dried near the surface, and fungi cannot pass
through the dry outside to reach the interior. Timber cut in warm
weather may be attacked at once, and before cold weather stops the
activities of fungus it has reached the interior of the wood and the
process of rotting is under way. When the agents of decay have begun to
grow in the wood, destruction will go on as long as air and moisture
conditions are favorable.

The bluing of wood is an incipient decay and is generally due to fungus.
Some kinds of wood are more susceptible to bluing than others. Though
boards may quickly season sufficiently to put a stop to the bluing
process before it has actually weakened the material, the result is more
or less injurious. The wood’s natural color and luster undergo
deterioration; it does not reflect light as formerly, and seems dead and

Decay affects sapwood more readily than heart. The reason may be that
sapwood contains more food for fungus, thereby inducing greater
activity. The sapwood is on the outside of timbers and is often more
exposed than the heart. In some instances greater decay may be due to
greater exposure. Another reason for more rapid decay of sapwood than
heart is the fact that the pores of the heartwood are more or less
filled with coloring matter deposited while the growth of the tree was
in progress. The coloring matter, in many cases, acts as a preservative;
it shuts the threads of fungus out. Sometimes the sapwood of a dead tree
or a log is totally destroyed while the heart remains sound. This often
happens with red cedar and sometimes with black walnut, yellow poplar,
and cherry. Occasionally a tree’s bark is more resistant to decay than
its wood. Paper birch and yellow birch logs in damp situations
occasionally show this. What appears to be a solid fallen trunk, proves
to be nothing more than a shell of bark with a soft, pulpy mass of
decayed wood within.


[Illustration: WHITE PINE]


(_Pinus Strobus_)

    [1] The following 12 species are usually classed soft pines: White
    Pine (_Pinus strobus_); Sugar Pine (_Pinus lambertiana_); Western
    White Pine (_Pinus monticola_); Mexican White Pine (_Pinus
    strobiformis_); Limber Pine (_Pinus flexilis_); Whitebark Pine
    (_Pinus albicaulis_); Foxtail Pine (_Pinus balfouriana_); Parry Pine
    (_Pinus quadrifolia_); Mexican Pinon (_Pinus cembroides_); Pinon
    (_Pinus edulis_); Singleleaf Pinon (_Pinus monophylla_); Bristlecone
    Pine (_Pinus aristata_).

The best known wood of the United States has never been burdened with a
multitude of names, as many minor species have. It is commonly known as
white pine in every region where it grows, and in many where the living
tree is never seen, except when planted for ornament. The light color of
the wood suggests the name. The bark and the foliage are of somber hue,
though not as dark as hemlock and many of the pines. The name Weymouth
pine is occasionally heard, but it is more used in books than by
lumbermen. It is commonly supposed that the name refers to Lord Weymouth
who interested himself in the tree at an early period, but this has been
disputed. In Pennsylvania it is occasionally called soft pine to
distinguish it from the harder and inferior pitch pine and table
mountain pine with which it is sometimes associated. It is the softest
of the pines, and the name is not inappropriate. In some regions of the
South, where it is well known, it is called northern spruce pine in
recognition of the fact that it is a northern species which has followed
the Appalachian mountain ranges some hundreds of miles southward. There
is no good reason for this name when applied to white pine. It should be
remembered, however, that no less than a dozen tree species in the
United States are sometimes called spruce pine. Cork pine is a trade
name applied more frequently to the wood than to the living tree. It is
the wood of old, mature, first class trunks, as nearly perfect as can be
found. Pumpkin pine is another name given to the same class of wood. It
is so named because the grain is homogeneous, like a pumpkin, and may be
readily cut and carved in any direction. It is the ideal wood for the
pattern maker, but it is now hard to get because the venerable white
pines, many hundred years old, are practically gone.

The northern limit of the range of white pine stretches from
Newfoundland to Manitoba, more than 1800 miles east and west across the
Dominion of Canada, and southward to northern Georgia, 1200 miles in a
north and south direction. But white pine does not grow in all parts of
the territory thus delimited. It attained magnificent development in
certain large regions before lumbering began, and in others it was
scarce or totally wanting. Its ability to maintain itself on land too
thin for vigorous hardwood growth gave it a monopoly of enormous
stretches of sandy country, particularly in the Lake States. It occupied
large areas in New England and southern Canada; developed splendid
stands in New York and Pennsylvania; and it covered certain mountains
and uplands southward along the mountain ranges across Maryland, West
Virginia, and the elevated regions two or three hundred miles farther

A dozen or more varieties of white pine have been developed under
cultivation, but they interest the nurseryman, not the lumberman. In all
the wide extension of its range, and during all past time, nature was
never able to develop a single variety of white pine which departed from
the typical species. For that reason it is one of the most interesting
objects of study in the tree kingdom. True, the white pine in the
southern mountains differs slightly from the northern tree, but
botanically it is the same. Its wood is a little heavier, its branches
are more resinous and consequently adhere a longer time to the trunk
after they die, resulting in lumber with more knots. The southern wood
is more tinged with red, the knots are redder and usually sounder than
in the North.

It is unfortunately necessary in speaking of white pine forests to use
the past tense, for most of the primeval stands have disappeared. The
range is as extensive as ever, because wherever a forest once grew, a
few trees remain; but the merchantable timber has been cut in most
regions. The tree bears winged seeds which quickly scatter over vacant
spaces, and new growth would long ago, in most cases, have taken the
place of the old, had not fires persistently destroyed the seedlings. In
parts of New England where fire protection is afforded, dense stands of
white pine are coming on, and in numerous instances profitable lumber
operations are carried on in second growth forests. That condition does
not exist generally in white pine regions. Primeval stands were seldom
absolutely pure, but sometimes, in bodies of thousands of acres, there
was little but white pine. Generally hardwoods or other softwoods grew
with the pine. At its best, it is the largest pine of the United States,
except the sugar pine of California. The largest trees grew in New
England where diameters of six or more feet and heights exceeding 200
feet were found. A diameter of four and five feet and a height of 150
feet are about the size limits in the Lake States and the southern
mountains. Trees two or three feet through and ninety and 120 tall are a
fair average for mature timber.

The wood of white pine is among the lightest of the commercial timbers
of this country, and among the softest. While it is not strong, it
compares favorably, weight for weight, with most others. It is of rather
rapid growth, and the rings of annual increase are clearly defined, and
they contain comparatively few resin ducts. For that reason it may be
classed as a close, compact wood. It polishes well, may be cut with
great ease, and after it is seasoned it holds its form better than most
woods. That property fits it admirably for doors and sash and for
backing of veneer, where a little warping or twisting would do much

The medullary rays are numerous but are too small to be easily seen
separately, and do not figure much in the appearance of the wood. The
resin passages are few and small, but the wood contains enough resin to
give it a characteristic odor, which is not usually considered injurious
to merchandise shipped in pine boxes. The white color of the wood gives
it much of its value. Though rather weak, white pine is stiff, rather
low in elasticity, is practically wanting in toughness, has little
figure, and when exposed to alternate dryness and dampness it is rated
poor in lasting properties; yet shingles and weather boarding of this
wood have been known to stand half a century. The sapwood is lighter in
color than the heart, and decays more quickly.

As long as white pine was abundant it surpassed all other woods of this
country in the amount used. It was one of the earliest exports from New
England, and it went to the West Indies and to Europe. England attempted
to control the cutting and export of white pine, but was unsuccessful.
At an early period the rivers were utilized for transporting the logs
and the lumber to market, and that method has continued until the
present time. Spectacular log drives were common in early times in New
England, later in New York and Pennsylvania, and still later in Michigan
and the other Lake States. Many billions of feet of faultless logs have
gone down flooded rivers. The scenes in the woods and the life in lumber
camps have been written in novels and romances, and the central figure
of it all was white pine.

There are a few things for which this wood is not suitable; otherwise
its use has been nearly universal in some parts of this country. It went
into masts and matches, which are the largest and smallest commodities,
and into almost every shape and size of product between. Most of the
early houses and barns in the pine region were built of it. Hewed pine
was the foundation, and the shingles were of split and shaved pine. It
formed floors, doors, sash, and shutters. It was the ceiling within and
the weather boarding without. It fenced the fields and bridged the
streams. It went to market as rough lumber, and planing mills turned it
out as dressed stock in various forms. It has probably been more
extensively employed by box makers than any other wood, and though it is
scarcer than formerly, hundreds of millions of feet of it are still used
annually by box makers. Scores of millions of feet yearly are demanded
by the manufacturers of window shade rollers, though individually the
roller is a very small commodity. In this, as for patterns and many
other things, no satisfactory substitute for white pine has been found.

As a timber tree, it will not disappear from this country, though the
days of its greatest importance are past. Enormous tracts where it once
grew will apparently never again produce a white pine sawlog. The
prospect is more encouraging in other regions, and there will always be
a considerable quantity of this lumber in the American market, though
the high percentage of good grades which prevailed in the past will not
continue in the future.

White pine belongs in the five needle group, that is, five leaves grow
in a bundle. They turn yellow and fall in the autumn of the second year.
The cones are slender, are from five to eleven inches in length, and
ripen and disperse their seeds in the autumn of the second year.



[Illustration: WESTERN WHITE PINE]


(_Pinus Monticola_)

The silvery luster of the needles of this tree gives it the name silver
pine, by which many people know it. It appears in literature as mountain
Weymouth pine, the reference being to the eastern white pine (_Pinus
strobus_), which is sometimes called Weymouth pine. Finger-cone pine is
a California name; so are mountain pine and soft pine. In the same state
it is called little sugar pine, to distinguish it from sugar pine
(_Pinus lambertiana_), which it resembles in some particulars but not in
all. It is thus seen that California is generous in bestowing names on
this tree, notwithstanding it is not abundant in any part of that state
and is unknown in most parts.

The botanical name means “mountain pine,” and that describes the
species. It does best among the mountains, and it ranges from an
altitude of from 4,000 feet to 10,000 on the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Sometimes trees of very large size are found near the upper limits of
its range, but the best stands are in valleys and on slopes at lower
altitudes. Its range lies in British Columbia, Montana, Idaho,
Washington, Oregon, and California. In the latter state it follows the
Sierra Nevada mountains southward to the San Joaquin river.

This species has been compared with the white pine of the East oftener
than with any other species. The weights of the two woods are nearly the
same, and both are light. Their fuel values are about the same. The
strength of the eastern tree is a little higher, but the western species
is stiffer. The woods of both are light in color, but that of the
eastern tree is whiter; both are soft, but again the advantage is with
the eastern tree. The western pine generally grows rapidly and the
annual rings are wide; but, like most other species, it varies in its
rate of growth, and trunks are found with narrow rings. The summerwood
is thin, not conspicuous, and slightly resinous. The small resin
passages are numerous. The heartwood is fairly durable in contact with
the soil.

The western white pine has entered many markets in recent years, but it
is difficult to determine what the annual cut is. Statistics often
include this species and the western yellow pine under one name, or at
least confuse one with the other, and there is no way to determine
exactly how much of the sawmill output belongs to each. The bulk of
merchantable western white pine lumber is cut in Idaho and Montana. The
stands are seldom pure, but this species frequently predominates over
its associates. When pure forests are found, the yield is sometimes
very high, as much as 130,000 feet of logs growing on a single acre.
That quantity is not often equalled by any other forest tree, though
redwood and Douglas fir sometimes go considerably above it.

The western white pine’s needles grow in clusters of five and are from
one and a half to four inches long. The cones are from ten to eighteen
inches long. The seeds ripen the second year. Reproduction is vigorous
and the forest stands are holding their own. Trees about one hundred and
seventy-five feet high and eight feet in diameter are met with, but the
average size is one hundred feet high and from two to three feet in
diameter, or about the size of eastern white pine.

The wood is useful and has been giving service since the settlement of
the country began, fifty or more years ago. Choice trunks were split for
shakes or shingles, but the wood is inferior in splitting qualities to
either eastern white pine or California sugar pine, because of more
knots. The western white pine does not prime itself early or well. Dead
limbs adhere to the trunk long after the sugar pine would shed them. In
split products, the western white pine’s principal rival has been the
western red cedar. The pine has been much employed for mine timbers in
the region where it is abundant. Miners generally take the most
convenient wood for props, stulls, and lagging. A little higher use for
pine is found among the mines, where is it made into tanks, flumes,
sluice boxes, water pipes, riffle blocks, rockers, and guides for stamp
mills. However, the total quantity used by miners is comparatively
small. Much more goes to ranches for fences and buildings. It is
serviceable, and is shipped outside the immediate region of production
and is marketed in the plains states east of the Rocky Mountains, where
it is excellent fence material.

A larger market is found in manufacturing centers farther east. Western
white pine is shipped to Chicago where it is manufactured into doors,
sash, and interior finish, in competition with all other woods in that
market. It is said to be of frequent occurrence that the very pine which
is shipped in its rough form out of the Rocky Mountain region goes back
finished as doors and sash. When the mountain regions shall have better
manufacturing facilities, this will not occur. In the manufacture of
window and hothouse sash, glass is more important than wood, although
each is useless without the other. The principal glass factories are in
the East, and it is sometimes desirable to ship the wood to the glass
factory, have the sash made there, and the glazing done; and the
finished sash, ready for use, may go back to the source of the timber.

The same operation is sometimes repeated for doors; but in recent years
the mountain region where this pine grows has been supplied with
factories and there is now less shipping of raw material out and of
finished products back than formerly. The development of the fruit
industry in the elevated valleys of Idaho, Montana, Washington, and
Oregon has called for shipping boxes in large numbers, and western white
pine has been found an ideal wood for that use. It is light in weight
and in color, strong enough to satisfy all ordinary requirements, and
cheap enough to bring it within reach of orchardists. It meets with
lively competition from a number of other woods which grow abundantly in
the region, but it holds its ground and takes its share of the business.

Estimates of the total stand of western white pine among its native
mountains have not been published, but the quantity is known to be
large. It is a difficult species to estimate because it is scattered
widely, large, pure stands being scarce. Some large mills make a
specialty of sawing this species. The annual output is believed to reach
150,000,000 feet, most of which is in Idaho and Montana.

MEXICAN WHITE PINE (_Pinus strobiformis_) is not sufficiently abundant
to be of much importance in the United States. The best of it is south
of the international boundary in Mexico, but the species extends into
New Mexico and Arizona where it is most abundant at altitudes of from
6,000 to 8,000 feet. The growth is generally scattering, and the trunks
are often deformed through fire injury, and are inclined to be limby and
of poor form. The best trees are from eighty to one hundred feet high,
and two in diameter; but many are scarcely half that size. The lumbermen
of the region, who cut Mexican white pine, are inclined to place low
value on it, not because the wood is of poor quality, but because it is
scarce. It is generally sent to market with western yellow pine.
Excellent grades and quality of this wood are shipped into the United
States from Mexico, but not in large amounts. An occasional carload
reaches door and sash factories in Texas, and woodworkers as far east as
Michigan are acquainted with it, through trials and experiments which
they have made. It is highly recommended by those who have tried it.
Some consider it as soft, as easy to work, and as free from warping and
checking as the eastern white pine. In Arizona and New Mexico the tree
is known as ayacahuite pine, white pine, and Arizona white pine. The
wood is moderately light, fairly strong, rather stiff, of slow growth,
and the bands of summerwood are comparatively broad. The resin passages
are few and large. The wood is light red, the sapwood whiter. The leaves
occur in clusters of five, are three or four inches long, and fall
during the third and fourth years. The seeds are large and have small
wings which cannot carry them far from the parent tree.

PINON (_Pinus edulis_). This is one of the nut pines abounding among the
western mountains, and it is called pinon in Texas, nut pine in Texas
and Colorado, pinon pine and New Mexican pinon in other parts of its
range, extending from Colorado through New Mexico to western Texas. It
has two and three leaves to the cluster. They begin to fall the third
year and continue through six or seven years following. The cones are
quite small, the largest not exceeding one and one-half inches in
length. Trees are from thirty to forty feet high, and large trunks may
be two and one-half feet in diameter. The tree runs up mountain sides to
altitudes of 8,000 or 9,000 feet. It exists in rather large bodies, but
is not an important timber tree, because the trunks are short and are
generally of poor form. It often branches near the ground and assumes
the appearance of a large shrub. Ties of pinon have been used with
various results. Some have proved satisfactory, others have proved weak
by breaking, and the ties occasionally split when spikes are driven. The
wood’s service as posts varies also. Some posts will last only three or
four years, while others remain sound a long time. The difference in
lasting properties is due to the difference in resinous contents of the
wood. Few softwoods rank above it in fuel value, and much is cut in some
localities. Large areas have been totally stripped for fuel. Charcoal
for local smithies is burned from this pine. The wood is widely used for
ranch purposes, but not in large quantities. The edible nuts are sought
by birds, rodents, and Indians. Some stores keep the nuts for sale. The
tree is handicapped in its effort at reproduction by weight, and the
small wing power of the seeds. They fall near the base of the parent
tree, and most of them are speedily devoured.



[Illustration: SUGAR PINE]


(_Pinus Lambertiana_)

This is the largest pine of the United States, and probably is the
largest true pine in the world. Its rival, the Kauri pine of New
Zealand, is not a pine according to the classification of botanists; and
that leaves the sugar pine supreme, as far as the world has been
explored. David Douglas, the first to describe the species, reported a
tree eighteen feet in diameter and 245 feet high, in southern Oregon. No
tree of similar size has been reported since; but trunks six, ten, and
even twelve feet through, and more than 200 high are not rare.

The range of sugar pine extends from southern Oregon to lower
California. Through California it follows the Sierra Nevada mountains in
a comparatively narrow belt. In Oregon it descends within 1,000 feet of
sea level, but the lower limit of its range gradually rises as it
follows the mountains southward, until in southern California it is
8,000 or 10,000 feet above the sea. Its choice of situation is in the
mountain belt where the annual precipitation is forty inches or more.
The deep winter snows of the Sierras do not hurt it. The young trees
bear abundant limbs covering the trunks nearly or quite to the ground,
and are of perfect conical shape. When they are ten or fifteen feet tall
they may be entirely covered in snow which accumulates to a depth of a
dozen feet or more. The little pines are seldom injured by the load, but
their limbs shed the snow until it covers the highest twig. The
consequence is that a crooked sugar pine trunk is seldom seen, though a
considerable part of the tree’s youth may have been spent under tons of
snow. Later in life the lower limbs die and drop, leaving clean boles
which assure abundance of clear lumber in the years to come.

The tree is nearly always known as sugar pine, though it may be called
big pine or great pine to distinguish it from firs, cedars, and other
softwoods with which it is associated. The name is due to a product
resembling sugar which exudes from the heartwood when the tree has been
injured by fires, and which dries in white, brittle excrescences on the
surface. Its taste is sweet, with a suggestion of pitch which is not
unpleasant. The principle has been named “pinite.”

The needles of sugar pine are in clusters of five and are about four
inches long. They are deciduous the second and third years. The cones
are longer than cones of any other pine of this country but those of the
Coulter pine are a little heavier. Extreme length of 22 inches for the
sugar pine cone has been recorded, but the average is from 12 to 15
inches. Cones open, shed their seeds the second year, and fall the
third. The seeds resemble lentils, and are provided with wings which
carry them several hundred feet, if wind is favorable. This affords
excellent opportunities for reproduction; but there is an offset in the
sweetness of the seeds which are prized for food by birds, beasts and
creeping things from the Piute Indian down to the Douglas squirrel and
the jumping mouse.

Sugar pine occupies a high place as a timber tree. It has been in use
for half a century. The cut in 1900 was 52,000,000 feet, in 1904 it was
120,000,000; in 1907, 115,000,000, and the next year about 100,000,000.
Ninety-three per cent of the cut is in California, the rest in Oregon.
Its stand in California has been estimated at 25,000,000,000 feet.

The wood of sugar pine is a little lighter than eastern white pine, is a
little weaker, and has less stiffness. It is soft, the rings of growth
are wide, the bands of summerwood thin and resinous; the resin passages
are numerous and very large, the medullary rays numerous and obscure.
The heart is light brown, the sapwood nearly white.

Sugar pine and redwood were the two early roofing woods in California,
and both are still much used for that purpose. Sugar pine was made into
sawed shingles and split shakes. The shingle is a mill product; but the
shake was rived with mallet and frow, and in the years when it was the
great roofing material in central and eastern California, the shake
makers camped by twos in the forest, lived principally on bacon and red
beans, and split out from 200,000 to 400,000 shakes as a summer’s work.
The winter snows drove the workers from the mountains, with from eight
to twelve hundred dollars in their pockets for the season’s work.

The increase in stumpage price has practically killed the shake maker’s
business. In the palmy days when most everything went, he procured his
timber for little or nothing. He sometimes failed to find the surveyor’s
lines, particularly if there happened to be a fine sugar pine just
across on a government quarter section. His method of operation was
wasteful. He used only the best of the tree. If the grain happened to
twist the fraction of an inch, he abandoned the fallen trunk, and cut
another. The shakes were split very thin, for sugar pine is among the
most cleavable woods of this country. Four or five good trees provided
the shake maker’s camp with material for a year’s work.

Some of the earliest sawmills in California cut sugar pine for sheds,
shacks, sluiceboxes, flumes among the mines; and almost immediately a
demand came from the agricultural and stock districts for lumber. From
that day until the present time the sugar pine mills have been busy. As
the demand has grown, the facilities for meeting it have increased. The
prevailing size of the timber forbade the use of small mills. A saw
large enough for most eastern and southern timbers would not slab a
sugar pine log. From four to six feet were common sizes, and the
lumberman despised anything small.

In late years sugar pine operators have looked beyond the local markets,
and have been sending their lumber to practically every state in the
Union, except probably the extreme South. It comes in direct competition
with the white pine of New England and the Lake States. The two woods
have many points of resemblance. The white pine would probably have lost
no markets to the California wood if the best grades could still be had
at moderate prices; but most of the white pine region has been stripped
of its best timber, and the resulting scarcity in the high grades has
been, in part, made good by sugar pine. Some manufacturers of doors and
frames claim that sugar pine is more satisfactory than white pine,
because of better behavior under climatic changes. It is said to shrink,
swell, and warp less than the eastern wood.

Sugar pine has displaced white pine to a very small extent only, in
comparison with the field still held by the eastern wood, whose annual
output is about thirty times that of the California species. Their uses
are practically the same except that only the good grades of sugar pine
go east, and the corresponding grades of white pine west, and therefore
there is no competition between the poor grades of the two woods. The
annual demand for sugar and white pine east of the Rocky Mountains is
probably represented as an average in Illinois, where 2,000,000 feet of
the former and 175,000,000 of the latter are used yearly.

While there is a large amount of mature sugar pine ready for lumbermen,
the prospect of future supplies from new growth is not entirely
satisfactory. The western yellow pine is mixed with it throughout most
of its range, and is more than a match for it in taking possession of
vacant ground. It is inferred from this fact that the relative positions
of the two species in future forests will change at the expense of sugar
pine. It endures shade when small, and this enables it to obtain a start
among other species; but as it increases in size it becomes intolerant
of shade, and if it does not receive abundance of light it will not
grow. A forest fire is nearly certain to kill the small sugar pines, but
old trunks are protected by their thick bark. Few species have fewer
natural enemies. Very small trees are occasionally attacked by mistletoe
(_Arceuthobium occidentale_) and succumb or else are stunted in their

    MEXICAN PINON (_Pinus cembroides_) is known also as nut pine, pinon
    pine and stone-seed Mexican pinon. It is one of the smallest of the
    native pines of this country. The tree is fifteen or twenty feet
    high and a few inches in diameter, but in sheltered canyons in
    Arizona it sometimes attains a height of fifty or sixty feet with a
    corresponding diameter. It reaches its best development in northern
    Mexico and what is found of it in the United States is the species’
    extreme northern extension, in Arizona and New Mexico at altitudes
    usually above 6,000 feet. It supplies fuel in districts where
    firewood is otherwise scarce, and it has a small place as ranch
    timber. The wood is heavy, of slow growth, the summerwood thin and
    dense. The resin passages are few and small; color, light, clear
    yellow, the sapwood nearly white. If the tree stood in regions
    well-forested with commercial species, it would possess little or no
    value; but where wood is scarce, it has considerable value. The
    hardshell nuts resemble those of the gray pine, but are considered
    more valuable for food. They are not of much importance in the
    United States, but in Mexico where the trees are more abundant and
    the population denser, the nuts are bought and sold in large
    quantities. Its leaves are in clusters of three, sometimes two. They
    are one inch or more in length, and fall the third and fourth years.
    Cones are seldom over two inches in length. The species is not
    extending its range, but seems to be holding the ground it already
    has. It bears abundance of seeds, but not one in ten thousand
    germinates and becomes a mature tree.



[Illustration: WHITEBARK PINE]


(_Pinus Albicaulis_)

This interesting and peculiar pine has a number of names, most of which
are descriptive. The whiteness of the bark and the stunted and recumbent
position which the tree assumes on bleak mountains are referred to in
the names whitestem pine in California and Montana, scrub pine in
Montana, whitebark in Oregon, white in California, and elsewhere it is
creeping pine, whitebark pine, and alpine whitebark pine. It is a
mountain tree. There are few heights within its range which it cannot
reach. Its tough, prostrate branches, in its loftiest situations, may
whip snow banks nine or ten months of the year, and for the two or three
months of summer every starry night deposits its sprinkle of frost upon
the flowers or cones of this persistent tree. It stands the storms of
centuries, and lives on, though the whole period of its existence is a
battle for life under adverse circumstances. At lower altitudes it fares
better but does not live longer than on the most sterile peak. Its range
covers 500,000 square miles, but only in scattered groups. It touches
the high places only, creeping down to altitudes of 5,000 or 6,000 feet
in the northern Rocky Mountains. It grows from British Columbia to
southern California, and is found in Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon,
Nevada, Arizona, and California. Its associates are the mountain
climbers of the tree kingdom, Engelmann spruce, Lyall larch, limber
pine, alpine fir, foxtail pine, Rocky Mountain juniper, knobcone pine,
and western juniper. Its dark green needles, stout and rigid, are from
one and one-half to two and one-half inches long. They hang on the twigs
from five to eight years. In July the scarlet flowers appear, forming a
beautiful contrast with the white bark and the green needles. In August
the seeds are ripe. The cones are from one and one-half to three inches
long. The seeds are nearly half an inch long, sweet to the taste. The
few squirrels and birds which inhabit the inhospitable region where the
whitebark pine grows, get busy the moment the cones open, and few
escape. Nature seems to have played a prank on this pine by giving wings
to the seeds and rendering their use impossible. The wing is stuck fast
with resin to the cone scales, and the seed can escape only by tearing
its wing off. The heavy nut then falls plumb to the ground beneath the
branches of its parent. It might be supposed that a tree situated as the
whitebark pine is would be provided with ample means of seedflight in
order to afford wide distribution, and give opportunity to survive the
hardships which are imposed by surroundings; but such is not the case.
The willow and the cottonwood which grow in fertile valleys have the
means of scattering their seeds miles away; but this bleak mountain tree
must drop its seeds on the rocks beneath. In this instance, nature seems
more interested in depositing the pine nuts where the hungry squirrels
can get them, than in furnishing a planting place for the nuts
themselves--therefore, tears off their wings before they leave the cone.
The battle for existence begins before the seeds germinate, and the
struggle never ceases. The tree, in parts of its range, survives a
temperature sixty degrees below zero. Its seedlings frequently perish,
not from cold and drought, but because the wind thrashes them against
the rocks which wear them to pieces. Trees which survive on the great
heights are apt to assume strange and fantastic forms, with less
resemblance to trees than to great, green spiders sprawling over the
rocks. Trees 500 years old may not be five feet high. Deep snows hold
them flat to the rocks so much of the time that the limbs cannot lift
themselves during the few summer days, but grow like vines. The growth
is so exceedingly slow that the new wood on the tips of twigs at the end
of summer is a mere point of yellow. John Muir, with a magnifying glass,
counted seventy-five annual rings in a twig one-eighth of an inch in
diameter. Trunks three and one-half inches in diameter may be 225 years
old; one of six inches had 426 rings; while a seventeen-inch trunk was
800 years old, and less than six feet high. Such a tree has a spread of
branches thirty or forty feet across. They lie flat on the ground. Wild
sheep, deer, bear, and other wild animals know how to shelter themselves
beneath the prostrate branches by creeping under; and travelers,
overtaken by storms, sometimes do the same; or in good weather the
sheepherder or the hunter may spread his blankets on the mass of limbs,
boughs, and needles, and spend a comfortable night on a springy
couch--actually sleeping in a tree top within two feet of the ground. In
regions lower down, the whitebark pine reaches respectable tree form.
Fence posts are sometimes cut from it in the Mono basin, east of the
Sierra Nevada mountains. In the Nez Perce National Forest trees forty
feet high have merchantable lengths of twenty-four feet. Similar growth
is found in other regions. In its best growth, the wood of whitebark
pine resembles that of white pine. It is light, of about the same
strength as white pine, but more brittle. The annual rings are very
narrow; the small resin passages are numerous. The sapwood is very thin
and is nearly white. Men can never greatly assist or hinder this tree.
It will continue to occupy heights and elevated valleys.

BRISTLECONE PINE (_Pinus aristata_) owes its name to the sharp bristles
on the tips of the cone scales. It is known also as foxtail pine and
hickory pine. The latter name is given, not because of toughness, but
on account of the whiteness of the sapwood. It is strictly a high
mountain tree, running up to the timber line at 12,000 feet, and seldom
occurring below 6,000 or 7,000 feet. It maintains its existence under
adverse circumstances, its home being on dry, stony ridges, cold and
stormy in winter, and subject to excessive drought during the brief
growing season. Trees of large trunks and fine forms are impossible
under such conditions. The bristlecone pine’s bole is short, tapers
rapidly and is excessively knotty. The species reaches its best
development in Colorado. Though it is seldom sawed for lumber, it is of
much importance in many localities where better material is scarce. In
central Nevada many valuable mines were developed and worked by using
the wood for props and fuel. Charcoal made of it was particularly
important in that region, and it was carried long distances to supply
blacksmith shops in mining camps. Railways have made some use of it for
ties. Though rough, it is liked for fence posts. The resin in the wood
assists in resisting decay, and posts last many years in the dry regions
where the tree grows. Ranchmen among the high mountains build corrals,
pens, sheds, and fences of it; but the fibers of the wood are so twisted
and involved that splitting is nearly impossible, and round timbers only
are employed. The bristlecone pine can never be more important in the
country’s lumber supply than it is now. It occupies waste land where no
other tree grows, and it crowds out nothing better than itself. It
clings to stony peaks and wind-swept ridges where the ungainly trunks
are welcome to the traveler, miner, or sheepherder who is in need of a
shed to shelter him, or a fire for his night camp. In situations exposed
to great cold and drying winds, the bristlecone pine is a shrub, with
little suggestion of a tree, further than its green foliage and small
cones. The needles are in clusters of five. They cling to the twigs for
ten or fifteen years. The seeds are scattered about the first of
October, and the wind carries them hundreds of feet. They take root in
soil so sterile that no humus is visible. Young trees and the small
twigs of old ones present a peculiar appearance. The bark is chalky
white, but when the trees are old the bark becomes red or brown.

    FOXTAIL PINE (_Pinus balfouriana_) owes its name to the clustering
    of its needles round the ends of the branches, bristling like a
    fox’s tail. The needles are seldom more than one and one-half inches
    in length, and are in clusters of fives. They cling to the branches
    ten or fifteen years before falling. The cones are about three
    inches long, and are armed with slender spines. The tree is strictly
    a mountain species and grows at a higher altitude than any other
    tree in the United States, although whitebark pine is not much
    behind it. It reaches its best development near Mt. Whitney,
    California, where it is said to grow at an altitude of 15,000 feet
    above sea level. It has been officially reported at Farewell Gap, in
    the Sierra Nevada mountains, at an altitude of 13,000. At high
    altitudes it is scrubby and distorted, but in more favorable
    situations it may be sixty feet high and two in diameter. On high
    mountains it is generally not more than thirty feet high and ten
    inches in diameter. It is of remarkably slow growth, and
    comparatively small trees may be 200 or 300 years old. The wood is
    moderately light, is soft, weak, brittle. Resin passages are few and
    very small. The wood is satiny and susceptible of a good polish, and
    would be valuable if abundant. The seeds are winged and the wind
    scatters them widely, but most of them are lost on barren rocks or
    drifts of eternal snow. The untoward circumstances under which the
    tree must live prevent generous reproduction. It holds its own but
    can gain no new foothold on the bleak and barren heights which form
    its environment. The dark green of its foliage makes the belts of
    foxtail pines conspicuous where they grow above the timber line of
    nearly all other trees. Its range is confined to a few of the
    highest mountains of California, particularly about (but not on) Mt.
    Shasta and among the clusters of peaks about the sources of Kings
    and Kern rivers. Those who travel and camp among the highest
    mountains of California are often indebted to foxtail pine for their
    fuel. Near the upper limit of its range it frequently dies at the
    top, and stands stripped of bark for many years. The dead wood,
    which frequently is not higher above the ground than a man’s head,
    is broken away by campers for fuel, and it is often the only



[Illustration: LONGLEAF PINE]


(_Pinus Palustris_)

Longleaf is generally considered to be the most important member of the
group of hard or pitch pines in this country[2]. It is known by many
names in different parts of its range, and outside of its range where
the wood is well known.

    [2] There is no precise agreement as to what should be included in
    the group of hard pines in the United States, but the following
    twenty-two are usually placed in that class: Longleaf Pine (_Pinus
    palustris_), Shortleaf Pine (_Pinus echinata_), Loblolly Pine
    (_Pinus tæda_), Cuban Pine (_Pinus heterophylla_), Norway Pine
    (_Pinus resinosa_), Western Yellow Pine (_Pinus ponderosa_),
    Chihuahua Pine (_Pinus chihuahuana_), Arizona Pine (_Pinus
    arizonica_), Pitch Pine (_Pinus rigida_), Pond Pine (_Pinus
    serotina_), Spruce Pine (_Pinus glabra_), Monterey Pine (_Pinus
    radiata_), Knobcone Pine (_Pinus attenuata_), Gray Pine (_Pinus
    sabiniana_), Coulter Pine (_Pinus coulteri_), Lodgepole Pine (_Pinus
    contorta_), Jack Pine (_Pinus divaricata_), Scrub Pine (_Pinus
    virginiana_), Sand Pine (_Pinus clausa_), Table Mountain Pine
    (_Pinus pungens_), California Swamp Pine (_Pinus muricata_), Torry
    Pine (_Pinus torreyana_).

The names southern pine, Georgia pine, and Florida pine are not well
chosen, because there are other important pines in the regions named.
Turpentine pine is a common term, but other species produce turpentine
also, particularly the Cuban pine. Hard pine is much employed in
reference to this tree, and it applies well, but it describes other
species also. Heart pine is a lumberman’s term to distinguish this
species from loblolly, shortleaf, and Cuban pines. The sapwood of the
three last named is thick, the heartwood small, while in longleaf pine
the sap is thin, the heart large, hence the name applied by lumbermen.
In Tennessee where it is not a commercial forest tree, it is called
brown pine, and in nearly all parts of the United States it is spoken of
as yellow pine, usually with some adjective as “southern,” “Georgia,” or
“longleaf.” The persistency with which Georgia is used as a portion of
the name of this tree is due to the fact that extensive lumbering of the
longleaf forests began in that state. The center of operations has since
shifted to the West, and is now in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.
The tree has many other names, among them being pitch pine and fat pine.
These have reference to its value in the naval stores industry. The name
longleaf pine is now well established in commercial transactions. It has
longer leaves than any other pine in this country. They range in length
from eight to eighteen inches. The needles of Cuban pine are from eight
to twelve inches; loblolly’s are from six to nine; and those of
shortleaf from three to five.

Longleaf pine’s geographic range is more restricted than that of
loblolly and shortleaf, but larger than the range of Cuban pine.
Longleaf occupies a belt from Virginia to Texas, following the tertiary
sandy formation pretty closely. The belt seldom extends from the coast
inland more than 125 miles. The tree runs south in Florida to Tampa bay.
It disappears as it approaches the Mississippi, but reappears west of
that river in Louisiana and Texas. Its western limit is near Trinity
river, and its northern in that region is near the boundary between
Louisiana and Arkansas.

Longleaf attains a height of from sixty to ninety feet, but a few trees
reach 130. The diameters of mature trunks range from one foot to three,
usually less than two. The leaves grow three in a bundle, and fall at
the end of the second year. They are arranged in thick, broom-like
bunches on the ends of the twigs. It is a tree of slow growth compared
with other pines of the region. Its characteristic narrow annual rings
are usually sufficient to distinguish its logs and lumber from those of
other southern yellow pines. Its thin sapwood likewise assists in
identification. The proportionately high percentage of heartwood in
longleaf pine makes it possible to saw lumber which shows little or no
sapwood. It is difficult to do that with other southern pines.

The wood is heavy, exceedingly hard for pine, very strong, tough,
compact, durable, resinous, resin passages few, not conspicuous;
medullary rays numerous, not conspicuous; color, light red or orange,
the thin sapwood nearly white. The annual rings contain a large
proportion of dark colored summerwood, which accounts for the great
strength of longleaf pine timber. The contrast in color between the
springwood and the summerwood is the basis of the figure of this pine
which gives it much of its value as an interior finish material,
including doors. The hardness of the summerwood provides the wearing
qualities of flooring and paving blocks. The coloring matter in the body
of the wood protects it against decay for a longer period than most
other pines. This, in connection with its hardness and strength, gives
it high standing for railroad ties, bridges, trestles, and other
structures exposed to weather.

Longleaf pine is as widely used as any softwood in this country. It
serves with hardwoods for a number of purposes. It has been a timber of
commerce since an early period, and was exported from the south Atlantic
coast long before the Revolutionary war; but it was later than that when
it came into keen competition with the Riga pine of northern Europe. It
has since held its own in the European markets, and its trade has
extended to many other foreign countries, particularly to the republics
of South and Central America, Mexico, and the West Indies.

It did not attain an important position in the commerce of this country
until after the Civil war, but it had a place in shipbuilding before
that time, and it has held that place. The builders of cars employ large
quantities for frames and other parts of gondolas, box cars, and
coaches. Over 175,000,000 feet were so used in 1909 in Illinois. It is
the leading car building timber in this country. Its great strength,
hardness, and stiffness give it that place.

It is scarcely less important as an interior wood for house finish. It
is not so much its strength as its beauty that recommends it for that
purpose. Its beauty is due to a combination of figure and color.
Splendid variety is possible by carefully selecting the material.
Manufacturers of furniture, fixtures, and vehicles are large users of
longleaf pine. In these lines its chief value is due to strength.

In the naval stores industry in this country, it is more important than
all other species combined. For a century and a half it has supplied
this country and much of the rest of the world. The principal
commodities made from the resin of this tree are spirits of turpentine
and rosin. These two articles are produced by distilling the resin which
exudes from wounds in the tree. The distillate is spirits of turpentine,
the residue is rosin. The manufacture of naval stores has destroyed tens
of thousands of trees in the past; but better methods are now in use and
loss is less. Georgia and South Carolina were once the center of naval
stores production; but it has now moved to Louisiana and Florida.

The supply of longleaf pine has rapidly decreased during the past twenty
years, and though the end is not yet at hand, it is approaching. Young
trees are not coming on to take the place of those cut for lumber. They
grow slowly at best, and a new forest could not be produced in less than
a hundred years. Both protection and care have been lacking. Fire
usually kills seedlings in their first or second year. The result is
that many extensive tracts where longleaf pine once grew in abundance
have few young and scarcely any old trees now. As far as can be
foreseen, this valuable timber will reach its end when existing stands
have been cut.

CUBAN PINE (_Pinus heterophylla_). The Cuban pine has several local
names; slash pine in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi; swamp
pine in Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi; meadow pine in Florida and
Mississippi; pitch pine in Florida; and spruce pine in Alabama. Its
range is confined to the coast region from South Carolina to Louisiana,
from sixty to one hundred miles inland. It is the only pine in the
extreme south of Florida. The wood is heavy, hard, very strong, tough,
compact, durable, resinous, the resin passages few but conspicuous, rich
dark orange color, the sapwood often nearly white. The annual ring is
usually more than half dark colored summerwood. The Cuban pine grows
rapidly, quickly appropriates vacant ground, and the species is
spreading. Its needles, from eight to twelve inches long, fall the
second year. The wood possesses nearly the strength, hardness, and
stiffness of longleaf pine, and the trunks are as large. The two woods
which are so similar in other respects differ in figure, owing to the
wider annual rings of the Cuban pine. The sapwood of the latter species
greatly exceeds in thickness that of longleaf pine. For that reason it
is often mistaken for loblolly pine. Cuban pine never goes to market
under its own name, but is mixed with and passes for one of the other
southern yellow pines.

SAND PINE (_Pinus clausa_). This tree is generally twenty or thirty feet
high, and eight or twelve inches in diameter. Under favorable conditions
it attains a height of sixty or eighty feet and a diameter of two. The
leaves are two or three inches long, and fall the third and fourth
years. Its range is almost wholly in Florida but extends a little over
the northern border. It grows as far south as Tampa on the west coast,
and nearly to Miami on the east. It is not much cut for lumber because
of its small size and generally short, limby trunk. In a few localities
shapely boles are developed, and serviceable lumber is made. It is a
poor-land tree, as its name implies. The cones adhere to the branches
many years, and may be partly enclosed in the growing wood.



[Illustration: SHORTLEAF PINE]


(_Pinus Echinata_)

In the markets the lumber of this species is known as yellow pine,
southern yellow pine, and sap pine, and in some localities the term
shortleaf is used. The latter is descriptive, and can be easily
understood when reference is made to the living tree, because its short
needles distinguish it from its associates in the pine forest; but in
speaking of lumber only, the reference to the leaves has less meaning,
particularly to one who is not acquainted with the tree’s appearance.
Its wood so closely resembles that of Cuban and loblolly pine that they
are not easily distinguished by sight alone. In the East the name
Carolina pine or North Carolina pine is much used, but it is not often
heard west of the Allegheny mountains. Referring to the manner and
locality of its growth it is called slash pine in North Carolina and
Virginia, old-field pine in Alabama and Mississippi, and poor-field pine
in Florida. Its tendency to take possession of abandoned ground has
given it these names. It is occasionally called pitch pine in Missouri.
That name would not distinguish it in most parts of the South where
several species of pitch pine grow. In some regions it is known as
spruce pine, but the name is not based on any characteristic of the
living tree or of its wood. In North Carolina and Alabama, and in
literature, it is sometimes known as rosemary pine, but that name
applies rather to fine timber cut from any southern yellow pine, than to
this species in particular. In Delaware it is known as shortshat and in
Virginia as bull pine. To those who are familiar with the tree’s
appearance, the name shortleaf pine is most accurate in definition.

The commercial range of shortleaf pine has contracted to a considerable
extent since the settlement of the country. It once grew as far north as
Albany, New York, and from fifty to a hundred years ago it was lumbered
in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia in regions where it has now
ceased to exist, or is found only as scattered trees. Its geographical
range is now usually given from New York to Florida, west to Missouri
and Oklahoma and northeastern Texas. It is important in lumber
operations in North Carolina and southward, and westward to the limits
of its range. The tree reaches its largest size and attains its finest
stands west of the Mississippi river. In average size it exceeds
longleaf pine. It may reach a height above 100 feet and a trunk diameter
of three or four. Squared timbers of large size were formerly exported
from Virginia and North Carolina. Similar sizes cannot now be procured

Shortleaf pine varies greatly in the quality and amount of sapwood. It
is normally a thick sap tree, but midway between loblolly and longleaf.
The young tree increases rapidly in size until it is from six to ten
inches in diameter, and the yearly rings are wide. The rate of growth
then decreases and during the rest of its life the rings are narrow.
This feature is often of assistance in identifying southern yellow pine
logs or large timbers which contain the heart and also the sap. Wide
rings near the heart, followed by narrow ones, and a thick sapwood are
pretty good evidence that the timber--if a southern yellow pine--is
shortleaf pine. The rule is not absolute; for a high authority on timber
has said that no infallible rule can be laid down for distinguishing by
sight alone the woods of the four southern yellow pines--longleaf,
shortleaf, Cuban, and loblolly.

The wood of shortleaf pine is strong, heavy, hard, and compact; very
resinous, resin passages large and numerous; medullary rays numerous,
conspicuous; color, orange, the sapwood nearly white. The thoroughly
seasoned wood weighs thirty-eight pounds per cubic foot. It is about
five pounds heavier than loblolly pine, five pounds lighter than
longleaf, and nearly nine pounds lighter than Cuban pine. There is so
great a variation in weight of shortleaf pine that only general averages
have value.

Shortleaf pine is not as strong as longleaf, and is not so extensively
employed in heavy structural work, but in certain other lines it has the
advantage of longleaf. It is softer, and door and sash makers like it
better. It is easier to work, and when manufactured into doors and
interior finish many consider it superior to longleaf. The wide rings of
annual growth in the heartwood show fine contrast in color, and when
these are developed by stains and fillers, the grain or figure of the
wood is very pleasing. Where hardness is not an essential, it is much
used for floors. It is in great demand by builders of freight cars, but
less for frames and heavy beams than for siding and decking. Car
builders in Illinois bought 77,000,000 feet of it in 1909. That was
nearly half of the entire quantity of this wood used in the state. The
second largest users in Illinois were manufacturers of sash, doors,
blinds, and general millwork. If the whole country is considered, this
is probably the largest use of the wood. Makers of boxes and crates in
the South employ large quantities.

The depletion of shortleaf forests has progressed rapidly, but in the
absence of reliable statistics it is impossible to give figures by
decades or years. In 1880 an estimate placed the amount west of the
Mississippi at 95,000,000,000 feet. That was probably less than half of
the country’s supply at that time. In 1911 the Commissioner of
Corporations estimated that the combined remaining stand of loblolly
and shortleaf pine in the South was 152,000,000,000 feet. It is doubtful
if half of it was shortleaf. In that case, there was less shortleaf pine
in the entire South in 1911 than there was west of the Mississippi river
thirty years before.

Rapid decrease in total stand of a species does not necessarily imply
exhaustion. The cut will fall off as scarcity pinches. In the case of
shortleaf pine, an influence is active which will bring good results in
the future. This pine reproduces with vigor. Its small triangular seeds
are equipped with wings which carry them into vacant areas where they
quickly germinate if they fall on mineral soil. The seedling trees
suffer much from fire, but their power of resistance is fairly good, and
dense new growth is coming on in many localities. A good many years are
required to bring a seedling to maturity, but it will reach sawlog size
sometime, and there is no question but that the market will welcome it.

The shortleaf pine is peculiar among eastern softwoods in one respect.
Stumps will sprout. That occurs oftener west of the Mississippi than
east. However, the tree’s ability to send up sprouts from the stump is
of little practical value, since the sprouts seldom or never develop
into merchantable trees. In that respect it differs from the other
well-known sprouting softwood of this country, the California redwood,
whose numerous sprouts grow into large trunks.

SPRUCE PINE (_Pinus glabra_). This is one of the softest and the whitest
of the hard pines of this country. Nothing but its scarcity stands in
the way of its becoming an important timber tree. The best of it is a
satisfactory substitute for white pine in the manufacture of doors. It
grows rapidly, and the wide rings contain a high percentage of light
colored springwood, though there is enough summerwood of darker color to
give the dressed lumber a character. It weighs about the same as
northern white pine, but is weaker. In South Carolina and Florida it is
called white pine, but the name spruce is more general. It is known also
as kingstree, poor pine, Walter’s pine, and lowland spruce pine. Its
range is restricted to southern South Carolina, northern Florida and
southern Alabama and Mississippi, and northeastern Louisiana. Its leaves
are from one and a half to three inches in length, grow two in a bundle,
and fall the second and third years. Large and well-formed trunks attain
a height of from eighty to 100 feet and a diameter from two to nearly
three. It reaches its best development in northwestern Florida, and its
light, symmetrical trunks have long been in use there as masts for small
vessels. It is too scarce to attract much attention from lumbermen, but
they are well acquainted with its good qualities, and some of them take
pains to keep the lumber separate from associated pines, and sell it to
manufacturers of doors and interior finish. The bark bears considerable
resemblance to spruce, which probably accounts for the name of the tree.

    TABLE MOUNTAIN PINE (_Pinus pungens_). The French botanist, Michaux
    the younger, has been criticized for the statement which he made
    more than a hundred years ago that this species was confined to a
    certain flat-topped mountain in the southern Appalachian ranges, and
    he called it table mountain pine. It lacked much of being confined
    within the narrow limits where it was discovered. It grows in New
    Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, District of Columbia, Virginia, West
    Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia. Its
    other names are prickly pine, hickory pine, and southern mountain
    pine. It supplies timber in all parts of its range, but, except in
    very restricted localities, it is not abundant. The lumber in the
    market is seldom distinguished from other pines, but some of the
    Tennessee mills sell it separately to local customers. The wood is
    medium light, rather strong (about like _Pinus rigida_, or pitch
    pine, which it resembles in other respects), is less stiff than
    white pine, and is resinous. The thick sapwood is nearly white, the
    heartwood brown. It is not a durable timber in contact with the
    ground. Its fuel value is low. Its needles grow in clusters of two,
    and are generally less than two inches long. The cones which are in
    clusters of from three to eight, and from two to three and a half
    inches long, are armed with stout, curved hooks. The cones shed
    their seeds irregularly during two or three years, and sometimes
    hang on the trees for twenty years. In open ground this pine
    occasionally produces fertile seeds when only a few feet high. Its
    forest form and open-ground form are quite different. In thick woods
    the tree is tall, with good bole, but in open ground it is only
    twenty or thirty feet high, and is covered with limbs almost to the



[Illustration: LOBLOLLY PINE]


(_Pinus Tæda_)

Few trees have more names than this. The names, however, may be
separated into groups, one group referring to the foliage, another to
the situations in which the tree grows, and a third to certain
characters or uses of the wood. Names descriptive of the leaves are
longschat pine, longshucks pine, shortleaf pine, foxtail pine, and
longstraw pine. The names which refer to locality or situation are
loblolly pine, old-field pine, slash pine, black slash pine, Virginia
pine, meadow pine and swamp pine. Names which refer to the character of
the wood or of the standing tree are torch pine, rosemary pine,
frankincense pine, cornstalk pine, spruce pine, and yellow pine. Not one
of these names is applied to the tree in its entire range, and it has
several names other than those listed. Sap pine is widely applied to the
lumber, because the tree’s sapwood is very thick, sometimes amounting to
eighty per cent of a trunk. It has borne the name old-field pine for a
hundred and fifty years in Virginia, and the name suggests a good deal
of history. Some of the improvident early Virginia tobacco growers
neglected to fertilize their fields, and the land wore out under
constant cropping, and was abandoned. The pine quickly took possession,
for the fields which were too far exhausted to produce tobacco or corn
were amply able to grow dense stands of loblolly pine, and the farmers
noticing this, called it old-field pine. It has been taking possession
of abandoned fields in Virginia and North Carolina ever since, and the
name still applies. The tree grows from New Jersey to Florida, west to
Texas, north to Oklahoma, Tennessee, and West Virginia, but it does not
cover the whole territory thus outlined. It is very scarce near its
northern limit. There is evidence that the range of loblolly has
extended in historic times, not into new or distant regions, but outside
the borders which once marked its range. Since white men in Texas
stopped the Indians’ grass fires, the pine has encroached upon the
prairie. Early writers in Virginia and North Carolina spoke of pine as
scarce or totally wanting, except on the immediate coast. It is now
found from one hundred to two hundred miles inland, and many sawmills
now cut logs which have grown in fields abandoned since the
Revolutionary war. This has occurred on the Atlantic coast rather than
west of the Appalachian ranges of mountains. Virginia has more sawmills
than any other state, and many of them are working on loblolly pine
which has grown in the last hundred years.

The tree bears seeds abundantly and scatters them widely. It is
vigorous, grows with great rapidity, and is able to fight its way if it
finds conditions in any way favorable. Turpentine operators have not
found the working of loblolly pine profitable, and this has relieved it
of a drain which has done much to deplete the southern forests of
longleaf pine.

Loblolly’s leaves are from six to nine inches long, and fall the third
year. This species, in common with other southern yellow pines, is
disposed to grow tall, clear trunks, with a meager supply of limbs and
foliage at the top. The lumber sawed from trunks of that kind is clear
of knots. No other important forest tree of the United States comes as
nearly being a cultivated tree as the loblolly pine. This is
particularly true in the northeastern part of its range, in North
Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland. Though nature has done the actual
planting, men provided the seed beds by giving up old fields to that
use; and many of the stands are as thick and even as if they had been
planted and cared for by regular forestry methods. Trees are from eighty
to one hundred feet tall, and from two to four in diameter, some very
old ones being a little larger.

The annual rings of loblolly pine are broad, with good contrast between
the spring and summer growth. The wood is light, not strong, brittle,
not durable, very resinous, the resin passages are few and not
conspicuous; medullary rays are numerous and obscure; color, light
brown, the thick sapwood orange or nearly white. When this tree is of
slow growth it is lighter, less resinous, and has thinner sapwood. It is
sometimes known as rosemary pine.

The use of loblolly pine lumber was greatly stimulated when the custom
of drying it in kilns became general. It is largely sapwood and dries
slowly in air. Its market is found in all eastern and central parts of
the United States, and it is exported to Europe and Central and South
America. It is a substantial material for many common purposes and its
use is very large on the Atlantic coast. In quantity it exceeds any
other species in the wood-using industries of Maryland, and all others
combined in North Carolina. It is not as often employed in heavy
structural timbers as longleaf pine, but in the market of which
Baltimore is the center, much use is made of it for that purpose. It is
ten pounds a cubic foot lighter than longleaf, has about three-fourths
of the strength, and nearly four-fifths of longleaf’s elasticity. It is
thus seen to be considerably inferior to it as a structural timber where
heavy loads must be sustained; but builders use it for many purposes in
preference to or on an equality with longleaf. It is fine for interior
finish and doors. Railroads employ large quantities in building freight
cars, much for crossties, and bridge builders find many places for it.
It is not a long lasting wood when exposed to weather, unless it has
been treated with creosote to preserve it from decay. It is one of the
most easily treated woods.

In North Carolina and Virginia loblolly tobacco hogsheads are common;
and box factories within easy reach of it use much. A list of its uses,
compiled from reports of factory operations in Maryland, will give an
idea of the range it covers: Basket bottoms, beer bottle boxes, boats,
cart bodies, crates, flooring, frames for doors and windows, fruit
boxes, interior finish, nail kegs, oyster boxes, seats for boats, siding
for houses, staves for slack cooperage, store fixtures, wagon beds,
balusters, brackets, chiffoniers, mantels, molding, picture frames,
stair railing, sash, scrollwork, sideboards, tables.

The amount of loblolly pine timber in this country is not known. No
other important species comes so near growing as much as is cut from
year to year. It covers 200,000 square miles with stands ranging from
little or nothing in some parts to 20,000 feet per acre in others, or
more in exceptional cases. The area of fully stocked loblolly pine is
believed to be as large now as it ever was. Before the Civil war it was
predicted that its period of greatest production was over; but large
tracts are now being logged on which the pine seeds had not been sown in

POND PINE (_Pinus serotina_). Sargent’s table of weights of woods shows
this to be the heaviest pine of the United States; but, as his
calculations were made from a single sample which grew in Duval county,
Florida, further data should be secured before his figures, 49.5 pounds
per cubic foot, are accepted as an average weight for the species. It is
rated in strength about equal to longleaf and Cuban pine. Its structure
shows a large percentage of dense summerwood in the yearly ring. The
leaves are in clusters of three, rarely four, and are six or eight
inches long, and fall in their third and fourth years. The name suggests
that the cones are tightly closed, and that they adhere tenaciously to
the twigs on which they grow. This is found true. The principal
impression made on a person who sees the pond pine for the first time is
that it is overloaded with cones, and that it must be a prolific seeder.
Better acquaintance modifies the latter part of that impression. It is
overloaded with cones, but most of them are many years old, and have
long been seedless, although most of the trees have the seed crops of
two years on the branches at one time. Enough seed is shed to perpetuate
the species, but too little to insure an aggressive spread into
surrounding vacant ground. The pond pine may reach a diameter of three
feet and a height of eighty, but that is twice the average size. The
wood is very resinous, and is brittle.

    SCRUB PINE (_Pinus virginiana_). This tree is often called Jersey
    pine because it is a prominent feature of the landscapes in the
    southern part of that state where it has spread extensively since
    the settlement of the country. Its short needles have been
    responsible for several of its names, among them being shortshuck
    pine in Maryland and Virginia, shortshat pine in Delaware,
    shortleaved pine in North Carolina, and spruce pine and cedar pine
    in some parts of the South. In Tennessee it is known as nigger pine,
    and in some parts of North Carolina as river pine. The range is
    fairly well outlined by the above discussion of its names. It grows
    from New York to South Carolina, and west of the mountains it is
    found in northern Alabama and middle Tennessee, in Kentucky and West
    Virginia. It reaches its largest size in southern Indiana where it
    is sometimes 100 feet high and three in diameter. It is there a
    valuable tree for many purposes, but is not abundant. Its average
    size is small in the eastern states, usually not over fifty feet
    high, and often little more than half of that. Few trunks east of
    the Allegheny mountains are more than eighteen inches in diameter.
    The name scrub pine is an index to the opinions held by most people
    regarding this tree. It is often considered an encumbrance rather
    than an asset; yet statistics of wood-using industries hardly
    justify that view. Millions of feet of it are employed annually in
    each of the states of New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, and North
    Carolina, for boxes, slack cooperage, and common lumber. The wood is
    moderately strong, but is not stiff. It is medium light, soft,
    brittle, with summerwood narrow and very resinous. Its color is
    light orange or yellow, the thick sapwood ivory white. The needles
    are from one and a half to three inches long, and fall in the third
    and fourth years. Cones are two or three inches long, and scatter
    their seeds in autumn. The wings are too small to carry the seeds
    far, yet the tree succeeds in quickly spreading into surrounding
    vacant spaces. Cones adhere to the branches three or four years. Tar
    makers and charcoal burners utilized scrub pine in New Jersey,
    northeastern Maryland and southeastern Pennsylvania a century and a
    half ago. The tree seems to be as abundant now as it ever was.
    Unless it occupies very poor land--which it generally does--the
    growth is liable to be suppressed and crowded to death by broadleaf
    trees before the stands become very old. As a species, it is weak in
    self-defense, and it owes its survival to its habit of retreating to
    poor soils where enemies cannot follow. It may be said of it as the
    Roman historian Tacitus said of certain men: “The cowards fly the
    farthest, and are the longest survivors.”



[Illustration: NORWAY PINE]


(_Pinus Resinosa_)

Early explorers who were not botanists mistook this tree for Norway
spruce, and gave it the name which has since remained in nearly all
parts of its range. It is called red pine also, and this name is
strictly descriptive. The brown or red color of the bark is instantly
noticed by one who sees the tree for the first time. In the Lake States
it has been called hard pine for the purpose of distinguishing it from
the softer white pine with which it is associated. In England they call
it Canadian red pine, because the principal supply in England is
imported from the Canadian provinces.

Its chief range lies in the drainage basin of the St. Lawrence river,
which includes the Great Lakes and the rivers which flow into them.
Newfoundland forms the eastern and Manitoba the western outposts of this
species. It is found as far south as Massachusetts, Pennsylvania,
northern Ohio, central Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. It conforms
pretty generally to the range of white pine but does not accompany that
species southward along the Appalachian mountain ranges across West
Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Where it was left to
compete in nature’s way with white pine, the contest was friendly, but
white pine got the best of it. The two species grew in intermixture, but
in most instances white pine had from five to twenty trees to Norway’s
one. As a survivor under adversity, however, the Norway pine appears to
surpass its great friendly rival, at least in the Lake States where the
great pineries once flourished and have largely passed away. Solitary or
small clumps of Norway pines are occasionally found where not a white
pine, large or small, is in sight.

The forest appearance of Norway pine resembles the southern yellow
pines. The stand is open, the trunks are clean and tall, the branches
are at the top. The Norway’s leaves are in clusters of two, and are five
or six inches long. They fall during the fourth or fifth year. Cones are
two inches long, and when mature, closely resemble the color of the
tree’s bark, that is, light chestnut brown. Exceptionally tall Norway
pines may reach a height of 150 feet, but the average is seventy or
eighty, with diameters of from two to four. Young trees are limby, but
early in life the lower branches die and fall, leaving few protruding
stubs or knots. It appears to be a characteristic that trunks are seldom
quite straight. They do not have the plumb appearance of forest grown
white pine and spruce.

The wood of Norway pine is medium light, its strength and stiffness
about twenty-five per cent greater than white pine, and it is moderately
soft. The annual rings are rather wide, indicating rapid growth. The
bands of summerwood are narrow compared with the springwood, which gives
a generally light color to the wood, though not as light as the wood of
white pine. The resin passages are small and fairly numerous. The
sapwood is thick, and the wood is not durable in contact with the soil.

Norway pine has always had a place of its own in the lumber trade, but
large quantities have been marketed as white pine. If such had not been
the case, Norway pine would have been much oftener heard of during the
years when the Lake State pineries were sending their billions of feet
of lumber to the markets of the world.

Because of the deposit of resinous materials in the wood, Norway pine
stumps resist decay much better than white pine. In some of the early
cuttings in Michigan, where only stumps remain to show how large the
trees were and how thick they stood, the Norway stumps are much better
preserved than the white pine. Using that fact as a basis of estimate,
it may be shown that in many places the Norway pine constituted
one-fifth or one-fourth of the original stand. The lumbermen cut clean,
and statistics of that period do not show that the two pines were
generally marketed separately. In recent years many of the Norway stumps
have been pulled, and have been sold to wood-distillation plants where
the rosin and turpentine are extracted.

At an early date Norway pine from Canada and northern New York was
popular ship timber in this country and England. Slender, straight
trunks were selected as masts, or were sawed for decking planks thirty
or forty feet long. Shipbuilders insisted that planks be all heartwood,
because when sapwood was exposed to rain and sun, it changed to a green
color, due to the presence of fungus. The wood wears well as ship
decking. The British navy was still using some Norway pine masts as late
as 1875.

The scarcity of this timber has retired it from some of the places which
it once filled, and the southern yellow pines have been substituted. It
is still employed for many important purposes, the chief of which is car
building, if statistics for the state of Illinois are a criterion for
the whole country. In 1909 in that state 24,794,000 feet of it were used
for all purposes, and 14,783,000 feet in car construction.

For many years Chicago has been the center of the Norway pine trade. It
is landed there by lake steamers and by rail, and is distributed to
ultimate consumers. The uses for the wood, as reported by Illinois
manufacturers, follow: Baskets, boxes, boats, brackets, casing and
frames for doors and windows, crating, derricks for well-boring
machines, doors, elevators, fixtures for stores and offices, foot or
running boards for tank cars, foundry flasks, freight cars, hand rails,
insulation for refrigerator cars, ladders, picture moldings, roofing,
sash, siding for cattle cars, sign boards and advertising signs, tanks,
and windmill towers.

As with white pine, Norway pine has passed the period of greatest
production, though much still goes to market every year and will long
continue to do so. The land which lumbermen denuded in the Lake States,
particularly Michigan and Wisconsin, years ago, did not reclothe itself
with Norway seedlings. That would have taken place in most instances but
for fires which ran periodically through the slashings until all
seedlings were destroyed. In many places there are now few seedlings and
few large trees to bear seeds, and consequently the pine forest in such
places is a thing of the past. The outlook is better in other

The Norway pine is much planted for ornament, and is rated one of the
handsomest of northern park trees.

    PITCH PINE (_Pinus rigida_). The name pitch pine is locally applied
    to almost every species of hard, resinous pine in this country. The
    _Pinus rigida_ has other names than pitch pine. In Delaware it is
    called longleaved pine, since its needles are longer than the scrub
    pine’s with which it is associated. For the same reason it is known
    in some localities as longschat pine. In Massachusetts it is called
    hard pine, in Pennsylvania yellow pine, in North Carolina and
    eastern Tennessee black pine, and black Norway pine in New York. The
    botanical name is translated “rigid pine,” but the rigid refers to
    the leaves, not the wood. Its range covers New England, New York,
    Pennsylvania, southern Canada, eastern Ohio, and southward along the
    mountains to northern Georgia. It has three leaves in a cluster,
    from three to five inches long, and they fall the second year. Cones
    range in length from one to three inches, and they hang on the
    branches ten or twelve years. The wood is medium light, moderately
    strong, but low in stiffness. It is soft and brittle. The annual
    rings are wide, the summerwood broad, distinct, and very resinous.
    Medullary rays are few but prominent; color, light brown or red, the
    thick sapwood yellow or often nearly white. The difference in the
    hardness between springwood and summerwood renders it difficult to
    work, and causes uneven wear when used as flooring. It is fairly
    durable in contact with the soil.

    The tree attains a height of from forty to eighty feet and a
    diameter of three. This pine is not found in extensive forests, but
    in scattered patches, nearly always on poor soil where other trees
    will not crowd it. Light and air are necessary to its existence. If
    it receives these, it will fight successfully against adversities
    which would be fatal to many other species. In resistance to forest
    fires, it is a salamander among trees. That is primarily due to its
    thick bark, but it is favored also by the situations in which it is
    generally found--open woods, and on soil so poor that ground litter
    is thin. It is a useful wood for many purposes, and wherever it is
    found in sufficient quantity, it goes to market, but under its own
    name only in restricted localities. Its resinous knots were once
    used in place of candles in frontier homes. Tar made locally from
    its rich wood was the pioneer wagoner’s axle grease, and the
    ever-present tar bucket and tar paddle swung from the rear axle.
    Torches made by tying splinters in bundles answered for lanterns in
    night travel. It was the best pine for floors in some localities.
    It is probably used more for boxes than for anything else at
    present. In 1909 Massachusetts box makers bought 600,000 feet, and a
    little more went to Maryland box factories. Its poor holding power
    on spikes limits its employment as railroad ties and in
    shipbuilding. Carpenters and furniture makers object to the numerous
    knots. Country blacksmiths who repair and make wagons as a side
    line, find it suitable for wagon beds. It is much used as fuel where
    it is convenient.

    TORREY PINE (_Pinus torreyana_), called del mar pine and Soledad
    pine, is an interesting tree from the fact that its range is so
    restricted that the actual number of trees could be easily known to
    one who would take the trouble to count them. A rather large
    quantity formerly occupied a small area in San Diego county,
    California, but woodchoppers who did not appreciate the fact that
    they were exterminating a species of pine from the face of the
    earth, cut nearly all of the trees for fuel. Its range covered only
    a few square miles, and fortunately part of that was included in the
    city limits of San Diego. An ordinance was passed prohibiting the
    cutting of a Torrey pine under heavy penalty, and the tree was thus
    saved. A hundred and fifty miles off the San Diego coast a few
    Torrey pines grow on the islands of Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa, and
    owing to their isolated situation they bid fair to escape the
    cordwood cutter for years to come. Those who have seen this tree on
    its native hills have admired the gameness of its battle for
    existence against the elements. Standing in the full sweep of the
    ocean winds, its strong, short branches scarcely move, and all the
    agitation is in the thick tufts of needles which cling to the ends
    of the branches. Trees exposed to the seawinds are stunted, and are
    generally less than a foot in diameter and thirty feet high; but
    those which are so fortunate as to occupy sheltered valleys are
    three or four times that size. The needles are five in a cluster.
    The cones persist on the branches three or four years. The wood is
    light, soft, moderately strong, very brittle; the rings of yearly
    growth are broad, and the yellow bands of summerwood occupy nearly
    half. The sapwood is very thick and is nearly white.





(_Pinus Ponderosa_)

The range of western yellow pine covers a million square miles. Its
eastern boundary is a line drawn from South Dakota to western Texas. The
species covers much of the country between that line and the Pacific
ocean. It is natural that it should have more names than one in a region
so extensive. It is best known as western yellow pine, but lumbermen
often call it California white pine. The standing timber is frequently
designated bull pine, but that name is not often given to the lumber.
Where there is no likelihood of confusing it with southern pines, it is
called simply yellow pine. The name heavy-wooded pine, sometimes applied
to the lumber in England, is misleading. When well seasoned it weighs
about thirty pounds per cubic foot, and ordinarily it would not be
classed heavy. In California it is called heavy pine, but that is to
distinguish it from sugar pine which is considerably lighter. The color
of its bark has given it the name Sierra brownbark pine. The same tree
in Montana is called black pine.

The tree has developed two forms. Some botanists have held there are two
species, but that is not the general opinion. In the warm, damp climate
of the Pacific slope the tree is larger, and somewhat different in
appearance from the form in the Rocky Mountain region. The same
observation holds true of Douglas fir.

The wood of western yellow pine is medium light, not strong, is low in
elasticity, medullary rays prominent but not numerous; resinous, color
light to reddish, the thick sapwood almost white. The annual rings are
variable in width, and the proportionate amounts of springwood and
summerwood also vary. It is not durable in contact with the ground.

The wood is easy to work and some of the best of it resembles white
pine, but as a whole it is inferior to that wood, though it is
extensively employed as a substitute for it in the manufacture of doors,
sash, and frames. It is darker than white pine, harder, heavier,
stronger, almost exactly equal in stiffness, but the annual rings of the
two woods do not bear close resemblance.

The tree reaches a height of from 100 to 200 feet, a diameter from three
to seven. It is occasionally much larger. Its size depends much on its
habitat. The best development occurs on the Sierra Nevada mountains in
California and the best wood comes from that region, though certain
other localities produce high-grade lumber.

Western yellow pine holds and will long hold an important place in the
country’s timber resources. The total stand has been estimated at
275,000,000,000 feet, and is second only to that of Douglas fir, though
the combined stand of the four southern yellow pines is about
100,000,000,000 feet larger. It is a vigorous species, able to hold its
ground under ordinary circumstances. Next to incense cedar and the giant
sequoias which are associated with it in the Sierra Nevada mountains, it
is the most prolific seed bearer of the western conifers, and its seeds
are sufficiently light to insure wide distribution. It is gaining ground
within its range by taking possession of vacant areas which have been
bared by lumbering or fire. In some cases it crowds to death the more
stately sugar pine by cutting off its light and moisture. It resists
fire better than most of the forest trees with which it is associated.
On the other hand, it suffers from enemies more than its associates do.
A beetle (_Dendroctonus ponderosæ_), destroys large stands. In the Black
Hills in 1903 its ravages killed 600,000,000 feet.

This splendid pine has run the gamut of uses from the corral pole of the
first settler to the paneled door turned out by the modern factory. It
has almost an unlimited capacity for usefulness. It grows in dry regions
of the Rocky Mountains where it is practically the only source of wood
supply; and it is equally secure in its position where forests are
abundant and fine. It has supplied props, stulls, and lagging for mines
in nearly every state touched by its range. Without its ties and other
timbers some of the early railroads through the western mountains could
scarcely have been built. It has been one of the leading flume timbers
in western lumber and irrigation development. It fenced many ranches in
early times and is still doing so. It is used in general construction,
and in finish; from the shingle to the foundation sill of houses. It
finds its way to eastern lumber markets. Almost 20,000,000 feet a year
are used in Illinois alone. Competition with eastern white pine is met
in the Lake States because, grade for grade, the western wood is
cheaper, until lower grades are reached. The western yellow pine, in the
eastern market, is confused with the western white pine of Idaho and
Montana (_Pinus monticola_) and separate statistics of use are

The makers of fruit boxes in California often employ the yellow pine in
lieu of sugar pine which once supplied the whole trade. It is also used
by coopers for various containers, but not for alcoholic liquors.

The leaves are in clusters of twos and threes, and are from five to
eleven inches long. Most of them fall during the third year. The cones
are from three to six inches long, and generally fall soon after they
reach maturity.

    COULTER PINE (_Pinus coulteri_) is also known as nut pine, big cone
    pine, and long cone pine. It is a California species, scarce, but of
    much interest because of its cones. They are larger than those of
    any other American pine and are armed with formidable curved spines
    from half an inch to an inch and a half in length. The cones are
    from ten to fourteen inches long. The tree is found on the Coast
    Range mountains from the latitude of San Francisco to the boundary
    between California and Mexico. It thrives at altitudes of from 3,000
    to 6,000 feet. It never occurs in pure stands and the total amount
    is small. It looks like the western yellow pine, but is much
    inferior in size. Trunks seldom attain a length of fifteen feet or a
    diameter of two. There is no evidence that Coulter pine is
    increasing its stand on the ground which it already occupies, or
    spreading to new ground. The wood is light, soft, moderately strong,
    and very tough. The annual rings are narrow and consist largely of
    summerwood. The heartwood is light red, the thick sapwood nearly
    white. It is a poor tree for lumber, and it has been little used in
    that way, but has been burned for charcoal for blacksmith shops, and
    much is sold as cordwood. The leaves of Coulter pine are in clusters
    of three, and they fall during the third and fourth years.

    CALIFORNIA SWAMP PINE (_Pinus muricata_) clearly belongs among minor
    species listed as timber trees. It meets a small demand for skids,
    corduroy log roads, bridge floors, and scaffolds in the redwood
    logging operations in California. It is scattered along the Pacific
    coast 500 miles, beginning in Lower California and ending a hundred
    miles north of San Francisco. It is known as dwarf marine pine,
    pricklecone pine, bishop pine, and obispo pine. The last name is the
    Spanish translation of the English word bishop. The largest trees
    seldom exceed two feet in diameter, and a height of ninety feet. The
    average size is little more than half as much. The wood is very
    strong, hard, and compact, and the annual growth ring is largely
    dense summerwood. Resin passages are few, but the wood is resinous,
    light brown in color, and the thick sapwood is nearly white. The
    needles are in clusters of two, and are from four to six inches
    long. They begin to fall the second year. Some of the trees retain
    their cones until death, but the seeds are scattered from year to
    year. Under the stimulus of artificial conditions in the redwood
    districts this pine seems to be spreading. Its seeds blow into
    vacant ground from which redwood has been removed, and growth is
    prompt. The seedlings are not at all choice as to soil, but take
    root in cold clay, in peat bogs, on barren sand and gravel, and on
    wind-swept ridges exposed to ocean fogs. Its ability to grow where
    few other trees can maintain themselves holds out some hope that its
    usefulness will increase.

    MONTEREY PINE (_Pinus radiata_). This scarce and local species is
    restricted to the California coast south of San Francisco, and to
    adjacent islands. Under favorable circumstances it grows rapidly and
    promises to be of more importance as a lumber source in the future
    than it has been in the past. It is, however, somewhat particular as
    to soil. It must have ground not too wet or too dry. If these
    requirements are observed, it is a good tree for planting. Its
    average height is seventy or ninety feet, diameter from eighteen to
    thirty inches. Trunks six feet in diameter are occasionally heard
    of. The wood is light, soft, moderately strong, tough, annual rings
    very wide and largely of springwood; color, light brown, the very
    thick sapwood nearly white. The leaves are from four to six inches
    long, in clusters of two and three, and fall the third year. Cones
    are from three to five inches long. The lumber is too scarce at
    present to have much importance, but its quality is good. In
    appearance it resembles wide-ringed loblolly pine, and appears to be
    suitable for doors and sash, and frames for windows and doors. Its
    present uses are confined chiefly to ranch timbers and fuel. If it
    ever amounts to much as a lumber resource, it will be as a planted
    pine, and not in its natural state.

    JACK PINE (_Pinus divaricata_) is a far northern species which
    extends its range southward in the United States, from Maine to
    Minnesota, and reaches northern Indiana and Illinois. It grows
    almost far enough north in the valley of Mackenzie river to catch
    the rays of the midnight sun. It must necessarily adapt itself to
    circumstances. When these are favorable, it develops a trunk up to
    two feet in diameter and seventy feet tall; but in adversity, it
    degenerates into a many-branched shrub a few feet high. The average
    tree in the United States is thirty or forty feet tall, and a foot
    or more in diameter. Its name is intended as a term of contempt,
    which it does not deserve. Others call it scrub pine which is little
    better. Its other names are more respectful, Prince’s pine in
    Ontario, black pine in Wisconsin and Minnesota, cypress in Quebec
    and the Hudson Bay country, Sir Joseph Banks’ pine in England, and
    juniper in some parts of Canada. “Chek pine” is frequently given in
    its list of names, but the name is said to have originated in an
    attempt of a German botanist to pronounce “Jack pine” in dictating
    to a stenographer. The tree straggles over landscapes which
    otherwise would be treeless. It is often a ragged and uncouth
    specimen of the vegetable kingdom, but that is when it is at its
    worst. At its best, as it may be seen where cared for in some of the
    Michigan cemeteries, it is as handsome a tree as anyone could
    desire. The characteristic thinness and delicacy of its foliage
    distinguish it at once from its associates. The peculiar green of
    its soft, short needles wins admiration. The wood is light, soft,
    not strong; annual rings are moderately wide, and are largely
    composed of springwood. The thin bands of summerwood are resinous,
    and the small resin ducts are few. The thick sapwood is nearly
    white, the heartwood brown or orange. It is not durable.

    Jack pine can never be an important timber tree, because too small;
    but a considerable amount is used for bed slats, nail kegs,
    plastering lath, barrel headings, boxes, mine props, pulpwood, and
    fuel. Aside from its use as lumber and small manufactured products,
    it has a value for other purposes. It can maintain its existence in
    waste sands; and its usefulness is apparent in fixing drifting dunes
    along some of the exposed shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior.
    It lives on dry sand and sends its roots several feet to water; or,
    under circumstances entirely different, it thrives in swamps where
    the watertable is little below the surface of the ground. It fights
    a brave battle against adversities while it lasts, but it does not
    live long. Sixty years is old age for this tree. It grows fast while
    young, but later it devotes all its energies to the mere process of
    living, and its increase in size is slow, until at a period when
    most trees are still in early youth, it dies of old age, and the
    northern winds quickly whip away its limbs, leaving the barkless
    trunk to stand a few years longer.



[Illustration: LODGEPOLE PINE]


(_Pinus Contorta_)

The common name of this tree was given it because its tall, slender,
very light poles were used by Indians of the region in the construction
of their lodges. They selected poles fifteen feet long and two inches in
diameter, set them in a circle, bent the tops together, tied them, and
covered the frame with skins or bark. The poles were peeled in early
summer, when the Indians set out upon their summer hunt, and were left
to season until fall, when they were carried to the winter’s camping
place, probably fifty miles distant. Tamarack is a common name for this
pine in much of its range; it is likewise known as black pine, spruce
pine, and prickly pine. Its leaves are from one to two inches long, in
clusters of two. The small cones adhere to the branches many
years--sometimes as long as twenty--without releasing the seeds, which
are sealed within the cone by accumulated resin. The vitality of the
seeds is remarkable. They don’t lose their power of germination during
their long imprisonment.

The lodgepole pine has been called a fire tree, and the name is not
inappropriate. It profits by severe burning, as some other trees of the
United States do, such as paper birch and bird cherry. The sealed cones
are opened by fire, which softens the resin, and the seeds are liberated
after the fire has passed, and wing their flight wherever the wind
carries them. The passing fire may be severe enough to kill the parent
tree without destroying or bringing down the cones. The seeds soon fall
on the bared mineral soil, where they germinate by thousands. More than
one hundred thousand small seedling trees may occupy a single acre. Most
of them are ultimately crowded to death, but a thick stand results. Most
lodgepole pine forests occupy old burns. The tree is one of the slowest
of growers. It never reaches large size--possibly three feet is the
limit. It is very tall and slender. A hundred years will scarcely
produce a sawlog of the smallest size.

The range of this tree covers a million square miles from Alaska to New
Mexico, and to the Pacific coast. Its characters vary in different parts
of its range. A scrub form was once thought to be a different species,
and was called shore pine.

The wood is of about the same weight as eastern white pine. It is light
in color, rather weak, and brittle, annual rings very narrow, summerwood
small in amount, resin passages few and small; medullary rays numerous,
broad, and prominent. The wood is characterized by numerous small knots.
It is not durable in contact with the ground, but it readily receives
preservative treatment. In height it ranges from fifty to one hundred

The government’s estimate of the stand of lodgepole pine in the United
States in 1909 placed it at 90,000,000,000 feet. That makes it seventh
in quantity among the timber trees of this country, those above it being
Douglas fir, the southern yellow pines (considered as one), western
yellow pine, redwood, western hemlock, and the red cedar of Washington,
Oregon, and Idaho.

Lodgepole pine has been long and widely used as a ranch timber in the
Far West, serving for poles and rails in fences, for sheds, barns,
corrals, pens, and small bridges. Where it could be had at all, it was
generally plentiful. Stock ranges high among the mountains frequently
depend almost solely upon lodgepole pine for necessary timber.

Mine operators find it a valuable resource. As props it is cheap,
substantial, and convenient in many parts of Colorado, New Mexico,
Wyoming, and Montana. A large proportion of this timber which is cut for
mining purposes has been standing dead from fire injury many years, and
is thoroughly seasoned and very light. It is in excellent condition for
receiving preservative treatment.

Sawmills do not list lodgepole pine separately in reports of lumber cut,
and it is impossible to determine what the annual supply from the
species is. It is well known that the quantity made into lumber in
Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho is large. Its chief market is
among the newly established agricultural communities in those states.
They use it for fruit and vegetable shipping boxes, fencing plank,
pickets, and plastering lath.

Railroads buy half a million lodgepole pine crossties yearly. When
creosoted, they resist decay many years. Lodgepole pine has been a tie
material since the first railroads entered the region, and while by no
means the best, it promises to fill a much more important place in the
future than in the past. It is an ideal fence post material as far as
size and form are concerned, and with preservative treatment it is bound
to attain a high place. It is claimed that treated posts will last
twenty years, and that puts them on a par with the cedars.

In Colorado and Wyoming much lodgepole was formerly burned for charcoal
to supply the furnaces which smelted ore and the blacksmith shops of the
region. This is done now less than formerly, since railroad building has
made coal and coke accessible.

In one respect, lodgepole pine is to the western mountains what loblolly
pine is to the flat country of the south Atlantic and other southern
states. It is aggressive, and takes possession of vacant ground.
Although the wood is not as valuable as loblolly, it is useful, and has
an important place to fill in the western country’s development. Its
greatest drawback is its exceedingly slow growth. A hundred years is a
long time to wait for trees of pole size. Two crops of loblolly sawlogs
can be harvested in that time. However, the land on which the lodgepole
grows is fit only for timber, and the acreage is so vast that there is
enough to grow supplies, even with the wait of a century or two for
harvest. The stand has increased enormously within historic time, the
same as loblolly, and for a similar reason. Men cleared land in the
East, and loblolly took possession; fires destroyed western forests of
other species and lodgepole seized and held the burned tracts.

If fires cease among the western mountains, as will probably be the case
under more efficient methods of patrol, and with stricter enforcement of
laws against starting fires, the spread of lodgepole pine will come to a
standstill, and existing forests will grow old without much extension of
their borders.

JEFFREY PINE (_Pinus jeffreyi_) is often classed as western yellow pine,
both in the forest and at the mill. Its range extends from southern
Oregon to Lower California, a distance of 1,000 miles, and its width
east and west varies from twenty to one hundred and fifty miles. It is a
mountain tree and generally occupies elevations above the western yellow
pine. In the North its range reaches 3,600 feet above sea level; in the
extreme South it is 10,000 feet. The darker and more deeply-furrowed
bark of the Jeffrey pine is the usual character by which lumbermen
distinguish it from the western yellow pine. It is known under several
names, most of them relating to the tree’s appearance, such as black
pine, redbark pine, blackbark pine, sapwood pine, and bull pine. It
reaches the same size as the western yellow pine, though the average is
a little smaller. The leaves are from four to nine inches long, and fall
in eight or nine years. The cones are large, and armed with slender,
curved spines. The seeds are too heavy to fly far, their wing area being
small. It is a vigorous tree, and in some regions it forms good forests.
Some botanists have considered the Jeffrey pine a variety of the western
yellow pine.

    GRAY PINE (_Pinus sabiniana_), called also Digger pine because the
    Digger Indians formerly collected the seeds, which are as large as
    peanuts, to help eke out a living, is confined to California, and
    grows in a belt on the foothills surrounding the San Joaquin and
    Sacramento valleys. Its cones are large and armed with hooked
    spines. When green, the largest cones weigh three or four pounds.
    Leaves are from eight to twelve inches long, in clusters of two and
    three, and fall the third and fourth years. The wood is remarkable
    for the quickness of its decay in damp situations. It lasts one or
    two years as fence posts. A mature gray pine is from fifty to
    seventy feet high, and eighteen to thirty inches in diameter. Some
    trees are much larger. It is of considerable importance, but is not
    in the same class as western yellow and sugar pine. The wood is
    light, soft, rather strong, brittle. The annual rings are generally
    wide, indicating rapid growth. Very old gray pines are not known. An
    age of 185 years seems to be the highest on record. The wood is
    resinous, and it has helped in a small way to supply the Pacific
    coast markets with high-grade turpentine, distilled from roots. It
    yields resin when boxed like the southern longleaf pine. There are
    two flowing seasons. One is very early, and closes when the weather
    becomes hot; the other is in full current by the middle of August.
    It maintains life among the California foothills during the long
    rainless seasons, on ground so dry that semi-desert chaparral
    sometimes succumbs; but it is able to make the most of favorable
    conditions, and it grows rapidly under the slightest encouragement.
    The seedlings are more numerous now than formerly, which is
    attributed to decrease of forest fires. The tree has enemies which
    generally attack it in youth. Two fungi, _Peridermium harknessi_,
    and _Dædalia vorax_, destroy the young tree’s leader or topmost
    shoot, causing the development of a short trunk. The latter fungus
    is the same or is closely related to that which tunnels the trunk of
    incense cedar and produces pecky cypress.

    Gray pine has been cut to some extent for lumber, but its principal
    uses have been as fuel and mine timbers. Many quartz mines have been
    located in the region where the tree grows; and the engines which
    pumped the shafts and raised and crushed the ore were often heated
    with this pine. Thousands of acres of hillsides in the vicinity of
    mines were stripped of it, and it went to the engine house ricks in
    wagons, on sleds, and on the backs of burros. In two respects it is
    an economical fuel for remote mines: it is light in weight, and
    gives more heat than an equal quantity of the oak that is associated
    with it.

    CHIHUAHUA PINE (_Pinus chihuahuana_) is not abundant, but it exists
    in small commercial quantities in southwestern New Mexico and
    southern Arizona. Trees are from fifty to eighty feet high, and from
    fifteen to twenty inches in diameter. The wood is medium light,
    soft, rather strong, brittle, narrow ringed and compact. The resin
    passages are few, large, and conspicuous; color, clear light orange,
    the thick sapwood lighter. The tree reaches best development at
    altitudes of from 5,000 to 7,000 feet. When the wood is used, it
    serves the same purposes as western yellow pine; but the small size
    of the tree makes lumber of large size impossible. The leaves are in
    clusters of three, and fall the fourth year. The cones have long
    stalks and are from one and a half to two inches long.



[Illustration: TAMARACK]


(_Larix Laricina_)

There are three species of tamarack or larch in the United States, and
probably a fourth is confined to Alaska. One has its range in the
northeastern states, extending south to West Virginia and northwestward
to Alaska. Two are found in the northwestern states. Other species are
native of the eastern hemisphere, and some of them have been planted to
some extent in this country. A species of Europe is of much importance
in that country. The tamaracks lose their leaves in the fall and the
branches are bare during the winter. The name tamarack or larch should
be applied only to trees of the genus _larix_. This rule is not observed
in some parts of the West where the noble fir (_Abies nobilis_) is
occasionally called larch by lumbermen. It is not entitled to that name,
and confusion results from such use.

The larches are easily identified. They have needle leaves like those of
pines and firs, but they are differently arranged. They are produced in
little brush-like bundles, from twelve to forty leaves in each, on all
the shoots, except the leaders. On these the leaves occur singly. The
little brushes are so conspicuous, and so characteristic of this genus,
including all its species, that there should be little difficulty in
identifying the larches when the leaves are on. In winter, when the
branches are bare, there are other easy marks of identification.

The little brushes are interesting objects of study. Botanists tell us
that the excrescence or bud-like knob from which the leaves grow is
really a suppressed or aborted branch, with all its leaves crowded
together at the end. If it were developed, it would bear its leaves
singly, scattered along its full length, as they occur on the leading
shoots. The warty appearance of the branches in winter is a very
convenient means of identification when the leaves are down.

The cones of larches mature in a single season, and often hang on the
trees several years. They are conspicuous in winter when the branches
are bare of foliage. The adhering cones are generally seedless after the
first season, since they quickly let their winged seeds go. The male and
female flowers are produced singly on branches of the previous year.

The eastern and northern larch (_Larix laricina_) has a number of names.
It is commonly known as tamarack in the New England states and in New
York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan,
Minnesota, Ohio, and in Canada. The name larch is applied in practically
all the regions where it grows, but it is not used as frequently as
tamarack. Hackmatack, which was the Indian name for the tree in part of
its eastern range, is still in use in Maine, New Hampshire,
Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Delaware, Illinois, Minnesota, and Ontario.
Nurserymen call it American larch to distinguish it from other larches
on the market, particularly the European larch. Michaux, an early French
botanist who explored American forests, called it American larch (_Larix
americana_), and the name which he gave has been retained by many
scientists to this day. In the Canadian provinces north of the Great
Lakes, and also in Maine and New Brunswick, it is frequently called
juniper, but without good reason, for it has little of the appearance
and few of the qualities of the junipers. In some localities it is
called black larch, and in others red larch. The first name refers to
the color of its bark, the last to the leaves when about to fall, for
they then change to a brown or reddish color. They fall in the autumn,
and the branches are bare until the next spring. Some of the New York
Indians observed that peculiarity of the tree which they thought should
be an evergreen like the balsam and pines with which it was often
associated, and they named it kenehtens, meaning “the leaves fall”.
Indians did not, as a rule, give separate names to tree species, and
when they did so, it was because of food value, or from some peculiarity
which could not fail to attract the notice of a savage.

The tamarack’s geographical range is remarkable. It is said to be best
developed in the region east of Manitoba, but it extends southward into
West Virginia and northward to the land of the midnight sun. It
maintains its place almost to the arctic snows, and the willow is about
the only tree that pushes farther north. It is found from Newfoundland
and Labrador far down toward the mouth of the Mackenzie river, north of
the arctic circle. It grows on dry land as well as wet, but is oftenest
found in cold swamps, particularly in the southern part of its range.
Silted-up lakes are favorite situations, and on the made-land above old
beaver dams.

Tamarack forests frequently stand on ground so soft that a pole may be
thrust ten feet deep in the mud. The moist, monotonous sphagnum moss
generally furnishes ground cover in such places. A tamarack swamp in
summer is cool and pleasant--provided there is not too much water on the
ground--but in winter a more desolate picture can scarcely be imagined.
The leafless trees appear to be dead, and covered with lifeless cones;
but the first warm days bring it to life.

The average height of tamarack trees is from forty to sixty feet,
diameter twenty inches or less. Leaves are one-half or one and a half
inches long; cones one-half or three-quarter inches, and bright chestnut
brown at maturity. They fall when two years old. The winged seeds are
very small. The tree is neither a frequent nor abundant seeder. The
foliage is thin, and is not sufficient to shut much sunlight from the

The wood is heavy, hard, very strong, and is durable in contact with the
soil. The growth is slow, annual rings narrow, summerwood occupies
nearly half the ring, and is dark-colored, resinous, and conspicuous;
resin passages few and obscure; medullary rays numerous and obscure;
color of wood light brown, the sapwood nearly white.

The uses of tamarack go back to prehistoric times. The Indians of Canada
and northeastern United States drew supplies from four forest trees when
they made their bark canoes. The bark for the shell came from paper
birch, threads for sewing the strips of bark together were tamarack
roots, resin for stopping leaks was a product of balsam fir, and the
light framework of wood was northern white cedar.

The roots which best suited the Indian’s purpose came from trees which
grew in soft, deep mud, where lakes and beaver ponds had silted up. Such
roots are long, slender, and very tough and pliant, and may be gathered
in large numbers, particularly where running streams have partly
undermined standing trees.

White men likewise made use of tamarack roots in boat building, but the
roots were different from what the Indians used. “Instep” crooks were
hewed for ship knees. These were large roots, the larger the better.
Trees which produced them did not grow in deep mud, for there the roots
did not develop crooks. The ship knee operator hunted for tamarack
forests growing on a soft surface soil two or three feet deep, underlaid
by stiff clay or rock which roots could not penetrate. In situations
like that the roots go straight down until they reach the hard stratum,
and then turn at right angles and grow in a horizontal direction. The
turning point in the root develops the crook of which the ship knee is

Tamarack is seldom of sufficient size for the largest ship knees. Such
were formerly supplied by southern live oak; and in that case crooks
formed by the union of trunk and large branches were as good as those
produced by the union of trunk and large roots.

Tamarack is still employed in the manufacture of boat knees, but not as
much as formerly. Steel frames have largely taken the place of wood in
the construction of ship skeletons. Boat builders use tamarack now for
floors, keels, stringers, and knees.

Tamarack has come into much use in recent years. Sawmills cut from it
more than 125,000,000 feet of lumber a year. Fourteen states contribute,
but most of the lumber is produced in Minnesota, Michigan, and
Wisconsin. Railroads in the United States buy 5,000,000 or more
tamarack ties a year, which reduced to board measure amount to over
150,000,000 feet. Fence posts and telegraph poles come in large numbers
from tamarack forests.

The wood is stiff and strong, its stiffness being eighty-four per cent
of that of long leaf pine, and its strength about eighty per cent.
Unusual variations in both strength and stiffness are found. One stick
of tamarack may rate twice as high as another.

The wood-using factories of Michigan consume nearly 20,000,000 feet of
this wood yearly. It is made into boxes, excelsior, pails, tanks, tubs,
house finish, refrigerators, windmills, and wooden pipes for waterworks
and for draining mines.

There is little likelihood that the supply of tamarack will run short in
the near future. While it is not in the first rank of the important
trees in this country, it is useful, and it is fortunate that it
promises to hold its ground against fires which do grave injury to
northern forests. In the swamps where the most of it is found the ground
litter is too damp to burn. The tree does not grow rapidly, but it
usually occupies lands which cannot be profitably devoted to
agriculture, and it will, therefore, be let alone until it reaches

Tamarack is a familiar tree in parks, and it grows farther south than
its natural range extends. It is not as desirable a park tree as
hemlock, spruce, fir, the cedars, and some of the pines, because its
foliage is thin in summer and wanting in winter. It is in a class with
cypress. In the early spring, however, while its soft green needles are
beginning to show themselves in clusters along the twigs, its delicate
and unusual appearance attracts more attention than its companion trees
which are always in full leaf and for that reason are somewhat



[Illustration: WESTERN LARCH]


(_Larix Occidentalis_)

This is a magnificent tree of the Northwest, and its range lies
principally on the upper tributaries of the Columbia river, in Idaho,
Montana, and British Columbia, but it occurs also among the Blue
Mountains of Washington and Oregon. It is the largest member of the
larch genus, either in the old world or the new. The finest trees are
250 feet high with diameters of six or eight feet, but sizes half of
that are nearer the average. The trunk is of splendid form. In early
life it is limby, but later it prunes itself, and a long, tapering bole
is developed with a very small crown of thin foliage. No other tree of
its size, with the possible exception of old sequoias, has so little
foliage in proportion to the trunk.

The result is apparent in the rate of growth after the larch has passed
its youth. Sometimes such a tree does not increase its trunk diameter as
much in seventy-five years as a vigorous loblolly pine or willow oak
will in one year. The trunk of a tree, as is well known, grows by means
of food manufactured by the leaves and sent down to be transformed into
wood. With so few leaves and a trunk so large, the slowness of growth is
a natural consequence. Though the annual rings are usually quite narrow,
the bands of summerwood are relatively broad. That accounts for the
density of larchwood and its great weight. It is six per cent heavier
than longleaf pine, and is not much inferior in strength and elasticity.
The leaves are from one to one and three-quarter inches long, the cones
from one to one and a half inches, and the seeds nearly one-quarter inch
in length. They are equipped with wings of sufficient power to carry
them a short distance from the parent tree.

The bark on young larches is thin, but on large trunks, and near the
ground, it may be five or six inches thick. When a notch is cut in the
trunk it collects a resin of sweetish taste which the Indians use as an
article of food.

The western larch reaches its best development in northern Idaho and
Montana on streams which flow into Flathead lake. The tree prefers moist
bottom lands, but grows well in other situations, at altitudes of from
2,000 to 7,000 feet. The figures given above on the wood’s weight,
strength, and stiffness show its value for manufacturing purposes. Its
remoteness from markets has stood in the way of large use, but it has
been tried for many purposes and with highly satisfactory results. In
1910 sawmills in the four western states where it grows cut 255,186,000
feet. Most of this is used as rough lumber, but some is made into
furniture, finish, boxes, and boats. The wood has several names, though
larch is the most common. It is otherwise known as tamarack and
hackmatack, which names are oftener applied to the eastern tree; red
American larch, western tamarack, and great western larch.

Some of the annual cut of lumber credited to western larch does not
belong to it. Lumbermen have confused names and mixed figures by
applying this tree’s name to noble fir, which is a different tree. If
the fir lumber listed as larch were given its proper name, it would
result in lowering the output of larch as shown in statistical figures.
In spite of this, however, larch lumber fills an important place in the
trade of the northern Rocky Mountain region.

There is little doubt that it will fill a much more important place in
the future, for a beginning has scarcely been made in marketing this
timber. The available supply is large, but exact figures are not
available. Some stands are dense and extensive, and the trees are of
large size and fine form. It is not supposed, however, that there will
be much after the present stand has been cut, because a second crop from
trees of so slow growth will be far in the future. Sudworth says that
larch trees eighteen or twenty inches in diameter are from 250 to 300
years old, and that the ordinary age of these trees in the forests of
the Northwest is from 300 to 500 years; while larger trees are 600 or
700. Much remains to be learned concerning the ages of these trees in
different situations and in different parts of its range. It is
apparent, however, that when a period covering two or three centuries is
required to produce a sawlog of only moderate size, timber owners will
not look forward with much eagerness to a second growth forest of
western larch.

The value of the wood of western larch has been the subject of much
controversy. In the tables compiled for the federal census of 1880,
under direction of Charles S. Sargent, its strength and elasticity were
shown to be remarkably high. The figures indicate that it is about
thirty-nine per cent stronger than white oak and fifty-one per cent
stiffer. This places it a little above longleaf pine in strength and
nearly equal to it in stiffness or elasticity. Engineers have expressed
doubts as to the correctness of Sargent’s figures. They believe them too
high. The samples tested by Sargent were six in number, four of them
collected in Washington and two in Montana.

The wood of western larch is heavier than longleaf pine, and
approximately of the same weight as white oak. It is among the heaviest,
if not actually the heaviest, of softwoods of the United States. Sargent
thus described the physical properties of the wood: “Heavy, exceedingly
hard and strong, rather coarse grained, compact, satiny, susceptible of
a fine polish, very durable in contact with the soil; bands of small
summer cells broad, occupying fully half the width of the annual growth,
very resinous, dark-colored, conspicuous resin passages few, obscure;
medullary rays few, thin; color, light bright red, the thin sapwood
nearly white.” The wood is described by Sudworth: “Clear, reddish brown,
heavy, and fine grained; commercially valuable; very durable in an
unprotected state, differing greatly in this respect from the wood of
the eastern larch.”

The seasoning of western larch has given lumbermen much trouble. It
checks badly and splinters rise from the surface of boards. It is
generally admitted that this is the most serious obstacle in the way of
securing wide utilization for the wood. The structure of the annual ring
is reason for believing that there is slight adhesion between the
springwood and that of the late season. Checks are very numerous
parallel with the growth rings, and splinters part from the board along
the same lines. Standing timber is frequently windshaken, and the cracks
follow the rings.

All of this is presumptive evidence that the principle defect of larch
is a lack of adhesion between the early and the late wood. If that is
correct, it is a fundamental defect in the growing tree, and is inherent
in the wood. No artificial treatment can wholly remove it. It should not
be considered impossible, however, to devise methods of seasoning which
would not accentuate the weaknesses natural to the wood.

The form of the larch’s trunk is perfect, from the lumberman’s
viewpoint, and its size is all that could be desired. It is amply able
to perpetuate its species, though it consumes a great deal of time in
the process. Abundant crops of seeds are borne, but only once in several
years. It rarely bears seeds as early as its twenty-fifth year, and
generally not until it passes forty; but its fruitful period is long,
extending over several centuries. The seeds retain their vitality
moderately well, which is an important consideration in view of the
tree’s habit of opening and closing its cones alternately as the weather
happens to be damp or dry. The dispersion of seeds extends over a
considerable part of the season, and the changing winds scatter them in
all directions. Many seeds fall on the snow in winter to be let down on
the damp ground ready to germinate during the early spring. The best
germination occurs on mineral soil, and this is often found in areas
recently bared by fire. Lodgepole pine contends also for this ground;
but the race between the two species is not swift after the process of
scattering seeds has been completed; for both are of growth so
exceedingly slow that a hundred years will scarcely tell which is
gaining. In the long run, however, the larch outstrips the pine and
becomes a larger tree. If both start at the same time, and there is not
room for both, the pine will kill the larch by shading it. The latter’s
thin foliage renders it incapable of casting a shadow dense enough to
hurt the pine. The best areas for larch are those so thoroughly burned
as to preclude the immediate heavy reproduction of lodgepole pine.

Much of the natural ranges of larch and lodgepole pine lie in the
national forests owned by the government, and careful studies have been
made in recent years to determine the requirements, and the actual and
comparative values of the two species. It has been shown that larch is
one of the most intolerant of the western forest trees. It cannot endure
shade. Its own thin foliage, where it occurs in pure stands, is
sufficient to shade off the lower limbs of boles, and produce tall,
clean trunks; but if a larch happens to stand in the open, where light
is abundant, it retains its branches almost to the ground. It is more
intolerant, even, than western yellow pine, which so often grows in
open, parklike stands.

ALPINE LARCH (_Larix lyallii_) never grows naturally below an altitude
of 4,000 feet, and near the southern border of its range it climbs to
8,000, where it stands on the brink of precipices, faces of cliffs, and
on windswept summits. It is too much exposed to storms, and has its
roots in soil too sterile to develop symmetrical forms. It is found in
Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. The finest trees are sometimes
seventy-five feet high and three or four in diameter, but the average
height ranges from forty to fifty, with diameters of twenty inches or
less. Its leaves are one and a half inches or less in length; cones one
and a half inches long, and bristling with hair; seeds one-eighth of an
inch long with wings one-fourth inch; wood heavy, hard, and of a light,
reddish brown color. It is seldom used except about mountain camps where
it is sometimes burned for fuel or is employed in constructing corrals
for sheep and cattle. It is impossible for lumbermen ever to make much
use of it, because it is scarce and hard to get at.



[Illustration: RED CEDAR]


(_Juniperus Virginiana_)

This widely distributed tree is called red cedar in New Hampshire,
Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey,
Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina,
Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, Missouri,
Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and
Ontario; cedar in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, South Carolina,
Kentucky, Illinois, Iowa, and Ohio; savin in Massachusetts, Rhode
Island, New York, Pennsylvania and Minnesota; juniper in New York and
Pennsylvania; juniper bush in Minnesota; cedre in Louisiana.

The names as given above indicate the tree’s commercial range. It
appears as scattered growth and in doubtful forms outside of that range,
particularly in the West where several cedars closely resemble the red
cedar, yet differ sufficiently from it to give them places as separate
species in the lists of some botanists. They are so listed by the United
States Forest Service; and the following names are given: Western
Juniper, Rocky Mountain Juniper, One Seed Juniper, Mountain Juniper,
California Juniper, Utah Juniper, Drooping Juniper, Dwarf Juniper, and
Alligator Juniper. These species are not of much importance from the
lumberman’s viewpoint, yet they are highly interesting trees, and in
this book will be treated individually.

The red cedar grows slowly, and thrives in almost any soil and situation
except deep swamps. It is often classed as a poor-land species, yet it
does not naturally seek poor land. That it is often found in such
situations is because it has been crowded from better places by stronger
trees, and has retreated to rocky ridges, dry slopes, and thin soils
where competitors are unable to follow. The trees often stand wide apart
or solitary, yet they can grow in thickets almost impenetrable, as they
do in Texas and other southern states. It is an old-field tree in much
of its range. Birds plant the seeds, particularly along fence rows. That
is why long lines of cedars may often be seen extending across old
fields or deserted plantations.

The extreme size attained by this cedar is four feet in diameter, and
one hundred in height, but that size was never common, and at present
the half of it is above the average. That which reaches market is more
often under than over eighteen inches in diameter. The reddish-brown and
fibrous bark may be peeled in long strips. Stringiness of bark is
characteristic of all the cedars, and typical of red cedar.

The wood is medium light and is strong, considering that it is very
brittle. Tests show it to be eighty per cent as strong as white oak. The
grain is very fine, even, and homogeneous, except as interfered with
by knots. The annual rings are narrow, the summerwood narrow and
indistinct; medullary rays numerous but very obscure. The color
is red, the thin sapwood nearly white. The heart and sap are
sometimes intermingled, and this characteristic is prominent in the
closely-related western species of red cedar. The wood is easily worked,
gives little trouble because of warping and shrinking, and the heart is
considered as durable as any other American wood. It has a delicate,
agreeable fragrance, which is especially marked. This odor is
disagreeable to insects, and for that reason chests and closets of cedar
are highly appreciated as storage places for garments subject to the
ravages of the moth and buffalo bug. An extract from the fruit and
leaves is used in medicine, while oil of red cedar, distilled from the
wood, is used in making perfume. Cedar has a sweet taste. It burns
badly, scarcely being able to support a flame; it is exceedingly
aromatic and noisy when burning and the embers glow long in still air.
Some of the bungalow owners in Florida buy cedar fuel in preference to
all others for burning in open fireplaces.

Its representative uses are for posts, railway ties, pails, sills, cigar
boxes, interior finish and cabinet making, but its most general use is
in the manufacture of lead pencils, for which its fine, straight grain
and soft texture are peculiarly adapted. The farther south cedar is
found, the softer and clearer it is. In the North, in ornamental trees,
it is very hard, slow-growing, and knotty. It shows but a small
percentage of clear lumber. In eastern Tennessee there were considerable
quantities of red cedar brake that were for years considered of little
value. About the only way the wood was employed a few years ago was in
fence rails and posts, fuel, and charcoal. Of late people in localities
where cedar grows in any abundance have awakened to its value, and cedar
fences are rapidly disappearing, owing to the high prices now paid for
the wood, and the excellent demand. On no other southern wood has such
depredation been practiced. Because of its lightness and the ease with
which it can be worked, it has been used for purposes for which other
and less valuable woods were well adapted. On account of its slow
growth, its complete exhaustion has often been predicted, but a second
growth has appeared which, though much inferior to the virgin timber,
can be used in many ways to excellent advantage. Instead of the huge
piles of cedar flooring, chest boards, and smooth railings of the old
days, one now sees at points of distribution great piles of knotty,
rough poles, ten to forty feet long, which years ago would have been
discarded. Today they represent bridge piling, the better and smoother
among them being used for telephone and telegraph poles.

Middle Tennessee has produced more red cedar than any other part of the
United States, but the bulk of production has been confined to a few
counties, which produce a higher class and more aromatic variety of wood
than that found elsewhere. A century ago these counties abounded in
splendid forests of cedar. The early settlers built their cabins of
cedar logs, sills, studding, and rafters; their smoke houses were built
of them; their barns; even the roofs were shingled with cedar and the
rooms and porches floored with the sweet-scented wood. Not many years
ago trees three feet or more in diameter were often found, but the days
are past when timber like that can be had anywhere.

Although the most general use at the present time is for lead pencils,
few people who sharpen one and smell the fragrant wood, stop to wonder
where it came from. One would smile were it suggested to him that
perhaps his pencil was formerly part of some Tennessee farmer’s worm
fence. The best timber obtained now is hewn into export logs and shipped
to Europe, particularly Germany, where a great quantity is converted
into pencils. The red wood is made into the higher grades and the sap or
streaked wood is used for the cheaper varieties and for pen holders. The
smaller and inferior logs are cut into slats, while odds and ends,
cutoffs, etc., are collected and sold by the hundred pounds to pencil
factories. There are many such factories in the United States now, as
well as in Europe, and pencil men are scouring the cedar sections to buy
all they can. The farmer who has a red cedar picket or worm fence can
sell it to these companies at a round price. Pencil men are even going
back over tracts from which the timber was cut twenty-five years ago,
buying up the stumps. When the wood was plentiful lumbermen were not
frugal, and usually cut down a tree about two feet above the ground,
allowing the best part of it to be wasted.

The German and Austrian pencil makers foresaw a shortage in American red
cedar, and many years ago planted large areas to provide for the time of
scarcity. The planted timber is now large enough for use, but the wood
has been a disappointment. It does not possess the softness and
brittleness which give so high value to the forest cedar of this
country. As far as can be seen, when present pencil cedar has been
exhausted, there will be little more produced of like grade. It grows so
slowly that owners will not wait for trees to become old, but sell them
while young for posts and poles.

One of the earliest demands for red cedar was for woodenware made of
staves, such as buckets, kegs, keelers, small tubs, and firkins.
Material for the manufacture of such wares was among the exports to the
West Indies before the Revolutionary war. The ware was no less popular
in this country, and the home-made articles were in all neighborhoods in
the red cedar’s range. Scarcity of suitable wood limits the manufacture
of such wares now, but they are still in use.

Cedar was long one of the best woods for skiffs and other light boats,
and it was occasionally employed in shipbuilding for the upper parts of
vessels. A little of it is still used as trim and finish, particularly
for canoes, motor boats, and yachts.

The early clothes chest makers selected clear lumber, because it could
be had and was considered to be better; but modern chest manufacturers
who cannot procure clear stock, make a merit of necessity, and use
boards filled with knots. The wood is finished with oils, but the
natural colors remain, and the knots give the chest a rustic and
pleasing appearance.

    SOUTHERN RED JUNIPER (_Juniperus barbadensis_) so closely resembles
    the red cedar with which it is associated that the two were formerly
    considered the same species, and most people familiar with both
    notice no difference. However, botanists clearly distinguish the
    two. The southern red cedar’s range is much smaller than the
    other’s. It grows from Georgia to the Indian river, Florida, in
    swamps. It is found in the vicinity of the Apalachicola river,
    forming dense thickets. Its average size is much under that of the
    red cedar, but its wood is not dissimilar. It has been used for the
    same purposes as far as it has been used at all. One of the largest
    demands upon it has been for lead pencils. Those who bought and sold
    it, generally supposed they were dealing in the common red cedar.





(_Thuja Occidentalis_)

This tree is designated as northern white cedar because there is also a
southern white cedar, (_Chamæcyparis thyoides_) and the boundaries of
their ranges approach pretty closely. The name _occidentalis_, meaning
western, applied to the northern white cedar is employed by botanists to
distinguish it from a similar cedar in Asia, which is called
_orientalis_, or eastern.

The American species has several names, as is usual with trees which
grow in different regions. It is called arborvitæ in Maine, Vermont,
Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey,
Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, Indiana, Illinois,
Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Ontario. White cedar is a name
often used in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island,
Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina,
Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, and Ontario. In Maine, Vermont, and New
York it is called cedar. In New York, and where cultivated in England,
American arborvitæ is the name applied to it. The Indians in New York
knew it as feather-leaf. In Delaware the name is abridged to vitæ.

The tree has been widely planted, and under the influence of cultivation
it runs quickly into varieties, of which forty-five are listed by
nurserymen. It is a northern species which follows the Appalachian
mountains southward to North Carolina and Tennessee. It grows from New
Brunswick to Manitoba, and is abundant in the Lake States.

The bark of arborvitæ is light brown, tinged with red on the branchlets;
it is thin, and cracks into ridges with stringy, rough edges; the
branchlets are very smooth.

In general appearance the tree is conical and compact, with short
branches; it attains a height of from twenty-five to seventy feet, and a
diameter of from one to three feet. It thrives best in low, swampy land,
along the borders of streams.

The wood of arborvitæ is soft, brittle, light and weak; it is very
inflammable. The fact that it is durable, even in contact with the soil,
permits its use for railway ties, telegraph poles, posts, fencing,
shingles and boats. However, the trunk is so shaped that it is seldom
used for lumber, but oftener for poles and posts, the lower section
being flattened into ties. A cubic foot of the seasoned wood weighs
approximately nineteen pounds. The heartwood is light brown, becoming
darker with exposure; the sapwood is thin and nearly white, with fine

The northern white cedar varies greatly in size and shape, depending on
the soil, climate, and situation. Though it is usually associated with
swamps in the North, it adapts itself to quite different situations. It
grows in narrow, rocky ravines, on stony ridges, and it clings to the
faces of cliffs, or hangs on their summits as tenaciously as the western
juniper of the Sierra Nevada mountains. However, little good timber is
produced by this species on rocky soils. Trees in such situations are
short, crooked, and limby.

The wood of the northern white cedar possesses a peculiar toughness
which is seen in its wearing qualities. A thin shaving, such as a
carpenter’s plane makes, may be folded, laid on an anvil, and struck
repeatedly with a hammer, without breaking. It is claimed for it that it
will stand a severer test of that kind than any other American wood.
Toughness and wearing qualities combined make it an admirable wood for
planking and decking for small boats. Its exceptionally light weight is
an additional factor as a boat building material. The Indians knew how
to work it into frames for bark canoes. Its lightness appealed to them;
but the ease with which they could work it with their primitive tools
was more important. It is a characteristic of the wood to part readily
along the rings of annual growth. The Indian was able to split canoe
ribs with a stone maul, by pounding a cedar billet until it parted along
the growth rings and was reduced to very thin slats.

The property of this cedar which appealed to the Indians is disliked by
the sawmill man. It is hard to make thin lumber that will hang together.
The tendency to part along the growth rings develops wind-shake while
the tree is standing. About nine trees in ten are so defective from
shake that little good lumber can be made from them. It is a common
saying, which probably applies in certain localities only, that a
thousand feet of white cedar must be sawed to get one hundred feet of
good lumber.

It is good material for small cooperage such as buckets, pails, and
tubs, and has been long used for that purpose in the northern states.

It was once laid in large quantities for paving blocks. Hundreds of
miles of streets of northern cities were paved with round blocks sawed
from trunks of trees from five to ten inches in diameter. They were not
usually treated with chemicals to prevent decay, but they gave service
ranging from six to twelve years. They are less used now than formerly.
Southern yellow pine has largely taken the cedar’s place as paving
material. Much northern cedar has been used in the manufacture of bored
pipe for municipal waterworks, shops, salt works, paper mills, and other

The early settlers of New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania made a
rheumatism ointment by bruising the leaves and molding them with lard.
This is probably not made now, but pharmacists distill an oil from twigs
and wood, and make a tincture of the leaves which they use in the
manufacture of pulmonary and other medicines.

There is little likelihood that northern white cedar will ever cease to
be a commercial wood in this country. It will become scarcer, but its
manner of growth is the best guarantee that it will hold its place. It
lives in swamps, and the land is not in demand for any other purpose.

    ONE-SEED JUNIPER (_Juniperus monosperma_) is also called naked-seed
    juniper. Its range lies in Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, and
    Arizona. It attains its greatest development in the bottoms of
    canyons in northern Arizona. It is a scrawny desert tree which lives
    in adversity but holds its ground for centuries, if fire does not
    cut its career short. Its growth is too scattered to attract
    lumbermen, and the form of its trunk is uninviting. It may reach a
    height of forty or fifty feet, and a diameter of three, but that is
    above the average in the best of its range. The desert Indians make
    the most of one-seed juniper. They weave its stringy bark into
    sleeping mats, rough blankets, and saddle girts. They make cords and
    ropes of it for use where great strength is not required, such as
    leashes for leading dogs, strands with which to tie bundles on the
    backs of their squaws, and cords for fastening their wigwam poles
    together. They likewise weave the bark into pokes and pouches for
    storing and carrying their dried meat and mesquite beans. The
    juniper berries are an article of diet and commerce with the
    Indians, who mix them with divers ingredients, pulp them in stone
    mortars, and bake them in cakes which become the greatest delicacy
    on their bill of fare. White men, when driven to it by starvation,
    have sustained life by making food of the berries. A small quantity
    of one-seed juniper reaches woodworkers in Texas. The lumber is
    short and rough. The numerous knots are generally much darker than
    the body of the wood. That is not necessarily a defect, for in
    making clothes chests, the striking contrast in color between the
    knots, and the other wood gives the article a peculiar and
    attractive appearance. The trunks are sharply buttressed and deeply
    creased. Sometimes the folds of bark within the creases almost reach
    the center of the tree. The sapwood is thin, the heartwood irregular
    in color. Some is darker than the heartwood of southern red cedar,
    other is clouded and mottled, pale yellow, cream-colored, the shade
    of slate, or streaked with various tints. The wood can be
    economically worked only as small pieces. It takes a soft and
    pleasing finish. It is a lathe wood and shows to best advantage as
    balusters, ornaments, grill spindles and small posts, Indian clubs,
    dumb-bells, balls, and lodge gavels. It has been made into small
    game boards with fine effect, and it is an excellent material for
    small picture frames. Furniture makers put it to use in several
    ways, and it has been recommended for small musical instruments
    where the variegated colors can be displayed to excellent advantage.
    At the best it can never be more than a minor species, because it is
    difficult of access in the remote deserts, and it is not abundant.

    MOUNTAIN JUNIPER (_Juniperus sabinoides_) is a Texas tree, occupying
    a range southward and westward of the Colorado river. It has several
    local names, rock cedar being a favorite. This name is due to the
    tree’s habit of growing on rocky ridges and among ledges where soil
    is scarce. It is called juniper cedar, and juniper. Under the most
    favorable circumstances the tree may attain a height of 100 feet and
    a diameter of two, but it nearly always grows where conditions are
    adverse, and its size and form change to conform to circumstances.
    It is often small and ragged. Its lead-colored bark is apt to
    attract attention on account of its woeful appearance, hanging in
    strings and tatters which persistently cling to the trunk in spite
    of whipping winds. When the tree is cut for fuel, or for any other
    purpose, the ragged bark is occasionally pulled off and is tied in
    bales or bundles to be sold for kindling. When the mountain juniper
    is taken from its native wilds and planted where environments are
    different, it sometimes assumes fantastic forms. It has been planted
    for ornament on the low, flat coast in the vicinity of the Gulf of
    Mexico, and though it lives and grows, it often takes on a peculiar
    appearance. The trunks resemble twisted and interwoven bundles of
    lead-colored vines, buttressed, fluted, and gnarled. The branches
    lose their upright position, and hang in careless abandon, with
    drooping festoons. In winter the wind whips most of the foliage from
    them. The leaves become brittle and may be easily brushed from the
    twigs by a stroke of the hand. Some of the planted trees have trunks
    so deeply creased as to be divided in two separate stems. This very
    nearly happens with some of the wild trees among the western
    mountains. The sapwood of mountain juniper is very thin. The average
    tree cannot be profitably cut into lumber of the usual dimensions
    because of the odd-shaped and irregular trunk. It lends itself more
    economically to the manufacture of articles made up of small pieces.
    Some of the wood is extremely beautiful, having the color and figure
    of French walnut; but there is great difference in the figure and
    color, and the wood of one tree is not a sure guide to what another
    may be. Boards a foot wide, or even less, may show several figures
    and colors. Some pieces suggest variegated marble; others are like
    plain red cedar; some are light red in color, others have a tinge of
    blue. It varies greatly in hardness, even in the same tree. Part of
    it may be soft and brittle enough for lead pencils; another part may
    be hard and tough. Clothes chests have been made of it, of most
    peculiar appearance--resembling crazy quilts of subdued colors.
    Sometimes the heartwood and the sapwood are inextricably mixed, both
    being found in all parts of the trunk from the heart out. On the
    whole, the tree can never have much importance as a source of
    lumber, but it is a most interesting member of the cedar group.





(_Chamæcyparis Thyoides_)

This tree is called southern white cedar to distinguish it from northern
white cedar or arborvitæ. When there is little likelihood of confusion,
the name white cedar is applied locally in different parts of its range
from Massachusetts to Florida. It is a persistent swamp tree and on that
account has been called swamp cedar; but that name alone would not
distinguish it from the northern white cedar, for both grow in swamps;
but it does separate it from red cedar which keeps away from swamps. The
ranges of the two are side by side from New England to Florida. Post
cedar is a common name for it in Delaware and New Jersey, because of the
important place it has long filled as fence material; but again, the
name does not set it apart from red cedar or northern white cedar, for
both are used for posts. The only name thus far applied, which clearly
distinguishes it from associated cedars, is southern white cedar. Its
range extends northward to Maine, but the tree’s chief commercial
importance has been in New Jersey and southward to North Carolina, very
near the coast. Somehow, it seems to skip Georgia where no one has
reported it for many years, though there is historical evidence that it
once grew in that state. It grows as far west as Mississippi, but is

The small leaves remain green two years and then turn brown but adhere
to the branches several years longer. The fruit is about one-fourth inch
in diameter, and the small seeds are equipped with wings.

The wood is among the lightest in this country. It is only moderately
strong and stiff. The tree usually grows slowly. Fifty years may be
required to produce a fence post, but under favorable conditions results
somewhat better than that may be expected. The summerwood of the yearly
ring is narrow, dark in color, and conspicuous, making the counting of
the rings an easy matter. The medullary rays are numerous but thin. When
the sap is cut tangentially in very thin layers it is white and
semi-transparent, presenting somewhat the appearance of oiled paper. The
heartwood is light brown, tinged with red, growing darker with exposure.
The wood is easily worked, and is very durable in contact with the soil.
Fence posts of this wood have been reported to stand fifty years, and
shingles are said to last longer. Trees reach a height of eighty feet
and diameter of four; but such are of the largest size. Great numbers
are cut for poles and posts which are little more than a foot in
diameter. Few forest trees grow in denser stands than this. It often
takes possession of swamps, crowds out all other trees, and develops
thickets so dense as to be almost impenetrable. Southern white cedar is
cut in ten or twelve states, but the annual supply is not known, because
mills generally report all cedars as one, and the regions which produce
this, produce one or more other species of cedar also. It has held its
place nearly three hundred years, and much interesting history is
connected with it. A considerable part of the Revolutionary war was
fought with powder made from white cedar charcoal burned in New Jersey
and Delaware. However, that was by no means the earliest place filled by
this wood.

Two hundred years ago in North Carolina John Lawson wrote of its use for
“yards, topmasts, booms, bowsprits for boats, shingles, and poles.” It
was cut for practically the same purposes in New Jersey at an earlier
period, and 160 years ago Gottlieb Mittelberger, when he visited
Philadelphia, declared that white cedar was being cut at a rate which
would soon exhaust the supply. But that prophecy, like similar
predictions that oak and red cedar were about gone, proved not well
founded. Seventy years after the imminent exhaustion of this wood was
foretold, William Cobbett, an English traveler, declared with evident
exaggeration that “all good houses in the United States” were roofed
with white cedar shingles.

After boat building, the first general use of the southern white cedar
was for fences and farm buildings, and doubtless twenty times as much
went to the farms as to the boat yards. In all regions where the wood
was convenient, little other was employed as fencing material, and many
of the earliest houses in New Jersey and some in Pennsylvania were
constructed almost wholly of this wood. Small trees which would split
two, three, and four rails to the cut, were mauled by thousands to
enclose the farms. The bark soon dropped off, or was removed, and the
light rails quickly air-dried, and decay made little impression on them
for many years. The larger trunks were rived for shingles or were sawed
into lumber. About 1750 the use of round cedar logs for houses and barns
began to give way to sawed lumber. It was an ideal milling timber, for
the logs were symmetrical, clear, and easily handled. North Carolina
sawmills were at work on this timber many years before the Revolution.
It was acceptable material for doors, window frames, rafters, and
floors, but especially for shingles which were split with frow and
mallet, and were from twenty-four to twenty-seven inches long. They were
known in market as juniper shingles and sold at four and five dollars a
thousand. About 1750 builders in Philadelphia were criticized because
they constructed houses with no provision for other than white cedar
roofs; the walls being too weak for heavier material which would have to
be substituted when cedar could be no longer procured. Philadelphia was
not alone in its preference for cedar roofs. Large shipments of shingles
were going from New Jersey to New York, and even to the West Indies
earlier than 1750.

Southern white cedar is said to have been the first American wood used
for organ pipes. The resonance of cedar shingles under a pattering rain
suggested this use to Mittelberger when he visited America, and he tried
the wood with such success that he pronounced it the best that he knew
of for organ pipes.

Coopers were among the early users of white cedar. The “cedar coopers of
Philadelphia” were famous in their day. They used this wood and also red
cedar (_Juniperus virginiana_), and their wares occupied an important
place in domestic and some foreign markets. Small vessels prevailed,
such as pails, churns, firkins, tubs, keelers, piggins, noggins, and
kegs. The ware was handsome, strong, durable, and light in weight. Oil
merchants, particularly those who dealt in whale oil which was once an
important commodity, bought tanks of southern white cedar. It is a dense
wood and seepage is small.

A peculiar superstition once prevailed, and has not wholly disappeared
at this day, that white cedar possessed powerful healing properties. It
was thought that water was purified by standing in a cedar bucket, and
even that a liquid was improved by simply running through a spigot of
this wood. Some eastern towns at an early period laid cedar water mains,
partly because the wood was known to be durable, and partly because it
was supposed to exercise some favorable influence upon the water flowing
through the pipes. It was even believed that standing trees purified the
swamps in which they grew. Vessels putting to sea from Chesapeake bay,
sometimes made special effort to fill their water casks with water from
the Dismal swamp, where cedars grew abundantly in the stagnant lagoons.

About 100 years ago it was found that whole forests of cedar had been
submerged in New Jersey during prehistoric times, and that deep in
swamps the trunks of trees were buried out of sight. No one knows how
long the prostrate trees had lain beneath the accumulation of peat and
mud, but the wood was sound. Mining the cedar became an important
industry in some of the large swamps, and it has not ended yet. The wood
is sound enough for shingles and lumber, though it has been buried for
centuries, as is proved by the age of the forests which grew over the
submerged logs. Sometimes a log which has lain under water hundreds of
years, rises to the surface by its own buoyancy when pressure from above
is removed. This is remarkable and shows how long a time this cedar
resists complete waterlogging. The wood of green cedar has a strong
odor, and that characteristic remains with the submerged trunks.
Experienced men who have been long engaged in mining the timber, are
able to tell by the odor of a chip brought to the surface from a deeply
submerged log whether the wood is sufficiently well preserved to be
worth recovering and manufacturing. Trunks six feet in diameter have
been brought to the surface. Few if any living white cedars of that size
exist now.

Many of the early uses of southern white cedar have continued till the
present time, but in much smaller quantities. Fence rails are no longer
made of it; shingles and cooperage have declined. On the other hand, it
now has some uses which were unknown in early times, such as telephone
and telegraph poles, crossties, and piling for railroad bridges and

The supply of southern white cedar is not large, and it is being cut
faster than it is growing. The deep swamps where it grows protect white
cedar forests from fire, and for that reason it is more fortunate than
many other species. Not even cypress can successfully compete with it
for possession of water soaked morasses. It does not promise great
things for the future, for it will never be extensively planted. Its
range has been pretty definitely fixed by nature to deep swamps near the
Atlantic coast. Within those limits it will be of some importance for a
long time. Where it finds its most congenial surroundings, little else
that is profitable to man will grow. This will save it from utter
extermination, because much of the land which it occupies will never be
wanted for anything else.



[Illustration: INCENSE CEDAR]


(_Libocedrus Decurrens_)

In California and Oregon this tree is known as white cedar, cedar, and
incense cedar; in Nevada and California it is called post cedar and
juniper, and in other localities it is red cedar and California post
cedar. It is a species of such strong characteristics that it is not
likely to be confused with any other. Though different names may be
applied to it, the identity of the tree is always clear.

Its range extends north and south nearly 1,000 miles, from Oregon to
Lower California. It is a mountain species, and it faces the Pacific
ocean in most of its range. In the North it occupies the western slope
of the Cascade mountains in southern Oregon and northern California; and
it grows on the western slope of the Sierras for five hundred miles, at
altitudes of from 4,000 to 8,000 feet, where it is mixed with sugar
pine, western yellow pine, white fir, and sequoias.

It is a fine, shapely tree, except that the butt is much enlarged. It
has the characteristic form of a deep swamp tree, but it has nothing to
do with swamps. Its best development is on the Sierra Nevada mountains,
where swamps are few, and the incense cedar avoids them. It occupies dry
ridges and slopes, but not sterile ones. It must have as good soil as
the sugar pine demands. Its height when mature ranges from seventy-five
to 125 feet, diameter four feet from the ground, from three to six feet,
but some trees are larger. It is not a rapid grower, but it maintains
its vigor a long time. As an average, it increases its diameter an inch
in from seven to ten years.

The wood is dense. It contains no pores large enough to be seen with an
ordinary reading glass. The medullary rays are so small as to be
generally invisible to the naked eye, but when magnified they are shown
to be thin and numerous. The summerwood forms about one-fourth of the
annual ring. The wood is nearly as light as white pine, is moderately
strong, is brittle, straight grained, the heartwood is reddish, the
thick sapwood nearly white. It is an easy wood to work, and in contact
with the soil it is very durable.

The incense cedar is the only representative of its genus in the United
States. It has many relatives in the pine family, but no near ones. Its
kin are natives of Formosa, China, New Zealand, New Guinea, and

The name incense cedar refers to the odor of the wood rather than of the
leaves. Those who work with freshly cut wood are liable to attacks of
headache, due to the odor; but some men are not affected by it.

The forest grown tree is of beautiful proportions. Unless much crowded
for room, it is a tall, graceful cone, the branches drooping slightly,
and forming thick masses. In the Sierra Nevada mountains, within the
range of this cedar, the winter snows are very heavy. It is not unusual
for two or three feet of very wet snow to fall in a single day. The
incense cedar’s drooping branches shed the snow like a tent roof, and a
limb broken or seriously deformed by weight of snow is seldom seen. Deer
and other wild animals, when surprised by a heavy fall of snow, seek the
shelter of an incense cedar, if one can be found, and there lie in
security until the storm passes.

It is a tree which does fairly well in cultivation, and several
varieties have been developed. It lives through the cold of a New
England winter. Its cones are about three-fourths inch in length, and
ripen in the autumn.

Incense cedar has filled an important place in the development of the
great central valley of California, where it has supplied more fence
posts than any other tree. Posts of redwood have been its chief
competitor, but generally the region has been divided, and each tree has
supplied its part. The redwood’s field has been the coast, the cedar’s
the inland valley within reach of the Sierras. It has been nothing
unusual for ranchmen to haul cedar posts on wagons forty or fifty miles.

The manufacture of posts from incense cedar has entailed an enormous
waste of timber. The thick sapwood is not wanted, and in the process of
converting a trunk into posts, the woodsman first splits off the sap and
throws it away. In trunks of small and medium size, the sapwood may
amount to more than the heartwood, and is a total loss.

The tree’s bark is thick and stringy, and it is generally wasted; but in
some instances it is used as a surface dressing for mountain roads. It
wears to pieces and becomes a pulpy mass, and it protects the surface of
the road from excessive wear, and from washing in time of heavy rain.

Approximately one-half of the incense cedar trees, as they stand in the
woods, are defective. A fungus (_Dædalia vorax_) attacks them in the
heartwood and excavates pits throughout the length of the trunks. The
galleries resemble the work of ants, and as ants often take possession
of them and probably enlarge them, it is quite generally believed that
the pits are due to ants. The excavations are frequently filled with
dry, brown dust, sometimes packed very hard and tight. The cedar thus
affected resembles “pecky cypress,” and it is believed that the same
species of fungus, or a closely related species, is responsible for the
injury to both cypress in the South and incense cedar on the Pacific
coast. It is not generally regarded by users of cedar posts that the
honey-combed condition of the wood lessens the service which the post
will give, unless by weakening it and causing it to break, or by
rendering it less able to hold the staples of wire fences, or nails of
plank and picket fences.

Post makers often prefer fire-killed timber. If a tree is found with the
sapwood consumed, as is not unusual, it is nearly always free from
fungous attack. The reason it stands through the fire which burns the
sapwood off, is that the heart is sound--if it were not sound, the whole
tree would be consumed.

The wood of the incense cedar is serviceable for many purposes. The
rejection of the sapwood by so many users is the most discouraging
feature. The heart, when free from fungus, is a fine, attractive
material that does not suffer in comparison with the other cedars,
though it may not equal some of them for particular purposes. Tests show
it fit for lead pencils, and recent purchases of large quantities have
been made by pencil makers. Clothes chests and wardrobes are
manufactured from this wood on the assumption that the odor will keep
moths out of furs and other clothing stored within. It has been used for
cigar boxes, but has not in all instances proven satisfactory. The odor
of the wood is objected to by some smokers. Another objection and a
somewhat peculiar one, has been filed against incense cedar as a cigar
box material. It is claimed that the boxes are attacked voraciously by
rats which gnaw the wood, to which they are doubtless attracted by the

Sawmills turn out incense cedar lumber which is worked into frames for
doors and windows, and doors are made of it, and also interior finish.
Shipments of inch boards are sold in New York and Boston, and exports go
to London, Paris, and Berlin.

The long period during which incense cedar has been used and wasted, has
reduced the supply in most regions, but there is yet much in the forest.
It is never lumbered separately, but only in connection with pine and
fir; but post makers have always gone about picking trees of this
species and passing by the associated species.

ALLIGATOR JUNIPER (_Juniperus pachyphlœa_) is so named from its bark
which is patterned like the skin of an alligator. It is called
oak-barked cedar in Arizona, mountain cedar in Texas, and
checkered-barked juniper in other places. Its range lies in southwestern
Texas, about Eagle pass and Limpia mountains, and westward on the desert
ranges of New Mexico and Arizona, south of the Colorado plateau, and
among the mountains of northern Arizona. Its range extends southward
into Mexico. It is one of the largest of the junipers, but only when
circumstances are wholly favorable. It is then sixty feet high, and four
or five feet in diameter; but it is generally small and of poor form for
lumber, because of its habit of separating into forks near the ground.
It does best at elevations of from 4,000 to 6,000 feet in bottoms of
canyons and ravines. The grayish green color of the foliage is due to
the conspicuous white glands which dot the center of each leaf. The
berries are small and blue, of sweetish taste which does not
particularly appeal to the palate of civilized man, but the Indians of
the region, whose normal state is one of semi-starvation, eat them with
relish. The line separating heartwood from sap in alligator juniper is
frequently irregular and vague, and like some of its kindred junipers of
the West, patches of sap are sometimes buried deep in the heartwood,
while streaks of heartwood occur in the sap. This heartwood is usually
of a dirty color, suggesting red rocks and soil of the desert where it
grows. Small articles which can be made of wood selected for its color
are attractive. They may be highly polished, and the surface takes a
satiny finish; but the wood does not show very well in panel or body
work where wide pieces are used. The best utilization of alligator
juniper appears to lie in small articles. It is fine for the lathe, and
goblets, napkin rings, match safes, and handkerchief boxes are
manufactured from the wood in Texas. Its rough uses are as fence posts
and telephone poles. It is durable in contact with the soil.

CALIFORNIA JUNIPER (_Juniperus californica_) is called white cedar,
juniper, sweet-fruited juniper, and sweet-berried cedar. Its range is in
California south of Sacramento, among the ranges of the coast mountains,
and the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. Its height runs from twenty to
forty feet, diameter one to two. The leaves fall in the second or third
year. This tree is of poor form and size for lumber. Trunks frequently
divide into branches near the ground. The wood resembles that of other
western junipers, and usually the fine color which distinguishes the red
cedar of the East is wanting, and in its stead is a dull brown, tinged
with red. The wood is soft and durable, and is strongly odorous. The
sapwood is thin and is nearly white. Fuel and fence posts are the most
important uses of the California juniper. Indians eat the berries raw or
dry them and pound them to flour.



[Illustration: WESTERN RED CEDAR]


(_Thuja Plicata_)

In the eastern markets the lumber from this tree is usually called
western cedar without further description, but that name does not always
sufficiently identify it. There are other western cedars, notably
incense and yellow; but they have not generally appeared in eastern
markets. Western red cedar is the name given it when the purpose is to
separate it from other western cedars. It is the only red cedar in the
far West, except the scarce junipers which are totally unknown as its
competitors in lumber centers. Gigantic cedar is a name which takes size
into account. It is the largest of American cedars. Trunks fifteen feet
in diameter and 200 feet high are sometimes seen, but the usual size is
100 high, from two to four in diameter. Canoe cedar is a name bestowed
upon this western tree for the same reason that canoe wood is one of the
yellow poplar’s names in the East. It is one of the best woods for
dugout canoes. Botanists have called the tree giant arborvitæ, but the
name never got beyond books. When the people of Washington and Oregon
speak of cedar without a qualifying term, they mean this species. It is
widely known as shingle wood or shingle cedar, because more shingles are
made of it than of all other kinds of timber in the United States

The western red cedar’s range covers 300,000 square miles, not counting
regions of small or scattered growth. For a timber tree, that range is
large, but not nearly as large as some others. It exceeds one-hundred
fold the commercial range of redwood, and probably a thousand fold that
of Port Orford cedar, but its range is not one-third that of the eastern
red cedar, though in total quantity of available lumber it surpasses the
eastern tree a hundred fold. Its range begins in Alaska on the north,
and follows the coast to northern California, and extends eastward into
Idaho. The best development occurs in the regions of warm, moist Pacific
winds, but not in the immediate fog belts. The largest quantity of this
wood, and probably the largest trees also, are in Washington. Abundant
rainfall is essential to western red cedar’s development. It would be
difficult to approximate the amount of the remaining stand. This cedar
does not form pure forests, and estimates of so many feet per acre or
square mile cannot be based on fairly exact information as may be done
with redwood, and some of the southern pines. Though the drain upon the
cedar forests is heavy, it is generally believed there is enough of this
species to meet demands for a long period of years.

Nature made ample provision for the spread and perpetuation of this
tree. The seeds are fairly abundant, are light, have good wing power,
and are great travelers in search of suitable places to germinate and
take root. The tree’s greatest enemy is fire. The cedar’s bark is thin,
even when trunks are mature, and a moderate blaze often proves fatal to
large trees; but small ones, with all their branches close to the
ground, have no chance when the fire burns the litter among them. Some
tree seeds germinate readily on soil bared by fire--such as lodgepole
pine, wild red cherry, and paper birch--but the western red cedar’s do
not, if the humus is sufficiently burned to lessen the soil’s capacity
to retain moisture. For that reason, this cedar seldom follows fire, and
the result is that it constantly loses ground. Under normal conditions,
it is not exacting in its requirements; but anything that disturbs
natural conditions is more likely to harm than help this cedar. In that
respect it is like beech and hemlock, which suffer when forest
conditions are disturbed.

Trunks are large but not shapely. They are generally fluted, and greatly
swelled at the base. These deformities develop rather late in the tree’s
life; at least, they are not prominent in young timber. Western cedar
poles of large size are beautiful in outline; but when maturity
approaches, the trunk grows faster near the ground than some distance
above; the annual rings are wider near the base than twenty feet above,
resulting in great enlargement near the ground. At the same time ribs
and creases slowly develop, and by the time the tree is old, it is as
ungainly as one of the giant sequoias. Its appearance is hurt by
characteristics other than the swelled base and the buttresses. While
the tree is small, the limbs ascend, and maintain a graceful upright
position. Toward middle life they begin to droop, and the limbs of old
trees hang down the trunks--the reverse of their attitude in early life.

The western red cedar lives to an old age, from 600 to 1,000 years. The
oldest are liable to be hollow near the ground. The tree is remarkable
for what happens after it falls. Often the trunk crashes down in a bed
of moss, which in a few years buries it from sight. The moss holds so
much water that the buried log is constantly too wet for fungous attack.
Consequently decay does not take place. Fallen trees have lain for
hundreds of years--as much as 800 having been claimed in one
instance--and at the end of that time they are sound enough for
shingles. The position of living trees growing upon buried logs
furnishes the key to the length of time since the trunks fell. The long
period during which the moss-buried wood has remained sound has led to
the claim that western red cedar is the most enduring wood in America.
Such is not necessarily the case. A good many others would probably last
as long if protected in the same way.

Western red cedar is strong and stiff but falls from twenty to thirty
per cent below white oak in these factors. It is light, and the texture
of the wood is rather coarse. The springwood and summerwood are
distinct, the latter constituting one-half or less of the annual ring.
The medullary rays are numerous and obscure. The wood’s color is dull
brown, tinged with red. The thin sapwood is nearly white.

The ease with which western red cedar may be worked led the Indians to
use it in their most ambitious woodcraft. The gigantic totem poles which
have excited the curiosity and admiration of travelers near the coast in
Alaska and southward have nearly all been of this wood. Some of them are
the largest single pieces of wood carving in the world. Trunks three or
four feet in diameter and forty or fifty feet long have been hewed and
whittled in weird, uncouth, and fantastic forms, decorated with eagle
heads, bear mouths, and with various creatures of the forest or sea, or
from the realms of imagination. Before the northern Pacific coast
Indians procured tools from white men they executed their carving by
means of bone, stone, shell, and wooden tools, assisted by fire.

The making of canoes was in some ways a work more laborious for the
Indians than the manufacture of totem poles. Their canoes were dugouts
of all sizes, from the small trough which carried one or two persons, to
the enormous canoe which carried fifty warriors with all their
equipment. Such a canoe, now in the National Museum at Washington, D.
C., is fifty-nine feet long, seven feet, three inches deep at the bow,
five feet three inches at the stern, and three feet seven inches in the
middle, and eight feet wide. It was made on Vancouver island, and is
capable of carrying 100 persons. The capacity of the canoe is
thirty-five tons. Civilized man has produced no vessel with lines more
perfect than are seen in some of these canoes made by savages; but all
the canoes are not alike: some are crude and clumsy. It is claimed that
large cedar canoes of Indian manufacture were early carried from the
Pacific coast by fur traders, and New York and Boston shipbuilders took
them as models in constructing the celebrated clipper ships which
formerly sailed between New York and San Francisco.

The Indians formerly made much use of western red cedar bark which they
twisted into ropes and cords, braided for mats, wove for cloth, used in
making baskets, roofing wigwams, constructing fish nets and bird snares,
ladders for climbing cliffs, and they even pulped the inner bark by
pounding it in mortars, and mixed it with their food.

White men have put western red cedar to many uses, as shingles, lumber,
cooperage, poles, posts, piles, car siding and roofing, boat building
from skiffs to ships, and general furniture and interior finish.

WESTERN JUNIPER (_Juniperus occidentalis_) is a high mountain tree with
all the characteristics belonging to that class of timber. The trunks
are short and strong, the limbs wide-spreading, the wood of slow growth,
and dense. The tree attains a diameter of ten inches in about 130 years.
Trunks ten feet in diameter have been reported, but trees that large
would be hard to find now. John Muir said that the western juniper lives
2,000 years, and that the tree is never uprooted by wind. The trunk is
usually short, six or eight feet being a fair average, and very knotty.
However, when a block of clear wood is found, it is high class, the
heaviest of the cedars, straight grain, soft, compact, brittle. The
summerwood is so narrow that it resembles a fine, black line. The
medullary rays are numerous and very obscure. The wood is slightly
aromatic, splits easily, works nicely, and in color is brown, tinged
with red. In appearance, the sapwood suggests spruce. The average height
of the trees is from twenty-five to forty-five feet, diameter two to
four feet. The range of this tree is in Idaho, eastern Oregon, and
through the Cascades and Sierras to southern California. It seldom
occurs below an altitude of 6,000 feet, and ascends to 10,000 or more.
On the highest summits it is deformed and stunted. Its fruit is eaten by
Indians, and it furnishes fuel for mountain camps and ranches, timber
for mines, and sometimes a little lumber. The crooked limbs and trunks
are made into corral fences where better material cannot be had. The
wood has been found suitable for lead pencils, but that of proper
quality is too scarce to attract manufacturers. Other names for this
tree are juniper cedar, yellow cedar, western cedar, western red cedar,
and western juniper. Some of these names are applied to other species of
the same region.



[Illustration: PORT ORFORD CEDAR]


(_Chamæcyparis Lawsoniana_)

Port Orford cedar of the northwestern coast is an interesting member of
the cedar group with a very limited range. Specimens are found
throughout an area of about 10,000 square miles, but the district
moderately heavily timbered does not exceed 300 or 400 miles in area. It
lies near Coos bay in southwestern Oregon. The tree is found as far
south in California as the mouth of Klamath river, and it was once
reported on Mt. Shasta, but it is very scarce there if it exists at all.
In the best of its range Port Orford cedar runs 20,000 feet to the acre,
and a single acre has yielded 100,000 feet. Trees run from 135 to 175
feet in height and three to seven in diameter. The largest on record
were about 200 feet high and twelve in diameter. Few trees of any
species have smaller leaves. They often are only one-sixteenth of an
inch in length. They die the third year and change to a bright brown.
The cones are about one-third of an inch in diameter. Two or four seeds
lie under each fertile cone scale, and ripen in September and October.
The seeds are one-eighth inch in length, and are winged for flight. The
bark of the tree is much thicker than of most cedars, being ten inches
near the base of large trees. This ought to protect the trunks against
fire but it falls short of expectations. About sixty years ago much of
the finest timber was killed by a great fire which swept the region.
Some of the dead trunks stood forty years without exhibiting much
evidence of decay, and those that fell remained sound many years.

The whole history of this interesting tree, from its first announced
discovery by white men until the present time, is embraced in the memory
of living men. It had not been heard of prior to 1855. Though fire and
storm have destroyed large quantities, it has been estimated that
4,000,000,000 feet of merchantable timber remain, an average of 15,000
feet per acre for an area of 400 square miles. The wood is moderately
light, is nearly as strong as white oak, and falls only sixteen per cent
below it in stiffness. The annual rings are generally narrow, but
distinct. The summerwood is narrow, but dark in color in the heartwood.
The medullary rays are numerous and obscure. The wood abounds in odorous
resin. The odor persists long after the wood has ceased to be fresh.
Workmen in mills where this cedar is cut, and on board of vessels
freighted with it, are sometimes seriously affected by the odor. It is
reputed to repel insects, and is made into clothes chests, wardrobes,
and shelves, with the expectation that moths will be kept at a distance.
Several other cedars bear similar reputations.

One of the first uses to which the people of the Pacific coast put Port
Orford cedar was boat building. The industry was important at Coos bay
at an early day, and vessels constructed there sailed the seas thirty or
forty years. Trunks of this cedar turn out a high percentage of clear
lumber. The wood takes a good polish, and is manufactured into
furniture, doors, sash, turnery, and matches. The latter article is
esteemed by many persons for the peculiar odor of the burning wood. It
has been found practicable to finish this cedar in imitation of
mahogany, oak, and several other cabinet woods. In its natural state it
sometimes bears some resemblance to yellow pine, and sometimes to
spruce, there being considerable variation in the appearance of wood
from different trees. When the visible supply of Port Orford cedar has
been cut, the end will be reached, for not much young growth is coming
on. Sixty-eight varieties of Port Orford cedar are recognized in

YELLOW CEDAR (_Chamæcyparis nootkatensis_) describes this tree quite
well. The small twigs are of that color, and so is the heartwood. Many
give it the name yellow cypress. Others know it as Alaska cypress,
Alaska ground cypress, Nootka cypress, or Nootka sound cypress. The name
of the species, _nootkatensis_, was given it by Archibald Menzies, a
Scotch botanist who discovered it on the shore of Nootka sound in

Yellow cedar’s geographic range extends from southeastern Alaska to
Oregon, a distance of 1,000 miles. It does not usually go far inland,
and consequently the range is narrow in most places. North of the
international boundary the tree seldom reaches an altitude of more than
2,000 or 3,000 feet, but in Washington and Oregon it is occasionally met
with at elevations of 4,000 and 5,000 feet. The species reaches its best
development on the islands off the coast of southern Alaska and British
Columbia, where the air is moist, the winds warm in winter, the rainfall
abundant, and the snowfall often deep. Well developed trees under such
circumstances are from ninety to 120 feet high, from two to six in
diameter. The blue-green leaves remain active two years, and then die,
but they do not usually fall until a year later. The presence of the
dead leaves on the twigs tones down the general color of the tree

The cones are about half an inch long and have four, five, or six
scales. From two to four seeds lie beneath each scale until September or
October when they ripen and escape. Their wings are large enough to
carry them away from the immediate vicinity of the parent tree, and
reproduction under natural conditions is generally good. Yellow cedar is
abundant within its range, but nature has circumscribed its range, and
it shows no disposition to pass the boundary line.

The bark is thin and exhibits cedar’s characteristic stringiness. It is
shed in thin strips.

The wood is moderately light, and is strong and stiff. It is probably
the hardest of the cedars, and the grain is so regular that high polish
is possible. Under favorable circumstances trees grow with fair
rapidity, but when conditions are unfavorable, as on high mountains
where summers are short and winters severe, growth is remarkably slow,
and twenty years or more may be required for one inch increase in trunk
diameter. The wood of such trees is hard, dense, and strong.

The grain of yellow cedar is usually straight. The bands of summerwood
are narrow, the annual rings are indistinct, and an attempt to count
them is often attended with considerable difficulty. The wood is easily
worked, satiny, susceptible of a beautiful polish, and possesses an
agreeable resinous odor. The heartwood is bright, clear yellow, and the
thin sapwood is a little lighter in color. In common with all other
cedars, yellow cedar resists decay many years. Logs which have lain in
damp woods half a century remain sound inside the sapwood. Sometimes
fallen timber in that region is quickly buried under deep beds of moss
which preserves it from decay much longer than if the logs lie exposed
to alternate dampness and dryness.

Statistics of sawmill operations in the Northwest do not distinguish
between the different cedars, and the cut of yellow cedar is unknown. It
is considerable, but of course not to be compared with the more abundant
western red cedar. Statistics of uses are as meager as of the lumber
output. In Washington the factories which use wood as raw material
report only 7,500 feet of yellow cedar a year. Doubtless much more than
that is used, but under other names. There is no occasion to disguise
this wood under other names. It has a striking individuality and
deserves a place of its own. In some respects it is one of the best
woods of the Pacific Northwest. In nearly every situation where it has
been tried, it has been found satisfactory. Its rich yellow presents a
fine appearance in furniture and interior finish, and the polish which
it takes surpasses that possible with any other cedar, with the probable
exception of some of the scarce, high mountain junipers. It has been
used for pyrography and patterns, two hard places to fill, and for which
few woods are suitable. Indians long ago in Alaska learned that it was
the best material for boat paddles which their forests afforded. It
possesses the requisite stiffness and strength, and it wears to a
smoothness almost like ebony. Boat factories have many uses for the
wood, decking, railing, and interior finish being among the most
important. It is said to be a satisfactory substitute for Spanish cedar
in the manufacture of cigar boxes, but its use for that purpose is not
yet large.

It is said that occasional exports of this wood go to China where it is
finished in imitation of scarce and expensive woods of that country.

Yellow cedar is a wood with a future. Its splendid properties cannot
fail to give it a place of no small importance in factories and in
general building operations. The supply has scarcely yet been touched,
but it cannot much longer remain an undeveloped asset. It is apparently
a high-class cooperage material, but it does not seem to have been used
much if at all in that industry. The same might be said of it for doors.
It is heavier than spruce, white pine, and redwood, but where weight is
not a matter for objection, it ought to equal them in all desirable

In much of its range it is generally exempt from forest fire injury,
because its native woods are nearly always too wet to burn.

    ROCKY MOUNTAIN JUNIPER (_Juniperus scopulorum_) is scattered over
    the mountains from Dakota and Nebraska to Washington and British
    Columbia, and southward to western Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona.
    Except near the Pacific coast, it is usually found at altitudes
    above 5,000 feet. It clings closely to dry, rocky ridges where it
    attains a height of thirty or forty feet, and a diameter of three
    feet or less. The trunk usually divides near the ground into several
    stems. The bright blue berries ripen the second year. The wood
    resembles that of red cedar, and is used in the same way, as far as
    it is used at all. It is not a source of lumber. A little is sawed
    occasionally on mountain mills, and the lumber is used locally in
    house building, particularly for window and door frames; but sawlogs
    are short, and because of their poor form, the output of lumber is
    negligible. Some of it finds its way into Texas where it is
    manufactured into clothes chests and wardrobes, and these are sold
    as red cedar. A choice mountain juniper log, with large, sound
    heartwood, produces lumber with a delicate grain and is more
    attractive than red cedar when made into chests and boxes. By habit
    of growth, it includes patches of white sapwood in the darker
    heartwood. When these are sawed through in converting the logs into
    boards, the islands of white wood scattered over the surface produce
    a unique effect not wanting in artistic value. Some of the other
    western junipers possess similar characteristics. Sometimes patches
    of bark are also found imbedded in the interior of the trees.



[Illustration: RED SPRUCE]


(_Picea Rubens_)

In New York the tree is called yellow spruce, while in foreign
literature it is known as North American red spruce. The tree is
sometimes difficult to distinguish from black spruce (_Picea nigra_),
the main points of difference in the appearance of the two trees being
the size and shape of the cones and of the staminate blossoms. The cones
of red spruce are larger than those of black, and they mature and drop
from the branches during their first winter, while those of the latter
named species frequently remain on the trees for several seasons.
Certain eminent botanists incline to the belief that the two are
different varieties of one species, inasmuch as even the timber of red
spruce bears a close resemblance to that of the black spruce. Other
botanists dispute this theory, saying that the trees are entirely
different in appearance; that the red spruce is a light olive-green,
while black spruce is inclined to a darker olive with perhaps a purplish
tinge, so that when seen together they have no resemblance in point of
color. They further say that the cones are not only different in size
but that the scales are quite unlike in texture, those of black spruce
being much thinner and more brittle. The same authorities maintain that
the tiny twigs of red spruce are more conspicuous on account of their
reddish tinge.

Generally speaking the principal spruce growth of northern New England
and New York is black spruce, although interspersed with it in some
localities is a considerable quantity of red spruce. On the contrary the
chief stand of spruce in West Virginia, Virginia, western North
Carolina, and eastern Tennessee and the other high altitudes over the
South Carolina line, is largely red spruce. This botanical analysis of
the two species of wood is based entirely on the authority of botanists,
but from the viewpoint of the average lumberman there is absolutely no
difference between red and black spruce and none in the physics of the
two woods except that which rises from varying conditions of growth as
soil, rainfall, altitude or latitude, or general environment. The larger
spruce of West Virginia and the mountain region farther south, has
certain qualities of strength and texture, combined with a large
percentage of clear lumber that is not approximated by the spruce of New
England and the British maritime provinces. In shape the tree is
pyramidal, with spreading branches. It reaches a height of from seventy
to a hundred feet. Its bark is reddish brown, slightly scaly. The twigs
are light colored when young and are covered with tiny hairs. The leaves
are thickly clustered along the branches, and are simple and slender,
pointed at the apex. They become lustrous at maturity. The staminate
flowers are oval, bright red in color; the pistillate ones are oblong,
with thin rounded scales. The fruit of the red spruce is a cone, from
one to two and a half inches in length; it is green when young, turning
dark with age, and falling from the branches when the scales open. The
seeds are dark brown, and winged.

Formerly spruce was little thought of for lumber and manufacturing
purposes in this country, though some use was made of it from the
earliest settlements in the regions where it grew. White pine could
generally be had where spruce was abundant, and the former wood was
preferred. As pine became scarce, spruce was worked in for a number of
purposes. The tree’s form is all that a sawmill man could desire. The
trunk has more knots than white pine, for the reason that limbs are a
longer time in dying and in dropping off; but knots are small and
generally sound. By careful culling, a moderate amount of clear lumber
may be obtained. The wood is light, soft, narrow-ringed, strong in
proportion to its weight, elastic, and its color is pale with a slight
tinge of red, the sapwood whiter and usually about two inches thick. The
contrast between heart and sapwood is not strong. The medullary rays are
numerous, but small and obscure. The summerwood is thin and not
conspicuous. It is the wood’s red tinge which gives the tree its
commercial name.

It is believed that the yearly cut of red spruce in the United States
for lumber is about 500,000,000 feet, one-half of which comes from West
Virginia and southward, where this species reaches its highest
development; and the pulpwood cut in the same region is about one-tenth
as much in quantity. The long fiber and white color of spruce make it
one of the most satisfactory woods for pulp in this country. Red spruce
is only one of several species of spruce which contribute to the supply.
The total output of spruce pulpwood in the United States yearly is
equivalent to about 1,000,000,000 feet of lumber.

Red spruce lumber has a long list of uses. Much flooring is made of it,
and it wears well, but not as well as hard pine from the South. It is
more used for shipping boxes in the northeastern part of the United
States than any other wood, except white pine. Its good stenciling
qualities recommend it. Manufacturers of sash, doors, and blinds find it
excellent material, combining lightness, strength, and small tendency to
warp, shrink, or swell. Coopers make buckets, tubs, kegs, and churns of
it; manufacturers of refrigerators use it for doors and frames; and
makers of furniture use it for many interior parts of bureaus, tables,
and sideboards. Textile mills use spruce clothboards as center pieces
round which to wind fabrics; and a further use in mills is for bobbins.
It has many places in boat building, notably as spars and yards; and
for window and door frames.

The makers of piano frames employ red spruce for certain parts; but as
material for musical instruments its most important use is as sounding
boards. All the commercial spruces are so used. Wood for this purpose
must be free from defects of all kinds, and of straight and even grain.
The sounding board’s value lies in its ability to vibrate in unison with
the strings of the instrument. Spruce has no superior for that place.

Red spruce bears abundance of seeds, the best on the highest branches.
The seeds are winged, and the wind scatters them. They germinate best on
humus. In spruce forests, clumps of seedlings are often seen where logs
have decayed and fallen to dust. Seedlings do not thrive on mineral
soil, and for that reason red spruce makes a poor showing where fires
have burned. It does not spread vigorously in old fields as white pine
does. It must have forest conditions or it will do little good. For that
reason it does not promise great things for the future. It grows very
slowly, and land owners prefer white pine, where that species will grow.
If spruce is to be planted, most persons prefer Norway spruce (_Picea
excelsa_) of Europe. It grows faster than native spruces. It is the
spruce usually seen in door yards and parks.

    BLACK SPRUCE (_Picea mariana_) grows much farther north than red
    spruce, but the two species mingle in a region of 100,000 square
    miles or more northward of Pennsylvania and in New England and
    southern and eastern Canada. Black spruce grows from Labrador to the
    valley of the Mackenzie river, almost to the arctic circle. It is
    found as far south as the Lake States where it constitutes the
    principal spruce of commerce. In some of the swamps of northern
    Minnesota and in the neighboring parts of Canada it is little more
    than a shrub, and trees three or four feet high bear cones. On
    better land in that region the tree is large enough for sawlogs. It
    passes under several names, among which are double spruce, blue
    spruce, white spruce, and water spruce. The common name black spruce
    probably refers to the general appearance of the crown. The small
    cones (the smallest of the spruces) adhere to the branches many
    years, and give a ragged, black appearance to the tree when seen
    from a distance. The wood is as white as other spruces. Trees vary
    greatly in size. The best are 100 feet high and two and a half feet
    in diameter; but the average size is about thirty feet high and
    twelve inches in diameter. That size is not attractive to lumbermen;
    but cutters of pulpwood find it valuable and convenient, and much of
    it is manufactured into paper. The wood weighs 28.57 pounds per
    cubic foot, and is moderately strong, and high in elasticity. It is
    pale yellow-white with thin sapwood. In Manitoba, lumber is sawed
    from black spruce, and it is cut also in the Lake States, but it is
    preferred for pulp. It gives excellent service as canoe paddles.
    Spruce chewing gum is made of resinous exudations from this tree,
    and is an article of considerable importance. Spruce beer is another
    by-product which has long been manufactured in New England and the
    eastern Canadian provinces. It was made in Newfoundland three
    hundred years ago and has been bought and sold in the markets of
    that region ever since. Fishing vessels carry supplies of the
    beverage on long voyages as a preventive of scurvy. The beer is
    made by boiling leaves and twigs, and adding molasses to the
    concoction which is allowed to pass through mild fermentation.
    Foresters will probably never pay much attention to black spruce
    because other species promise more profit. It is little planted for
    ornamental purposes, as it does not grow rapidly, is of poor form,
    and the accumulation of dead cones on the branches gives it a poor
    appearance. Besides, planted trees do not live long.

    WHITE SPRUCE (_Picea canadensis_) is of more importance in Canada
    than in the United States, because more abundant. It is one of the
    most plentiful timber trees of Alaska, and it is found west to
    Bering strait and north of the arctic circle. It is said to approach
    within twenty miles of the Arctic ocean. Its eastern limit is in
    Labrador, its southern in the northern tier of states from Maine to
    Idaho. A little of this species is cut for lumber in northern New
    England and in upper Michigan, and westward, just south of the
    Canadian line. The light blue-green foliage gives the tree its name.
    It is known by other names as well, single spruce, bog spruce, skunk
    spruce, cat spruce, double spruce, and pine. Some of its names are
    due to the odor of its foliage. The largest trees are 100 feet high
    and three in diameter, but most are smaller. Having a range so
    extensive, and in climates and situations so different, the tree
    naturally varies greatly in size and form. The wood of
    well-developed trees is white and handsome, the thin, pencil-like
    bands of summerwood having a slightly darker tone than the
    springwood. The two parts of the annual ring possess different
    degrees of hardness. The springwood is softer than the summerwood.
    The medullary rays are numerous, and the surface of quarter-sawed
    lumber has a silvery appearance, due to the exposed flat surfaces of
    the rays. In the markets, no distinction is made between white
    spruce lumber, and that cut from other species. The uses of the
    different species are much the same. As a pulpwood, white spruce is
    in demand wherever it is available. The largest output in the United
    States comes from northern New England. The tree is often planted
    for ornamental purposes in Europe and in northern states. When grown
    in the open, the crown is pyramidal, like that of balsam fir. It
    does not thrive where summers are warm and dry.



[Illustration: SITKA SPRUCE]


(_Picea Sitchensis_)

This is largest of the spruces. In height and in girth of trunk no other
approaches it. The moist, warm climate of the north Pacific slope is its
favorite home, though its range extends far northward along the islands
and coast of Alaska. Toward the extreme limit of its habitat it loses
its splendid form and size and degenerates into a sprawling shrub. The
limit of the species southward lies in Mendocino county, California. Its
range in a north and south direction is not less than 2,000 miles; but
east and west the growth covers a mere ribbon facing the sea. It climbs
some of the British Columbia mountains, 5,000 feet, but it prefers the
low, wet valleys and flatlands, or the rainy and snowy slopes set to
catch the sea winds. There it is at its best, and the largest trunks are
200 feet high, fifteen feet in diameter, and about 850 years old. All
sizes less than this are found. It is not easy to name an average size
when variation runs from giants to dwarfs; but in regions where this
spruce is cut for lumber, the average height of mature trees is about
125 feet, with a diameter of four feet.

Tideland spruce is one of its names. That has reference to its habit of
sticking close to the sea. Its other names are Menzies’ spruce, great
tideland spruce, and western spruce. The last may be considered its
trade name in lumber markets, for it is seldom called anything else when
it is shipped east of the Rocky Mountains. The name is appropriate,
except that other spruces grow in the West, and are equally entitled to
the name. This applies particularly to Engelmann spruce of the northern
Rocky Mountain region; but its lumber and that cut from Sitka spruce are
not liable to be confused in the mind of anyone who is acquainted with
the two woods. The name Sitka refers to the town of that name in Alaska.

The leaves of this species are usually less than one inch in length, and
in color are light yellowish green. They stand out like bristles on all
sides of the twigs. Cones are from two to four inches long, and hang by
short stems, usually at the ends of twigs. They ripen the first year,
release their seeds, which fly away on small but ample wings, and the
cones drop during the fall and winter. Sitka spruce bark is generally
less than half an inch in thickness. Trunks which grow in forests prune
themselves well, and are usually clear of limbs from forty to eighty
feet. The bases of trees which grow on wet land are much enlarged like
cypress and tupelo, and lumbermen frequently cut above the swell,
leaving from 1,000 to 5,000 feet or more of lumber in the stump. Sitka
spruce’s characteristic root system is shallow; but on mountain sides
where soil is dry, roots penetrate deep in search of moisture.

The wood of this spruce varies greatly in color, but it is usually a
very pale brown, with the faintest tinge of red. It is a little heavier
than white pine, considerably weaker, and with less elasticity. The size
of the trunks, with their freedom from limbs, insures a high percentage
of clear lumber when Sitka spruce is manufactured. The tree grows
slowly, the annual rings are narrow, and the bands of summer growth are
comparatively broad, to which fact the rather dark color of the wood of
the spruce is due.

Sitka spruce is an important source of lumber. The total cut in
Washington, Oregon, and California in 1910 was about 255,000,000 feet.
It is below red spruce in quantity of sawmill cut, but above all other
spruces in the United States. The people of the Pacific coast use much
of it at home, but large quantities are shipped to markets in eastern
states, and some to foreign countries. Nearly 4,000,000 feet were bought
by Illinois manufacturers in 1909, in addition to what was used rough in
the state. The commodities manufactured of this spruce in Illinois
indicate with a fair degree of accuracy the uses made of the wood in
most parts of the United States east of the Rocky Mountains and north of
the Ohio river and the Potomac. Among articles so manufactured in
Illinois are playground apparatus, porch and stair balusters, doors,
blinds, sash and frames, poultry brooders, sounding boards for pianos
and other musical instruments, parts of mandolins and guitars, pipes for
organs, cornice brackets, store and office fronts, decking and spars for
boats, wagon beds and windmill wheel slats, refrigerators and cold
storage rooms, ironing boards and other wooden ware.

Twenty times as much Sitka spruce is made into finished commodities in
Washington as in Illinois. That is to be expected, since Washington is
the home of the tree and the center of supply. A partial list of its
uses in that state will show that the wood is liked at home. Douglas fir
was the only wood bought in larger amounts by Washington manufacturers.
They made 55,429,000 feet of it into boxes, and coopers employed
12,000,000 more. The next largest users were pulpmills, while 2,000,000
feet went into sounding boards, many of which were for shipment abroad.
Other users were basket makers, and the manufacturers of furniture,
fixtures, finish, caskets, veneer, trunks, pulleys, vehicles, boats, and
patterns. Sitka spruce decays quickly when exposed to rain and weather.

Sitka spruce can be depended upon for the future. Though it grows slowly
it may be expected to keep growing. Its range lies in regions generally
too wet for woods to burn, and it will suffer less from forest fires
than trees of inland regions. It is an abundant seeder, and its favorite
seedbed is moss, muck, decayed wood, and wet ground litter of various
kinds. For the first few years seedlings are sensitive to frost, but not
in later life.

Sitka spruce is often planted as an ornamental tree in western Europe,
and occasionally in the middle Atlantic states. The New England climate
is too severe for it.

ENGELMANN SPRUCE (_Picea engelmanni_) was named for Dr. George
Engelmann. It has other names. In Utah it is called balsam, white spruce
in Oregon, Colorado, Utah, and Idaho, mountain spruce in Montana,
Arizona spruce farther south, while in Idaho it is sometimes known as
white pine. That name is misleading, for Idaho has a species of white
pine (_Pinus monticola_). In eastern markets the wood is known as
western spruce; but that, also, is indefinite, for Sitka spruce is also
a western species and is found in the same markets as Engelmann spruce.
This tree’s range extends from Yukon territory to Arizona, fully 3,000
miles. It is a mountain species and is found in elevated ranges. In the
southern part of its habitat it ascends mountains to heights of nearly
12,000 feet. It grows in the Cascade mountain ranges in Washington and
Oregon. The species’ best development occurs in British Columbia. At its
best, trees are 150 feet high and four or five in diameter; but every
size less than that occurs in different parts of its range, down to a
height of two or three feet for fully matured trees. Such are found on
lofty and sterile mountains where frost occurs practically every night
in summer, and winter snows bury all objects for months at a time.
Though the stunted spruce trees may be only two or three feet high,
their branches spread many feet, and lie flat on the rocks. Though such
situations are exceedingly unfavorable to tree growth, the stunted
spruces survive sometimes for two hundred years, and during that long
period may not grow a trunk above five inches in diameter and four feet
high. The Engelmann spruce is naturally a long-lived tree, and large
trunks are 500 or 600 years old; and trees ordinarily cut for lumber are
300 or 400 years old. When the tree is young, its form is symmetrical,
the longest branches being near the ground, the shortest near the top;
but in crowded stands the trunk finally clears itself. Engelmann spruce
lumber is usually full of small knots, each of which represents a limb
which was shaded off as the tree advanced in age. The wood is lighter
than white pine, and is the lightest of the spruces, the weight being
21.49 pounds per cubic foot. It is not strong, and it rates low in
elasticity. The wood is pale yellow, tinged with red. The thick sapwood
is hardly distinguishable from the heart. It would be difficult to
compile a list of this tree’s uses, because in markets it hardly ever
carries its right name. It is used for fuel and charcoal in the region
of its growth; also as farm timber, and as props and lagging in mines.
When it goes to market, it is manufactured into doors, window frames,
sash, interior finish for houses, and for purposes along with other
spruces. Large quantities of this wood will be accessible when lumbermen
penetrate remote mountain regions where it grows. It may be expected to
increase in importance. It is occasionally planted in eastern states as
an ornament.

    BLUE SPRUCE (_Picea parryana_) is found among mountains in Colorado,
    Utah, and Wyoming, from 6,500 to 10,000 feet above sea level. It
    attains a height of 150 feet and a diameter of three under favorable
    circumstances, but its usual size is little more than half of that.
    Its name is given on account of the color of its foliage, but it has
    other names, among them being Parry’s spruce, balsam, white spruce,
    silver spruce, Colorado blue spruce, and prickly spruce, the last
    name referring to the sharp-pointed leaves which are an inch or more
    in length. Cones are three inches long, and usually grow near the
    top of the tree. It is not unusual for blue spruce trees to divide
    near the ground in three or four branches. In its youth,
    particularly in open ground, blue spruce develops a conical crown.
    The wood is lighter than white pine, is soft, weak, and pale brown
    or nearly white in color. The sapwood is hardly distinguishable from
    the heart. This is a valuable tree for ornamental planting; but in
    later years it loses its lower limbs, and becomes less desirable.

    WEEPING SPRUCE (_Picea breweriana_) is of little commercial
    importance because of scarcity. It grows among the mountains of
    northern California and southern Oregon, at elevations of from 4,000
    to 8,000 feet above sea level. The leaves are an inch or less in
    length, the cones from two to four inches long. They fall soon after
    they scatter their seeds. This tree is named on account of its
    drooping branchlets, some of which hang down eight feet. The wood
    seems not to have been investigated, but its color is pale yellowish
    to very light brown, and the annual rings are rather narrow. The
    tree ought to be valuable for ornamental planting, but nurseries
    have experienced much difficulty in making it grow. It grows on high
    and dry mountains where few ever see it, but refuses to become
    domesticated or to grace eastern parks.



[Illustration: CYPRESS]


(_Taxodium Distichum_)

The name cypress has been used quite loosely in this country and the old
world, and botanists have taken particular care to explain what true
cypress is. It is of no advantage in the present case to join in the
discussion, and it will suffice to give the American cypresses according
to the authorized list published by the United States Forest Service.
Two genera, one having two and the other six species, are classed as
cypress. These are Bald Cypress (_Taxodium distichum_), Pond Cypress
(_Taxodium imbricarium_), Monterey Cypress (_Cupressus macrocarpa_),
Gowen Cypress (_Cupressus goveniana_), Dwarf Cypress (_Cupressus
pygmæa_) Macnab Cypress (_Cupressus macnabiana_), Arizona Cypress
(_Cupressus arizonica_), and Smooth Cypress (_Cupressus glabra_). The
first two grow in the southern states, and the others in the Far West.
Bald cypress, which is generally known simply as cypress in the region
where it grows, is more important as a source of lumber than are all the
others combined. It probably supplies ninety-nine per cent of all
cypress sold in this country. Its range is from southern Delaware to
Florida, westward to the Gulf coast region of Texas, north through
Louisiana, Arkansas, eastern Mississippi and Tennessee, southeastern
Missouri, western Kentucky and sparsely in southern Illinois and
southwestern Indiana. It is a deep swamp tree, and it is never of much
importance far from lagoons, inundated tracts, and the low banks of
rivers. Water that is a little brackish from the inwash of tides does
not injure the tree, but the presence of a little salt is claimed by
some to improve the quality of the wood. It is lumbered under
difficulties. The deep water and miry swamps where it grows best must be
reckoned with. Some of the ground is not dry for several years at a
time. Neither felling nor hauling is possible in the manner practiced in
the southern pineries. Owing to the great weight of the green wood, it
will not float unless killed by being girdled for a year or more in
advance of its being felled. In the older logging operations, cypress
was girdled and snaked out to waterways and floated to the mills. Lately
many cypress operations are carried on by the building of railroads
through the swamps, which are largely on piling and stringers, although
occasionally earth fills are utilized. The usual size of mature cypress
ranges from seventy-five to 140 feet in height and three to six in

The wood is light, soft, rather weak, moderately stiff, and the grain is
usually straight. The narrow annual rings indicate slow growth. The
summerwood is comparatively broad and is slightly resinous; medullary
rays are numerous and obscure. The wood is light to dark brown, the
sapwood nearly white. At one time specimens of the wood in the markets
of the world were known as black or white cypress, according as they
sank or floated. Much of the dark cypress wood is now known as black
cypress in the foreign markets, where it is employed chiefly for tank
and vat building. Individual specimens of the wood in some localities
are tinted in a variety of shades and some of the natural designs are
extremely beautiful.

The wood is reputed to be among the most durable in this country when
exposed to soil and weather. Some of it deserves that reputation, but
other does not. Well-authenticated cases are cited where cypress has
remained sound many years--in some instance a hundred or more--when
subjected to alternate dampness and dryness. Such conditions afford
severe tests. In other cases cypress has been known to decay as quickly
as pine.

Historical cases from the old world are sometimes cited to show the
wonderful lasting properties of cypress. Doors and statues, exposed more
or less to weather, are said to have stood many centuries. The evidence
has little value as far as this wood is concerned. In the first place,
the long records claimed are subjects for suspicion; and in the second
place, it was not the American cypress that was used--and probably no
cypress--but the cedar of Lebanon.

Sound cypress logs have been dug from deep excavations near New Orleans,
and geologists believe they had lain there 30,000 years. That would be a
telling testament to endurance were it not that any other wood
completely out of reach of air would last as long.

The estimated stand of cypress in the South is about 20,000,000,000
feet. The annual cut, including shingles, exceeds 1,000,000,000 feet.
New growth is not coming on. The traveler through the South occasionally
sees a small clump of little cypresses, but such are few and far
between. It was formerly quite generally believed that cypress in deep
swamps, where old and venerable stands are found, was not reproducing,
and that no little trees were to be seen. It was argued from this, that
some climatic or geographic change had taken place, and that the present
stand of cypress would be the last of its race. More careful
investigation, however, has shown that the former belief was erroneous.
Seedling cypresses are found occasionally in the deepest swamps.
Probably cypress which has not been disturbed by man is reproducing as
well now as at any time in the past. The tree lives three or four
centuries, and if it leaves one seedling to take its place it has done
its part toward perpetuating the species. Fire, the mortal enemy of
forests, seldom hurts cypress, because the undergrowth is not dry enough
to burn.

The uses of cypress are so nearly universal that a list is impossible.
In Illinois alone it is reported for seventy-eight different purposes.
There is not a state, and scarcely a large wood-using factory, east of
the Rocky Mountains which does not demand more or less cypress.

The tree is graceful when young, but ragged and uncouth when old. Though
a needleleaf tree, it yearly sheds its foliage and most of its twigs.
The fruit is a cone about one inch in diameter; and the seed is equipped
with a wing one-fourth inch long and one-eighth inch wide.

When cypress stands in soft ground which most of the time is under
water, the roots send up peculiar growths known as knees. They rise from
a few inches to several feet above the surface of the mud, and extend
above the water at ordinary stages. They are sharp cones, generally
hollow. It is believed their function is to furnish air to the tree’s
roots, and also to afford anchorage to the roots in the soft mud. When
the water is drained away, the knees die.

Cypress is widely planted as an ornament, and a dozen or more varieties
have been developed in cultivation.

    POND CYPRESS (_Taxodium imbricarium_) so closely resembles bald
    cypress with which it is associated that the two were once supposed
    to be the same. Pond cypress averages smaller and its range is more
    circumscribed. The name pond cypress, by which it is popularly known
    in Georgia, indicates the localities where it is oftenest found. It
    is the prevailing cypress in the Okefenoke swamp in southeastern
    Georgia. The general aspect of the foliage and fruit is the same as
    of bald cypress. No detailed examination of the wood seems to have
    been made, but in general appearance it is like the other cypress.
    It is said that little of it ever gets to sawmills because it grows
    in situations where logging is inconvenient.

    MONTEREY CYPRESS (_Cupressus macrocarpa_). This tree has only one
    name and that is due to its place of growth on the shores of
    Monterey bay, California. Its range is more restricted than that of
    any other American softwood. It does not much exceed 150 acres,
    though the trees are scattered in a narrow strip for two miles along
    the coast. They approach so close the breakers that spray flies over
    them in time of storm. Trees exposed to the sweep of the wind are
    gnarled and of fantastic shapes. Their crowns are broad and flat
    like an umbrella, but ragged and unsymmetrical in outline. That form
    offers least resistance to wind, and most surface to the sun. The
    trees take the best possible advantage of their opportunities. Tall
    crowns would be carried away by wind; and the flat tops, with a mass
    of green foliage, catch all the sunlight possible. They need it, for
    they grow in fog, and sunshine is scarce. Sheltered trees develop
    pyramidal tops. It is widely planted in this and other countries,
    and when conditions are favorable, it is graceful and symmetrical.
    The largest trees are from sixty to seventy feet tall, others are
    five or six in diameter; but the tallest trees and the largest
    trunks seldom go together. The cones are an inch or more in length,
    and each contains about 100 seeds. The leaves fall the third and
    fourth years. Wood is heavy, hard, strong, and durable, but is too
    scarce to be of value as lumber, even if the trunks were suitable
    for sawlogs. The Monterey cypress is of peculiar interest to
    botanists and also to physical geographers. The few trees on the
    shore of Monterey bay appear to be the last remnant of a species
    which was once more extensive. The ocean is eating away the coast at
    that point. Fragments of hills, cut sheer down from top to the
    breakers beneath, are plainly the last remnants of ranges which once
    extended westward, but have been washed away by the encroaching
    waves. No one knows how much of the former coast has been destroyed.
    Apparently the former range of the cypress was principally on land
    now swallowed up by the encroaching ocean. A mere fringe of the
    trees--a belt about 200 yards wide along the beach--remains, and the
    sea is undermining them one by one and carrying them down. So
    rapidly is the undermining process going on that many large roots of
    some of the trees are exposed to view.

    ARIZONA CYPRESS (_Cupressus arizonica_), as its name implies, is an
    Arizona tree. It forms considerable forests in the eastern, central,
    and southern parts of the state, and is found also in Mexico. It
    grows at elevations up to 6,000 feet. Because of the small
    population in the region where this cypress grows, it has never been
    much used, but the size of the trees and the character of the wood
    fit it for many purposes. Its growth is often quite rapid, and the
    timber is soft, light, and with well-defined summerwood. Its usual
    color is gray, but occasionally faint streaks of yellow appear. The
    leaves fall during the fourth and fifth years; cones are small and
    flat; and the small seeds are winged. It is believed by persons
    familiar with Arizona cypress that it will attain considerable
    importance when the building of railroads and the settlement of the
    country make the forests accessible. The wood is durable in contact
    with the soil.

    SMOOTH CYPRESS (_Cupressus glabra_) ranges in Arizona and is not
    believed to have or to promise much importance as a source of lumber
    supply. Its name was given on account of the smoothness of the bark.
    It is one of the latest species to be given a place among the
    cypresses, and was described and named by George B. Sudworth of the
    United States Forest Service.



[Illustration: BALSAM FIR]


(_Abies Balsamea_)

Balsam fir is the usual name applied to this tree in New England, New
York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Ontario. The
shorter name balsam suffices in some parts of that region, and
particularly in New York, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Because it is
common north of the international boundary, the name Canada balsam has
been given it in some regions. In Delaware it is known as balm of
Gilead, but that name belongs to a tree of the cottonwood group,
(_Populus balsamifera_) which is a broadleaf species. In New York and
Pennsylvania a word of distinction is added, and it is called balm of
Gilead fir. Toward the southern limit of its range it is spoken of as
fir pine and blister pine. New York Indians knew the tree as blisters.
They referred to the pockets under the bark of young trees and near the
tops of mature trunks, in which resin collected. The name balsam refers
to that characteristic also, as does the word balm. In some parts of
Canada the tree is known as silver pine, and as silver spruce. The
secretion of resin in bark blisters is a characteristic of several firs.

The list of names and the locality of their use indicate fairly well the
geographical range of balsam fir. Its northern limit forms a line across
eastern Canada from Labrador to Hudson bay. From Hudson bay its northern
boundary trends northwestward and reaches the vicinity of Great Bear
lake. In the United States it grows westward to Minnesota and southward
to Pennsylvania. It is cut for lumber in eleven states.

In a range so large and including situations so various, it is natural
that the tree should vary greatly in size. In the Lake States the common
height is fifty or sixty feet, and the diameter is twelve or fifteen
inches. Young balsam firs grow vigorously when the ground is suitable
and their tops receive sufficient light. In lumbered regions in the Lake
States, this fir gets a foothold in the shade of a dense growth of paper
birch and other quickly-growing species; and in a few years the pointed,
intensely green spires of the balsams may be seen piercing the canopy of
other young tree tops, and shooting above into the light. This is
accomplished after a struggle of some years in the shade; but the firs
ultimately win their way upward, and in a few years they shade to death
most of their broadleaf associates. If they are in competition with
northern white cedar or tamarack, they are not always successful in
winning first place.

The leaves of balsam fir are from one-half to one and one-fourth inches
long. They are green and lustrous above and silver white below, the
whiteness due to stomata on their undersides. On young twigs the leaves
bristle out on all sides and are very numerous and crowded together, but
on older branches the leaves are more scattered, due to the dropping of
some of them. It is their habit to adhere to the stems about eight

The leaves of balsam fir possess a pleasing and characteristic odor
which is turned to account in a practical way. The small needles are
stripped from the branches in large quantities, cleaned, dried, and are
used for stuffing sofa pillows, cushions, and other kinds of upholstery.
The odor persists a long time. Much of the collecting of the needles is
done in summer as a pastime by summer campers in the northern woods. The
needles are sufficiently tough to stand much wear in pillows, and they
are still odorous when long use has ground them to powder.

The cones of balsam fir follow the fashion of all species of fir, and
stand erect on the branches. Seeds are one-fourth inch in length and are
winged. The wood is of approximately the same weight as white pine, but
it falls considerably below white pine in strength and stiffness. It is
of moderately rapid growth when conditions are favorable, and the annual
ring has a fair proportion of summerwood. The yearly rings are quite
distinct. The medullary rays are numerous, and for a softwood they are
prominent. When a log is quarter-sawed, and the surfaces of the boards
are planed, the wood presents a silvery appearance, but it is too
monotonous to be very attractive. The heartwood is pale brown, streaked
with yellow, the thick sapwood much lighter in color. It is perishable
in contact with the soil.

Pulp manufacturers are the largest users of balsam fir. About three per
cent of all the pulpwood cut in the United States in 1910 was from this
species. Its use is on the increase, or appears to be; but recent
statistics relating to this wood cannot be safely compared with returns
for former years, because the custom of mixing fir with spruce and other
pulpwoods formerly prevailed in New England, and it was then not
possible to determine exactly how much fir reached the market. At the
present time fir goes under its own name, and the output exceeds 132,000
cords, which is equivalent to 105,000,000 feet, board measure, yearly.

Eleven states contribute to the balsam fir lumber cut, but most is
supplied by Maine, Minnesota, Vermont, Michigan, and Wisconsin. The
total for 1910 was 74,580,000 feet. Much of it is employed in rough form
for fences and buildings, while other is further manufactured by planing
mills and factories. Car builders employ it in several ways. It serves
as doors, siding, lining, and roofing for freight cars. It is not a
durable wood when exposed to weather. The largest reported use of the
wood in New England is by box makers. Massachusetts alone works nearly
15,000,000 feet a year into crates and shipping boxes. Its uses in the
Lake States are more varied. The makers of berry, fruit, and vegetable
baskets draw supplies from the wood. Some of the product is of thin
split slats, and other of veneer or sawed material.

The light weight and white color of balsam fir make it acceptable to the
manufacturers of excelsior. The product is employed in packing
merchandise for shipment, and to a small extent in upholstery. The wood
fills a rather important place in the woodenware industry, where its
white color and light weight constitute its most important
recommendations. It is sawed into staves for pails and tubs.

Though balsam fir has little figure and its appearance is rather common,
it finds its way to planing mills and woodworking shops where it is made
into ceiling, newel posts, molding, railing, spindles, chair-boards, and
other interior finish.

The most widely known commercial product manufactured from this tree is
Canada balsam. Strictly speaking, it is not a manufactured article
except what is done in nature’s laboratory, and the product is the resin
stored under bark blisters. The resin is transparent, and is employed by
microscopists in mounting objects for examination. Little machinery or
apparatus is used in removing the viscid fluid from the pockets in the
bark. With a knife the thin, soft blister is slit and the resin is
scraped out. All kinds of claims of medicinal virtue are made for balsam
resin in the region where the tree grows; but the treatment in most
cases effects cures--if any cures are really effected--by appeals to
faith and the imagination.

Balsam fir owes a large part of its importance to its abundance. It is
not exactly a swamp tree, but it does best in damp situations where the
ground is moist and cool in summer. Only in periods of protracted
drought does the ground litter become sufficiently dry to burn fiercely,
and to that fact is due much of the promise of future supply of balsam
fir. That which grows on the dry uplands may fall prey to forest fires,
but that in the damp flats, associated with northern white cedar and
tamarack, will hold its ground and continue to supply demand.

Balsam fir has an importance which can not be wholly measured in feet,
pounds, cords, or dollars. Many of the choicest Christmas trees which in
December go by tens of thousands to the cities, are of this tree. Its
form is almost perfect, being conical, broad near the bottom, and
running to a sharp apex. The deep green of the needles, which retain
their color from two weeks to a month after the trunk is severed, gives
balsam Christmas trees much of their popularity. The trees are cut from
Maine to Michigan, and many are shipped across the international
boundary from Canada. The custom of cutting Christmas trees is often
condemned as a waste of resources. It has been argued that the
destruction in one month of 1,000,000 young trees is equivalent to the
destruction of 500,000,000 feet of lumber, because, if allowed to reach
maturity, they would yield that much lumber. That argument does not take
into consideration the fact that not one of the young trees in ten would
reach maturity if left to the course of nature.

When Gifford Pinchot was United States forester, a protest against the
cutting of Christmas trees was formally laid before him. It was
generally believed that he would declare that the waste ought to be
stopped and would set his disapproval on the practice; but he did
nothing of the sort. He declared that the forests are for the use of the
people and that they can serve in no better way than by supplying every
child in the land with a Christmas tree once a year.



[Illustration: FRASER FIR]


(_Abies Fraseri_)

The people who are acquainted with this interesting and somewhat rare
tree have seen to it that it does not want for names. Some of these
names are both definitive and descriptive, while others are neither.
Tennessee, North Carolina, and West Virginia furnish the names. Within
the tree’s range in Tennessee and North Carolina it is often known as
balsam without any qualifying word, and that is quite sufficient, for no
other fir or balsam grows within its range. In the same region it is
called balsam fir. That is the common name of its northern relative, but
there is little likelihood of confusing the two species, for their
ranges do not overlap much, if they touch at all, which they probably do
not. In Tennessee the name is reversed and instead of balsam fir it is
fir balsam. It is likewise known as double fir balsam, but why “double”
is added to the name is not clear. Similar mystery attaches to the name
“single spruce,” which is applied to the balsam fir in the interior of
British America. The southern Appalachian tree is called she balsam and
she balsam fir. These names have no scientific basis, and they appear to
have originated in a desire to distinguish this tree from the red spruce
with which it is associated. The spruce is called “he balsam.”
Artificial names like these are not necessary to distinguish red spruce
from Fraser fir, as very slight acquaintance should enable anybody to
tell one from the other at sight, and to see clearly that they are not
of the same species. Mountain balsam, a North Carolina name for this
fir, is well taken, for it is distinctly a mountain species. The name
healing balsam is given in acknowledgment of the supposed medicinal
properties of the resin which collects in blisters or pockets under the
bark of young trees and near the tops of old. In West Virginia, where
this tree reaches the northern limits of its habitat, it is called
blister pine, on account of the resin pockets. In the same region it is
called stackpole pine, because farmers who mow mountain meadows use
straight, very light poles cut from this fir round which to build

This tree is decidedly an inhabitant of the high, exposed localities,
being found entirely in the upper elevations of the southern Appalachian
mountains, either forming extensive pure stands or growing in the
company of red spruce (_Picea rubens_), with a scattering of various
stunted hardwoods, as birch, mountain ash, cherry and usually with an
undergrowth of rhododendron.

Fraser fir’s range extends from the high mountains of North Carolina,
where it grows 6,000 feet above sea level, northward into West
Virginia, within a few miles of the Maryland line, at an altitude of
3,300 feet. The tree is not found in all regions between its northern
and southern limits. Its best development is in the southern part of its

On the upper limits of its habitat the tree presents a decidedly
picturesque appearance, being gnarled and twisted and plainly showing
the results of its long struggle for life and development. It is always
noticeable that on the exposed side the limbs are so short as to be
almost missing and on the opposite side they grow out straight and long,
appearing to fly before the wind. These limbs are sometimes of as great
a girth for five or six feet of their length as any part of the main
stem, and have a singular look, seeming to be all out of proportion to
the rest of the tree. The older trees are vested in a smooth,
yellowish-gray, mossy bark, which is quite different from that of the
balsam fir. The bark is thin, about one-fourth of an inch on young
trunks, and half an inch near the ground on old ones. The leaves are
usually half an inch long, sometimes one inch, and their lower sides are
whitish, which tint is due to abundant white stomata. In that respect
they resemble leaves of balsam fir and hemlock.

The cones, like those of other species of fir, stand erect on the
branches, and average about two and a half inches in length. They are
smoother than the cones of most pines. They mature in September. The
winged seeds average one-eighth inch in length, and are fairly abundant.
The Fraser fir grows as tall as balsam fir, from forty to sixty feet,
and the trunk diameter is greater, being sometimes thirty inches, though
half of that is nearer an average. When of pole size, that is, from five
to eight inches in diameter, Fraser fir is often tall, straight and
shapely. Its form, however, depends upon the situation in which it
grows. If in the open, it develops a relatively short trunk and a broad,
pyramidal crown. This fir differs from balsam fir in its choice of
situation. The latter, though not exactly a swamp tree, prefers damp
ground, while Fraser fir flourishes on slopes and mountain tops.

On the mountains of western North Carolina fir grows in mixture with red
spruce. Sometimes the fir is fifty per cent of the stand, but usually it
is less, and frequently not more than fifteen per cent. Few fir trees in
that locality are two feet in diameter. They grow with fair rapidity in
their early years, but decline in rate as age comes on. It may be
observed in traveling through the stands of mixed spruce and fir among
the high ranges of the southern Appalachian mountains that the
proportion of spruce is much higher in old stands than in young. That is
due to the greater age to which spruce lives. Trees of that species
continue to stand after the firs have died of old age. On the other
hand, fir outnumbers spruce in many young stands. That is because fir
reproduces better than spruce, and grows with more vigor at first. In
stands of second growth the fir often predominates. It depends to some
extent upon the conditions under which the second growth has its start.
Fir does not germinate well if the ground has been bared by fire and the
humus burned. Consequently, old burns do not readily grow up in fir. The
best stands occur where the natural conditions have not been much
disturbed further than by removing the growth. Fortunately conditions on
the summit and elevated slopes of the southern Appalachians do not favor
destructive forest fires. Rain is frequent and abundant, and the shade
cast by evergreen trees keeps the humus too moist for fire. To this
condition is due the comparative immunity from fire of the high mountain
forests of fir and spruce. Sometimes, however, fires sweep through fine
stands with disastrous results. The destruction is more serious because
no second forest of evergreens is likely on tracts which have been
severely burned.

A report by the State Geological Survey on forest conditions in western
North Carolina, issued in 1911, predicted that spruce and fir forests
aggregating from 100,000 to 150,000 acres among the high mountain
ranges, will become barren tracts, because of the destructive effect of
fires stripping the ground of humus.

The cutters of pulpwood in the southern Appalachian mountains take
Fraser fir wherever they find it, mix it with spruce, and the two woods
go to market as one. Statistics show the annual cut of both, but do not
give them separately. The output of spruce, including fir, south of
Pennsylvania, in 1910 was 115,993 cords, equivalent to about 80,000,000
feet, board measure. Most of it was red spruce, but some was fir, and in
North Carolina probably twenty-five per cent was of that species. The
total pulpwood cut in that state was 14,509 cords of the two woods
combined, and probably 3,800 cords were Fraser fir.

The wood of Fraser fir is very light. An air dry sample from Roan
mountain, N. C., weighed 22.22 pounds per cubic foot. That is lighter
than balsam fir, which is classed among the very light woods. It is
stronger than balsam fir by twenty-five per cent. The wood is soft,
compact and the bands of summerwood in the annual rings are rather broad
and light colored and are not conspicuous. The medullary rays are thin
but numerous. The color is light brown, the sapwood mostly white.

This wood is not of much commercial value except for pulp. It is not
abundant, and it is not suited to many purposes. It is suitable for
boxes, being light in weight and moderately strong; but other woods
which grow in the same region are as good in all respects and are more
abundant, and will be used in preference to fir for that purpose. The
decrease in area on account of fires, and in quantity because of
pulpwood operations, indicates that forest grown Fraser fir has seen its
best days. On the other hand, the United States Forest Service has
acquired tracts of land on the summits of the mountains where this
species has its natural home, and the growth will be protected from
fires and from destructive cutting, and there is no danger that the
species will be exterminated.

It is an interesting tree. It contributes to the pleasure of tourists
and campers among the southern mountains. The fragrance of its leaves
and young branches add a zest to the summer camp. The traveler who is
overtaken in the woods by the coming of night, prepares his bed of the
boughs of this tree and of red spruce and sleeps soundly beneath an
evergreen canopy. Pillows and cushions stuffed with fir needles carry
memories of the mountains to distant cities.

In one respect this tree of the high mountains is like the untamed
Indians who once roamed in that region: it refuses to be civilized. The
tree has been planted in parks in this country and in Europe, but it
does not prosper. Its form loses something of the grace and symmetry
which it exhibits in its mountain home, and its life is short. Those who
wish to see Fraser fir at its best must see it where nature planted it
high on the southern mountains.

    ARIZONA CORK FIR (_Abies arizonica_) very closely resembles forms of
    the alpine fir, and may not be a separate species. Sudworth was
    unable to distinguish its foliage and cones from those of alpine
    fir, but the bark is softer. Its range is on the San Francisco
    mountains in Arizona. It is very scarce, and only local use of its
    wood is possible.



[Illustration: NOBLE FIR]


(_Abies Nobilis_)

This tree’s name is justified by its appearance when growing at its best
in the forests of the northwest Pacific coast. It is tall, shapely, and
imposing. It often exceeds a height of 250 feet, and a trunk diameter of
six feet. It is sometimes eight feet in diameter. No tree is more
shapely and symmetrical. When grown in dense stands the first limb may
be 150 feet from the ground, and from that point to the base there is
little taper. It over-reaches so many of its forest companions that it
is sometimes designated locally as bigtree; but it is believed that
lumber is never so spoken of, and that the name applies to the standing
tree only. The Indians of the region where it grows call it tuck-tuck,
but information as to the meaning of these words is not at hand. In
northern California, and probably still farther north, this species is
often called red fir, feather-cone red fir, or bracted red fir. The
color of the heartwood and the appearance of the cone, doubtless are
responsible for these names. There is a tendency in the fir-growing
regions of the West to call all firs either white or red, depending upon
the color of the heartwood. There are ten or more species of fir west of
the Rocky Mountains, and to the layman they all look much alike, but to
botanists they are interesting objects of study.

The range of noble fir covers parts of three states, but the whole of no
one. Its northern limit is in Washington, its southern in northern
California, and it follows the mountains across western Oregon. It often
forms extensive forests on the Cascade mountains of Washington. It is
most abundant at elevations of from 2,500 to 5,000 feet in southwestern
Washington and northwestern Oregon. On the eastern and northern slopes
of those mountains it is of smaller size and is less abundant. Like
several other of the extraordinarily large western trees, it keeps
pretty close to the warm, moist coast of the Pacific.

The shining, blue-green color of the leaves is a conspicuous
characteristic of noble fir as it appears in the forest. They vary in
length from an inch to an inch and a half. They usually curl, twist, and
turn their points upward and backward, away from the end of the branch
which bears them. The cones, following the fashion of firs, stand
upright on the twigs, and are conspicuous objects. They are four or five
inches in length, which is rather large for firs, but not the largest.
The seeds are half an inch long, and are winged. They are well provided
with the means of flight, but many of them never have an opportunity to
test their wings, for the dextrous Douglas squirrel cuts the cones from
the highest trees, and when they fall to the ground he pulls them apart
with his feet and teeth, and the seeds pay him for his pains. If cones
ripen on the trees and the released seeds sail away, there are birds of
various feather waiting to receive them. Consequently, the noble fir
plants comparatively few seeds. Their ratio of fertility is low at best,
but that is partly compensated for by the large numbers produced.

Thick stands of noble fir are not common. It generally is found, a few
trees here and there, mixed with other species. Sawmills find it
unprofitable to keep the lumber separate from other kinds. It does not
pay to do so for two reasons. Extra labor is required to handle it in
that way, and there is a prejudice against fir lumber. It does not
appeal to buyers. For that reason some operators have called this timber
Oregon larch, and have sent it to market under that name. That is a
trick of the trade which has been put into practice many times and with
many woods. The purpose in the instance of noble fir was to pass it for
the larch which grows in the northern Rocky Mountain region. The two
woods are so different that no person acquainted with one would mistake
it for the other. A recent government report of woods used for
manufacturing purposes in Washington does not list a foot of noble fir.
The inference is that it must be going to factories under some other
name, for it is incredible that this wood should be put to no use at all
in the region of its best development.

Noble fir is of slow growth, and the large trunks are very old, the
oldest not less than 800 years. The summerwood forms a narrow, dark band
in the annual ring. Medullary rays are numerous, but very thin and
inconspicuous. The wood possesses little figure. It weighs twenty-eight
pounds per cubic foot, which is four pounds less than the average
Douglas fir. It is very low in fuel value, as softwoods usually are
which have little resin. It is very weak, and it bends easily. It is
soft, easily worked, and polishes well. This is one of its most valuable
qualities. It is deficient in a number of properties which are desirable
in wood, but partly makes up for them in its ability to take a smooth
finish. It is pale brown, streaked with red, the sapwood darker. In that
particular it is unusual, for most softwoods have sap lighter in color
than the heart.

It has been already pointed out that difficulty is met when an attempt
is made to list the uses of noble fir, because it loses its name before
it leaves the sawmill yard and takes the name of some other wood, and
those who put it to use often do so without knowing what the wood really
is. It is known that some of it is manufactured into house siding. It
works nicely and looks well, but since it is liable to quick decay it
must be kept well painted when it is exposed to weather. It serves as
interior finish, and this seems to be one of its best uses. It is so
employed for steamboats and for houses, and many shipments of it have
been made to boat builders on the Atlantic coast. It is used for
shipping boxes, and its light color fits it for that purpose, as the
wood shows painting and stenciling to good advantage.

European nurseries have propagated noble fir with success, but it does
not do so well in the eastern part of the United States, though it lives
through winters as far north as Massachusetts. It is not known to have
been planted for other than ornamental purposes. Unless it would grow
much faster in plantations than in its wild state, it will be too long
in maturing to make it attractive to the timber planter.

    WHITE FIR (_Abies concolor_). The whiteness of the wood and the
    silver color of the young branches give this species its name, but
    it is not the sole possessor of that name, but shares it with three
    other firs. In California, Idaho, and Utah it is called balsam fir.
    The branches and upper parts of the trunk where the bark is thin,
    are covered with blisters which contain white resin. In Utah it is
    known as white balsam, as silver fir in some parts of California,
    and as black gum in Utah. The reason for that name is not apparent,
    unless it refers to the black bark on old trees. It has several
    other names which are combinations of white and silver with some
    other term. Its range is mostly in the Sierras and in the Rocky
    Mountain ranges, extending from southern Colorado to the mountains
    of California, north through Oregon, and south through New Mexico
    and Arizona. The immense proportions are reached only in the Sierra
    growth, those trees in the Rockies being hardly above ordinary size.
    In its free growth the tree is reputed to be the only one of its
    genus found in the arid regions of the Great Basin, and similar
    localities in Arizona and New Mexico. It is not distinguished by all
    botanists from the similar species, _Abies grandis_.

    White fir attains a height of 250 feet and a diameter of six in some
    instances, but the average size of mature trees among the Sierra
    Nevadas is 150 feet tall and three or four in diameter. In the Rocky
    Mountain region the tree is smaller. It grows from 3,000 to 9,000
    feet above sea level. The leaves are long for the fir genus, and
    vary from two to three inches. The tree’s bark is black near the
    base of large trunks but of less somber color near the top. Near the
    base of large trees the bark is sometimes six inches thick. The wood
    of this species is light and soft. Carpenters consider it coarse
    grained, by which they mean that it does not polish nicely. It is
    brittle and weak. The rings of annual growth are generally broad,
    with the bands of darker colored summerwood prominent. In lumber
    sawed tangentially, rings produces distinct figure, but it is not
    generally regarded as pleasing. The medullary rays are prominent for
    a softwood, but quarter-sawing does not add much to the wood’s
    appearance. It decays quickly in alternate wet and dry situations.
    Trees are apt to be affected with wind shake, and the wood’s
    disposition to splinter in course of manufacture has prejudiced many
    users against it. However, it has some good qualities. The wood is
    free from objectionable odor, and this qualifies it as box material.
    Fruit shippers can use it without fear of contaminating their wares.
    It is light in color, and stenciling looks well on it. Its weight is
    likewise in its favor.

    Trees of this species seldom occur in pure stands of large extent,
    but are scattered among forests of other kinds. Sawmills cut the fir
    as they come to it, but seldom go much out of their way to get it.
    The United States census for 1910 showed that 132,327,000 feet of
    white fir lumber were cut in the whole country, but as several
    species pass by that name it is not possible to determine how much
    belonged to the one under discussion, but probably about half, as
    that much was credited to California where this tree is at its best.
    The fir does not suffer in comparison with trees associated with it.
    Its trunk does not average quite as large as the pines, yet larger
    than most of the cedars; but in height it equals the best of its
    associates, and in symmetrical form, and beauty of color of foliage,
    it must be acknowledged superior. The dark intensity of its green
    crown when thrown against the blue summer skies of the Sierras forms
    a picture which probably no tree in the world can surpass and few
    can equal. Its cones suffer from the depredations of the ever-hungry
    Douglas squirrel which is too impatient to wait for nature’s slow
    process to ripen and scatter the seeds; but he climbs the trunks
    which stand as straight as plummet lines two hundred feet or more,
    and clinging to the topmost swaying branches, clips the cone stems
    with his teeth, and the cone goes to the ground like a shot. A
    person who will stand still in a Sierra forest in late summer, where
    firs abound, will presently hear the cones thumping the ground on
    all sides of him. If his eyes are good, and he looks carefully, he
    may see the squirrels, silhouetted against the sky on far-away tree
    tops, seeming so small in the distance that they look the size of
    mice; yet the Douglas squirrel is about the size of the eastern red
    squirrel. He does not always let the cones fall when he cuts their
    stems, but sometimes carries them down the long trunk to the ground,
    then goes back for another. The squirrel hoards the cones for
    winter, but does not neglect to fully satisfy his appetite while
    about the work. A single hoard--carefully covered with pine needles
    as a roof against winter snow--may contain five or ten bushels of
    cones, which are not all fir cones, but these predominate in most



[Illustration: GRAND FIR]


(_Abies Grandis_)

In California, Oregon, and Idaho this tree is called white fir, but it
has several other names, silver fir and yellow fir in Montana and Idaho.
In California some know it as Oregon fir, western white fir, and great
California fir. Grand fir is more a botanist’s than a lumberman’s name.

The range extends from British Columbia to Mendocino county, California,
and to the western slopes of the continental divide in Montana. The
coastal growth lies in a comparatively narrow strip. In the mountains an
altitude of 7,000 feet is sometimes reached, the soil and moisture
requirements, however, being the same. The largest trees are found in
bottom lands near the coast where trunks 300 feet tall and six feet in
diameter are found, but the average is much less. In mountain regions at
considerable altitudes a height of 100 feet and a diameter of two or
three is an average size. The leaves are about an inch and a half in
length, occasionally two and a half. They are arranged in rows along the
sides of the long, flexible branches. Cones are from two to four inches
long, and bear winged seeds three-eighths of an inch long, the wings
being half an inch or more in length. The bark of old trunks may be two
inches thick, but generally is thinner. It is unfortunate that the wood
of the large western firs lacks so many qualities which make it
valuable. It is generally inferior to the woods of Douglas fir, western
hemlock, Sitka spruce and the western cedars, sugar pine, and western
yellow pine. The wood of grand fir is light, soft, weak, brittle, and
not durable in contact with the soil. Its light color and the abundance
of clear material in the giant trunks are redeeming features. These
ought to open the way for much use in the future. It cannot find place
in heavy construction, because it is not strong enough. That shuts it
from one important place for which it is otherwise fitted. Box makers
find it suitable, as all fir woods are, and large demand should come
from that quarter. Trunks that will cut from 15,000 to 20,000 feet of
lumber that is practically clear, and of good color, and light in
weight, are bound to have value for boxes and slack cooperage. Trees
grow with fair rapidity. Annual rings are usually broad, and the bands
of summerwood are wide and distinct. This guarantees a certain figure in
lumber sawed tangentially, but it is not a figure to compare in beauty
with some of the hardwoods, or even with Douglas fir, or the southern
yellow pines. It ought to be a first class material for certain kinds
of woodenware, particularly for tubs, pails, and small stave vessels,
and as far as it has been used in that way it has been satisfactory.
It cannot be recommended for outside house finish, such as
weather-boarding, cornice, and porch work, because of its susceptibility
to decay; but it meets requirements for plain interior finish, and tests
have shown it to be good material for cores or backing over which to
glue veneers of hardwood.

While the eastern states have not yet wakened up to the fact that this
tree is of value in ornamental planting, its decorative qualities in
open stands have been recognized for some time in eastern Europe, where
trees of considerable size, promising to attain almost primeval
proportions, are already flourishing.

RED FIR (_Abies magnifica_) is the largest fir in America. At its best
it attains a height of 250 feet and a diameter of ten, but that size is
rare. It has several names, magnificent fir, which is a translation of
its botanical name; redbark fir, California red fir, and golden fir. The
reference to red which occurs in its several names, is descriptive of
its heartwood. Its range lies on the Cascade mountains of southern
Oregon, and along the entire length of the western slope of the Sierra
Nevadas in California. It is common in southern Oregon and sometimes
forms nearly pure forests at elevations of 5,000 or 7,000 feet. It is
plentiful in the Sierra Nevada ranges at altitudes of from 6,000 to
9,000 feet. In southern California it ascends 10,000 feet. On old trees
the limbs, regularly whorled in collars of five, are usually pendulous
or down-growing and are regularly and precisely subdivided into branches
and twigs, the short, stiff blue-green leaves, which persist for ten
years, closely covering the upper side of the latter. Its cones are the
largest of the firs, are dark purple in color and grow erect on the

The cones are six or eight inches long, and three or four in diameter.
They present a fine appearance as they stand erect on the branches. The
seeds are large, but their strong wings are able to carry them away from
the immediate presence of the parent tree. The wings are extremely
beautiful, and flash light with the colors of the rainbow. Old trees are
protected by hard, dark-colored bark five or six inches thick. A forest
fire may pass through a stand of old firs without burning through the
bark, but young trees are not so protected, and are liable to be killed.

A study of the wood of the red fir reveals rather more favorable
qualities than the other firs afford. Sap and heartwood are more easily
distinguished than in the other species, the sapwood being much lighter
in color than the reddish heart. Contrary to the general rule among the
firs, this wood possesses considerable durability, especially when used
for purposes which bring it in contact with the soil. It is, however,
light, soft and weak, but has a close, fine grain and compact structure.
Seasoning defects, such as checking and warping, are liable to occur
unless properly guarded against. It weighs 29.30 pounds per cubic foot,
or nearly three pounds less than Douglas fir. It is used for rough
lumber, packing boxes, bridge floors, interior house finish, and fuel.

SHASTA RED FIR (_Abies magnifica shastensis_) is pronounced by George B.
Sudworth to be only a form of red fir (_Abies magnifica_) and not a
separate species. The principal difference is in the cones. The Shasta
form was discovered on the mountain of that name in northern California
in 1890 by Professor J. G. Lemmon. It was supposed to be confined to
that locality, but was subsequently found on the Cascade mountains in
Oregon, and also at several points in northern California. It was later
found in the Sierras five hundred miles south of Mount Shasta.

    LOVELY FIR (_Abies amabilis_) is known by a number of names, red
    fir, silver fir, red silver fir, lovely red fir, amabilis fir, and
    larch. The last name is applied to this tree by lumbermen who have
    discovered that fir lumber sells better if it is given some other
    name. The range of this species extends from British Columbia
    southward in the Cascade mountains through Washington to Oregon. It
    is the common fir of the Olympic mountains and there reaches its
    best development, sometimes a height of 250 feet and a diameter of
    five or six; but the average, even in the best part of its range, is
    much under that size, while in the northern country, and high on
    mountains, it is a commonplace tree, averaging less than 100 feet
    high, and scarcely eighteen inches in diameter. When this fir stands
    in open ground, the whole trunk is covered with limbs from base to
    top; but in dense stands, the limbs drop off, and a clean trunk

    Some of the largest trees rise with scarcely a limb 150 feet, and
    above that is the small crown. The bark of young trees is covered
    with blisters filled with resin. The bark is thin and smooth until
    the tree is a century or more old, after which it becomes rougher,
    and near the base may be two and a half inches thick. It is of very
    slow growth, and a century hardly produces a trunk of small sawlog
    size. The leaves are dark green above, and whitish below. They are
    much crowded on the twigs, those on the underside rising with a
    twist at the base, and standing nearly erect. They are longer than
    those on the twig’s upper side. The purple cones are conspicuous
    objects on the tree, are from three and a half to six inches long,
    and bear abundance of seeds which are well dispersed by wind.
    However, the reproduction of this tree is not plentiful. The species
    holds its own, and not much more. When artificial reforestation
    takes place in this country, if that time ever comes, lovely fir
    will receive scant consideration, because of its discouragingly slow
    growth. It ranks with lodgepole pine in that respect. Nature can
    afford to wait two hundred years for a forest to mature, but men
    will not plant and protect when the prospect of returns is so
    remote. The wood is light, weak, moderately stiff and hard. The
    heartwood is pale brown, the sap nearly white. The summerwood
    appears in thin but well-marked bands in the annual rings, and the
    medullary rays are large enough to show slightly in quarter-sawed
    lumber. Growing as it does, interspersed with really valuable woods,
    the lovely fir is not highly thought of from a commercial
    standpoint. However, it is exploited in conjunction with the other
    species and turned into lumber and general structural material. A
    considerable quantity finds a market as interior finish and other
    millwork. It has many of the properties which fit it for the
    manufacture of packing boxes, particularly those intended for dried
    fruit and light merchandise. It bears considerable resemblance to
    spruce. The utilization of this and similar species of western fir
    for pulp has been suggested, but little has been done. It has been
    planted ornamentally in parts of Europe, but there is no comparison
    between the decorative appearance of this fir and its associated
    species, the others which are in cultivation being much superior.
    Removal from the old habitat militates greatly against its natural
    beauty and reduces it to the level of the ordinary.

    ALPINE FIR (_Abies lasiocarpa_) is so called because it thrives on
    high mountains and in the far North. It grows in southern Alaska, up
    to latitude 60°, and southward to Oregon and Colorado. Its other
    names are balsam, white balsam, Oregon balsam, mountain balsam,
    white fir, pumpkin tree, down-cone, and downy-cone subalpine fir. It
    grows from sea level in Alaska up to 7,000 feet or more in the
    South. It is not abundant, and not very well known. However, its
    slender, spirelike top distinguishes it from all associates and it
    may be recognized at long distances by that characteristic. It
    endures cold at 40 degrees below zero, and summer climate at 90
    degrees. Trees are usually small, and the trunks are covered with
    limbs to the ground. On high mountains the lower limbs often lie
    flat on the ground, and the twigs sometimes take root. Under very
    favorable circumstances this fir may reach a height of 160 feet and
    a diameter of four, but the usual size is less than half of it, even
    when conditions are fair, while on bleak mountains mature trees may
    be only three or four feet high, with most of the limbs prostrate.
    The sprawling form of growth makes the tree peculiarly liable to be
    killed by fire. The bark is thin, smooth, and flinty; and in color
    it is ashy gray or chalky white. Leaves are one and a half inches or
    less long; the purple cones from two to four inches. Trees bear
    cones at about twelve years of age. The seeds are equipped with
    violet or purplish wings, and they fly far enough to find the best
    available places to plant themselves. The wood is narrow-ringed,
    light, soft, and in color from pale straw to light yellowish-brown.
    It is fairly straight grained, and splits and works easily; but
    trunks are very knotty. Its best service in the past has consisted
    in supplying fuel to mining camps and mountain stock ranges.



[Illustration: DOUGLAS FIR]


(_Pseudotsuga Taxifolia_)

During one hundred and ten years, from 1803 until the present time,
botanists and others have proposed and rejected names for this tree. It
has been called a fir, pine, and spruce, with various combinations, but
the name now seems to be fixed. Laymen have disputed almost as much as
botanists as to what the tree should be named. It has been called red
fir, Douglas spruce, Douglas fir, yellow fir, spruce, fir, pine, red
pine, Puget Sound pine, Oregon pine, cork-barked Douglas spruce, and
Douglas tree. More than a dozen varieties are distinguished in

The range of Douglas fir covers most of the Rocky Mountain region in the
United States and northward to central British Columbia; on the coast
from the latitude of southern Alaska to the Sierra Nevada mountains in
central California. It reaches its maximum development in western
Washington and Oregon, particularly between the Cascade mountains and
the Pacific ocean. In these Cascade forests, stands are found which
yield from 50,000 to 100,000 feet per acre, and mills in that region cut
the longest timbers in the world, some two feet square and 100 feet

Two forms of Douglas fir are recognized by botanists, not essentially
different except in size and habit of growth. One is the finely
developed form on the Pacific coast where the climate is warm and the
air moist. The other is the Rocky Mountain form which is smaller and
shows the effect of cold, dryness, and other adverse circumstances. When
the seeds of the two forms are planted in nurseries, where they enjoy
identical advantages, the coast form outgrows the other in Europe, but
the Rocky Mountain form thrives best in the eastern part of the United

Douglas fir needles are from three-quarters to one and a quarter inches
long, and of a dark, yellow-green color. They remain on the twigs about
eight years. Cones are from two to four and a half inches long, and are
borne on long stems. The seeds, which ripen in August, are of light,
reddish-brown color with irregular white spots on the lower side; are
about a quarter of an inch long, and are provided with wings. Trees of
this species in the moist climate of the Pacific slope average much
larger than those in the mountains farther east. The largest are 300
feet high, occasionally more, and from eight to ten in diameter. The
average among the Rocky Mountains is from eighty to 100 feet high, and
two to four in diameter. Young trees are slender with crowded branches.
In thick stands the lower limbs die and the trunks remain bare, except
an occasional small branch. Douglas fir at its best grows in thick
stands, with crowns forming a canopy so dense that sunlight can scarcely
reach the ground. The result of this is that other species have little
show where Douglas fir prevails.

The bark of large trunks attains a thickness of eight or ten inches near
the base. Young bark contains blisters filled with resin, similar to
those of balsam and other species of fir.

The wood is light red or yellow, the sap much whiter. Lumbermen
recognize two kinds of wood, yellow and red. The former is considered
more valuable. Both may come from the same trunk, and the reason for the
difference in color and quality is not well understood. It cannot be
attributed to soil or climate, or to the age of the tree, and it does
not seem to depend upon rate of growth. The bands of summerwood are
broad and quite distinct. A few scattered resin ducts are visible under
a magnifying glass of low power. The medullary rays are numerous, rather
large, frequently yellow, conspicuous when wood is split radially. The
wood’s average weight is given by Sargent at 32.14 pounds per cubic
foot, yet some specimens exceed forty pounds. It is hard, strong, and
stiff. In mechanical properties it rates about the same as longleaf pine
of the South. Elaborate tests have been made to determine which of these
woods is the better for heavy construction, and neither appears to win
over the other. In one respect, however, Douglas fir has a clear
advantage over its southern rival: it may be had in much larger pieces.
No other commercial wood of the world equals it in that particular. The
Douglas fir flagstaff at the Kew gardens in England was 159 feet long,
eight inches in diameter at the top, more than three feet at the base.
The extraordinary size of squared beams cut from this species has led to
great demand for it for heavy construction in Europe and this country.
The pines from the Baltic sea region of northern Europe, which held
undisputed place in heavy work during centuries, has now yielded that
place to Douglas fir and longleaf pine.

No other single species in the United States or in the world equals the
annual sawmill cut of Douglas fir. The four species of southern yellow
pines, if counted as one, surpass it; but singly, not one comes up to
it. In 1910 the lumber cut from this fir amounted to 5,203,644,000 feet,
which exceeded one-eighth of the total lumber cut in the United States.
The importance of such a timber tree can scarcely be estimated. The
available supply in the western forests is very large and will last many
years, even if the demand for more than 5,000,000,000 feet a year
continues to be met.

The timber is exported to practically every civilized nation in the
world. Shipbuilding creates a heavy demand. Some of the leading European
nations use it as deck lining for battleships, and except mahogany and
teak, it is said to have no equal for that purpose. Its cheapness gives
it a decided advantage over those woods.

Every important lumber market in the United States handles Douglas fir,
and its uses are so many that it would be easier to list industries
which do not use it than those which do. It is manufactured into more
than fifty classes of commodities, in Illinois alone. Among these are
boats, railroad cars, electrical apparatus, farm machinery, laundry
supplies, ladders, refrigerators, musical instruments, fixtures for
offices, stores, and banks, and sash, doors, and blinds. This list of
uses shows that its place in the country’s industries includes much more
than rough construction. It may be stained in imitation of valuable
foreign and domestic woods, including walnut, mahogany, and oak. The
natural grain and figure of the wood may be deepened and improved by
stains, and this is much done by manufacturers of interior finish,
panels, and store and office fixtures. There is practically no limit to
the size of panels which may be cut in single pieces. It is easy to
procure planks large enough for whole counter tops.

The best grain of Douglas fir is not brought out by quarter-sawing. The
figures desired are not those produced by the medullary rays, but by the
rings of annual growth. Therefore, the sawyer at the mill cuts his best
logs--if intended for figured lumber--tangentially, as far as possible.
In the state of Washington, which leads all other states in the
production of Douglas fir, its chief use as a manufactured product is
for doors, sash, and blinds, and the annual consumption in that industry
exceeds 50,000,000 feet. It is cut in veneers, and it is likewise used
as corewood to back veneers. Crossarms for telegraph and telephone poles
demand 35,000,000 feet yearly in Washington alone, and many thousands of
poles are of this wood. It is third among the crosstie woods of the
United States, the combined cut of oaks standing first, and the pine
second. It is rapidly taking high position as material for large water
pipes and for braces, props, stulls, and lagging in mines and for paving
blocks for streets.

    BRISTLECONE FIR (_Abies venusta_) is pronounced by George B.
    Sudworth to be “the most curious fir tree in the world.” It is found
    almost exclusively in Monterey county, California, but a few trees
    grow outside of that circumscribed area. It has been called Santa
    Lucia fir, because it was once supposed to exist only in canyons of
    Santa Lucia mountains, but its range is now known to be more
    extensive. Monterey county, California, is of peculiar interest to
    dendrologists. Three species of trees are either confined to that
    area, or have their best development there. They are Monterey
    cypress (_Cupressus macrocarpa_), Monterey pine (_Pinus radiata_),
    and bristlecone fir. All are peculiar trees: the cypress because of
    its ragged form and extremely limited range, the pine because of
    its exceedingly rapid growth when given a chance, and the fir,
    because of its peculiar form of crown, odd appearance of cone, and
    extraordinary weight of wood. No reason is apparent why that
    particular point on the California coast should have brought into
    existence--or at least should have gathered to itself--three
    peculiar tree species. Bristlecone fir is well named from the
    bristles an inch long covering the cone. The leaves, too, are
    peculiar, bearing much resemblance to small willow leaves. Their
    upper sides are deep yellow-green and the under sides silvery. The
    largest leaves are two inches long, cones three inches. They ripen
    in August, and soon afterwards scatter their seeds. The tree is not
    a prolific seeder, and it is believed that its range is becoming
    smaller. Bristlecone’s form of crown has been compared to an Indian
    club, the large end on the ground and the handle pointing upward.
    Trees from sixty to eighty feet high have such “handles” twenty or
    thirty feet long. That peculiarity of shape makes the tree
    recognizable among associated species at a distance of several
    miles. The recorded weight of the wood is 42.27 pounds per cubic
    foot, which is nearly twice the weight of some other firs. The wood
    is moderately soft, but very firm. Few uses for it have been
    reported. Trunks are very knotty, and are too few in number to be of
    importance as a source of lumber. The tree has been planted
    successfully for ornament in the south of Europe.

    BIGCONE SPRUCE (_Pseudotsuga macrocarpa_) is of the same genus as
    Douglas fir and bears much resemblance to it, but is smaller, and
    its range lies wholly outside that of its northern relative. It is a
    southern California species, occupying mountain slopes and canyons
    in Santa Barbara and San Diego counties. It is found from 3,000 to
    5,000 feet above sea level. Trees average forty or fifty feet in
    height and two or three in diameter. The leaves are approximately of
    the same size as those of Douglas fir; but the cones are much
    larger, hence the name by which the tree is known. It is called
    hemlock as often as spruce. The cones are from four to seven inches
    long, hang down, and usually occupy the topmost branches of trees.
    The winged seeds are half an inch long. The bark is six inches or
    less in thickness. The wood is inferior in most ways to that of
    Douglas fir, lighter, weaker, and less elastic. Its color is reddish
    brown. It has never contributed much lumber to the market and never
    will. Its range is local and the form of the tree is not of the
    best. An occasional log reaches a sawmill, but the principal demand
    is for fuel.



[Illustration: BIGTREE]


(_Sequoia Washingtoniana_)

Botanists have had a hard time giving this tree a Latin name which will
meet the requirements of technical classification, but an English name
acceptable everywhere was early found for it--bigtree. No fewer than a
dozen names have been proposed by botanists. Most of them attempt to
express the idea of vastness or grandeur; but the simple English name
comes directly to the point and ends the controversy as far as the
common name is concerned.

Everything connected with this tree is interesting. Geologically, it is
as old as the yellow poplar. There were five species of sequoias in the
northern hemisphere, in Europe and America, before the ice age. They
grew in the North, nearly to the Arctic circle, at a time when the
climate of those regions was milder than it is now. The later advance of
the ice southward overwhelmed three species of bigtrees, and pushed two
survivors into the region which is now California. These are the bigtree
and the redwood. It is not known how long ago it was that the ice sheet
did its destructive work, but it antedated human history, and the
gigantic trees have been in California since that time.

Long after the ice age ceased generally in North America it continued
among the high Sierras of California, and the bigtrees to this day give
a hint of it in the peculiar outlines of their range. They are scattered
north and south along the face of the Sierra Nevada mountains in
California, a distance of 260 miles, and at elevations from 4,500 to
8,000 feet.

The aggregate of the total areas is about fifty square miles. The stand
is not continuous, but consists of “groves,” that is, isolated stands
with wide intervals between, where no trees of this species are found.
The arrangement suggests that the bigtree forest was cut in sections by
glaciers which descended from the high mountains to the plains, a
distance of one hundred miles or more, crossing the belt of sequoias at
right angles. The glaciers withdrew thousands of years ago, and their
tracks down the mountain slopes have long been covered by forests; but
the bigtree groves, for some unknown reason, never spread into the
intervening spaces, but today are separated by wide tracts in which not
a seedling or an old trunk or log of that species is to be found. This
is one of the mysteries which add interest to those wonderful trees--why
they cannot extend their range beyond the circumscribed limits which
they occupied thousands of years ago.

It was claimed for a long time and was quite generally believed that
bigtrees were not reproducing, that there “were no little bigtrees.”
That was conclusively disproved by Fred G. Plummer, geographer of the
United States Forest Service, who made a scientific study of a small
grove, measured the trees, and actually counted and classified them. His
work showed that there were in the area which he investigated:

  Trees containing 100,000 to 120,000 feet each        2
  Trees containing 80,000 to 100,000 feet each        13
  Trees containing 60,000 to 80,000 feet each         49
  Trees containing 40,000 to 60,000 feet each        112
  Trees containing 20,000 to 40,000 feet each        251
  Trees containing less than 20,000 feet each        353
  “Little bigtrees”                                2,682
                                            Total  3,462

Bigtree is distantly related to southern cypress, and the shapes of very
old trees of both species bear some resemblance. Bigtree leaves do not
fall annually as those of bald cypress do. They are from one-eighth to
one-fourth of an inch long, and on the leading shoots they may be half
an inch in length. Cones are from two to three and a half inches long,
and they ripen their seeds the second year, but the empty cones may
adhere to the branches several years. The seeds are a quarter of an inch
long, and have wings sufficient to carry them a hundred yards or more.
The trees bear abundance of seeds, in proportion to the small number of
branches. Though shapely and well clothed with limbs when young, the
crown contracts with age, and consists of a few enormous, crooked limbs,
almost destitute of twigs and small branches. One of these trees may
actually bear more twigs when the trunk is only a foot in diameter than
will be on the same trunk when it is fifteen or twenty feet in diameter.
The old tree trunks are often without limbs to a height of 100 or 150

The Douglas squirrel is the bigtree’s greatest enemy. In proportion to
size, this little creature probably eats ten times as many tree seeds as
the most ravenous hog that roams the forest. One of the first things
that impresses a visitor in a grove of bigtrees is the rich brown of the
bark of some of the trunks. All are not brown alike, or at all seasons.
The trees on which the seed harvest is ready are the brownest, thanks to
the sharp claws, the tireless energy, and keen appetite of the Douglas
squirrel. He goes up and down the trunks for three square meals a day
among the clusters of cone-bearing branches two hundred or three hundred
feet above, and makes several extra trips for exercise; and at each
scratch of his briery foot he kicks off scales of bark, until the whole
trunk is “scratched raw.” The detached scales of bark accumulate in a
mound about the base of the tree, where they have been so accumulating
for centuries. It is fortunate that those old trees have bark from one
to two feet thick. They can afford to be scratched for a month or two
each year.

These are the heaviest trees in America, notwithstanding their wood is
light. It weighs less than northern white cedar. The largest bigtree
trunks weigh more than 2,000,000 pounds. In order to stand at all, they
must stand plumb. It is a provision of nature that the old trees are
almost branchless, otherwise the wind would force them out of plumb and
they would go down. It has been claimed that the overthrow of one of
these giants is always brought about by one of two causes. The
development of larger limbs on one side than on another unbalances them;
or the wash of gullies undermines the roots on one side, and draws the
tree that way. It is currently believed that no bigtree ever dies from
natural causes.

A good deal of pure fiction has been published regarding the size and
age of the largest of these trees. They are old enough and large enough
without drawing upon the imagination. The tree’s base is greatly
enlarged, but tapers rapidly the first few feet. There is little doubt
that some of the trunks are over forty feet in diameter, one foot above
ground, but that is not a fair measurement. The point should be five or
six feet at least. Measured thus, about twenty-five feet inside the bark
would represent the largest. With the bark added, the diameter would be
nearly thirty feet. Probably not one tree in fifty, taking them as they
occur in the whole range and counting veterans only, is fifteen feet in
diameter five feet from the ground.

There is also some extravagant guessing as to height. Too many tourists
measure with the unaided eye, or accept a guidebook’s figures. An
authentic height of 365 feet--the measurement of a fallen trunk--is
probably the greatest. Very few reach three hundred feet. Many
unreliable figures have been published concerning the age of bigtrees.
One thing can be accepted without question; size is no proof of age, in
comparing one tree with another; neither is the number of annual rings
in a block cut from the side of a tree a reliable factor to determine
age. The only sure way to determine the age of one of these trees is by
counting all the rings from the pith to bark. Care should be taken not
to count the same ring twice, as may be done when the wood is curly.
John Muir counted 4,000 rings in a bigtree stump. It is believed that no
higher age is backed by the evidence of yearly rings. It was twenty-four
feet in diameter. The count of another of like size made it 2,200 years
old; and of still another of the same size placed its age at 1,300
years. The Forest Service has made accurate measurement and record of
every ring of growth in a tree that was over twenty-four feet in
diameter, and it is shown that during certain periods of years the tree
grew three or four times as rapidly as during other periods.

The wood of bigtree is very light, soft, moderately strong, brittle,
summerwood thin and dark rendering the rings of annual growth easily
seen; the medullary rays are thin, numerous, and very obscure. The wood
is light to dark red, the thin sapwood nearly white; it works easily,
splits readily, and polishes well. It is very durable in contact with
the soil. Trunks lie in the woods long periods before decay seriously
attacks them; but forest fires hollow them, and finally burn them up.
Enormous depressions are found in the forest where logs once lay, but
which disappeared long ago, judging by the size of trees which have
since grown in the depressions. The interior of some large trunks which
have been worked up on sawmills showed the scars of forest fires
centuries ago. The annual rings which covered one such scar showed that
the burning took place 1,700 years ago.

Not much can be said for the commercial uses of bigtree. Many a species
of insignificant size is much more useful. Considerable quantities have
been cut by sawmills. The waste is great, heavy trunks crushing badly in
fall. Logs are so large that many of them are split with gunpowder to
facilitate handling them. Some of the wood has been exported for lead
pencils; other has been used for fence posts, shingles, and grapevine
stakes, while the soft bark has been worked into novelties.

    MACNAB CYPRESS (_Cupressus macnabiana_) is a California tree of
    limited range and little commercial value. It grows in Napa, Lake,
    Mendocino, and Trinity counties; is often little more than a
    branching shrub, but the largest specimens may be thirty feet high
    and fifteen inches in diameter. The wood is light, soft, and usually
    of slow growth. The medullary rays are numerous but thin, and the
    bands of summerwood are distinct. The cones are generally less than
    one inch long, and the seeds have narrow wings. The foliage is
    grayish which is due to white glands in the leaves. Forest foliage
    is fragrant. The tree is known as white cedar, Shasta cypress, and
    California mountain cypress.



[Illustration: REDWOOD]


(_Sequoia Sempervirens_)

This tree’s color is responsible for its name. It is sometimes spoken of
as coast redwood to distinguish it from bigtree which grows in the
interior of California. In European markets it is known as California
redwood to distinguish it from other redwoods growing in distant parts
of the world. Its botanical name, _Sequoia sempervirens_, means
evergreen sequoia. The other species of sequoia is also evergreen. In
reality, the coast redwood is less of an evergreen than the bigtree is,
because the leaves of redwood turn brown two years before they fall, but
there are always plenty of green leaves on the branches. The leaves are
from one-quarter to one-half inch in length.

The geographical range of redwood covers about 6,000 square miles, but
the commercial range is scarcely one-fifth as much. The redwood belt
extends 500 miles along the Pacific coast from southern Oregon to
central California. It varies from ten to thirty miles in width. It is
strictly a fog belt tree, and grows poorly outside the region of ocean
fog, which seldom reaches an altitude more than 2,800 feet above sea
level. Where fog is thick and frequent, and soil is moist and otherwise
suitable, redwood forests have grown in such luxuriance that no species
in this country exceeds it. Stands running much over 100,000 feet per
acre are frequent, and it is said 1,000,000 feet have been cut from a
single acre.

Redwood cones are one inch or less in length. They ripen in one season.
Seeds are quite small, and are equipped with wings. The bark is thick,
but is much thinner than the bark of bigtrees, though it is in great
ridges like the bark of that species. The habits of the two species, as
to form of crown, are similar. Young redwoods, particularly if they grow
in the open, develop symmetrical and conical crowns which they retain
until the trunks are a foot or more in diameter. Lower limbs die and
fall off after that, and old trees have crowns so small that it would
seem impossible that they could supply the wood-building material for
trunks so large. That the growth should be slow under such circumstances
is to be expected. The ages of mature trees vary from 500 to 800 years,
but an extreme age of 1,373 years is on record. The average is,
therefore, considerably below that of bigtrees.

Redwoods grow as tall as bigtrees, but do not equal them in diameter of
trunk, though trees twenty feet in diameter occur.

A noticeable feature of the forests is that, in a given stand, nearly
all trees are of the same height, irrespective of size of trunk. The
crowns go up to the light and when they reach the common level of
others, and secure a share of light, they show no disposition to go
higher. The doctrine which they silently put into practice is to live
and let others live. That habit makes it possible for redwoods to grow
in very dense stands, which they could not do if a few trees domineered
over the others, and appropriated the light to themselves.

When old age overtakes the giant redwoods, they exhibit the first
symptoms of weakened vitality by dying at the top. Most trees over five
hundred years old are “stag-headed.” From that period they die slowly,
but usually survive two or three hundred years after the visible signs
of approaching death strike them.

Redwood has an advantage over nearly all other needle-leaf trees in that
it propagates by both seeds and sprouts. Few softwoods send up sprouts
from stumps or roots. Redwoods of large size are produced that way, and
the stumps of very old trees send up many vigorous shoots. Sometimes a
ring of large trees surrounds a depression in the ground where the
parent tree grew, died, and decayed.

Sprouts are of course confined to the immediate proximity of the parent
tree, but redwood seeds are scattered by the wind over vacant spaces.
This results in dense stands where other conditions are favorable, but
the species has never been able to establish itself far inland or high
on mountains.

In 1880 the Federal census made a rough estimate of the available
redwood, and placed it at 25,825,000,000 feet. More than twenty years
later, with heavy cutting all the time, private estimates placed the
remaining stand at over 50,000,000,000 feet. The second estimate was
unquestionably nearer correct than the first. The stand of no important
timber tree in this country is more easily estimated than redwood. The
forests are compact, the trees large, the trunks similar in form, and
the well-timbered area is comparatively small. Redwood has been called
the most important timber tree of the Pacific coast. The title probably
confers too much, though the tree’s importance is beyond question. The
annual cut of Douglas fir is nearly ten times as large as of redwood,
and the supply still in the forests is much greater than that of
redwood. The cut of western yellow pine likewise exceeds the output of
redwood, and the remaining supply is larger. The cut of western red
cedar, including shingles, is about the same, and the remaining stand of
cedar is very large. Western hemlock, too, exists in large quantity, and
its importance as a source of timber supply may be equal to redwood.

Redwood is frequently referred to as one of the lightest in this
country. Its weight per cubic foot, oven-dry, is 26.2 pounds. On the
same basis, white pine is 24, southern white cedar 20.7, northern white
cedar 19.7, and bigtree 18.2. There are woods in Florida lighter than
any of these. Redwood is very soft, yet it dulls tools quickly. It is
moderately strong, a little below white pine; it is brittle, again
ranking below white pine; it splits and works easily and polishes well.
Few, if any woods surpass this one in splitting properties. Boards
twelve feet long and a foot wide may be rived from selected logs, and
they present surfaces nearly as smooth as if cut with a saw. However,
curly and wavy redwood is not uncommon, and that, too, splits well, but
the surface is not smooth. The width of annual rings varies, usually
wide in young timber and narrow in old. The bands of summerwood are
narrow and clearly defined. The surface of redwood lumber absorbs water
quickly, yet, for some reason, creosote and other preservatives can be
forced into the wood only with the greatest difficulty. Fortunately, it
is not necessary to treat this timber to prevent decay, for, in almost
any position, it wears out before it rots. Shingles, and window and door
frames of the old barracks buildings at Eureka, California, remained in
place until fifty years of wind and driven sand wore them away.
Railroads use the wood for ties until they wear out, not until they rot
out. Farmers near some of the California railroads gather up the
rejected worn ties by thousands and use them for fence posts. When
redwood is employed as city paving blocks it is wear and not decay that
puts them out of commission.

The medullary rays of redwood are thin and very obscure, but numerous.
Few woods show them to less advantage in quarter-sawing. The lack of
luster in the surface of polished panels is well known. The wood’s
beauty is in its sameness and richness of color. Except curly specimens
and burls, the wood may be said to have no figure, though in planks cut
tangentially, the contrast of spring and summerwood displays some figure
in a modest way. It is possible to wash much of the coloring matter out
of the wood, if it is first chipped fine. It washes from the surface by
ordinary exposure to weather. Red rainwater runs from a roof of new
redwood shingles, and weatherboarding, posts, and picket fences fade
perceptibly in a few months. This coloring matter when washed out in
large amounts in the process of paper making has been manufactured into
fuel gas.

A complete list of the uses of redwood is not practicable, for this
material goes into most of the large wood-using factories of this
country, and much is exported--nearly 60,000,000 feet annually going to
foreign countries. It has been much employed in California cities and
towns for picket fences, and as posts for wire and plank fences. It is,
next to western red cedar, the most important shingle wood of the
Pacific coast. One western railroad alone had in its tracks 12,000,000
redwood ties at one time. Builders of tanks, flumes, and water pipes
procure some of their best material, and large quantities of it, from
redwood sawmills. Few woods are more universally found in furniture

    GOWEN CYPRESS (_Cupressus goveniana_) follows the California coast
    from Mendocino county, California, to San Diego, and ascends
    mountains to the height of 3,000 feet in some localities. At its
    best it is fifty feet high and two feet in diameter; but it extends
    as a shrub over many sandy tracts. Specimens no more than a foot
    high sometimes bear cones. The Gowen cypress sheds its leaves the
    third and fourth years. Cones are from one-half to one inch long,
    and each bears about 100 seeds. The wood is light, soft, weak, light
    brown in color, the thick sapwood nearly white. The medullary rays
    are numerous but obscure. The wood is used for posts and other ranch
    purposes. Woodpeckers attack the trunks, picking holes through the
    bark to suck the juice from the cambium layer beneath.

    DWARF CYPRESS (_Cupressus pygmæa_) was formerly supposed to be a
    stunted form of Gowen cypress. The ranges of both lie in the same
    region, on the coast of California in Mendocino county. The average
    height of dwarf cypress is from ten to twenty feet, with trunk
    diameter from six to twelve inches; but in peat swamps and on
    sterile sands it may not exceed three or four feet in height. It
    bears abundant cones at that size, and sometimes a tree no more than
    a foot high has mature cones. They ripen the second year, but remain
    a long time on the branches. The trees thrive in the most forbidding
    places, and are sometimes the only occupants of bogs or sand dunes.
    The wood is necessarily of little value, because of the small size
    of trees. There seems to be no record of a dwarf cypress over sixty
    years of age; but it is believed that much older trees have fallen
    victims to fire.



[Illustration: HEMLOCK]


(_Tsuga Canadensis_)

Seven hemlocks are known in the world, four of them in America. Two of
these are in the East, two in the West. The eastern species are the
Canadian and Carolinian. The former is _Tsuga canadensis_, the latter
_Tsuga caroliniana_. The western species are, mountain hemlock (_Tsuga
mertensiana_), and western hemlock (_Tsuga heterophylla_). The word
_tsuga_ is Japanese and means hemlock.

The hemlock lumber in eastern markets is practically all from one
species, which is known as hemlock in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont,
Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey,
Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina,
Kentucky, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Ontario. In Vermont,
Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, North
Carolina, South Carolina; in England it is called hemlock spruce; spruce
tree in Pennsylvania and West Virginia; spruce pine in Pennsylvania,
Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia; to the New York Indians it
was known as oh-neh-tah, which being interpreted means “greens on the

The range of hemlock extends east and west more than fifteen hundred
miles, from Nova Scotia to western Wisconsin; south to Delaware and
southern Michigan, and along the Appalachian mountains to northern
Alabama and Georgia. The original quantity of timber was enormous, for
large areas were covered with dense stands. The largest trees are found
near the southern part of its range, among the mountains of Tennessee
and North Carolina; but the bulk of the timber has always been in the
North. It thrives best in well drained soil, but it likes cool
situations and often develops dense forests on northern slopes or in
deep ravines; but it maintains a foothold on ridges, on the banks of
streams, and around the borders of swamps.

The cones are very small, about a half inch in length, growing singly
from the lower side of the branchlet. Their scales are rounded and thin,
light brown in color. The seeds are winged and even when ripe the cones
do not spread apart perceptibly. The seeds escape, however, slowly
during the winter following their maturity. They are very small, and
their wings distribute them a hundred feet or more. The seeds germinate
best on leaf mold, but the seedling takes several years to thrust its
roots deep into the mineral soil. During that time, growth is very slow.
A seedling five years old may not exceed five inches in height; but when
its roots have developed, growth is fairly rapid. The distribution of
seeds is often facilitated by the activities of red squirrels, and
perhaps other small mammals, which climb the trees in winter and tear
the cones apart to get at the seeds. Many of the seeds are devoured, but
more escape and fly away on the winter winds.

Hemlock leaves are narrow and about half an inch long. Examined closely,
particularly with a magnifying glass, rows of white dots extend from end
to end on the under side. Small as these white points are separately,
when seen in the aggregate they change the color of the whole crown of
the tree. This is illustrated by looking at a hemlock from a
distance--the upper sides of the leaves on the drooping twigs being then
visible and the tree’s aspect dark green. Approach the tree, and look up
from its base--the under side of the leaves being then visible--and the
dark color changes to a light silvery tint. The whiteness is due to the
white spots on the leaves. The spots are stomata (mouths), and are parts
of the chemical laboratory which carries on the tree’s living processes.
All tree leaves have stomata, but all are not arranged in the same way
and are not visible alike. Few trees have them as prominent as the

Hemlock attains a height from sixty to 100 feet and a diameter from two
to four. When it grows in the open, it is one of the handsomest and most
symmetrical evergreens of any country. Its dark, dense foliage will
permit scarcely any sunlight to filter through. When forest-grown, it
loses its lower limbs. In the forester’s language, they are “shaded
off,” and long, smooth trunks are developed; but the stubs from which
the branches fall remain buried deep inside the smoothest bole, and the
saws will find them when the logs are converted into lumber.

Reference has been made to hemlock’s slow growth during the seedling’s
first four or five years. That takes place in the dense shade of the
hemlock forest. If the seed falls on open ground, in full sunlight, the
chance is that it will not germinate; but if it does, the seedling is
doomed to an early death. It cannot endure strong light. This fact is of
great importance, for it means the end of hemlock forests. When a stand
is cut and the sunshine reaches the ground, no seedlings bring on a new
forest. White pine seeds grow in open ground, in old fields, in burnt
woods, wherever they reach soil, but hemlock must scatter its seeds in
cool, deep shade or they will do little good. Strong, vigorous, and
healthy as hemlock trees are, they are killed more easily than almost
any other. Cut a few trees from the center of a mature hemlock clump,
and the chance is that several trees next to the open space thus made
will die. The unusual light proves too much for their roots which had
always been cool and damp; but when young hemlocks are protected until
they get a start, they thrive nicely in the open.

The wood of hemlock is light, soft, not strong, brittle, coarse and
crooked grained, difficult to work, liable to windshake, splinters
badly, not durable. The summerwood of the annual ring is conspicuous;
and the thin medullary rays are numerous. The color of hemlock heartwood
is light brown, tinged with red, often nearly white. The sapwood is
darker. Lumbermen recognize two varieties, red and white, but botanists
do not recognize them.

The physical characters of hemlock are nearly all unfavorable, yet it
has become a useful and widely used wood. It is largely manufactured
into coarse lumber and used for outside work--railway ties, joists,
rafters, sheathing, plank walks, laths, etc. It is rarely used for
inside finishing, owing to its brittle and splintery character. Clean
boards made into panels or similar work and finished in the natural
color often present a very handsome appearance, owing to the peculiar
pinkish tint of the wood, ripening and improving with age.

With the growing scarcity of white and Norway pine, hemlock has become
the natural substitute for these woods for many purposes. It has never
been conceded that hemlock possesses the intrinsic merit of either of
the northern pines for structural purposes, but it has proven a suitable
substitute for a variety of uses, notably for framing and sheathing of
medium priced structures.

In 1910 hemlock lumber was cut in twenty-one states, the total output
exceeding 2,500,000,000 feet. Only four species or groups of species
exceeded it in amount. They were southern yellow pines, Douglas fir, the
oaks, and white pine. The principal cut of hemlock lumber was in the
following states in the order named: Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania,
West Virginia, New York, Maine, Vermont, Virginia, New Hampshire,
Tennessee, and North Carolina. Ten other states produced smaller

Hemlock possesses remarkable holding power on nails and spikes, and that
is one reason for its large use for railroad ties. It does not easily
split, and there is no likelihood that spikes will work loose; but the
wood decays quickly in damp situations, and unless given preservative
treatment, hemlock ties do not last long. They are pretty soft anyway,
and where traffic is heavy, rails cut them badly.

Manufacturers of boxes and crates use much hemlock. The annual use for
that purpose in Massachusetts is about 27,000,000 feet, in Michigan
practically the same quantity, in Illinois 34,000,000, and varying
quantities in many other states. Michigan converts nearly 100,000,000
feet a year into flooring and other planing mill products, and Wisconsin
and other hemlock states follow it in lesser amounts. The wood is
employed by car builders, slack coopers, manufacturers of
refrigerators, silos, and farm implements; but the largest demand comes
from those who use the rough lumber.

Hemlock bark is the most important tanning material in this country. It
has long been used by leather makers who generally mix it with some
other bark or extract because leather tanned with hemlock alone has a
redder color than is desired.

Large areas of hemlock forests have been cut for the bark alone.
Formerly the wood was of so little value that it was cheaper to leave it
in the forest than to take it out. The peelers worked in early summer,
cutting trees and removing the bark in four-foot lengths, which was
measured by the cord, though often sold by weight. Care was taken that
the bark be removed from the slashings before the dry weather of autumn,
for fire was to be expected then, and anything combustible in the woods
at that time was likely to be lost. The tracts on which bark peelers
worked were called “slashings,” and they were fire traps of the worst
kind with their tangled masses of tops and branches.

Large quantities of hemlock bark are still peeled every summer, but the
practice is less destructive than formerly. The trunks are worth taking
out, and when the fire comes late in the season it consumes little
valuable hemlock. A permanent decline in the annual production of this
wood has not yet begun, but it must soon set in, for the demand cannot
be indefinitely met.



[Illustration: WESTERN HEMLOCK]


(_Tsuga Heterophylla_)

When this wood began to go to market, its promoters found difficulties
in securing a trial for it in eastern states, because of its name. The
eastern hemlock was known to be a substantial wood, but a rough one with
many faults linked with its virtues. It was naturally supposed that the
western hemlock had all the faults of its eastern relative with possibly
some of the good qualities left out; and there was general hesitancy to
put the new comer to a trial. That caused a movement among western
lumbermen to sell their hemlock under some other name. They were
confident the wood had only to be given a trial and it would win its
way, after which the name would make little difference. Accordingly, it
was started to market under the name of Alaska pine, although Alaska has
no pine large enough for good lumber. Other lumbermen thought it
advisable to choose a name less likely to excite suspicion, and they
called it Washington pine. Others designated it as spruce, and still
others as fir. It was more likely to pass for fir than for pine or

The lumber is now generally known as western hemlock, but in California
some call it hemlock spruce or California hemlock spruce. In Idaho,
Washington, and Oregon the name hemlock usually suffices; while western
hemlock spruce, and western hemlock fir, and Prince Albert’s fir are
names used in speaking of lumber and of the tree in the forest.

Western hemlock’s range extends north and south a thousand miles, from
southern Alaska to California south of San Francisco. It grows from the
Pacific coast eastward to Montana, five hundred miles or more. It
ascends to altitudes of 6,000 feet, but it is not at its best on high
mountains, but in the warm, damp region near the coast in Washington and
Oregon. Trees 200 feet high and eight or ten in diameter are found, but
the average size is much less.

The leaves of western hemlock are dark green and very lustrous above.
The flowers are yellow and purple. Cones are one inch or less in length,
and the small seeds are equipped with wings which carry them some
distance from the base of the parent tree. The seeds will germinate and
develop a root system without touching mineral soil. Their ability to do
so assists them greatly in maintaining the tree’s position in the damp
climate where this hemlock reaches its best development. The ground in
the forest, with all objects that lie upon it, is often covered with wet
moss a foot or more thick. The seeds of most trees would inevitably
perish if they fell upon such a bed of moss; but the seeds of western
hemlock germinate, and the rootlets strike through the moss until they
reach the soil beneath, and seedling trees are soon growing vigorously.
Seeds often germinate in the moss on logs and stumps, but the roots
strike for the ground, and generally reach it. In this habit the western
hemlock resembles the yellow birch of the East whose seeds seem to
germinate best on mossy logs and stumps.

Western hemlock has one of the bad habits of its eastern relative: it
does not prune itself very well, even in dense forests, and the lumber
is apt to be knotty, but the knots are usually sound, though dark in

The wood of western hemlock is moderately light, but twenty per cent
heavier than eastern hemlock; stronger than the wood of other American
hemlocks, and nearly twenty-five per cent stronger than the eastern
commercial species, and nearly fifty per cent stiffer. It is tough and
hard, but has little of the flinty texture of other hemlocks. Its color
is pale brown, tinged with yellow, the thin sapwood nearly white. It is
fairly durable in contact with the soil. Its growth is usually rapid,
and trees live to a great age. Some of the largest are said to reach 800
years. The summerwood often constitutes half of the yearly ring, and is
dark yellow. The medullary rays are numerous and rather prominent. When
cut radially, the appearance, size, and arrangement of the exposed
medullary rays suggest those of sugar maple when exposed in the same

The annual sawmill output of western hemlock is about 170,000,000 feet.
The largest market for it is in the region where it grows, and it is
used as rough lumber for ranch purposes and for buildings in towns; but
a considerable quantity is further manufactured. About one-fourth of the
entire sawmill output goes to the factories of Idaho, Washington, and
Oregon. A list of the wood’s principal uses in those states shows its
intrinsic value. The largest quantity is demanded by box factories. The
wood’s nail-holding power commends it for that use, but of no less
importance is its strength. Eighty-three per cent of all the wood used
for boxes in Washington is western hemlock. Cooperage calls for much of
this wood also. Fruit and vegetable barrels are made of it. Its place in
furniture manufacture corresponds to that of the other hemlock in the
East. The pulp business is not very extensive on the Pacific coast, but
western hemlock is a respectable contributor. It is suitable for burial
boxes, and probably ranks about third among the woods within its range,
those used in larger amounts being Sitka spruce and western red cedar.
It is coming into use as interior finish, particularly as door and
window frame material. Fixture manufacturers employ it for drawers and
shelves. It is made into flooring, ceiling, molding, and wainscoting.
Door makers use a little of it as core material over which to glue
veneers. It is made into veneer, but of the cheaper sorts, such as are
suitable for crates and berry boxes.

The Pacific coast is so abundantly supplied with excellent softwoods
that only those of good quality have any chance in the local markets.
The fact that western hemlock has won and is holding an important place
in active competition with such woods as western red cedar, yellow
cedar, Sitka spruce, and Douglas fir, is proof that it is valuable
material. It is winning its way in the central part of the United States
also, but not as rapidly as it has won in the West.

The bark of western hemlock is rated high as a tanning material. The
bark on young trees is thin, but as the trunks increase in size and age
the bark thickens. It is richer in tannin than the bark of eastern
hemlock, but is not so extensively used because the demand is less on
the Pacific coast.

The future of the western hemlock is fairly well assured. Its range is
extensive and varied, and lumbermen will be a long time in cutting the
last of the present stand. Reproduction is satisfactory. It will be
important in future forestry, when people will grow much of the timber
they need; but this tree will stick pretty close to the range where
nature planted it.

MOUNTAIN HEMLOCK (_Tsuga mertensiana_) is a near relative of western
hemlock, and occupies the same geographical ranges but higher on the
mountains. Near Sitka, Alaska, it occurs at sea level, but southward it
rises higher until on the Sierra Nevada mountains in California it is
10,000 feet above sea level. It is one of the timber line trees in many
parts of its range, though it is nowhere above all others. It is a
difficult matter to state what its average size is. That depends upon
the particular region considered. At its best it is 100 feet high or
even more; at its poorest it sprawls on the rocks like a shrub.
Specimens of fair size are from twenty-five to sixty feet high, and ten
to twenty inches in diameter. Cones vary in size fully as much as the
trunks. Some are one-half inch in length, others are three inches. The
leaves vary no less, some being a one-twelfth inch long, others one
inch. The leaves stand out on all sides of the twig, and fall during the
third and fourth years. They are bluish-green. The seeds fall in
September and October, and are provided with large wings. The wood is
light in weight, soft, and pale reddish-brown. The mountain hemlock is
nearly always spoken of as spruce by persons who are not botanists. The
arrangement of the leaves on the twigs gives the impression that it is a
spruce, and among the names by which it is known in its native region
are Williamson’s spruce, weeping spruce, alpine spruce, hemlock spruce,
Patton’s spruce, and alpine western spruce. There is little prospect
that this tree will ever become important as a source of lumber. It is
nowhere very abundant, and what timber there is generally stands so
remote from mills that little of it will ever be taken out. Botanists
and mountain travelers who have made the acquaintance of the mountain
hemlock in the wildness of its natural surroundings have spoken and
written much in its praise. It has been called the loveliest
cone-bearing tree of the American forest. That praise, however, applies
only when the tree is at its best, with its broad, pyramidal crown,
balanced and proportioned with geometrical accuracy, outlined against a
background of rocks, peaks, snow, or sky. Its other form, prostrate and
angular where the tree occurs on cold, bleak mountains, has never
inspired praise from anybody, though its defiance of the elements and
its persistence in spite of adversity, cannot but challenge the
admiration of all who like a fair and square fighter. There are many
intermediate forms. On mountains facing the Pacific, and at altitudes of
6,000 or 7,000 feet, the young hemlocks are buried under deep snow weeks
or months at a time. They are pressed down by the weight of tons, and it
might be supposed that not a whole branch would be left on them, and
that the main stems would be deformed the rest of their lives. But when
the early summer sun melts the snow, the young trees spring back to
their former faultless forms, without a twig missing or a twisted



[Illustration: WESTERN YEW]


(_Taxus Brevifolia_)

The Pacific yew is an interesting tree, useful for many minor purposes,
but it is not procurable in large quantities. Its north and south range
covers more than 1,000 miles, from Alaska to central California; while
the species occurs from the Pacific coast eastward to Montana. It
approaches sea level on some of the Alaskan islands, and toward the
southern part of its range it reaches an altitude of 8,000 feet.

In Idaho it is called mountain mahogany, but apparently without good
reason. Its color may bear some resemblance to that wood, but it is
different in so many particulars that the name is not appropriate. The
names western yew and Pacific yew are used interchangeably. Sometimes it
bears the simple name yew; but since there is a yew in Florida, and
another in Europe, it is well to give the western species a name which
will distinguish it from others. The northwestern Indians called it
“fighting wood,” which was the best description possible for them to
give. They made bows of it, and it was superior to any other wood within
their reach for that purpose. In fact, if they could have picked from
all the woods of the United States they could scarcely have found its
equal. It is very strong, though in elasticity its rating is under many
other woods. It is of interest to note that five hundred or more years
ago, the European yew (a closely related but different species) had
nearly the same name in England that the northwestern Indians gave the
western yew. It was called “the shooter yew,” because it was the bow
wood of that time, and “bow staves,” which were rough pieces to be
worked out by the bow makers, were articles of commerce. The search for
it was so great, and so long-continued, that yew trees were well-nigh
exterminated in the British Isles. It was, next to oak, and possibly
above oak, the most indispensable wood in England at that time. It is
instructive to observe that Indians who used the bow found the western
yew as indispensable in their life as the English armies found the
European yew at a time when the bow was the best weapon.

The northwestern Indians put this remarkable wood to other uses. They
made spears of it, and sometimes employed them as weapons of war, but
generally as implements of the chase, particularly in harpooning salmon
which in summer ascend the northwestern rivers from the Pacific ocean in
immense schools. The Indians whittled fishhooks of yew before they were
able to buy steel hooks from traders. Some of those unique hooks are
still in existence, and speak well of the inventive genius of the wild
fisherman of the wilderness. A proper crook was selected where a branch
joined the trunk, and serviceable fish hooks were made without any cross
grain. They were strong enough to hold the largest fish that ascended
the rivers. Sometimes a bone barb was skillfully inserted. The Indians
found a further use for this wood as material for canoe paddles. It is
so strong that handles can be made small and blades thin without passing
the limit of safety. The manufacture of boat paddles from yew continues.

More is used for fence posts than for any other one purpose. It is one
of the most durable woods known where it must resist conditions
conducive to decay. The name yew is said to be derived from a word in a
north Europe language meaning everlasting. Yew fence posts are not named
in statistics, and it is impossible to quote numbers. Their use is
confined to the districts where they grow.

The manufacturers of small cabinets draw supplies from this wood, but
the fact is not mentioned in Pacific states wood-using statistics. It is
particularly liked for turnery, such as small spindles used in furniture
and in grill work. It takes an exceptionally fine polish, and the wood’s
great strength makes the use of slender pieces practicable. Experiments
have shown that this wood may be stained with success, but its natural
color is so attractive that there is little need of staining unless the
purpose is to imitate some more costly wood. If stained black it is an
excellent substitute for ebony.

Western yew figures little in lumber output. It is not listed in the
markets. The few logs which reach sawmills are never again heard of, but
probably most of the lumber is disposed of locally to those who need it.
The tree is not of good form for saw timber. Burls are said to make
beautiful veneer. Trunks are seldom round, but usually grow lopsided.
Most of them are too small for sawlogs. The largest are seldom two feet
in diameter, and generally not half that large. They are short and
branched, the tree often dividing near the ground in several stems. The
average tree is scarcely thirty feet high, but a few are twice that. Its
growth is very slow. A six-inch trunk is seventy-five or 100 years old,
and the largest sizes are from 200 to 350 years. It is evident,
therefore, that efforts to grow western yew for commercial purposes will
be few. Wild trees will be occasionally cut as long as they last, and
they will probably last as long as any of their associates, for they are
scattered sparingly over several hundred thousand square miles of
country, and some of it rough and almost inaccessible. The best
development of the species is in western Oregon, Washington, and British

The leaves of western yew are one-half or five-eighths inch long. The
fruit consists of red pulp enclosing a hard seed. Birds devour it
eagerly. The fruit is not poisonous, as the yew berries of the Old World
are. It ripens in September and falls in October. The wood is fine
grained, clear rose red, becoming gradually duller on exposure. It
weighs 39.83 pounds per cubic foot. Its fuel value is high.

FLORIDA YEW (_Taxus floridana_) is extremely local in its range, and
small in size. Few trees are more than twenty-five feet high and one
foot in diameter. They are bushy and of poor form for manufacturing. The
only reported use is as fence posts. The wood’s durability fits it for
that place. The species is found in Gadsden county, Florida. The leaves
are one inch or less in length; flowers appear in March, and the fruit
ripens in October. The wood is moderately heavy, hard, and
narrow-ringed, for the trees grow slowly. Its color is dark, tinged with
red, the thin sapwood being whiter. There is little prospect that the
wood of this yew will ever be more important than it is now. It is often
spoken of locally as savin, which name is likewise given to the red
cedar (_Juniperus virginiana_), which is abundant in this yew’s range.

CALIFORNIA NUTMEG (_Tumion californicum_) is an interesting tree which
ranges over a considerable portion of California, but is at its best in
Mendocino county and the coast region north of San Francisco. It occurs
also on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains, in central
California, at altitudes up to 5,000 feet. It receives its name from the
resemblance of its seeds to nutmegs. Their surface is shriveled, but
they do not have the nutmeg odor. The wood and the leaves, when bruised,
give off an odor not altogether pleasing. On account of this, the tree
has been called stinking cedar. In some localities it is called yew, and
in others California false nutmeg, and coast nutmeg. Trees are generally
small, with trunks of irregular form. The crown is open and usually
extends to the ground; but in crowded situations, a rather shapely bole
is developed, and the crown is small. The usual size of the tree does
not exceed a height of fifty feet and a diameter of twenty inches. More
trees are below than above that size; but in extreme cases the tree may
reach a height of eighty-five feet and a diameter of four. The leaves in
form and size resemble the foliage of yew, but their points are stiff
and sharp, and if approached carelessly they will wound like cactus
thorns. The fruit is an inch or more in length, a pulpy substance
surrounding the seed. The wood possesses properties which ought to make
it valuable, though reported uses are strictly local, such as small
cabinet work and skiff making. It is bright lemon, yellow, rather hard,
takes good polish, is of slow growth, with bands of summerwood thin but
distinct, and medullary rays small, numerous, and obscure. Its weight is
29.66 pounds per cubic foot; it is not stiff or strong. It cannot attain
high place as a manufacturing material, because it is too scarce, but
it possesses a beauty which must bring it recognition as a fine
furniture, finish, and novelty wood. A few sawlogs go to mills in the
region north of San Francisco, but the lumber is probably mixed with
other kinds and it goes to market without a name. It ought to be put to
a better use.

FLORIDA TORREYA (_Tumion taxifolium_) is often called Chattahoochee pine
in the region where it grows. That name is generally given to the tree
when planted for ornament in yards, parks, and along streets of towns in
northwestern Florida. It is known also as stinking cedar, stinking
savin, and fetid yew. These names are generally applied to the
forest-grown tree, particularly by those who cut it for fence posts,
which is its principal use. Its range is local, being confined largely,
if not wholly, to Gadsden county, Florida, where it grows on limestone
soil. It can never have much importance as a commercial timber, because
it is too scarce. In fact, it is in danger of extermination. Post
cutters never spare it, and its range being so limited, there is not
much hope for it. The interesting and beautiful tree is making a game
fight for life. Many seedlings appear in the vicinity of old trees,
while stumps, and even prostrate trunks, send up sprouts which, if let
alone, grow to tree size. Sprouts on logs and stumps send roots to the
ground as the seedling yellow birch does in damp northern woods. The
yew-like leaves of Florida torreya are one and a half inch or less in
length. The tree blooms in March and April, and the drupe-like fruit, an
inch or more in length, is ripe by midsummer. The tree is from forty to
sixty feet in height, and one to two feet in diameter. It is clothed in
whorls of limbs, beginning near the ground, and tapering to the top. The
wood is clear, bright yellow, the thin sapwood of lighter color; soft,
easily worked, and susceptible of fine polish. It is very durable in
contact with the soil. The green wood, and the bruised leaves and
branches give off an odor suggesting the tomato vine. The texture and
color of the wood indicate that it is well suited for fine cabinet work,
but it is not a figured wood.



[Illustration: WHITE OAK]


(_Quercus Alba_)

Oaks belong to the beech family, that is, the “foodtrees,”[3] though
most acorns are too bitter and contain too much tannin to be edible;
some may be eaten, and for that reason the ancients classed them among
the food trees. “Quercus,” which is the name of the genus, means oak in
the language of northwestern Europe. The name white oak nearly always
suffices, but in Arkansas it is often called stave oak because it is the
best stave timber in that region. It could with equal reason be called
stave oak nearly anywhere, for it is excellent material for tight
cooperage. Formerly it was sometimes called Baltimore oak, because many
of the staves of export were shipped from that city. That name, however,
belonged more to post oak (_Quercus minor_) than to white oak, because
the fine staves which went out of Chesapeake bay in the export trade,
were largely post oak. It matters little now, for the name Baltimore oak
is not much used, and white oak may be said to have only one trade name.
After the wood is dressed, it has different names referring to the style
of finish and not to the wood itself.

    [3] The oaks of this country, which number more than fifty species,
    have been classified in different ways, depending upon the purpose
    in view. In the present treatment they will be divided in two
    general groups, white oaks and black oaks. No effort will be made to
    draw hard and fast lines, because it is not necessary. Oaks which
    ripen their acorns in one year are listed as white oaks; those with
    two year acorns, as black oaks. This is a botanical rather than a
    lumberman’s classification; yet lumbermen recognize it in a general
    way. White oak (_Quercus alba_) is clearly entitled to head the list
    of white oaks, and red oak (_Quercus rubra_) should occupy a similar
    position with regard to the black oak group. In numbers, the white
    oaks and black oaks are nearly equally divided, one authority giving
    twenty-seven species of white oak and twenty-five of black oak in
    the United States; but botanists differ as to exact numbers of each.
    The following species are usually classed as white oaks: White oak
    (_Quercus alba_), valley oak (_Quercus lobata_), Brewer oak
    (_Quercus breweri_), Sadler oak (_Quercus sadleri_), Pacific post
    oak (_Quercus garryana_), Gambel oak (_Quercus gambelii_), post oak
    (_Quercus minor_), Chapman oak (_Quercus chapmani_), bur oak
    (_Quercus macrocarpa_), overcup oak (_Quercus lyrata_), swamp white
    oak (_Quercus platanoides_), cow oak (_Quercus michauxii_), chestnut
    oak (_Quercus prinus_), chinquapin oak (_Quercus acuminata_), dwarf
    chinquapin oak (_Quercus prinoides_), Durand oak (_Quercus
    breviloba_), Rocky Mountain oak (_Quercus undulata_), California
    blue oak (_Quercus douglasii_), Engelmann oak (_Quercus
    engelmanni_), Rocky Mountain blue oak (_Quercus oblongifolia_),
    Arizona white oak (_Quercus arizonica_), Toumey oak (_Quercus
    toumeyi_), netleaf oak (_Quercus reticulata_), California scrub oak
    (_Quercus dumosa_), live oak (_Quercus virginiana_), Emory oak
    (_Quercus emoryi_).

White oak grows in all the states east of the Mississippi river, and it
crosses that stream two or three hundred miles in some places. It
reaches eastern Nebraska and eastern Kansas, and runs southward through
Oklahoma to the Brazos river, Texas. It is scarce in the northern parts
of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Its total range covers an area of
more than 1,000,000 square miles. Like all other important timber trees,
it has regions where the species is best developed. The finest original
stands of white oak were found in the upper Ohio valley, beginning in
Indiana. The timber in many other districts was, and in some still is,
very good, such as southern Michigan, eastern Arkansas, some of the
Appalachian valleys and slopes, and in certain places along the upper
tributaries of streams flowing into the Atlantic ocean.

This tree is in the very front rank in economic importance, and it has
held that place since the earliest settlements in this country. No
forest tree was more evenly distributed than white oak over the eastern
half of the United States. It did not form pure forests of large extent,
as some of the pines did, but white oaks were within reach of almost
every part of the country. Conditions have greatly changed. The
establishment of farms where woods originally occupied the whole
country, lessened the abundance of oak long before lumbermen made it a
commodity; and since then, the cutting of billions of feet of it has
depleted or exhausted the supply in many regions. Still, white oak is as
widely dispersed as ever. It has not been completely exterminated in any
extensive region. White oak of as high grade goes to market now as ever
in the past, but in smaller amounts, and the lower grades go in
proportionately larger quantities. In other words, prime white oak has
passed its best day. A hundred years of use and abuse in states west of
the Alleghany mountains, and two hundred years in some of the regions
east, have reduced original forests to remnants. But with all that,
white oak remains undisputed king of American hardwoods.

At its best, white oak attains a height of 125 feet and a diameter of
six, but that size is unusual. A diameter of three feet and a height of
100 is above the average. The leaves are peculiar in that they hang on
the branches until late winter, sometimes dropping only in time to give
place to the new crop. They turn brown after the first hard frost. In
some sections of the Appalachian region white oak coppice (sprout
growth) is known as “red brush,” because of the adherence of the brown
leaves during winter. The leaves of some other species have the same

The wood of white oak is very strong, stiff, heavy, and durable when
exposed in all kinds of weather. Scarcely any other wood which can be
had in merchantable quantities equals white oak in these qualities. It
rates high in fuel value, and 6,000 pounds of dry wood when burned,
leaves about 245 pounds of ashes. The color of the heartwood is light
brown; the sapwood is thin; medullary rays are numerous and large; pores
large; summerwood broad and dense.

The medullary rays of no wood in this or any other country are more
utilized to commercial advantage than those of white oak. Quarter-sawing
is for the purpose of bringing them out. They are the bright streaks,
clearly visible to the naked eye in the end of an oak log, radiating
from the center outward like the spokes of a wheel. Many are too thin to
be visible without a magnifying glass. By quarter-sawing, the rays are
cut edgewise and appear as bright streaks or patches, often called
“mirrors,” on the surface of boards. The woodworker knows how to finish
the boards and treat them with fillers to bring out the figures.

White oak is a porous wood. Some of the pores are large enough to be
visible without a glass, and twenty times as many more can be seen only
when magnified. The direction of the pores is up and down the trunk of
the tree, and they are seen to best advantage in the end of a stick,
although they are always more or less visible on the side of a board
when the cutting is a little across the grain. The pores thus cut
diagonally across are taken advantage of by the finisher who works
stains and fillers into them, and changes their natural color, thereby
accentuating the wood’s figure.

The possibilities of white oak are almost infinite. It is good for
nearly anything for which any wood is used. It is not the best for
everything, but does well for most. Hickory is more resilient, ironwood
is stronger, locust more durable, white pine warps and checks less; but
white oak has so many good qualities in a fair degree that it can afford
to fall below the highest in some, and still rank above competitors on
general averages. It ranks high in shipbuilding, general construction,
furniture manufacturing, finish and fixtures, the making of agricultural
implements, car building, vehicle stock, cooperage, and many more.

It is one of the most important of American veneer woods. It is sawed
very thin, and is glued upon cores of other wood, thus becoming the
covering or outside part. The purpose of using oak veneer instead of the
solid wood is twofold. First, it goes farther, and second, a well-built
article with veneer outside and a core of other woods which stand well,
is superior to a solid oak article, except in cases where great strength
is the object sought, or where deep carving is desired.

The continued use of white oak is assured. It is not necessary to seek
new uses for it. The demand is as great as the supply can meet, but the
supply is not assured for the distant future. There will always be some
white oak in the country; but the best has been or is being cut. The
tree grows slowly, and good quarter-sawed white oak cannot be cut from
young trees. An age of about 150 years is necessary. Most good white oak
lumber today is cut from trees 200 or more years old. When the present
supply of venerable oaks has been exhausted, prime oak lumber will be
largely a thing of the past. Fortunately, that time has not yet arrived.
About eighty years are required to grow a white oak of crosstie size.
Those who will grow oak for market in the future will probably not wait
much longer than eighty years to cut their trees, and the result will be
a scarcity of mature trunks for lumber and veneer.

    DURAND OAK (_Quercus breviloba_). In some parts of Alabama,
    Mississippi, and Louisiana this tree goes to the lumber yard as
    white oak, and no one is injured by the substitution, for it is
    heavy, hard, and strong, and is of good color. The wood weighs 59.25
    pounds per cubic foot, which places it above the average weight of
    white oak. It is said to be less tough than white oak. The tree
    varies greatly in different parts of its range which extends from
    central Alabama across Texas and into Mexico. It is known as white
    oak, Texas white oak, shin oak, pin oak, and basket oak. Its best
    development is in the eastern part of its range where trees eighty
    or ninety feet high are common; but in Texas the average is scarcely
    thirty feet high and one in diameter. Westward in Texas it becomes
    shrubby, and forms extensive thickets of brush.

    CHAPMAN OAK (_Quercus chapmani_) is put to little use, because
    trunks are too small. They are seldom more than a foot in diameter,
    and are often little more than shrubs. The tree grows in the pine
    barrens near the coast from South Carolina to Florida, and it is
    found also in great abundance, but generally of small size, on the
    west coast of Florida from Tampa to the Apalachicola river.



[Illustration: BUR OAK]


(_Quercus Macrocarpa_)

This splendid oak was named by Michaux, a French traveler and botanist
who visited many parts of eastern and southeastern United States more
than a century ago. The botanical name _macrocarpa_, means “large
fruit.” The bur oak bears small acorns in the North, and very large ones
in the South. They are sometimes two inches long and one and a half
inches wide, and “large-fruit” oak is an appropriate name for the tree
in the South, but would not be near the northern limit of its range.

It is known in different regions as bur oak, mossy cup oak, overcup oak,
scrub oak, and mossy cup white oak. Bur oak is a name suggested by the
acorn which has a fringe round the cup like a bur. This is the oak which
gave name to James Fenimore Cooper’s book, “Oak Openings” a romance of
early days in Michigan. Oak openings were areas where fires had killed
the old timber, and a young growth had sprouted from stumps and roots,
or had sprung up from seeds buried in the ground beyond the reach of the
fire. Some of those tracts were very large, and they were not confined
to any one state. They existed in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota,
Dakota, and elsewhere. Bur oak, because it is a vigorous species, was
able to take possession of such burned areas, to the exclusion of most

Few American oaks have a wider range. It extends from Nova Scotia to
Manitoba, and in the United States is found in most states east of the
Rocky Mountains. It extends farther west and northwest than any other
commercial oak of the Atlantic states. In a range of so great
geographical extent the bur oak finds it necessary to adapt itself to
many kinds of land. It prefers low tracts where water is sufficient but
not excessive, but it grows well in more elevated situations, provided
the soil is fertile. It is not a poor-land tree. In the primeval forests
it attained largest size in Indiana and Illinois. The largest trees were
from 150 to 170 feet high and four to seven in diameter. Sizes varied
from that extreme down to the other extreme near the outskirts of its
range where the growth was stunted. Large quantities of very fine logs
have been cut from trunks from two to four feet in diameter, and forty
to sixty feet to the limbs.

The leaves of bur oak are from six to twelve inches long, simple and
alternate; the petioles are thick with flattened and enlarged bases; the
leaves are wedge-shaped at the base, and have from five to seven long,
irregular lobes, the terminal one very large and broad. They are dark
green in color, and are smooth and shiny above, silvery white and
pubescent below. The edge of the leaf is notched somewhat like chestnut,
but the teeth or notches are not so sharp.

The twigs are provided with corky wings, or flattened keels of bark,
along their sides. Some of the wings are an inch or more wide. They are
apt to escape notice when the tree is in leaf, but in the winter the
bare twigs look rough and ragged.

The weight of bur oak is approximately the same as white oak, and the
two woods are much the same in strength and elasticity. The bands of
summerwood are broad and dense, and the springwood is filled with large
pores. The medullary rays are broad, but not numerous in comparison with
white oak. They are sufficiently conspicuous to show well in

Bur oak nearly always goes to market as white oak, or simply as oak, and
it is difficult to ascertain all the uses found for it. Some factories
which make furniture, finish, vehicles, and other articles that figure
in the country’s trade, attempt to identify the woods they use. That is
done as carefully in Michigan as anywhere else, though comparatively few
of the factories carry out the plan even in that state where many of the
best wood-using establishments of the country are located. In a report
issued in 1912 which gave statistics collected from more than eight
hundred Michigan factories, bur oak received separate consideration. The
uses there are doubtless representative, and will hold throughout the
country wherever bur oak is fairly abundant. It is listed as baseboards,
billiard table rims, bookcases, clay working machines, filing cabinets,
furniture, hand sleds, hay balers, interior finish, molding, tinplate
boxes, wagon sills, work benches. The amount of wood used in the state
was nearly 900,000 feet, according to the reports; but it certainly does
not include all. What it does show, however, is that bur oak is one of
the substantial woods of that region, and that it possesses properties
which fit it for many important places in the country’s industries.

Bur oak contributes to the output of cooper shops. Slack coopers class
it with many other hardwoods for the manufacture of barrels for
vegetables and various other commodities, while the makers of barrels
for liquids put bur oak in with white oak.

The future of bur oak does not promise much after the trees which now
remain have been cut. That does not mean that the species will become
extinct, for that is improbable; but when the mature trees which
developed during two or three hundred years of forest conditions have
passed away, there is not much prospect of others being left to grow to
the age and size which will make them valuable as lumber. Woodlot
owners will not wait much longer than the seventy-five or one hundred
years required to grow trees of crosstie size. Railroads pay good prices
for this wood, for it lasts well, holds spikes in a satisfactory manner,
and is strong and hard. As far as can be seen, bur oak will fare in the
future about like white oak; that is, few trees will be left standing
long enough to attain large size, because it will pay better to cut them
while comparatively small.

    CALIFORNIA BLUE OAK (_Quercus douglasii_) receives its name from the
    color of its foliage in spring and early summer in the valleys and
    on the rolling foothills of central California. Later in the summer,
    when the dry season is on, the leaves lose some of their blue, on
    account of age, but more from an accumulation of dust; but even then
    the form of the tree, from its habit of growing in open formation
    like an old apple orchard, presents an attractive picture. It is
    often associated with the valley oak, which is larger and more
    stately, but the blue oak loses nothing by the contrast. It is
    occasionally called rock oak, but for what reason is not clear. It
    is known, too, as mountain white oak, or simply white oak, and as
    blue oak. Its range covers central California from Mendocino to the
    Mojave desert, and from the immediate coast inland through the
    valleys to the Sierras, and upward to an altitude of 4,000 feet
    where the tree degenerates into a shrub which has neither beauty nor
    utility. The species reaches its best development in the Salinas
    valley from twenty to sixty miles from the coast. There the largest
    trees are found, and also some that have assumed peculiar forms. In
    positions exposed to the never-ceasing sea winds which sweep up the
    valleys, the blue oaks lie prone like logs, their tops pointing away
    from the wind. They grew in that unnatural position, having been
    pressed flat by the wind since they were seedlings. This oak’s ashen
    gray bark harmonizes well with the dry summer grass and dull sand
    and gravel which surround it during the hot period. The branches are
    often covered with green-gray lichens which somewhat modify the
    aspect of the tree under close inspection. The leaves are irregular
    in form. Some closely resemble leaves of the eastern white oak,
    while others are almost or quite without lobes. During the growing
    season the acorns are deep green, but when approaching maturity they
    change to a chestnut-brown. They vary in shape as much as the
    leaves. Some are almost eggshaped, bulging out above the cup which
    seems too small; but all of them do not assume that form, but may be
    short and symmetrical, or very long and slender. Woodpeckers store
    these acorns in large numbers, and they search out peculiar places
    for their hoards. A knot hole in the weatherboarding of an old barn,
    granary, or school house is considered ideal, though when the acorns
    are so disposed of, they are out of reach of the woodpecker forever.
    Another method is to peck holes just large enough for an acorn in
    fence posts or dead tree trunks, and hammer the acorns tightly in,
    small end first. The surfaces of dead trees are sometimes absolutely
    covered with such holes, each with its acorn. The woodpecker’s
    purpose is to wait until the acorns become infested with larvæ. He
    has no intention of eating the acorn itself.

    California blue oaks range in height from shrubs to trees of ninety
    feet, with diameters of three or four feet. The average height is
    about forty-five and the diameter two or less. The trunk frequently
    divides a few feet from the ground into large limbs. That form
    excludes the wood from sawmills, and only in rare cases does any of
    it find its way there. The lumber is of poor quality, brittle,
    black, and otherwise defective. The sapwood is white and thick. A
    cubic foot weighs 55.64 pounds, or nearly ten more than eastern
    white oak. It is weak, and is low in elasticity. The annual rings
    are often nearly invisible, because the pores are scattered evenly
    and do not form bands. The medullary rays are broad, in the heart
    black, in the sapwood white. If the wood were otherwise suitable,
    pleasing effects might be produced by quarter-sawing, but as far as
    known, no attempts have been made to do this. Now and then a
    suitable log might be found. The importance of this oak lies in its
    fuel value. It rates above white oak in theoretical tests, but it is
    heavier in ash, and in practice it hardly measures up to white oak.
    It grows slowly and is destined to disappear as a source of fuel
    supply. Reproduction has nearly ceased in most parts of its range,
    due largely to the perseverance of hogs in eating the acorns.
    Cordwood cutters have stripped the last tree from large areas where
    much once grew. This oak never forms forests. The trees seldom grow
    as close together as apple trees in an orchard.

    GAMBEL OAK (_Quercus gambelii_) was destined by nature to occupy an
    inferior place in the country’s timber resources. It occupies a
    region of stunted vegetation among the dry mountains and plateaus of
    the Southwest, and except where it grows in better situations than
    usual, it is too small to be properly called a tree. It is at its
    best among the mountains of southeastern Arizona where it grows in
    canyons that can maintain a little damp soil. There it occasionally
    reaches a height of thirty feet and a diameter of a foot or less. In
    most other parts of its range it is simply a tangled, sprawling
    thicket of brush, covering the dry, rocky mountain ridges, and along
    the bases of cliffs. It is found from Colorado to western Texas, and
    westward into Utah, Nevada, and Arizona. The leaves are small,
    thick, firm, and hairy, typical of desert foliage which must husband
    the scant water supply. The acorns are pretty large for a tree so
    stunted, and they are tempting bait for birds and rodents of the
    region. The acorns are sweet. If this oak’s reproduction depended on
    acorns alone it is doubtful if it would hold its ground in the face
    of perpetual adversity; but its roots send up distorted and stunted
    sprouts which cover the ground, affording hiding places for the few
    acorns which escape their hungry enemies. Man puts this oak to few
    uses. It affords a pretty good class of fuel for camp fires, but
    cordwood cutters cannot make much out of it. In rare instances
    frontier ranches use a few of the unshapely poles for corral fences,
    but only as a case of last resort. The names bestowed upon the tree
    by those who know it best are uncomplimentary. They call it shin
    oak, pin oak, scrub oak, mountain oak, and Rocky Mountain oak.





(_Quercus Lyrata_)

The leaf gives this tree its name in the best part of its southern
range. The tree bears much resemblance to the bur oak on the one hand,
and swamp white oak on the other. The names by which it is known in
different regions indicate as much.

In North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi,
Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, and Illinois it is commonly known as
overcup; in Alabama, South Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, and
Missouri it is called the swamp post oak; the name water white oak is
applied to it in Mississippi and parts of South Carolina; swamp white
oak in Texas; forked-leaf white oak among lumbermen in several of the
southern states. The last name scarcely describes the leaf, for no one
is apt to notice any fork, unless his attention is called to it. The
fact is, the name forked-leaf oak is applied oftener to the turkey oak
(_Quercus catesbæi_) than to this one. However, since the ranges of the
two species are not the same, misunderstandings in practice are not apt
to arise as to which is meant when the forked leaf is referred to. The
fact that turkey oak belongs in the black oak group, ripening its acorns
in two years, and this one is a white oak with one year acorns, is of
further assistance in keeping the species separate.

The range of the forked-leaf white oak is from Maryland, along the
Potomac river near the District of Columbia, southward to parts of
Florida; westward through the Gulf states to the Trinity river in Texas;
throughout Arkansas, sections of Missouri, central Tennessee, southern
Illinois and Indiana.

It shows preference for river swamps, and small deep depressions in rich
bottom lands where moisture is always abundant. It has never amounted to
much in the Atlantic states, and its best development is found in the
moist, fertile valley of Red river in Louisiana, and in certain parts of
Arkansas and Texas. Its geographical range is pretty large, but as a
timber tree it is confined to a comparatively restricted region west of
the Mississippi. Good trees are found in other parts of its range.
Lumbermen do not find it in extensive forests or pure stands, but
isolated trees or small groups occur with other hardwoods.

This species of oak grows occasionally to a height of 100 feet, though
its average is about seventy feet. It has a trunk two to three feet in
diameter, which spreads out after attaining a height of fifteen or
twenty feet, into small, often pendulous branches, forming a symmetrical
round top. The branchlets are green, slightly tinged with red; covered
with short hairs when first appearing, becoming grayish and shiny during
their first winter, eventually turning ashen gray or brown.

The bark is three-quarters or one inch thick, light gray in color,
shedding in thick plates, its surface being divided into thin scales.
The winter buds are about one-eighth of an inch long and have light
colored scales. The staminate flowers grow in long, slender, hairy
spikes from four to six inches long; the calyx is light yellow and
hairy. The pistillate flowers are stalked and are also covered with

The fruit of forked-leaf white oak is often on slender, fuzzy stems,
sometimes an inch or more in length, but is often closely attached to
the twig that bears it; the acorn is about one inch long, broad at the
base, light brown and covered with short, light hairs, and usually
almost entirely enclosed in the deep, spherical cup, which is bright
reddish-brown on its inside surface, and covered on the outside with
scales; thickened at the base, becoming thinner and forming an irregular
edge at the margin of the cup. The cup often almost completely envelopes
the acorn. The fruit then looks somewhat like a rough, nearly spherical

This oak’s leaves are long and slender, and are divided in from five to
nine lobes. When the leaves unfold they are brownish green and hairy
above and below; at maturity they are thin and firm, darker green and
shiny on the upper surface, silvery or light green and hairy below; from
seven to eight inches long, one to four inches broad; in autumn turning
a beautiful bright scarlet or vivid orange.

Commercially this wood is a white oak, and it is seldom or never sent to
market under its own name. There are no statistics of cut at the mills
or of stand in the forests. Lumbermen take the tree when they come to it
in the course of their usual operations, but never go out of their way
to get it. Though rather large stands occur in certain southern regions,
and scattering trees are found in large areas, the total quantity in the
country is known to be too small to give this tree an important place as
a source of lumber. Neither is there expectation that the future has
anything in store for this particular member of the tribe of oaks. The
wood rates high in physical properties; is strong as white oak, if not
stronger, tough, stiff, hard, and heavy. In contact with the ground it
is very durable. The heartwood is rich, dark brown, the sapwood lighter.

It may be said, generally, that since it goes to market as white oak,
and its buyers never object, it possesses the essential properties of
that wood, and is used in the same way as far as it is used at all.

ARIZONA WHITE OAK (_Quercus arizonica_) is the common and most generally
distributed white oak of southern New Mexico and Arizona where it
covers the hillsides and occurs in canyons at altitudes from 5,000 to
10,000 feet above sea level. It occasionally ascends nearly or quite to
the summits of the highest peaks. The form of the tree varies greatly,
as might be expected from a range extending from one to two miles above
sea level. On the dry, windswept summits the tree degenerates into a
shrub, with stiff, harsh branches. Lower down, in canyons and in other
situations where moisture may be had and the soil is fertile, trunks are
fifty or sixty feet high and three or four in diameter; but these are
not the usual sizes even in the best of the tree’s range, for it cannot
be classed as a timber tree.

The hardships of the desert have stunted it, and its form is rough. It
is important for fuel, and this has been its chief use. The region where
it occurs is thinly settled, and demand for lumber is small, but
stockmen build corrals and fences to enclose sheep and cattle, and the
Arizona white oak supplies some of the rough poles and posts for that
purpose. The wood is heavy, hard, strong, and the heartwood is almost
black, but the sapwood is lighter. The grain and figure of the wood are
not attractive, and what little may be sawed into lumber in the future
will be rather low-grade. The branches are crooked and when cut into
cordwood the ricks are so open that it is a common saying in the region
that “you can throw a dog through.” The wood burns well, and the demand
for fuel is large, in proportion to the population of the country.

The leaves of this oak are sometimes slightly lobed, and are sometimes
nearly as smooth as willow leaves. They are light red and covered with
hair when they unfold in the spring, but when mature they are dark
green, and shiny. Acorns are one inch or less in length, and rather
slender. They are very bitter, and wild animals are inclined to let them
alone, unless pressed by hunger, and then eat them sparingly. This
insures good reproduction, provided other conditions are favorable.
Though cordwood cutters may strip the large trees from the hills and
canyons, scrub growth may be expected to continue, particularly on high
mountains, and in ravines where roads cannot be built.

    NETLEAF OAK (_Quercus reticulata_) will never attract lumbermen in
    this country, but sometime they may send to the Sierra Madre
    mountains of Mexico to procure it. In that region it is a tree large
    enough for lumber; but the portion of its range overlapping on the
    United States lies in southern Arizona and New Mexico among
    mountains from 7,000 to 10,000 feet above sea level. Conditions are
    unfavorable and the netleaf oak shows it by its stunted size and
    rough form. The wood is hard, heavy, dark brown in color, with
    lighter sapwood. The medullary rays are numerous and very broad. The
    tree seldom exceeds forty feet in height and one foot in diameter.
    The leaf is netted somewhat like that of the elm. The acorn is
    usually not more than half an inch in length.

    ROCKY MOUNTAIN OAK (_Quercus undulata_) bears acorns which may be
    eaten like chestnuts, and not much more may be said for the tree in
    the way of usefulness to man, though it is the salvation of some of
    the small mammals of the bleak Texas and New Mexico hills where
    there is little to eat and few places for concealment from hawks and
    other enemies. The tree is also called scrub oak and shin oak. It
    grows in Colorado, New Mexico, western Texas, Arizona, Nevada, and
    Utah. At its best it rarely exceeds thirty feet high and a foot in
    diameter, and it often forms a jungle of shrubs through which the
    traveler must wade waist deep or go miles out of his way to pass
    round it. Its leaf is one of the smallest of the oaks, and is
    notched much like the chestnut leaf.

    ALVORD OAK (_Quercus alvordiana_) is little known and will probably
    never be of much importance. It grows in the region of Tehachapi
    mountains, the northern border of the Mojave desert, in California,
    and was named for William Alvord of that state. The leaf is toothed,
    and the acorn smooth. No record has been found of any use of the
    wood, and when Sudworth compiled his book, “Forest Trees of the
    Pacific Slope,” he was unable to procure enough leaves, flowers, and
    fruit to enable him to give a botanical description. It may
    therefore be regarded as one of the scarcest oaks in the United
    States, which fact gives it a certain interest.

    SADLER OAK (_Quercus sadleriana_) is one of the minor oaks of the
    Pacific coast, and is popularly and properly called scrub oak by
    those who encounter it on high, dry slopes of northern California
    and southern Oregon mountains, from 4,000 to 9,000 feet above the
    sea. It forms dense thickets, and passes for an evergreen. Its
    leaves remain on the branches only thirteen months. The leaves are
    toothed like those of chestnut. The acorns are matured in one
    season. The name Sadler oak was given it in honor of a Scottish
    botanist. Trees are too scarce and too small to have much value,
    except as a ground cover.

    BREWER OAK (_Quercus breweri_) grows on the west slope of the Sierra
    Nevada mountains in California, from Kaweah river northward to
    Trinity mountains. It is often little more than a shrub, and its
    usefulness to man lies less in the quantity of wood it produces than
    in the protection the dense thickets, with their network of roots,
    afford steep hillsides. Gullying in time of heavy rain cannot take
    place where this oak’s matted masses of roots bind the soil. Sprouts
    rise freely from the roots, and thickets are reproduced in that way
    rather than from acorns, although in certain years crops of acorns
    are bountiful. The trunks are too small to make any kind of lumber,
    but are capable of supplying considerable quantities of fuel.



[Illustration: POST OAK]


(_Quercus Minor_)

Post oak is the most common name for this tree but various sections of
its range have given it their own names which probably have local
significance. The following names are in use in the localities denoted:
post oak in the eastern and Gulf states, Connecticut to Texas, and in
Arkansas and West Virginia; box white oak in Rhode Island; iron oak in
Delaware, Mississippi and Nebraska; chêne étoile in Quebec; overcup oak
in Florida; white oak in Kentucky and Indiana; box oak and brash oak in

Toward the northern portion of the range of this tree it is small, and
in early times it was little used except for fence posts. Its durability
fitted it for that use, and it is said the common name was due to that
circumstance. The name iron oak was used by shipbuilders who sometimes
bought small knees made of this wood. Baltimore oak was an early name
which is not now in use. It was generally applied to white oak, but it
included some post oak shipped from the Chesapeake bay region.

Post oak is botanically and commercially a white oak and is seldom
distinguished from the true white oak, _Quercus alba_, in commerce. It
is seen at its best in the uplands of the Mississippi basin and in the
Gulf states west of the Mississippi, where it attains a considerable
size. In the northeastern states and in Florida it is small, becoming
shrubby in some localities, and more or less of local growth. Limestone
uplands or dry, sandy or gravelly soils seem to offer the best
conditions for its existence, where it grows in company with black jack,
red and white oak, sassafras, dogwood, gums, and red cedar.

The range of growth of post oak extends from New Brunswick south through
the Atlantic states into Florida; west through the Gulf states and
throughout the Mississippi river system, growing west brokenly to
Montana. It is the common oak of central Texas but in the North it is
rather scarce, becoming more plentiful in the lower Appalachians.

The broad, dense, round-topped crown of the post oak with its peculiar
foliage make it very noticeable in the woods, even to the casual
observer. Its dark green looks almost black at a distance. The tree has
an average height of sixty or eighty feet and is about two feet in
diameter, but in exceptional cases it reaches one hundred feet in height
and has a diameter of three feet. It has a moderately thick, dark brown
bark with a reddish tinge and deep fissures, the broad ridges being
covered with thin scales. On the branches it becomes much thinner, and
lighter in color, the branchlets being unfissured and glabrous in the
second year, although fuzzy at first. They are rather heavy and rounded
and terminate in short round buds with conspicuous scales. A noticeable
feature of the tree is the peculiar branching. The limbs are heavy and
crooked, separating often, with wide angles, forming knees which when
big enough, have a commercial value.

When the tree is in foliage the tufted appearance of the leaves grouped
on the ends of the twigs gives it a distinctive look. They bear some
resemblance to a star, and for that reason some botanists have named the
species _stellata_. The leaves are five or seven inches long usually,
but in some cases, especially on young specimens, they are ten or more
inches long. They are dark, shiny-green and on a short petiole, the
veins and midrib being heavy and conspicuous. The identification of
these leaves is easy as they are heavy in texture, are bilaterally
developed with a large, obtuse lobe on each side about in the middle,
giving them a maltese cross effect. They are very persistent, staying on
the tree until the new leaves push them off in the spring.

The form of post oak is not ideal from the lumberman’s viewpoint. The
tree does not prune itself well. Straggling limbs adhere to the trunk
and prevent the clean bole which often makes white oak so attractive.

The wood weighs 52.14 pounds per cubic foot. The name iron oak referred
to the weight as well as the strength of the wood. It is rather
difficult to season, and is inclined to check badly. The medullary rays
are broad and numerous, and checking is apt to develop along the rays.
The summerwood occupies about half of the annual ring, and is dense and
dark colored. Large pores are abundant in the springwood, and smaller
ones in the summerwood.

Formerly this tree was known in some sections as turkey oak, though the
name is no longer heard, but is now applied to another oak in the South.
The acorns are small enough to be eaten by turkeys, and when those game
birds were wild in the woods they frequented parts of the forests where
post oaks grew, and hunters knew where to find them. The uses of post
oak for building and manufacturing purposes are the same as for white
oak as far as they go, but post oak is not so extensively employed.

The earliest railroads in America were built in the region where post
oak of excellent quality grew, and it saw service from the first as
crossties, and car and bridge timbers. It is still used for those
purposes. Its other important uses are as furniture material, both as
solid stock and veneer; interior finish and fixtures for offices, banks,
and stores; musical instruments, including frames, braces, and veneers;
baskets, crates, and shipping boxes; vehicles, particularly tongues,
axles, and hounds of heavy wagons; flooring, stair work, balusters.

Post oak will do well on land too gravelly and thin to sustain good
white oak growth. To that extent the two species are not competitors for
ground, and post oak is assured a place in future woodlots, but it
cannot be expected ever to equal white oak in commercial importance,
while as an ornamental tree it is not usually favored because the shape
of its crown is not altogether pleasing. Its very dark foliage, however,
is admired by many and gives the tree an individuality.

SWAMP WHITE OAK (_Quercus platanoides_). This tree’s botanical name
means “broadleaf oak,” and that is a good description as far as it goes,
but it does not apply solely to this species. The characteristic which
fixes it best in the minds of most people is its preference for low, wet
soil. Its two common names are swamp oak and swamp white oak, yet it is
not really a swamp tree, such as the northern white cedar, southern
white cedar, cypress, and tupelo are. It does not associate with any of
those trees. It prefers river banks, and does not object to a good deal
of water about its roots, though it grows nicely in situations out of
reach of all overflow, and often side by side with silver maple,
hickory, ash, and several other oaks. The leaf resembles that of
chestnut oak, and the bark is somewhat like chestnut oak, but the wood
passes in market for white oak, and is a good substitute for it, though
the resemblance is not so close that one need be mistaken for the other.
The tree averages about seventy feet high with a diameter of two feet,
but much larger trunks are common. The famous “Wadsworth oak,” which
stood on the bank of the Genesee river in western New York, about a mile
from the village of Geneseo, was a swamp white oak. It had a trunk
diameter of nine feet, but it was not tall in proportion. It met its
overthrow by the undermining of the river bank in time of flood. That is
a common fate for this tree, because of its preference for river banks.
Its range is from Maine to Wisconsin and Iowa. It follows the mountains
to northern Georgia; and west of the Mississippi it grows as far south
as Arkansas. The species is best developed in western New York,
northwestern Pennsylvania, and along the southern shores of Lakes Erie
and Michigan.

Trees do not clear themselves of branches on their lower trunks very
early in life, and lumber more or less knotty results. It is possible,
however, to cut a fairly large proportion of clear boards. The wood is
of about the same weight as white oak, and is hard, strong, and tough.
Its color is light brown, and the thin sapwood is hardly distinguishable
from the heart. The medullary rays are as large as those of white oak,
but are few. For that reason, swamp white oak does not give very
satisfactory results when quarter-sawed. The bright patches are too
scarce. Neither does it show as many of these rays as chestnut oak. The
wood is very porous, but the large pores are confined to the springwood,
while the broad bands of summerwood are dense. The contrast between the
two parts of annual rings forms a strong, but not particularly handsome
figure when the lumber is sawed tangentially--that is, from the side of
the log. The wood finisher can improve this oak’s natural appearance by
employing fillers and stains to lighten shades or deepen tints. The uses
of this oak are numerous. It is excellent fuel, and is rather low in
ash; it is weaker and more brittle than white oak; but it is quite
satisfactory for railroad ties, car building, house finish, furniture,
some parts of heavy vehicles, certain kinds of cooperage, and for farm

    ROCKY MOUNTAIN BLUE OAK (_Quercus oblongifolia_) is named from the
    blue color of its foliage, though what little lumber is cut from it,
    is bought and sold as white oak. It is of little importance, yet in
    the almost timberless mountains of western Texas it supplies some of
    the urgent wants of a scattered population. It bears willow-like
    leaves one or two inches long, and less than an inch wide; but on
    vigorous shoots they are larger. The acorns are very small. Trees
    seldom exceed thirty feet in height, and a diameter of twenty
    inches; and often the trunk is divided near the ground in three or
    four stout, crooked forks. Ordinarily, it is an impossible tree to
    lumber, but sometimes a few logs find their way to sawmills and a
    little passable lumber is produced. The wood weighs 58 pounds per
    cubic foot. It is strong, but when it breaks, it snaps short. The
    heartwood is darker than in most oaks, and the sapwood is brown. The
    tree is useful for fuel. Charcoal for local blacksmith shops is
    manufactured from the wood. It is abundant on many of the sterile
    slopes and mesas of New Mexico and Arizona, but usually in the form
    of brush about the heads of canyons.



[Illustration: COW OAK]


(_Quercus Michauxii_)

This oak’s acorns are remarkably free from the bitterness due to tannin
and are therefore pleasant to the taste. Herbivorous animals eat them
when they are to be had, and the eagerness with which cattle gather them
in the fall is doubtless the reason for calling the tree cow oak. Hogs
and sheep are as eager hunters for the acorns as cattle are, and the
half-wild swine in the southern forests become marketable during the two
months of the acorn season. Children know the excellency of the cow oak
acorns, and gather them in large quantities during the early weeks of
autumn in the South. The tree is widely known as basket oak, and the
name refers to a prevailing use for the wood in early times, and a
rather common use yet. Long before anyone had made a study of the
structure of this wood, it was learned that it splits nicely into long,
slender bands, and these were employed by basket weavers for all sorts
of wares in that line. Tens of thousands of baskets were in use before
the war in the southern cottonfields, and they have not gone out of use
there yet. It is safe to say that millions of dollars worth of cotton
has been picked and “toted” in baskets made of this oak. It was natural,
therefore, that the name basket oak should be given it. Large, coarse
baskets are still made of splits of this wood, and china and other
merchandise are packed in them; while baskets of finer pattern and
workmanship are doing service about the farms and homes of thousands of

When the structure of wood became a subject of study among
dendrologists, the secret of the cow oak’s adaptability to basket making
was discovered. The annual rings of growth are broad, and the bands of
springwood and summerwood are distinct. The springwood is so perforated
with large pores that it contains comparatively little real wood
substance. The early basket maker did not notice that but he found by
experimenting that the wood split along the rings of growth into fine
ribbons. The splitting occurs along the springwood. Ribbons may be
pulled off as thin as the rings of annual growth, that is, from an
eighth to a sixteenth of an inch thick. These are the “splits” of which
baskets are made. When subjected to rough usage, such as being dragged
and hauled about cornfields and cotton plantations, such a basket will
outlast two or three of willow.

The tree is sometimes called swamp white oak, and swamp chestnut oak. It
bears some resemblance to the swamp white oak (_Quercus platanoides_)
and some people believe that both are of one species, but of slightly
different forms. It is not surprising that there should be a conflict of
names and confusion in identification. The leaf resembles that of the
chestnut oak, and to that fact is due the belief which some hold that
the chief difference between the trees is that the chestnut oak
(_Quercus prinus_) grows on dry land and cow oak in damp situations.
Botanists make a clear distinction between cow oak and all other
species, though it closely resembles some of them in several

From the northern limits of its growth in Delaware, where it is not of
any considerable size, it extends south through the Atlantic states and
into Florida, west in the Gulf states to the Trinity river in Texas, and
up the Mississippi valley, including in its range Arkansas, eastern
Missouri, southern Indiana and Illinois and western Kentucky and
Tennessee. It is distinctly of the South and may be considered the best
southern representative of the white oak group. It does best in swampy
localities where it is found in company with water hickory, sweet
magnolia, planer tree, water oak, willow oak, red maple, and red and
black gum.

In general appearance the tree gives the impression of massiveness and
strength, offset by the delicate, silvery effect of the bark and the
lining of the foliage. The usual height is sixty or eighty feet, but it
often exceeds a hundred feet, the bole attaining a diameter of as high
as seven feet and showing three log lengths clear. The characteristic
light gray, scaly, white oak bark covers trunk and heavy limbs, which
rise at narrow angles, forming a rounded head and dividing into stout
branches and twigs. The winter buds are not characteristic of white oak,
being long and pointed rather than rounded. They are about a half inch
in length, scaly, with red hairs and usually in threes on the ends of
the twigs. The general texture of the leaves is thick and heavy, their
upper surfaces being dark, lustrous green and the lower white and
covered with hairs. They are from five to seven inches long with
petioles an inch in length and of the general outline of the chestnut
leaf. Their rich crimson color is conspicuous in the fall after turning.

The wood of cow oak is hard, heavy, very tough, strong, and durable. The
heartwood is light brown, the sapwood darker colored. It weighs 50.10
pounds per cubic foot, and is not quite up to white oak in strength and
elasticity. In quarter-sawing it does not equal white oak, because the
medullary rays, though broad, are not regularly distributed, and the
surface of the quarter-sawed board has a splotchy appearance, and it is
not as easy to match figures as with white oak.

Cow oak is one of the most important hardwoods of the South. Its uses
are much the same as those for white oak farther north. The custom of
calling it white oak when it goes to market renders the collection of
statistics of uses difficult. Sawmills seldom or never list cow oak in
making reports of cut. Factories which further manufacture lumber, after
it leaves the mill, sometimes distinguish between cow oak and other
oaks. It has been found suitable material in the South for canthook
handles where it takes the place of hickory which is more expensive. It
is reported for that use in considerable quantity in Louisiana. The
handles are subjected to great strain and violent shocks. The billets
are split to the proper size, because if they are sawed they are liable
to contain cross grain which is a fatal defect. The wood is cut in
dimensions for chair stock and furniture, the better grades usually
going to furniture factories. Defective logs, short lengths, and odds
and ends may be worked into chair stock which contains a large
proportion of small pieces. The making of large plantation baskets of
this wood is still a fairly large business in Louisiana and Mississippi.
Braided bottoms of cheap chairs are of the same workmanship as baskets.

Vehicle makers in the South are large users of this wood. It is employed
in heavy wagons chiefly, and is worked into many parts, including axles,
bolsters, felloes, hubs, hounds, tongues, reaches, spokes, and

This tree is classed as white oak by coopers who accept it as stave
material. The amount used is much less than of the true white oak, but
the exact quantity taken yearly by barrel makers is not known because
statistics do not list the different white oaks separately. Cow oak
rives well when a trunk is found clear of knots. The trees are usually
smaller and less perfect than true white oak in the North.

Railroads accept crossties of this species and they give as long service
as white oak, are as hard, and hold spikes as well. The wood is accepted
by car shops for use in repairs and in new work. Trunks are split or
sawed into fence posts and are used in probably larger numbers than any
other southern oak.

This tree’s future seems fairly well assured. It will further decline in
available supply, because it is cut faster than it is growing. That is
the status of all the timber oaks of this country. This one has
advantage over some of the others in that it occupies wet land which
will not soon be in demand for agricultural purposes, and young growth
will be left to develop.

    ENGELMANN OAK (_Quercus engelmanni_) occupies a restricted range in
    southwestern California where it is generally spoken of as a desert
    tree; but its rate of growth appears to be much more rapid than is
    usual with trees in arid situations. It occupies a narrow belt in
    San Diego county and its range extends into Lower California. It
    forms about one-third of the stand in Palomar mountains, and is much
    scarcer in the Cuyamaca mountains. The tree seldom attains a height
    greater than forty or fifty feet, or a diameter more than twenty or
    thirty inches. The largest trees are of small value for lumber and
    in rare instances only, if at all, do they go to sawmills. The
    trunks fork and each branch forks, until a fairly large bole near
    the ground is divided among numerous limbs. The tree’s chief value
    is as fuel. It rates high as such. The leaves are bluish-green and
    are thick with sharp points on their margins. The leaves vary
    greatly in size, and are largest on young shoots. They remain a year
    on the tree, and are classed as evergreen. The acorns ripen in one
    year. This interesting species was named for Dr. George Engelmann,
    whose name is borne also by Engelmann spruce. The wood is among the
    heaviest of the oaks, exceeding white oak by more than twelve pounds
    per cubic foot. It is brittle and weak, and very dark brown. The
    green wood checks and warps badly in seasoning. The medullary rays
    are numerous and large, but are so irregularly dispersed that
    quarter-sawing promises no satisfactory results, even if logs of
    suitable size could be found. The annual rings are indistinct, owing
    to no clear line of separation between springwood and summerwood.
    Pores are numerous, diffuse, and some of them large. The species is
    entitled to recognition only because it is found in a region where
    forests are scarce and scrubby, and every trunk has value as fuel,
    if for nothing else. It affords a cover for hills which otherwise
    would be barren, and it frequently occurs in fairly dense thickets.



[Illustration: PACIFIC POST OAK]


(_Quercus Garryana_)

David Douglas named this tree the Garry oak, in honor of Nicholas Garry
of the Hudson Bay Company, who furnished valuable assistance to
botanists and other explorers of early times in the northwestern parts
of America. This tree is best developed in the neighborhood of Puget
Sound, the present state of Washington, and at the period of
explorations in that region by Douglas, who was a Scotchman, the country
was a sort of “no man’s land.” It was claimed by both England and the
United States, and Russia had cast covetous eyes on it as a southern
extension of her Alaska holdings. England at that time put a good deal
of dependence in the Hudson Bay Company to get possession of and to hold
as much country as possible, and Garry’s help given to explorers was
part of a well-laid plan to possess as much of the northwestern country
as possible. Douglas doubtless had that in mind when he named the oak in
honor of Garry. It was a witness and perpetual reminder that the Hudson
Bay Company’s strong arms had been stretched in that direction.

The people in California and Oregon often speak of the tree simply as
white oak, but it is sometimes called Oregon white oak, and more often
Oregon oak without a qualifying word. When it is spoken of as western
white oak, which frequently is the case, it is compared with the
well-known eastern white oak. It bears more resemblance to the eastern
post oak (_Quercus minor_) and for that reason it has been named Pacific
post oak. The leaves and twigs, particularly when they are young,
resemble post oak.

The northern limit of the tree’s range crosses southern British
Columbia. It is found in the lower valley of Frazer river and on
Vancouver island. It is the only oak tree of British Columbia. Its range
extends southward to the Santa Cruz mountains in California, but near
the southern limit of its range it is found chiefly in valleys near the
coast. It is best developed in western Washington and Oregon. It occurs
of good size on dry gravelly slopes of low hills; and it ascends the
Cascade mountains to considerable elevations, but becomes stunted and
shrubby. It is abundant in northwestern California.

The tree has a height from sixty to a hundred feet; sometimes it attains
a diameter of three and one-half feet. It carries a broad and compact
crown, especially when the tree is surrounded by young coniferous growth
as is the case in its best habitat where natural pruning gets rid of the
lower limbs and causes an outward and later a pendulous growth of the
upper part. The limbs are strong and heavy as are the branches and
twigs. The bark is a grayish-brown with shallow fissures, the broad
ridges being sometimes broken across forming square plates which are
covered with the grayish flakes or scales. The buds are long and acute,
and are coated with a red fuzz. The leaves are from four to six inches
long and are bilaterally developed, having seven or nine coarse round
lobes; the sinuses being rounded or rather shallow. The color is a dark
lustrous green and the texture leathery.

The acorn is rather large being about an inch and a quarter in length
and usually about half as broad as long; has a shallow cup covered with
pointed sometimes elongated scales.

This oak is one of the most important hardwoods of the far Northwest. It
is often compared with the eastern white oak, but its physical
properties fall below that species in some important particulars. The
two woods weigh about the same, but the eastern species is stronger and
more elastic, and is of better color and figure. All oaks season
somewhat slowly, but the Pacific post oak is hardly up to the average.
It is a common saying that it must remain two years on the sticks to fit
it for the shop, but that time may be shortened in many instances.
Checking must be carefully guarded against.

Some of this oak is exceedingly tough, and when carefully sorted and
prepared it is excellent material for heavy wagons; but the best comes
from young and comparatively small trees. When they attain large size
they are apt to become brash. The tree usually grows rapidly, and is not
old in proportion to the size of its trunk. An examination of the wood
shows broad bands of summerwood and narrow, very porous springwood. The
medullary rays are broad and numerous, and ought to show well in
quarter-sawed stock; but it does not appear that much quarter-sawing has
been done.

Practically all of this species cut in the United States is credited to
Oregon in the census of sawmill output in 1910. The cut was 2,887,000
feet, and was produced by fourteen sawmills, while in Washington only
one mill reported any oak, and the quantity was only 4,000 feet. On the
northwest Pacific coast it comes in competition with eastern oak and
also with Siberian or Japanese oak.

Basket makers put this wood to considerable use. Young trees are
selected on account of their toughness. The wood is either split in
long, thin ribbons for basket weaving, or it is first made into veneer
and then cut in ribbons of required width. The largest users are
furniture makers, but boat yards find it convenient material and it
takes the place of imported oak for frames, keels, ribs, sills, and
interior finish. It is durable, and it may be depended upon for long
service in any part of boat construction. Its toughness fits it for ax,
hammer, and other handles. It is far inferior to hickory, but on the
Pacific coast it can be had much cheaper. Its strength and durability
make it one of the best western woods for insulator pins for telephone
and telegraph lines. It is worked into saddle trees and stirrups.

The scarcity of woods on the Pacific coast suitable for tight cooperage
gives this oak a rather important place, because barrels and casks made
of it hold alcoholic liquors. Available statistics do not show the
quantity of staves produced from this wood, but it is known to be used
for staves in Oregon.

Much Pacific post oak is employed as rough lumber for various purposes.
Railroads buy crossties, hewed or sawed from small trunks, and country
bridges are occasionally floored with thick planks which wear well and
offer great resistance to decay.

The quantity of this oak growing in the Northwest is not known. It falls
far below some of the softwoods of the same region, and the area on
which it is found in commercial amounts is not large. It is holding its
ground fairly well. Trees bear full crops of acorns frequently, and if
they fall on damp humus they germinate and grow. The seedlings imitate
the eastern white oak, and send tap roots deep into the ground, and are
then prepared for fortune or adversity. It happens, however, that trees
which bear the most bountiful crops of acorns do not stand in forests
where the ground is damp and humus abundant, but on more open ground on
grass covered slopes. Acorns which fall on sod seldom germinate, and
consequently few seedlings are to be seen in such situations. Open-grown
trees are poorly suited for lumber, on account of many limbs low on the
trunks, but they grow large amounts of cordwood.

    CALIFORNIA SCRUB OAK (_Quercus dumosa_) has been a puzzle to
    botanists, and a hopeless enigma to laymen. Some would split the
    species into no fewer than three species and three varieties, basing
    distinctions on forms of leaves and acorns and other botanical
    differences; but Sudworth, after a prolonged study of this matter,
    recognized only one species and one variety, but admitted that
    “California scrub oak unquestionably varies more than all other oaks
    in the form and size of its leaves and acorns.” He thought it might
    possibly be equalled in that respect by _Quercus undulata_ of the
    Rocky Mountains. Some of the leaves of California scrub oak are
    three-fourths of an inch long and half an inch wide, while others
    may be four inches long. The edges of some leaves are as briery as
    the leaves of holly, others are comparatively smooth. The shapes and
    sizes of acorns vary as much as the leaves. Some are long and
    slender, others short and stocky. This peculiar oak is found only in
    California, but it shows a disposition to advance as far as possible
    into the sea, for it has gained a foothold on islands lying off the
    California coast, and it there finds its most acceptable habitat. It
    reaches its largest size in sheltered canyons on the islands, and
    attains a height of twenty or twenty-five feet, and a diameter of a
    foot or less. It is not large enough to win favor with lumbermen but
    in its scrubby form it is abundant in many localities. It is
    scattered over several thousand square miles, from nearly sea level
    up to 7,000 feet in the mountains of southern California. It is
    found scattered through the coast range and the Sierra Nevadas from
    Mendocino county to Lower California, 700 miles or more. It grows
    from sprouts and from acorns. The leaves adhere to the twigs
    thirteen months, and fall after the new crop has appeared. The wood
    is light brown, hard, and brittle. No use is made of it, except to a
    small extent for fuel. On the mountains it grows in thickets
    scarcely five feet high, but they cover the ground in dense jungles,
    and the roots go deep in the ground. The species is valuable chiefly
    for protection to steep slopes which would otherwise be without much
    growth of any kind. Being low on the ground, forest fires are
    particularly destructive to this oak; but its ability to send up
    sprouts repairs the damage to some extent.

    EMORY OAK (_Quercus emoryi_) grows among the mountains of western
    Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, attains a height from thirty to
    seventy feet, and a diameter from one to four. The largest size is
    found only in sheltered canyons, while on high mountains and in
    exposed situations the tree degenerates to a shrub. It always has a
    crop of leaves. The old do not fall until the new appear. In shape,
    the leaves somewhat resemble those of box elder. The acorns ripen
    from June to September, the exact time depending upon the tree’s
    situation. Trunks large enough for use are not scarce, but the wood
    is not of high class. Stair railing and balusters have been made of
    it in Texas, but the appearance is rather poor. The grain is coarse,
    the figure common, the color unsatisfactory. The heart is very dark,
    but the tones are not uniform, and flat surfaces, such as boards and
    panels, show streaks which are not sufficiently attractive to be
    taken for figure. Trunks are apt to be full of black knots which mar
    the appearance of the lumber. The medullary rays are numerous and
    broad, and in quarter-sawing, the size and arrangement of the
    “mirrors” are all that could be desired, but they have a decidedly
    pink color which does not contrast very well with the rest of the
    wood. The weight of this oak exceeds per cubic foot white oak, by
    more than ten pounds; but it has scarcely half the strength or half
    the elasticity of white oak. The springwood is filled with large
    pores, the summerwood with smaller ones. It rates high as fuel, and
    that is its chief value. Large quantities are cut for cordwood.
    Railroad ties are made of it, and more or less goes into mines as
    props and lagging. Stock ranches make fences, sheds, and corrals of
    this oak, and live stock eats the acorns. The human inhabitants
    likewise find the Emory oak acorn crop a source of food. Mexicans
    gather them in large quantities and sell what they can spare. The
    market for the acorns is found in towns in northwestern Mexico.



[Illustration: CHESTNUT OAK]


(_Quercus Prinus_)

This tree is known as rock oak in New York; as rock chestnut oak in
Massachusetts and Rhode Island; as rock oak and rock chestnut oak in
Pennsylvania and Delaware; as tanbark oak and swampy chestnut oak in
North Carolina and as rock chestnut oak and mountain oak in Alabama.

There is a pretty general disposition to call this tree rock oak. The
name refers to the hardness of the wood, and is not confined to this
species. Other oaks are also given that name, and the adjective “rock”
is applied to two or three species of elm which possess wood remarkable
for its hardness. Cedar and pine are likewise in the class. In all of
these classes “rock” is employed to denote hardness of wood. Iron as an
adjective or ironwood as a noun is used in the same way for a number of
trees. The name swampy chestnut oak as applied in some parts of the
South to this tree, is hardly descriptive, for it is less a swamp tree
than most of the oaks, though it does often grow along the banks of

Its distribution ranges from the coast of southern Maine and the Blue
Hills of eastern Massachusetts southward to Delaware and the District of
Columbia; along the Appalachian mountains to northern Georgia and
Alabama; westward to the shores of Lake Champlain and the valley of the
Genesee river, New York; along the northern shores of Lake Erie and to
central Kentucky and Tennessee. It is rare and local in New England and
Ontario, but plentiful on the banks of the lower Hudson river and on the
Appalachian mountains from southern New York to Alabama. It reaches its
best development in the region from West Virginia to North Carolina,
pretty high on the ridges flanking the mountain ranges.

Leaves are alternate, from five to nine inches long, with coarse teeth
rounded at the top. At maturity, they are thick and firm, yellow-green
and rather lustrous on the upper surface, paler and usually hairy
beneath. In the autumn before falling, they turn a dull orange color or

The flowers appear in May and are solitary or paired on short spurs. The
fruit or acorn is solitary or in pairs, one or two and one-half inches
long, very lustrous and of a bright chestnut-brown color. The acorn cup
is thin, downy-lined and covered with small scales. The kernel is sweet
and edible. The bark of the chestnut oak is thin, smooth, purplish-brown
and often lustrous on young stems and small branches, becoming a thick,
dark, reddish-brown, or nearly black on old trunks, and divided into
broad rounded ridges, separating on the surface into small, closely
appressed scales. The bark of the tree is so dark in color and so deeply
furrowed that it has often been mistaken for one of the black oak group,
although its wavy leaf margins and annual fruit clearly differentiate it
from those species. The bark of the chestnut oak is thicker and rougher
on old trunks than on any other oak.

The bark of chestnut oak has long been valuable for tanning. There is
tannin in the bark of all oaks, and several of them contain it in paying
quantities, but chestnut oak is more important to the leather industry
than any other oak. In richness of tannin the tanbark oak of California
occupies as high a place, but it is not supplying as much material as
the eastern tree. Statistics showing the annual consumption of tanbark
and tanning extracts in the United States, do not list the oaks
separately, but it is well known that chestnut oak far surpasses all
others in output. Hemlock bark is peeled in large quantities, but
tanneries occasionally mix chestnut oak bark with it to lighten the deep
red color imparted to leather when hemlock bark is the sole material

Large quantities of chestnut oak timber have been destroyed to procure
the bark. Fortunately, it is a practice not much indulged in at present,
because the wood now has value, but it formerly had little. It was then
abandoned in the forest after the bark was peeled and hauled away. The
same practice obtained with hemlock years ago. Much chestnut oak is
still cut primarily for the bark, but the logs are worth hauling to
sawmills, unless in remote districts.

The chestnut oak is a vigorous tree and grows rapidly in dry soil, where
it often forms a great part of the forest. It is not as large as the
white oak or red oak, but is a splendid tree, its bole being very
symmetrical and holding its size well. It grows usually to a height of
from sixty to seventy feet and sometimes 100 feet, with a diameter of
from two to five feet and occasionally as large as seven feet.

The form of the tree shows great variation, depending upon the situation
in which it grows. Trees in open ground often divide into forks or large
limbs, and the trunks are short and of poor form. Open-grown trees show
a decided tendency to develop crooked boles, and unduly large branches.
No such objection can be urged against it when it grows under forest
conditions. Trunks are straight and are otherwise of good form.

The wood of chestnut oak differs little from that of white oak in
weight, strength, and stiffness. It is hard, rather tough, durable in
contact with the soil, and is darker in color than white oak. It has
few large, open pores, and requires less filler in finishing than most
oaks. There are many pores, however, and those in the springwood are
arranged in bands. The summerwood is broad and distinct, usually
constituting three-fourths of the annual ring. The medullary rays are as
broad and numerous as in the best furniture oaks. They are regularly
arranged, and spaces between them do not vary much in width. The wood
quarter-saws well.

The wood has the fault of checking badly in seasoning, unless carefully
attended to. In recent years, these difficulties have been largely
overcome, both in air seasoning and in the drykiln.

Chestnut oak has a wide range of uses. It is classed as white oak in
many markets, but few users buy it believing it to be true white oak. It
is coming year by year to stand more on its own merits. Some sawmills
which formerly piled it and sold it with other oaks, now keep it
separate, and some factories which once took it only because it came
mixed with other oaks, now buy it for special uses, and make high-class
commodities of it. One of these is mission furniture, which has become
fashionable in recent years. Chestnut oak possesses good fuming
properties, and this constitutes much of its value as furniture

The wood is found in factories where general furniture is made. It is
largely frame material for furniture though some of it is for outside
finish. It is employed as frames in Maryland in the construction of
canal boats, and the annual demand for that purpose is about a quarter
of a million feet in that state.

One of the most important places for chestnut oak is in the shop which
makes vehicles. It goes into sills for both heavy and light bodies,
bolsters, and wagon bottoms. It has become a favorite wagon wood in
England and in continental Europe, and there passes as white oak, though
dealers well know that it is not the true white oak. There is no
indication that demand for it will lessen, for it possesses many
characters which fit it for vehicle making.

In Michigan more chestnut oak is reported by car builders than by any
other class of manufacturers, though wagon makers buy it. Car shops use
about 220,000 feet a year, and work it into hand cars, push cars,
track-laying cars, and cattle guards.

The large remaining area of timber growth in which chestnut oak appears
is the Appalachian range through eastern Tennessee and western North
Carolina, and the fact that it is comparatively plentiful in the forests
of the Appalachian range will tend to bring it more and more into
prominence as a factor in the making of wagons, cars, boats, staves, and
furniture as the other oaks become scarcer.

The probable future of chestnut oak is an interesting problem for
study. Few steps have yet been taken looking toward providing for
generations to come. Chestnut oak has been left to take care of itself.
The trees, produced in nature’s way, have been ample to supply all needs
in the past, and they will be for the near future. Chestnut oak
possesses some advantages over most of the other oaks. Large trees will
grow on very poor soil, where most other oaks are little more than
shrubs. Trees so grown are little more susceptible to disease than if
produced in good soil, though they develop more slowly and are smaller.
There are many poor flats and sterile ridges in the chestnut oak’s
range, and they will produce timber of fairly good kind, if the chestnut
oaks are permitted to have them. Nature gave this tree facilities for
taking possession. Its acorns will grow without being buried. They do
not depend on blue jays to carry them to sunny openings or squirrels to
plant them; but they will sprout where they fall, whether on hard
gravelly soil or dry leaves; and they at once set about getting the tap
roots of the future trees into the ground. In many instances the
chestnut oak’s acorns do not wait to fall from the tree before they
sprout. Like the seed of the Florida mangrove, they are often ready to
take root the day they touch the ground. The large acorn is stored with
plantfood which sustains the growing germ for some time, and the ground
must be very hard and exceedingly dry if a young chestnut oak is not
soon firmly established, and good for two or three hundred years, if let

The forester who may undertake to grow chestnut oaks must exercise great
care in transplanting the seedlings, or the tap roots will be broken and
the young trees will die. The best plan is to drop acorns on the ground
where trees are expected to grow, and nature will do the rest, provided
birds and beasts leave the acorns alone.



[Illustration: CHINQUAPIN OAK]


(_Quercus Acuminata_)

This tree is known as yellow chestnut oak, chinquapin oak, chestnut oak,
pin oak, yellow oak, scrub oak, dwarf chestnut oak, shrub oak, and rock
oak. It should not be confused with _Quercus prinus_, the true chestnut
oak, although it is commonly known in so many sections of the country by
the latter name; the names yellow oak, pin oak, and scrub oak are
likewise applied to many species, so that the only way to accurately
designate members of this great family is to employ their botanical
names. However, this species should always be known as the chinquapin
oak, which is a distinctive term, and not applied to any other.

The bark of this tree is light gray and is broken into thin flakes,
silvery-white, sometimes slightly tinted with brown, rarely half an inch
thick. The branchlets are marked with pale lenticels.

The leaves of the chinquapin oak are from five to seven inches long,
simple and alternate; they have a taper-pointed apex and blunt,
wedge-shaped or pointed base; are sharply toothed. When unfolding they
show bright bronze-green above, tinged with purple, and are covered
underneath with light silvery down; at maturity they become thick and
firm, showing greenish-yellow on the upper surface and silvery-white
below. The midrib is conspicuous and the veins extending outward to the
points of the teeth are well-defined. In autumn the leaves turn orange
and scarlet and are very showy. The leaves are narrow, hardly two inches
wide, and more nearly resemble those of the chestnut than do any other
oak leaves. In their broadest forms they are also similar to those of
the true chestnut oak, although the difference in the quality and color
of the bark, and of the leaves, would prevent either tree from being
mistaken for the other. They are crowded at the ends of the branches and
hang in such a manner as to show their under surfaces with every touch
of breeze. This characteristic gives the chinquapin oak a peculiar
effect of constantly shifting color which is one of its most attractive
features and which puts the observer in mind of the trembling aspen,
although the shading and coloring of the oak is much more striking.

This tree’s range extends from northern New York, along Lake Champlain
and the Hudson river westward through southern Ontario, and southward
into parts of Nebraska and Kansas; on its eastern boundary it extends as
far south as the District of Columbia and along the upper Potomac; the
growth west of the Alleghany mountains reaches into central Alabama and
Mississippi, through Arkansas and the northern portion of Louisiana to
the eastern part of Oklahoma and parts of Texas even to the canyons of
the Guadalupe mountains, in the extreme western part of that state. It
is a timber tree of much importance in Texas, and in 1910 manufacturers
reported the use of 1,152,000 feet in that state, largely for making
furniture and vegetable crates.

The chinquapin oak is named from the form of its leaf. Its acorn bears
no resemblance to the nut of chinquapin. Trees average smaller in size
than white oak, but when all circumstances are favorable they compare
well with any of the other oaks. In the lower Wabash valley, trees of
this species were found in the original forests 160 feet high and four
or five in diameter. When it grows in crowded stands it develops a tall,
symmetrical trunk, clear of limbs; but it is shorter in open growth. The
base is often much buttressed.

The wood is very heavy, hard, strong, stiff, and durable. In color the
heartwood is dark, the sapwood lighter. The springwood is narrow and
filled with large pores, the summerwood broad and dense. Medullary rays
are less numerous and scarcely as broad as in chestnut oak, which this
wood resembles. It checks badly in drying, both by kiln and in the open
air; but when properly seasoned it is an excellent wood for most
purposes for which white oak is used. It shows fewer figures when
quarter-sawed than white oak shows, but it is satisfactory for many
kinds of furniture, particularly when finished in mission style.

Railroads throughout the region where this species is found have laid
chinquapin oak ties in their tracks for many years and they give long
service, because they resist decay and are hard enough to stand the wear
of the rails. In early times in the Ohio valley it helped to fence many
a farm when the material for such fences was the old style fence rail,
eleven feet long, mauled from the straightest, clearest timber afforded
by the primeval forest. It had for companions many other oaks which were
abundant there, and it was on a par with the best of them. In the first
years of steamboating on the Ohio river, when the engines used wood for
fuel, they provided a market for many an old rail fence. The rails were
the best obtainable fuel, and the chinquapin oak rails in the heaps were
carefully looked for by the purchasers, because they were rated high in
fuel value. It is now known that chinquapin oak in combustion develops
considerably more heat than an equal quantity of white oak.

When southern Indiana and Illinois were furnishing coopers with their
best staves, chinquapin oak was ricked with white oak, and no barrel
maker ever complained. The pores in the wood seem large, but in old
timber which is largely heartwood, the pores become clogged by the
processes of nature, and the wood is made proof against leakage. That is
what gives white oak its superiority as stave timber. It has as many
pores as red oak, but upon close examination under a magnifying glass,
they are found to be plugged, while red oak’s pores are wide open. The
result is that red oak barrels leak through the wood; those made of
white oak do not. Chinquapin oak possesses the same properties, which
account for its reputation as stave material.

The future for chinquapin oak is not quite as promising as that of
chestnut oak. The former’s choice growing place is on rich soil and in
damp situations. These happen to be what the farmer wants, and he will
not leave the chinquapin oak alone to grow in nature’s method, nor will
he plant its acorns in places where the trees will interfere with his
cornfields and meadows. Consequently, the tree is apt to receive scant
consideration after the original forests have disappeared; while its
poor cousin, the chestnut oak, will be left to make its way on sterile
ridges, and may even receive some help from the forester and woodlot

    VALLEY OAK (_Quercus lobata_) is often considered to be the largest
    hardwood of the Pacific coast. Trunk diameters of ten feet have been
    recorded, and heights more than 100; but such measurements belong
    only to rare and extraordinary individuals. The average size of the
    tree is less than half of that. The most famous tree of this species
    is the Sir Joseph Hooker oak, near Chico, California, though it is
    not the largest. It is seven feet in diameter and 100 high. It was
    named by the botanist Asa Gray in 1877. This species is commonly
    called California white oak, which name would be unobjectionable if
    it were the only white oak in California. A more distinctive name is
    weeping oak, which refers to the appearance of the outer branches.
    It is called swamp oak, but without good reason, though the ground
    on which it grows is often swampy during the rainy season. The name
    valley oak is specially appropriate, since its favorite habitat is
    in the broad valleys of central California. Its range does not go
    outside that state, neither does the tree grow very high on the
    mountains. Its range begins in the upper Sacramento valley and
    extends to Tejon, south of Lake Tulare, a distance north and south
    of about five hundred miles, while east and west the tree is found
    from the Sierra foothills to the sea, 150 or 200 miles. Its
    characteristic growth is in scattered stands. It does not form
    forests in the ordinary sense. Two or three large trees to the acre
    are an average, and often many acres are wholly missed. The form of
    trees, and the wide spaces between them, resemble an old apple
    orchard, though few apple trees live to attain the dimensions of the
    valley oak of ordinary size. The best stands were originally in the
    Santa Clara valley and in the central part of the San Joaquin valley
    in the salt grass region north of Lake Tulare in Kings and Fresno
    counties. Most of the largest trees were cut long ago.

    The leaves are lobed like white oak (_Quercus alba_) but are
    smaller, seldom more than four inches long and two wide. The acorns
    are uncommonly long, some of them being two and a half inches, sharp
    pointed, with shallow cups. The wood of this oak is brash and breaks
    easily. It is far below good eastern oak in strength and elasticity.
    It weighs 46.17 pounds per cubic foot. The tree grows rapidly, and
    its wide, clearly defined annual rings are largely dense summerwood.
    The springwood is perforated with large pores. The color of the wood
    is light brown, the sapwood lighter. Except as fuel, the uses found
    for valley oak hardly come up to what might be expected of a tree so
    large. It is not difficult, or at least was not difficult once, to
    cut logs sixteen feet long and from three to five in diameter. Such
    logs ought to make good lumber. The medullary rays indicate that the
    wood can be quarter-sawed to advantage; yet there is no account that
    any serious attempt was ever made to convert the valley oak into
    lumber. The wood has some objectionable properties, but it has
    escaped the sawmill chiefly because hardwood mills have never been
    numerous in California, and they have been especially few in the
    regions where the best valley oaks grow. The tree has been a great
    source of fuel. It usually divides twenty or thirty feet from the
    ground into large, wide-spreading branches, tempting to the
    woodchopper. In central California, twenty or thirty years ago, it
    was not unusual to haul this cordwood twenty-five miles to market.
    Stockmen employed posts and rails split from valley oak to enclose
    corrals and pens on the open plains for holding cattle, sheep, and
    horses. The acorns are edible, and were formerly an article of food
    for Indians who gathered them in considerable quantities in the fall
    and stored them for winter in large baskets which were secured high
    in the forks of trees to be out of reach of all ordinary marauders.
    The baskets were made rain proof by roofing and wrapping them with
    grass. When the time came for eating the acorns, they were prepared
    for use by hulling them and then pounding them into meal in stone
    mortars. The hulling was done with the teeth, and was the work of
    squaws. The custom of eating the acorns has largely ceased with the
    passing of the wild Indians from their former camping places; but
    the stone mortars by hundreds remain in the vicinity of former
    stands of valley oak.

    This splendid tree is highly ornamental, but it has not been
    planted, and perhaps it will not become popular. Nature seems to
    have confined it to a certain climate, and it is not known that it
    will thrive outside of it. It will certainly disappear from many of
    the valleys where the largest trees once grew. The land is being
    taken for fields and vineyards, and the oaks are removed. Some will
    remain in canyons and rough places where the land is not wanted, and
    one of the finest species of the United States will cease to pass
    entirely from earth. The largest of these oaks have a spread of
    branches covering more than one-third of an acre.



[Illustration: LIVE OAK]


(_Quercus Virginiana_)

The history of this live oak is a reversal of the history of almost
every other important forest tree of the United States. It seems to be
the lone exception to the rule that the use of a certain wood never
decreases until forced by scarcity. There was a time when hardly any
wood in this country was in greater demand than this, and now there is
hardly one in less demand. The decline has not been the result of
scarcity, for there has never been a time when plenty was not in sight.
A few years ago, several fine live oaks were cut in making street
changes in New Orleans, and a number of sound logs, over three feet in
diameter, were rolled aside, and it was publicly announced that anyone
who would take them away could have them. No one took them. It is
doubtful if that could happen with timber of any other kind.

The situation was different 120 years ago. At that time live oak was in
such demand that the government, soon after the adoption of the
constitution, became anxious lest enough could not be had to meet the
requirements of the navy department. The keels of the first war vessels
built by this government were about to be laid, and the most necessary
material for their construction was live oak. The vessels were to be of
wood, of course; and their strength and reliability depended upon the
size and quality of the heavy braces used in the lower framework. These
braces were called knees and were crooked at right angles. They were
hewed in solid pieces, and the largest weighed nearly 1,000 pounds. No
other wood was as suitable as live oak, which is very strong, and it
grows knees in the form desired. The crooks produced by the junction of
large roots with the base of the trunk were selected, and shipbuilders
with saws, broadaxes, and adzes cut them in the desired sizes and

When the building of the first ships of the navy was undertaken, the
alarm was sounded that live oak was scarce, and that speculators were
buying it to sell to European governments. Congress appropriated large
sums of money and bought islands and other lands along the south
Atlantic and Gulf coast, where the best live oak grew. In Louisiana
alone the government bought 37,000 live oak trees, as well as large
numbers in Florida and Georgia. In some instances the land on which the
trees stood was bought.

Ship carpenters were sent from New England to hew knees for the first
vessels of the navy. The story of the troubles and triumphs of the
contractors and knee cutters is an interesting one, but too long for
even a summary here; suffice it that in due time the vessels were
finished. The history of those vessels is almost a history of the early
United States navy. Among their first duties when they put to sea was to
fight French warships, when this country was about to get into trouble
with Napoleon. They then fought the pirates of North Africa, and there
one of the ships was burned by its own men to prevent its falling into
the hands of the enemy. “Old Ironsides,” another of the live oak
vessels, fought fourteen ships, one at a time, during the war of 1812,
and whipped them all. Another of the vessels was less fortunate. It was
lost in battle, in which its commander, Lawrence, was killed, whose last
words have become historic: “Don’t give up the ship.” Another came down
to the Civil war and was sunk in Chesapeake bay.

The invention of iron vessels ended the demand for live oak knees. The
government held its land where this timber grew for a long time, but
finally disposed of most of it. Part of that owned in Florida was
recently incorporated in one of the National Forests of that state.

Live oak is a tree of striking appearance. It prefers the open, and when
of large size its spread of branches often is twice the height of the
tree. Its trunk is short, but massy, and of enormous strength; otherwise
it could not sustain the great weight of its heavy branches. Some of the
largest limbs are nearly two feet in diameter where they leave the
trunk, and are fifty feet long, and some are seventy-five feet in
length. Probably the only tree in this country with a wider spread of
branches is the valley oak of California. The live oak’s trunk is too
short for more than one sawlog, and that of moderate length. The largest
specimens may be seventy feet high and six or seven feet in diameter,
and yet not good for a sixteen-foot log. The enormous roots are of no
use now. When land is cleared of this oak, the stumps are left to rot.

The range of live oak extends 4,000 miles or more northeast and
southwest. It begins on the coast of Virginia and ends in Central
America. It is found in Lower California and in Cuba. In southern United
States it sticks pretty closely to the coastal plains, though large
trees grow 200 or 300 feet above tide level. In Texas it is inclined to
rise higher on the mountains, but live oak in Texas seldom measures up
to that which grows further east. In southern Texas, where the land is
poor and dry, live oak degenerates into a shrub. Trees only a foot high
sometimes bear acorns. In all its range in this country, it is known by
but one English name, given it because it is evergreen. The leaves
remain on the tree about thirteen months, following the habit of a
number of other oaks. When new leaves appear, the old ones get out of
the way.

The wood is very heavy, hard, strong, and tough. In strength and
stiffness it rates higher than white oak, and it is twelve pounds a
cubic foot heavier. The sapwood is light in color, the heartwood brown,
sometimes quite dark. The pores in the sapwood are open, but many of
them are closed in heartwood. The annual rings are moderately well
defined. The large pores are in the springwood, and those of the
summerwood are smaller, but numerous. The medullary rays are numerous
and dark. Measured radially, they are shorter than those of many other
oaks. They show well in quarter-sawed lumber, but are arranged
peculiarly, and do not form large groups of figures; but the wood
presents a rather flecked or wavy appearance. The general tone is dark
brown and very rich. It takes a smooth polish. When the wood is worked
into spindles and small articles, and brightly polished, its appearance
suggests dark polished granite, but the similitude is not sustained
under close examination. Grills composed of small spindles and
scrollwork are strikingly beautiful if displayed in light which does the
wood justice. Composite panels are manufactured by joining narrow strips
edge to edge. Selected pieces of dressed live oak suggest Circassian
walnut, but would not pass as an imitation on close inspection. It may
be stated generally that live oak is far from being a dead, flat wood,
but is capable of being worked for various effects. Its value as a
cabinet material has not been appreciated in the past, nor have its
possibilities been suspected. It dropped out of notice when shipbuilders
dispensed with it, and people seem to have taken for granted that it had
no value for anything else. The form of the trunks makes possible the
cutting of short stock only; but there is abundance of it. It fringes a
thousand miles of coast. Many a trunk, short though it is, will cut
easily a thousand feet of lumber. Working the large roots in veneer has
not been undertaken, but good judges of veneers, who know what the
stumps and roots contain, have expressed the opinion that a field is
there awaiting development.

Published reports of the uses of woods of various states seldom mention
live oak. In Texas some of it is employed in the manufacture of parquet
flooring. It is dark and contrasts with the blocks or strips of maple or
some other light wood. It is turned in the lathe for newel posts for
stairs, and contributes to other parts of stair work. In Louisiana it is
occasionally found in shops where vehicles are made. It meets
requirements as axles for heavy wagons. Stone masons’ mauls are made of
live oak knots. They stand nearly as much pounding as lignum-vitæ. More
live oak is cut for fuel than for all other purposes. It develops much
heat, but a large quantity of ashes remains.

The live oak is the most highly valued ornamental tree of the South,
though it has seldom been planted. Nature placed these oaks where they
are growing. Many an old southern homestead sits well back in groves of
live oak. Parks and plazas in towns have them, and would not part with
them on any terms. Tallahassee, Florida, is almost buried under live
oaks which in earlier years sheltered the wigwams of an Indian town.
Villages near the coasts of both the Gulf and the Atlantic in several
southern states have their venerable trees large enough for half the
people to find shade beneath the branches at one time. Many fine stands
have been cut in recent years to make room for corn, cane, and rice.

Many persons associate the live oak with Spanish moss which festoons its
branches in the Gulf region. The moss is no part of the tree, and
apparently draws no substance from it, though it may smother the leaves
by accumulation, or break the branches by its weight. Strictly speaking,
the beard-like growth is not moss at all, but a sort of pine apple
(_Dendropogon usenoides_) which simply hangs on the limbs and draws its
sustenance from water and air. It is found on other trees, besides live
oak, and dealers in Louisiana alone sell half a million dollars worth of
it a year to upholsterers in all the principal countries of the world.



[Illustration: RED OAK]


(_Quercus Rubra_)

    [4] Red oak belongs to the black oak group. Other species usually
    listed as black oaks are Pin oak (_Quercus palustris_), Georgia oak
    (_Quercus georgiana_), Texan red oak (_Quercus texana_), Scarlet oak
    (_Quercus coccinea_), Yellow oak (_Quercus velutina_), California
    black oak (_Quercus californica_), Turkey oak (_Quercus catesbæi_),
    Spanish oak (_Quercus digitata_), Black Jack oak (_Quercus
    marilandica_), Water oak (_Quercus nigra_), Willow oak (_Quercus
    phellos_), Laurel oak (_Quercus laurifolia_), Blue Jack oak
    (_Quercus brevifolia_), Shingle oak (_Quercus imbricaria_),
    Whiteleaf oak (_Quercus hypoleuca_), Highland oak (_Quercus
    wislizeni_), Myrtle oak (_Quercus myrtifolia_), California live oak
    (_Quercus agrifolia_--sometimes classed with white oaks), Canyon
    live oak (_Quercus chrysolepis_), an evergreen oak with no English
    name, (_Quercus tomentella_), Price oak (_Quercus pricei_), Morehus
    oak (_Quercus morehus_), Tanbark oak (_Quercus densiflora_), Barren
    oak (_Quercus pumila_).

When a lumberman speaks of red oak he may mean any one of a good many
kinds of trees, but when a botanist or forester uses that name he means
one particular species and no other. For that reason there is much
uncertainty as to what species is in the lumberman’s mind when he speaks
of red oak. It means more to him than a single species, depending to a
considerable extent upon the part of the country where he is doing
business. If he is in the Gulf states, and has in mind a tree which
grows there, he does not refer to the tree known to botanists as red
oak. He may mean the Texan or southern red oak (_Quercus texana_), or
the willow oak (_Quercus phellos_), or the yellow oak (_Quercus
velutina_), or any one of several others which grow in that region; but
the typical red oak does not grow farther south than the mountains of
northern Georgia; and any one who is cutting oak south or southwest of
there, is cutting other than the true red oak. That does not imply that
he is handling something inferior, for very fine oak grows there; but in
an effort to separate the commercial black oaks into respective species,
it is necessary to define them by metes and bounds of ranges as well as
to describe them by characteristics of leaves, acorns, and wood. The
time will probably never come in this country when the sawmill man will
pile each species of oak separately in his yard, and sell separately;
but the tendency is in that direction. The twenty-five or more black
oaks in this country all have some characteristics in common; but they
are by no means all valuable alike, or all useful for the same purposes.
For that reason, the demands of trade require, and will require more and
more as higher utilization is reached, that certain kinds of red oak or
black oak be sold separately.

What lumbermen call red oaks, speaking in the plural, botanists prefer
to call black oaks. The difference is only a difference in name for the
same group of trees. The general dark color of the bark suggests the
name to botanists, while the red tint of the wood appeals more to the
lumberman, and he prefers the general name red oaks for the group. They
mature their acorns the second year, while the trees belonging to the
white oak group ripen theirs the first year. There are other
differences, some of which are apparent to the casual observer, and
others are seen only by the trained eye--often aided by the
microscope--of the dendrologist. Several of the black oaks have leaves
with sharp pointed lobes, ending in bristles. This helps to separate
them from the white oaks, but not from one another, for the true red
oak, the scarlet oak, the yellow oak, the pin oak, and others, have the
sharp-pointed lobes on their leaves; while the willow oaks have no lobes
or bristles on theirs, yet are as truly in the black oak group as any of
the others. The identification of tree species, particularly when they
are as much alike as some of the oaks are, is too difficult for the
layman if he undertakes to carry it along the whole line; but it is
comparatively easy if confined to the leading woods only. An
understanding of the geographical range of a certain tree often helps to
separate it from others. The knowledge that a tree does not grow in a
particular part of the country, is proof at once that a tree in that
region resembling it must be something else. If that principal is borne
in mind it will greatly lessen mistakes in identifying trees. In
accounts of the black oaks in the following pages, a careful delimiting
of ranges will be attempted in the case of each.

The range of red oak extends from Nova Scotia and southern New Brunswick
through Quebec and along the northern shore of Lake Huron, west to
Nebraska. It covers the Ohio valley and reaches as far south as middle
Tennessee. It runs south through the Atlantic states to Virginia, while
among the Appalachian mountains the range is prolonged southward into
northern Georgia. That is the tree’s extreme southern limit. It reaches
its largest size in the region north of the Ohio river, and among the
mountain valleys of West Virginia, and southward to Tennessee and North
Carolina. It is a northern species. Toward its southern limit it meets
the northern part of the Texan red oak’s range (_Quercus texana_). There
is some overlapping, and in many localities the two species grow side by

The red oak is known by that name in all parts of its range, but in some
regions it is called black oak, and in others Spanish oak. The latter
name properly belongs to another oak (_Quercus digitata_) which touches
it along the southern border of its range.

The average size of red oak in the best part of its range is a little
under that of white oak, but some specimens are 150 feet high and six
feet in diameter. Heights of seventy and eighty feet are usual, and
diameters of three and four are frequent. The forest grown tree disposes
of its lower limbs early in life, and develops a long, smooth trunk,
with a narrow crown. The bark on young stems and on the upper parts of
limbs of old trees is smooth and light gray. All leaves do not have the
same number of lobes, and they are sharp pointed, and fall early in

The acorns are bitter, and are regarded as poor mast. Hogs will leave
them alone if they can find white oak acorns, and squirrels will do
likewise. The best red oak timber grows from acorns, though stumps will
send up sprouts. The sprout growth may become trees of fairly large
size, but they are apt to decay at the butt. The acorn-grown tree is as
free from defects as the average forest tree. Cracks sometimes develop
in the trunk, extending up and down many feet. Unless the logs are
carefully sawed, a considerable loss occurs where these cracks cross the
boards. Trunks are occasionally bored by worms, as all other oaks may

Red oak grows rapidly. It will produce small sawlogs in the lifetime of
a man. It is a favorite tree for crossties, and railroads have made
large plantings for that purpose. The ties do not last well in their
natural state, but they are easy to treat with preservatives by which
several years are added to their period of service. It has been a
favorite tree with European planters for the past two hundred years; but
the most of the plantings beyond the sea have been for ornament in parks
and private grounds.

The principal interest in red oak in this country is due to its value
for lumber. That interest is of comparatively recent date. Some red oak
has always been used for rails, clapboards, slack cooperage, and rough
lumber; but while white oak was cheap and plentiful, sawmill men usually
let red oak alone. It had a poor reputation, which is now known to have
been undeserved.

Red oak is lighter than white oak, and it is generally regarded as
possessing less strength and stiffness. The wide rings of annual growth,
and the distinct layers of springwood and summerwood, give the basis for
good figure. To this may be added broad and regular medullary rays which
are nicely brought out by quarter-sawing. The tone of the wood is red,
to which fact the name red oak is due. It has large, open pores. A
magnifying glass is not required to see them in the end of a stick. It
is said that smoke may be blown through a piece of red oak a foot in
length. These open pores disqualify the wood for use in tight cooperage.
Liquids will leak through the pores. Statistics of sawmill output in
this country do not separate the white and black oaks, and the quantity
of lumber sawed from any one species is not known. Manufacturers are
disposed to separate them. Some furniture makers use red oak exclusively
for certain purposes, and the same rule is followed by makers of other



[Illustration: TEXAN RED OAK]


(_Quercus Texana_)

The line between red oak (_Quercus rubra_) and Texan red oak is closely
drawn by botanists, but lumbermen do not recognize much difference
except toward the extreme ranges of each. Some call one simply red oak
and the other southern red oak, but that leaves doubtful the timber on a
large area occupied by both species. Their ranges overlap two or three
hundred miles in the Ohio valley and on the southern tributaries of the
Ohio river in Kentucky and Tennessee. A large amount of red oak from
that region goes to market, and no one knows, and few care, whether it
is of the northern or southern species. It is usually a mixture of both.
But outside of the common zone where both trees grow, the woods of the
two are kept fairly well separate. Thirty years ago Texan red oak
received slight recognition from botanists. When Charles S. Sargent
compiled in 1880 a volume of over 600 pages, “Forest Trees of North
America,” for the United States government, and which was published as
volume 9 of the Tenth Census, he did not so much as accord this tree the
dignity of a species, but called it a variety of the common red oak. Its
range and its great importance were little understood at that time.
Sargent thus described its range: “Western Texas, valley of the Colorado
river with the species and replacing it south and west, extending to the
valley of the Neuces river and the Limpia mountains.”

Compare that restricted range with that given by the same author
twenty-five years later in his “Manual of the Trees of North America.”
He gives it thus: “Northeastern Iowa and central Illinois, through
southern Illinois and Indiana and western Kentucky and Tennessee, to the
valley of the Apalachicola river, Florida, northern Georgia, central
South Carolina, and the coast plains of North Carolina, and through
southern Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana to the mountains of western
Texas; most abundant and of its largest size on the low bottom lands of
the Mississippi basin, often forming a considerable part of lowland
forests; less abundant in the eastern Gulf states; in western Texas on
low limestone hills and on bottom lands in the neighborhood of streams.”

This quotation is given in full because it shows how scientific men
change their opinions to conform to new evidence. The range of that
particular species was as wide in 1880 as in 1905, but botanists had not
yet worked it out. Thus knowledge increases constantly, and year by year
the resources of American forests are better understood. In this
instance, what in 1880 was supposed to be a rather insignificant
variety, occupying a restricted area in Texas, was found by 1905 to be a
separate species, covering sixteen states in whole or in part. Similar
progress concerning the forests has been made all over the country, not
only by botanists but by lumbermen. Trees which were formerly considered
so nearly alike that no distinctions were made, are now recognized to be
quite different.

The Texan red oak is frequently called spotted oak. The appearance of
the bark suggests the name. Large, irregular, whitish patches cover the
trunks. That peculiarity is not noticeable everywhere and on all trees,
but is common west of the Mississippi river. The tree is sometimes known
as Spanish oak in the southwestern part of its range, but the name is
ill-advised, for the true Spanish oak (_Quercus digitata_) occurs in the
same region. The most usual name for this species, in nearly all parts
of its range, is simply red oak.

The Texan red oak varies greatly in size of trees, as is natural in so
wide a geographical range. Trees have been reported 200 feet high and
eight feet in diameter; but sizes like that are extraordinary and
attempts to locate anything approaching them at this day have not been
successful. The average in the lower Mississippi valley is eighty or
ninety feet in height, and two or three in diameter. In Texas this size
is seldom reached, the average not much exceeding half of it.

The leaves of Texan red oak are about half the size of those of the
northern species. That alone will not serve to separate them, because of
such great variation. It applies only to averages. The southern trees’
leaves are from three to six inches long, two to five wide; the northern
species bears leaves from five to nine inches long and four to six wide.
The acorns of the two species do not show so much difference in size.
The states which use Texan red oak in largest amounts are Alabama,
Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas, though some of this wood
finds its way to northern markets where it passes as red oak without any
questions. That condition renders very difficult the task of separating
the woods. It is not so difficult further south where the true red oak
is seldom seen. Shipments go north, not south. The two red oaks mingle
in the lumber yards north of the Ohio river, but seldom south of the
Tennessee river.

Investigations made by the Forest Service of the utilization of woods in
various states show that factories report the annual use of Texan red
oak as follows: Louisiana 1,777,000 feet, Mississippi 2,400,000, Texas
2,814,000, Alabama 5,500,000, and Arkansas 39,301,000. This does not
include lumber or other forest products used in the rough, or lumber
shipped out of the respective states.

Texan red oak is heavier than its northern relative, hard, light,
reddish-brown, much of it of rapid growth, with wide, clearly defined
annual rings. The medullary rays are prominent, and show well in
quarter-sawing. The best of the wood is as strong as red oak, and
compares favorably with it in physical properties.

One of the most exacting uses of wood is for fixtures, such as counters
in stores, bars in saloons, partitions in banks and counting rooms, and
standing desks in offices. Extra wide and long pieces are required, and
they must show satisfactory figure, and be finished to harmonize with
the interior of the room where they are placed. Texan red oak is
selected by builders in many southern cities for that class of fixtures,
and it meets the requirements. It is used also for interior finish and
furniture, and stair work.

Like most members of the black oak group, the wood is inclined to rot
quickly in damp situations, but it measures well up to the average of
the group to which it belongs. It is often employed in the South as
bridge material, particularly as flooring for wagon bridges, where the
wood’s hardness is its chief recommendation. Much is converted into
flooring for halls, houses, and factories.

The available supply of this valuable wood in the forests of the South
is not known, but there is little doubt that it exists in larger
quantities than any other species of oak within its range. Perhaps in
total quantity it exceeds red oak (_Quercus rubra_) in the whole United
States. It is quite generally distributed over an area exceeding 300,000
square miles, and toward the western part, it is the prevailing oak. The
future of this oak is assured. It is now cut at a rapid rate, and
doubtless the annual growth falls short of the yearly demand; but it
occurs in a range so extensive that scarcity will not come for a long
period. If the time ever comes in the South when planted timber must be
depended upon to meet the needs of the people, this oak will fill an
important place in woodlots. It does not grow as rapidly as willow oak,
but its range is more extensive, and it possesses certain desirable
properties not found in willow oak. The acorns are rather poor mast, and
this is in the tree’s favor, for the seed will be left to grow instead
of being devoured by hogs and small animals of the woods. In that
respect it has an advantage over cow oak and the other white oaks which
occupy parts of its range. Their acorns are sought as food by domestic
and wild animals. Texan red oak prunes itself well when it grows in
close stands, but is low and limby when it occupies open ground. The
trunks vary in form, but are inclined to enlarge at the base,
particularly when they grow in low, damp situations, as many of the best
do in the South.

    GEORGIA OAK (_Quercus georgiana_) is one of the minor oaks of the
    South and has not been found outside of Georgia. It grows in the
    central part of the state on Stone mountain and on a few other
    granite hills. Whether the species originated there and was never
    able to work its way down to the more congenial valleys below, or
    whether it once grew lower down and was crowded to its last retreat
    by other species, is not known. But an interest attaches to it from
    the very fact that its range is so restricted and that its habitat
    is on the sterile summits. Lumbermen care nothing about this tree.
    Few of them ever saw it or heard of it. The trunk is small, the
    acorns only from one-third to half an inch long, and the leaves are
    of a form midway between those of pin oak and turkey oak. The
    characters of the wood have not been reported, but since there is
    not enough of it to have any commercial value, the matter is not
    very important.



[Illustration: YELLOW OAK]


(_Quercus Velutina_)

This tree is known as black oak in Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island,
New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia,
North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi,
Louisiana, Texas, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Michigan,
Wisconsin, Minnesota and Ontario; quercitron oak in Delaware, South
Carolina, Louisiana, Kansas and Minnesota; yellow oak in Rhode Island,
New York, Illinois, Texas, Kansas and Minnesota; tanbark oak in
Illinois; yellow-bark oak in Minnesota and Rhode Island; spotted oak in
Missouri; dyer’s oak in Texas; and yellow butt oak in Mississippi.

Those who call this tree black oak have in mind the bark which is
usually quite dark, though all members of this species do not present
the same appearance in that respect. Some trunks are gray, and in color
do not greatly differ from white oaks, but would hardly be mistaken for
them. Tanbark oak, a name occasionally given to this tree, is not
applied in the region where chestnut oak grows, because it is much
inferior to chestnut oak as tanning material. It is not only poorer in
tannin, but the coloring matter associated with the inner bark is
troublesome to the tanner who is compelled to remove it or neutralize it
unless he wants his leather given a yellow tone. Dyer’s oak is a name
which refers to the value of the bark for coloring purposes. The
botanical name _velutina_ refers to the velvety texture of the inner

This oak is one of the easiest to identify. The inner layer of the bark
is yellow. The point of a knife easily reaches it; cutting through a
deep crack in the bark, and no mistake is possible, for no other oak has
the yellow layer of bark. The tree may be identified by leaves, flowers,
and fruit, but the process is not always easy, for other members of the
black oak group bear more or less resemblance to this one.

The yellow oak’s range extends over nearly or quite a million square
miles. It exceeds the limits of most oaks in its geographical extension.
It endures severe winters and hot summers. The northern limit of its
range lies in Maine; it grows westward across southern Canada to
Minnesota; it extends two hundred miles west of the Mississippi into
eastern Nebraska and Kansas, and follows that meridian south into Texas.
It reaches the Gulf of Mexico east of the Mississippi, and is found in
many localities in all the southern states, and along the foothills of
the Appalachian ranges. It attains its largest size in the lower Ohio
valley. The average height is seventy or eighty feet, and its diameter
two or three feet. In some localities the trees are scrubby and produce
little merchantable timber.

The growth rings are only moderately wide in the typical yellow oak; the
ring is divided nearly evenly between springwood and summerwood. The
former contains two or three rows of large, open pores. The medullary
rays are fewer and smaller than those commonly found in oaks. A general
average of the properties of the wood is somewhat difficult to give,
because of remarkable variation in trees which grow under different
conditions. In some instances, where the soil is fertile and climate
favorable, the yellow oak produces a large, clear trunk, with sound
wood, of good color, and equal to that of red oak; but the reverse is
often the case--trunks are small and rough, wood hard and brittle, color
not satisfactory, and strength not up to standard. Sometimes first class
yellow oak passes without question as good red oak in the finish and
furniture business, but that is not its usual course. Well developed
wood is heavy, hard, strong, bright brown, tinged with red, with thin,
lighter colored sapwood. Its weight is 43.9 pounds per cubic foot.

The uses of yellow oak follow red oak pretty closely, but are not so
extensive. Figures cannot be given to show the total annual cut of
yellow oak, but the output is likely much below red oak, though it is
found over a wider area, and some of it gets into the lumber yards in
all regions where it grows. It is made into furniture from Maine to
Louisiana. In cheaper grades of furniture, it may be the outside
material, but its place is usually as frame stock, to give strength, but
is not visible in the finished article. An exception to this is found in
chairs where yellow oak is one of several species which go regularly to
the sawmills which cut chair stock. Massachusetts snow plow makers use
it, but of course it fills no such place in the South. In Mississippi,
Louisiana, and Texas it is bought by manufacturers of agricultural
machinery. It is worked into cotton gins in Mississippi. Some extra fine
stands of this oak occur in the Delta region of Mississippi. Frames of
freight cars are made of it in Louisiana and Texas, and warehouse and
depot floors are occasionally laid of this lumber. It is floor material
in Michigan also, but that is of a better class than is required for
warehouses. It is not infrequently sold as red oak for flooring and
interior finish. Throughout the whole extent of yellow oak’s range it
finds its way to wagon shops. It is less tough than white oak, but in
many places, such as bolsters, sandboards, and hounds, it serves as
well. Warehouse trucks and push cars are of this wood in many instances.

Slack coopers convert this wood into their wares in many regions. The
pores are too open to permit its use as tight cooperage, where liquids
are to be contained, but for barrels and kegs of many kinds, as well as
for boxes, baskets, and crates, it meets all requirements. It is good
fuel. Many burners of brick and pottery show it preference, and charcoal
burners make a clean sweep of it when it occurs in the course of their
operations; though when it is desirable to save the by-products of
charcoal kilns or retorts, yellow oak is considered less valuable than
birch, beech, and maple.

The bark of this tree is employed less now than formerly for dyeing
purposes. Aniline dyes have taken its place. In pioneer times the bark
was one of the best coloring materials the people had, and every family
looked after its own supply as carefully as it provided sassafras bark
for tea, slippery elm bark for poultices, and witch hazel for gargles.
The oak bark was peeled, dried, and pounded to a powder. The mass was
sifted, and the yellow particles, being finer than the black bark,
passed through the screen, and were set apart for the dye kettle, while
the screenings were rejected. Various arts and sciences were called into
requisition to add to or take from the natural color which the bark gave
the cloth. Salts of iron were commonly employed to modify the deepness
of the yellow.

The acorns of this oak are bitter, and escape the mast hunters. Old
stumps have little need to send up sprouts, for acorns keep the species
alive. Yellow oaks are in no immediate danger of extermination. Nature
plants generously, and the tree can get along on poor soil where the
farm hunter is not apt to molest it. It has a fairly thick bark, and is
able to take care of itself in a moderate fire, except when the
seedlings are quite small. The young tree’s tap root is much developed,
and goes deep for moisture, and the growing sapling flourishes on ground
where some other species would suffer for water.

    WHITELEAF OAK (_Quercus hypoleuca_). The beauty of this small
    evergreen oak of the mountains of western Texas, New Mexico, and
    Arizona, is in its foliage rather than its wood. Large trunks--that
    is, those twenty inches or more in diameter--are apt to be hollow,
    but the sound wood is employed in repairing wagons in local shops,
    and in rough ranch timbers. Its importance will never extend beyond
    the region where it grows, but in that region it will continue to be
    used where nothing better can be obtained. The largest trees are
    sixty feet high, and two in diameter, but few reach those
    dimensions. It is an arid land oak. It grows at from 4,000 to 6,000
    feet elevations on mountains and plateaus. The leaves remain
    thirteen months on the twigs. They are of the willow form, ranging
    from two to four inches in length and one-half to one in width. The
    acorns are small and bitter. The strength of this oak is remarkable,
    if it may be judged by the figures given by Sargent. Two samples of
    wood procured by himself and Dr. Engelmann on a dry, gravelly ground
    among the Santa Rita mountains in Arizona, showed breaking strength
    sixty-one per cent greater than the average given by the same author
    for white oak. The stiffness of the specimens was a little above
    white oak, and the weight three pounds more per cubic foot. It
    should be borne in mind, however, that results derived from a test
    of only two samples are not a safe basis for concluding that the
    wood generally will average of so great strength. The annual rings
    of growth are not clearly marked. The wood is porous, but the pores
    are not generally arranged in bands, although they occasionally
    follow that arrangement. The medullary rays are broad and abundant,
    but are rather short, measured along the radial lines. They are of
    pink color, a characteristic not unusual with oaks in semi-arid
    regions. The foliage is doubtless the most valuable characteristic
    of whiteleaf oak. The leaves are silver white below, and dark green
    above. When they are agitated by wind the flashing of the different
    tones and tints in the sunshine presents an attractive picture. It
    belongs to the willow oak branch of the red oak group, and bears
    two-year acorns.



[Illustration: SCARLET OAK]


(_Quercus Coccinea_)

The name of scarlet oak is in use in Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode
Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, North
Carolina, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan,
Nebraska, Iowa, and Ontario; red oak is the name in North Carolina,
Alabama, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Minnesota; black oak in Nebraska,
Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin, and Spanish oak in North Carolina.

The name is descriptive of the autumn leaves. Artists dispute among
themselves whether the leaves are scarlet, red, or crimson. In their
opinion a good deal of difference exists between these colors, rendering
it quite incorrect to give one color the name of another. As for the
artists, they are probably correct in their analysis of colors, but the
general public knows the tree as scarlet oak, and it will doubtless be
called by that name by most people who speak of the tree in the woods,
while those who refer to the wood after it is sawed will speak of it as
red oak.

The leaves of scarlet oak are rather persistent, and remain on the twigs
late in the season. The brilliancy of this tree is rendered doubly
conspicuous, when it is contrasted with the surrounding sombre, winter

In appearance the tree is striking for its delicacy of foliage and
twigs. The crown is always narrow and open, and in forest growth is
compressed. The height, in good specimens, is about one hundred feet,
but it often exceeds that size. In diameter it grows as large as four
feet. The mature bark is dark in color and broken into broad, smooth
ridges and plates, edged with red. It shows a reddish inner bark when
cut and this may be relied upon to identify the tree. The leaves are
four or five inches long; deeply sinused, three or four on a side; long,
bristle-toothed lobes, broad at the base; acorns bitter, mature in two
years; sessile, brown; cup closely drawn in at the edge.

Its range comprises the northeastern quarter of the United States.
Beginning in southern Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, it grows through
middle New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa to eastern Nebraska.
Southward it extends along the coast through Virginia and inland along
the mountains to South Carolina and Georgia. The growth is abundant over
most of the range, the favorite habitat being dry, gravelly uplands. It
seems to be most abundant along the northern part of the Atlantic coast
from Massachusetts to New Jersey, and is less common in the interior,
and on the prairies skirting the western margins of the eastern forests.
The average size of the tree is from seventy to eighty feet high and two
or three in diameter. In many regions it is much smaller, while no very
large trees have been reported.

The wood is heavy, strong, hard; the layers of annual growth are
strongly marked by several rows of large, open ducts; the summerwood is
dense and occupies half the yearly ring; the medullary rays are much
like those of red oak, though scarcely as broad. They run in straight
lines radially, and show well in quarter-sawing. The color of the wood
is light brown or red, the thin sapwood rather darker.

This wood is practically of the same weight as white oak; but it is
rated considerably stronger and stiffer. A number of writers have listed
scarlet oak low in fuel value. Theoretically, the fuel values of woods
are proportionate to their weights, except that resinous woods must be
compared with resinous, and non-resinous with non-resinous. In practice,
however, every fireman who feeds a furnace with wood knows that
different woods develop different degrees of heat, though they may weigh
the same. Results are modified by various circumstances and conditions,
and for that reason theory and practice are often far apart in
determining how much heat a given quantity of wood is good for.

It is difficult to procure exact information regarding the uses of
scarlet oak. It never goes to market under its own name. An examination
of wood-using reports from a dozen states within scarlet oak’s range
does not reveal a single mention of this wood for any purpose. It is
certain, nevertheless, that much goes to market and that it has many
important uses. It loses its identity and is bought and sold as red oak.
Under the name of that wood it is manufactured into furniture, finish,
agricultural implements, cars, boats, wagons and other vehicles, and
many other articles. One of the most important markets for scarlet oak
is in chair factories. Its grain is attractive enough to give it place
as outside material, and its strength fits it for frames and other parts
which must bear strain. Chair stock mills which clean up woodlots and
patches of forest where scarlet oak grows in mixture with other species
of oak, take all that comes, without being particular as to the exact
kind of oak. Slack coopers follow much the same course. A wood strong
enough to meet requirements, is generally acceptable. Scarlet oak is
usually considered unsuitable for tight cooperage, on account of the
large open pores of the wood, which permit leakage of liquids. It meets
considerable demand in the manufacture of boxes and crates, particularly
the latter.

The size and quality of logs which a tree may furnish to a sawmill is no
measure of its full value. Scarlet oak is far better known as an
ornamental tree than for its wood. It has been planted in this country
and in Europe. Its brilliant foliage is greatly admired. No other oak
equals it, and it compares favorably with sugar maple, black gum, and
dogwood. It is an ornament to parks and private grounds, though the
brilliancy of its foliage is seldom exhibited to as good advantage in
cultivation as in the native forest where contrasts are more numerous,
and nature does its work unhindered by man. The scarlet oak is not a
rapid grower, and the form of the tree is not perfectly symmetrical. The
spring leaves are red, the summer foliage bright, rich green, the autumn
scarlet--a variety not equalled by many forest trees.

WILLOW OAK (_Quercus phellos_) is named for its leaves which look like
those of willow. There is a group of such oaks with leaves similar, and
they are known collectively as willow oaks. The one here described may
be considered typical of the group.

This oak is apt to present rather a surprising appearance to those who
have seen nothing but those oaks whose leaves are lobed or cleft. It
belongs to the red oaks. Like others of this division it has a tendency
to hybridize, several varieties being known. Willow oak is a denizen of
the southern Atlantic and southeastern states and favors rich, moist
soil, either on uplands or on bottoms, along the margins of streams or
swamps. It does not go inland as far as the foothills of the ranges and
is found most abundantly in the basin of the lower Mississippi.
Beginning in New York, the range extends southward into Florida, along
the Gulf states, touching Texas, up through Arkansas, touching Missouri
and Kentucky, down through western Tennessee and southern Georgia
rounding the southern end of the Appalachians.

Young trees have a slender delicate pendant appearance of twigs and
foliage more typical of the willow than of oak; but in time they become
more rugged, although the branching and foliage are always more delicate
than is usual with oaks. The tree attains a height of eighty feet and a
diameter up to four feet, but usually is about half of this. It is
clothed in a smooth, brown bark, ridged only in older trees. The leaves
are about five inches long and narrow in proportion, are of shiny,
leathery texture, dark above and pale below. The acorns are on short
stalks, solitary or in pairs, and ripen in two years, are short and
rounded and in shallow cups.

The weight of willow oak is approximately the same as white oak. It is
slightly stronger but less elastic. Its annual rings contain broad bands
of small open ducts parallel to the thin, dark, medullary rays. The wood
is reddish-brown in color, the thick sapwood darker brown. The fuel
value is rated the same as white oak, but the wood contains more ash.

Willow oak is much used in the South, but usually under the name red
oak. Lumbermen seldom speak of it as willow oak. The species is as
highly developed in Louisiana as anywhere else, and the uses found for
the wood in that state will probably be found for it wherever the tree
grows in commercial quantities. A report on the manufacture of wooden
commodities in Louisiana, published in 1912, listed the following uses
for willow oak: Agricultural implements, balustrades, bar tops,
bedsteads, bottoms for wagon beds, bridge approaches and floors, chairs,
church pews, cot frames, doors, floors, frames, interior finish,
molding, newel posts, pulpits, railing, screens, slack cooperage,
stairwork, store fixtures, wagon axles, and other vehicle parts.

These uses coincide nearly with those of red oak, and indicate the
important position occupied by willow oak in the country’s industries.
Those who handle the wood complain that its seasoning qualities are
poor, and that care is necessary to bring satisfactory results. It works
nicely and stands well after the seasoning is accomplished.

Willow oak grows rapidly. It is doubtful if any oak in this country
surpasses it. It wants damp, rich soil and a warm climate, to do its
best. Some of the bottom lands in the lower Mississippi valley have
produced splendid stands of willow oak, the trunks being tall and clear
of limbs, and the wood sound.

The willow oak is much planted for ornamental purposes in the southern
states. It manages to keep alive when planted as far north as
Massachusetts, but the grace of its form is not fully developed much
north of the Potomac river. It is a common street tree in the South, and
its airy foliage forms a pleasing contrast with the heavy, dark-green of
the magnolia.



[Illustration: TURKEY OAK]


(_Quercus Catesbæi_)

The claim that this tree is called turkey oak because turkeys feed on
the acorns, is not well founded. In common with nearly all members of
the black oak group, to which this species belongs, the acorns of turkey
oak are bitter, and unless animals are pressed by hunger they do not eat
them. It is evident that the shape of the leaves gives this tree its
name. They bear considerable resemblance to the foot of a turkey. There
is at least enough similitude to suggest the name, and it is not
inappropriate. Many people now use the term without thinking of its
origin, and if asked their opinion say that fondness of turkeys for the
acorns led to the name.

The tree has other names in different regions. In North Carolina, South
Carolina, Mississippi, and Florida it is known as scrub oak. The name
fits it well in certain places, for when it grows on poor soil and in
adversity, it degenerates into a low, straggling thicket, frequently not
trees at all, but shrubs. It is called black jack in South Carolina but
the name belongs to another species (_Quercus marilandica_). In the same
state it is known as barren scrub oak, because it is very small and is
found on poor lands popularly known as barrens. Some call it forked-leaf
black jack, but the name is usually shorter, and forked-leaf, or
forked-leaf oak, is a name well understood among lumbermen, and the
people generally over much of the tree’s range. Some of the leaves show
clearly-defined three forks, the middle one longer than the others; but
in other leaves, often from the same tree, the forks are not so
regularly outlined. This tree, like many other oaks, exhibits
considerable variation in the forms of leaves.

There is nothing peculiar in the form and appearance of the acorns. They
average about one inch long and three-quarters of an inch wide, and sit
in shallow cups. They mature the second year. The bark of old trees is
black near the ground, rather rough, and an inch or more thick.

It is difficult to name an average size for turkey oak. The largest
trunks are three or four feet in diameter and eighty feet high, but the
trees cut for sawlogs are only fifty or sixty feet high and two in
diameter, in most of the regions. As previously stated, much of the
stand is stunted and some of it is only brush. All sizes are found, from
large, first rate trunks down to shrubs. Large trees which grow in
forests, prune themselves well and their trunks compare favorably with
red oaks.

The tree’s range has its northeastern limit in North Carolina, and
extends to Peace Creek, Florida. It is found westward to Louisiana where
fair-sized timber grows, but in small quantities. It is usually
considered that its best development is in South Carolina and Georgia,
but good trees are likely to be found in any part of its range. It is
distinctly a tree of the South. It was named by Michaux, the well-known
French botanist who visited the southern states early in the nineteenth
century, and he named it in honor of Mark Catesby who explored the
region much earlier and wrote concerning its trees and other natural

Turkey oak is one of the little-known trees of the South, as far as
lumbermen are concerned. They know it well enough in the woods, but not
at sawmills. When cut into logs it ceases to be turkey oak and becomes
red oak, and under that name it goes to the lumber yard, and later to
market. Users of red oak lumber do not object to the occasional piece of
turkey oak mixed with it--if they ever find it out, which few of them
do. Nevertheless, the consensus of opinion among sawmill men is that
turkey oak ought to rate below red oak.

Tests of the wood to determine its character and qualities do not
justify so low an estimate of turkey oak. Sargent found it stronger and
more elastic than white oak, while a little lighter in weight. It is
nearly equal to white oak in fuel value. It is hard, compact, and the
rings of annual growth are marked by several rows of large, open ducts.
The medullary rays are broad and conspicuous. The color is light brown,
tinged with red, the sapwood somewhat lighter.

A special investigation of the uses of turkey oak in one of the southern
states brought out the fact that it meets requirements well and fills a
place in several wood-using industries in that region. Vehicle makers
find it satisfactory in a number of places. It is made into bottoms of
wagon beds, felloes, bolsters, axles, hubs, hounds, tongues, spokes,
standards, sandboards, and reaches. These constitute nearly all parts of
heavy vehicles. The wood is made into telegraph brackets, but apparently
not in large quantities. Car builders employ it for frames and floors.
It is made into ordinary matched flooring and goes in with other oaks.
It is used as a general furniture wood, both as outside material, and
inside frames. It may be quarter-sawed to advantage. It is employed also
as interior finish, which demands lumber of practically the same grades
as go into furniture. Mantels of this wood compare favorably with those
of red oak. Chair makers cut stock from turkey oak. It is not abundant
anywhere, otherwise it would be of much importance.

The forests of the United States contain so many valuable oaks that a
scarce and geographically restricted species like turkey oak cannot be
expected to attract much attention in the future. Nevertheless, it is a
strong, interesting tree. It takes advantage of every opportunity to
develop. When an acorn germinates in good soil, and receives sufficient
light and moisture, it produces a merchantable tree; but in poor soil
and under unfavorable circumstances it becomes a stunted bush only.
Woodlots of turkey oak planted in fertile land would probably do as well
as most of the southern red oaks under like conditions. The tree is not
apt to get justice, because of the prejudice against it.

CALIFORNIA BLACK OAK (_Quercus californica_) ranges from central Oregon
southward through the coast region of California nearly to the Mexican
boundary. It occurs also on the western slope of the Sierra Nevadas in
California. It is not found on the plains or near the sea, but occurs on
mountain slopes, low summits, elevated valleys, and in canyons. In the
North, it ranges from 1,500 to 3,000 feet and in the South it ascends to
9,000 feet. This far western oak bears more resemblance to the yellow
oak (_Quercus velutina_) of the East than to any other. Trees have been
reported 100 feet high and four in diameter, but they are scarce.
Seventy-five feet high and two or three feet in diameter are usual
dimensions of mature timber. The trees are inclined to be angular in the
outlines of their crowns. The leaves fall in autumn, but the acorns
persist two years. They sit deep in their rough cups. The trunk is
habitually crooked. It leans out of plumb, and lacks the nicely balanced
poise which adds to the attractiveness of some oaks. The large boles are
usually hollow, dead at the tops, or otherwise defective. That condition
is apparently due to old age. Trees stand long after they pass maturity
and start on their decline. They die by inches, and not infrequently
they decay and crumble by piecemeal both at the bottom and at the top.
At best the trunk of this oak is of poor form for saw timber. It divides
into large limbs ten or twenty feet from the ground. It is of slow
growth, and it reaches old age--possibly as much as 350 years in extreme
cases. The wood is very porous, but the pores are not in rows. The
medullary rays are thin and distinct. It is not known that any
quarter-sawing has been attempted, and it would hardly be profitable.
The wood is pale red, exceedingly brittle, firm, light for oak, and it
has a distinct odor of tannin with which both the wood and the bark are
heavily charged. The principal uses to which this oak is put in
California and Oregon are as fuel and ranch timbers, the latter being of
the simplest and roughest sort. Its fuel value is high, compared with
other woods of the region. Some use was made of the bark for tanning
purposes years ago on the Pacific slope, but it does not appear to go to
market now.

    BLUE JACK OAK (_Quercus brevifolia_) bears several names, upland
    willow oak, to distinguish it from other willow oaks which grow in
    swamps, sand jack, referring to the land on which it grows,
    high-ground willow oak, turkey oak, shin oak and cinnamon oak. No
    reason is known for the last name which is not used outside of
    Florida. The tree grows in a narrow strip along the coast from North
    Carolina to Texas, crossing northern Florida. The blue jack oak
    sometimes attains a height of fifty feet and a diameter of twenty
    inches; but that is its best. It is usually fifteen or twenty feet
    high and a few inches in diameter. The leaves are from two to five
    inches long and quite narrow, closely resembling those of willow.
    The acorns are abundant, but small. The tree is of so little value
    that it does not interest the lumberman. It occupies waste land, and
    may produce a little fuel without crowding more valuable trees, but
    is in every way inferior to the black jack oak (_Quercus
    marilandica_), which overlaps its range a little, but is a northern
    species. The wood of blue jack oak is hard, strong, light brown in
    color, with darker-colored sapwood.



[Illustration: SPANISH OAK]


(_Quercus Digitata_)

One of the first difficulties in an attempt to clear up the
misunderstandings regarding Spanish oak is to confine the name to the
species to which it belongs. That is no easy task, because the name has
been applied to numerous oaks in various parts of the country, and
without any apparent reason. Some of these bear little resemblance to
Spanish oak and grow almost wholly outside its range. It is not a case
of mistaking one for the other, for there is no mistake. Some speak of
the common red oak as Spanish oak, others bestow that name on yellow
oak, others on black jack oak, or scarlet oak, or any one of several
others. It appears, however, that the name is not applied to any member
of the white oak group.

It is said that Spanish oak and Norway pine were named by the same
process. Each got its name because it was supposed to be similar to a
species in the old country--the pine like an evergreen of north Europe,
and the oak like a broadleaf tree of Spain. It was learned later that
both the American species were different from those of Europe which they

The peculiar drooping foliage of Spanish oak gives the tree a character
which impresses a person who sees the full-leafed crown for the first
time. The leaves are six or seven inches long and four or five wide.
Their forms vary within wide limits, and their shapes change from week
to week while growing. Some have no lobes or sinuses, others have them
in rudimentary form only, while in still others they are well developed.

The tree is often called red oak, particularly by lumbermen who cut it
and send it to market with red oak. In Louisiana it is known as Spanish
water oak, there being much resemblance between it and water oak
(_Quercus nigra_) with which it is associated. Its range covers more
than 200,000 square miles, beginning at the north in New Jersey and
following down the coast regions to central Florida. It extends westward
into Texas to the valley of the Brazos river; northward to Missouri and
southern Indiana and Illinois. It does not grow far inland from the
coast in the north Atlantic states, but further south it is common on
the coast plain between the sea and the base of the mountains. It is
often found on dry sand hills in that region. The largest Spanish oaks
on record grew in the lower Ohio valley, particularly along the Wabash
river. It is usually of medium size and large trunks are seldom seen.
The average height is seventy or eighty feet, diameter two or three. In
the open, the crown is broad and low, but in forests the trunk prunes
itself fairly well, and makes good saw timber, as far as form and size
are concerned. The acorns ripen in two years, and are bitter. The bark
is rich in tannin, but tanneries do not use much of it.

The tree is not generally abundant. Some large areas within its range
have little, and thick stands are unusual anywhere. It is one of the
oaks which lumbermen neither reject nor seek. They cut it in course of
operations, and saw it and sell it under the common name, red oak.

The wood is heavy, very hard, and strong. It is reputed to decay more
rapidly than most oaks, and it checks badly in seasoning. The annual
rings of growth are broad, and the springwood is marked by several rows
of large open pores. The medullary rays are few but conspicuous; color
light red, the sapwood lighter. The wood weighs about three pounds less
than white oak per cubic foot, and its fuel value is less.

It is not easy to compile an account of the uses of Spanish oak by the
various industries of this country, for the reason that other oaks pass
by its name and it is known by names which should not be applied to it.
It is shown, however, where special studies of its utilization have been
made that it is a useful wood for many purposes. It is a useful
furniture material, and though statistics do not give separate figures
for it, evidently the total quantity consumed yearly runs into many
millions of feet. It is much employed in the manufacture of tables,
chiefly for frames, but occasionally as the outside material. It may be
quarter-sawed, if good logs are selected. The chair factories in North
Carolina use about 44,000,000 feet of oak yearly, and Spanish oak
supplies a rather large share of the material. It is employed as
interior finish in that state, and also for mission furniture, brackets
for telegraph and telephone poles, refrigerators, and kitchen safes.
Slack coopers and manufacturers of boxes and crates find the wood
suitable for their wares; but its open pores stand in the way of its use
for tight cooperage.

Similar uses of the wood occur in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, and
it may be assumed that they occur also in all other portions of Spanish
oak’s range. It goes to wagon shops in Texas where it is substituted for
red oak. It is employed also in the manufacture of rice hullers and
cotton gins. Lumbermen in northern Louisiana use log trucks with axles,
felloes, and other heavy parts of Spanish oak, and it is frequently
preferred for stone wagons.

In practically all large shipments of southern red oak to the North,
some Spanish oak is mixed. It could not be otherwise, since this wood is
cut in the forest with other red oaks, is sawed and stocked with them,
and goes with them to market.

BLACK JACK OAK (_Quercus marilandica_) is one of the scrub trees of this
country, and few good words are ever heard for it; yet it has redeeming
qualities. Lumbermen have not paid much attention to it and never will,
for only when at its best is the trunk large enough for any kind of
sawlog, and there has been little inclination to use it for anything
else. It attains size fitting it for fence posts, and sometimes it
performs service along that line; but the small trunks are nearly all
sapwood, and decay strikes them quickly. The bark is black, hence the
name, and it is exceedingly rough, and is broken in squares. The leaves
are large and pear-shaped, with the broad end opposite the stem. Some
are slightly lobed. A vigorous black jack oak, standing in open ground,
presents a fine appearance. The crown is wide and is frequently conical,
the limbs small, and are set in the trunk on nearly horizontal lines.
The range of this unloved species covers 600,000 or more square miles,
beginning in New York, running west to central Nebraska, south through
Texas nearly to the Rio Grande, and in Florida to Tampa. It is not an
aggressive tree and has permitted itself to be crowded off the good land
until it has formed the habit of occupying geographical left-overs in
the form of sand banks and wornout fields. In the northeastern part of
its range it is often associated with scrub pine (_Pinus virginiana_),
because the two have similar habits and are content to live in perpetual
poverty on dry gravel or thin sand. Large trunks are not possible under
such circumstances, and first-class wood is unusual. Black jack oak at
its best may attain a height of fifty feet and a diameter of eighteen
inches, but it is oftener twenty feet high and six inches through. It
grows with moderate rapidity and does not live long.

The annual rings are often indistinct. The wood is hard, heavy, and
strong, and checks badly in seasoning. The medullary rays are broad and
conspicuous, the wood dark brown in color, the sapwood lighter. This oak
is very high in ash contents, more than one per cent of the dry weight
of wood going to ashes when burned. The tree reaches its best
development in the lower Mississippi valley, and in eastern Texas.
Comparatively few uses for it have been found. Cordwood cutters find it
valuable where it abounds in sufficient quantity, and it has been burned
for charcoal for iron foundries and blacksmith shops. Small amounts are
occasionally found in wood-using factories in Texas, but only when logs
with considerable heartwood can be procured. The sap is characterless
and seems to be utterly rejected at the factory. Sometimes the rich
brown of the heartwood is attractive, but more frequently the wood is
ringed and splotched with different colors, not distributed in a way to
give any artistic effect. When a satisfactory stick is found, it can be
worked into balusters and small spindles which show grain well. It is
also worked into broad panels made up of narrow, quarter-sawed strips,
which exhibit the dark flecks of the wood to good advantage.

    TRIDENT OAK (_Quercus tridentata_) is remarkable for its extreme
    scarcity, and is of no commercial importance. It was formerly found
    in Missouri--a single tree--which was afterwards destroyed. It
    occurs in Washtenaw county, Michigan. It appears that no report
    showing the character of the wood has been made.

    LEA OAK (_Quercus leana_), which is believed to be a hybrid between
    yellow oak (_Quercus velutina_) and shingle oak (_Quercus
    imbricaria_), is interesting but not important. Trees are apt to
    stand alone, and far apart. They occur from District of Columbia to
    Missouri, and south to North Carolina. The range is imperfectly



[Illustration: LAUREL OAK]


(_Quercus Laurifolia_)

This representative of the black oak group is found nowhere except in
the southeastern states, and only in their borders. It never ranges far
inland, but sticks to wet localities and the margins of swamps where its
associates are tupelo, southern white cedar, cypress, magnolias, and,
near its southern limit, myrtle and other semi-tropical trees and
shrubs. It is sometimes utilized as an ornament, but that is not its
usual function. It is not a successful competitor as a shade tree with
willow oak and water oak.

Beginning at the border of the Dismal Swamp in Virginia as the northern
limit of growth, this interesting tree ranges southward along the coast
to Cape Romano in Florida and westward in the lower Gulf states to
southeastern Louisiana. It is seen at its best in eastern Florida. It
puts forth a vigorous growth on the hummock land in the southern part of
that state, where it develops a shapely trunk when in crowded stands. It
grows well in very rocky ground.

Although the common name laurel oak is prompted by its foliage, the tree
bears various other sectional names. It is known as laurel oak in North
Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, and Florida; Darlington oak in South
Carolina; willow oak in Florida and South Carolina; water oak in
Georgia. The latter name has a tendency to confuse it with another
species which is properly called water oak (_Quercus nigra_).

The ornamental qualities of this tree are due to the tall stately bole,
its shapely and symmetrical round-topped head and slender branches and
twigs. It sometimes attains the dignity of one hundred feet in height
with a proportionate diameter of three or four feet. The bark is firm,
of dark, reddish-brown color, and usually is not fissured but finely
broken into small close, scale-like plates. On old trees, especially at
the butt, deep fissures divide it into broad ridges. The buds are shiny
brown, and they narrow abruptly to an acute point. The acorns are either
sessile or have short stalks, and they usually grow alone. They are
short and broad, and are incased in shallow, thin cups. In the flowering
season hairy aments add to the attractiveness of the tree. The leaves
are dark green above and lighter on the lower surface and are grouped
rather closely on the twigs. They attain a length of four inches or
less, and fall gradually after turning yellow.

Laurel oak seems to be little used. It is occasionally referred to as
rather inferior to other members of the black oak group, but it is not
apparent why it bears that reputation. It may be on account of its poor
seasoning qualities. Like other southern oaks, it is very heavy when
green, and it is inclined to shrink and warp while in the process of
parting with its moisture. If this can be successfully overcome, the
wood ought to be valuable. Tests made on four samples cut on St. John’s
river, Florida, recorded in Sargent’s tables, show remarkable results.
The wood is 34 per cent stronger and 37 per cent stiffer than white oak,
and is only one pound heavier per cubic foot of dry wood. If these
values are fairly representative of the wood of laurel oak, it should be
exceptionally valuable in vehicle making. It would fall considerably
below hickory, but would stand very high among other woods, and could be
recommended for wagon axles, tongues, and other parts of heavy vehicles.

It should be borne in mind, however, that tests alone, and particularly
when the number of samples is small, are not sufficient to decide a
wood’s place as a manufacturing material. It must be tried in actual
practice, and that has not yet been done in the case of laurel oak as a
wagon wood. When tried out it may exhibit defects, or undesirable
qualities, which are not apparent in samples employed in laboratory

There is little exact information available in regard to the supply of
laurel oak in the South. It is not abundant in the sense that willow oak
and Texan red oak are. Neither are the trees generally of good form for
lumber. Little has ever been cut, because the land where it grows is not
demanded for agriculture. It occupies out-of-the-way places, and the
hunter and fisherman are better acquainted with it than the lumberman.

HIGHLAND OAK (_Quercus wislizeni_) is a California evergreen with leaves
commonly shaped like holly, but sometimes their edges are smooth with no
sign of teeth. The foliage remains longer on this tree than is usual
with evergreen oaks. Old leaves generally fall within a month after the
new crop appears; but those of highland oak remain several months
longer, gradually falling during the second summer. When the tree is at
its best it is a splendid representative of the vegetable kingdom. Its
form does not please lumbermen, for the trunk is short and rough; but
the crown rises seventy or eighty feet, is symmetrical, the foliage dark
green, and the general appearance is that of an enormous holly tree.
Trunks are sometimes five or six feet in diameter. The name highland oak
is somewhat misleading, though the species ascends to an altitude of
6,000 feet or more. It is described as a highland tree to distinguish it
from the California live oak (_Quercus agrifolia_) which grows in the
vicinity of the sea in California. The highland oak ranges from northern
California to the international boundary, following the foothills of the
mountain ranges. It occurs in dry river bottoms and washes and in
desert mountain canyons. It is not choice as to soil but will grow in
loam, sand, gravel, or among rocks. It is not abundant.

When it grows near the sea it is apt to lose its tree form and become a
shrub. It assumes that form on Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands off the
coast of southern California. It grows slowly and is tenacious of life.
When it has once secured a foothold it hangs on with determination,
though exposed to severe storms and inhospitable conditions. The acorns
do not mature until late in the autumn of their second year. They are
sometimes an inch and a half long, and scarcely a third of an inch
thick. The wood of this oak possesses some good qualities which are
locally appreciated by wagon makers who use it for repair work. It is
extensively cut for fuel, and it burns about like eastern white oak, but
leaves more ashes. The dry wood weighs 49 pounds per cubic foot. It is
considerably weaker than white oak and is less elastic. The summerwood
constitutes a large part of the annual growth ring. It is very porous,
the rows of pores running parallel with the medullary rays. This part of
the wood structure is midway between that of deciduous and the evergreen
oaks. The medullary rays are broad but short. When exposed on a
tangential surface, they are from one-fourth to one-half inch long, and
give the wood a flecked appearance. Exposed in cross section, they are
from one inch to four inches in length. This applies, of course, only to
large rays, easily seen with the naked eye. In quarter-sawed lumber, the
rays have a pinkish color and glossy luster which are not pleasing. This
tree belongs in the class with those which are in no danger of being
extirpated by human agencies. It occupies land which man does not need
and will never want.

    MYRTLE OAK (_Quercus myrtifolia_) associates with the laurel oak in
    some parts of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, and closely
    resembles it, though it is smaller, and gives little promise of ever
    becoming important in a commercial way. It is clearly in the scrub
    oak class, and does not approach the dignity of even a small tree in
    most of its range. Few specimens can be found exceeding a height of
    twenty feet and a diameter of five or six inches. Trees approaching
    that size grow in western Florida in the region of the Apalachicola
    river. Generally this oak covers dry, sandy ridges and islands, and
    is shrubby. It forms thickets on some of the islands off the coast
    of Alabama and Mississippi, and extends its range westward to the
    low, southern parts of Louisiana where the dwarf trees are almost
    hidden by tall reeds and grass. Its name refers to the leaf it
    bears. It is impossible that man can ever make much use of this

    MOREHUS OAK (_Quercus morehus_) can never be important in the lumber
    industry, but it fills a few places in California where the ground
    needs a cover. Its range is in the northern coast range and the
    Sierra foothills, extending as far south as Kings river. The edges
    of the leaves bear bent hooks like saw teeth. The foliage falls in
    late winter. Trees are occasionally a foot or more in diameter. The
    wood has not the appearance of possessing much value, and is too
    scarce to be important. The most interesting thing connected with
    this tree is that it is supposed to be a hybrid--a cross between
    highland oak and California black oak. It was first found in 1863,
    and a considerable range has since been established for it.

    It is the opinion of some investigators that new tree species have
    their origin in crosses between existing species. Of the countless
    thousands of such crosses a few, at long intervals of time, may
    develop characteristics which enable them to maintain their
    existence and to spread into new territory. If that occurs, a new
    kind of tree has appeared on earth and is ready to take its place
    among the established forests of the region. Cross-fertilization
    among trees and plants is very common, but so many adverse
    conditions are encountered, that few hybrids ever amount to



[Illustration: PIN OAK]


(_Quercus Palustris_)

Pin oak ranges from certain sections of Massachusetts, notably the
Connecticut river valley, and near Amherst, westward as far as the
southeastern part of Missouri; on the south it is found along the lower
Potomac river in Virginia, in Kentucky, Arkansas, and Oklahoma.

It is known as pin oak in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New
York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, Maryland, Arkansas, Missouri,
Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Kansas; in Arkansas and Kansas it is
called swamp Spanish oak; in Rhode Island and Illinois it is often known
as water oak; in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Kansas as swamp oak; in
Arkansas as water Spanish oak.

The name pin oak is said to belong to this tree because of a peculiarity
of its branches. They leave the trunk and the larger limbs at nearly
right angles, and criss-cross in all directions, resembling pins thrust
into the wood, and bristling outward at every angle. The crowding to
which they are subjected kills many of them as the tree reaches middle
age, but the stubs do not drop quickly, and as many of the
characteristic pins appear to be present as ever. Such is the usual
explanation given to account for the name, and the facts fit the theory;
but the fact that several other species are called pin oaks is not
accounted for. The habit of the branches of all of them is not the same.
The Gambel oak in its Arizona range has that name. So has the chinquapin
oak in Arkansas and Texas, but that is apparently a shortening of its
true name, the last syllable only being used. They call the Durand oak
pin oak in Texas, but without any known reason.

The botanical name _palustris_, belonging to this species, refers to the
tree’s habit of growing in swamps and damp land along river bottoms. It
is not a swamp tree as cypress is, but is more like swamp white oak, and
finds its most congenial surroundings on the borders of streams and on
fairly well drained lowland where roots readily reach water.

The leaves are three or five inches long, are simple, and alternate.
They are broad, and have from five to nine lobes which are toothed, and
bristle-tipped on the ends. The sinuses are broad and rounded, and
extend well toward the midrib, which is stout, and from which the veins
branch off conspicuously. In color the leaves are bright green above and
lighter below when young, becoming thin, firm and darker green at
maturity; late in autumn they turn a rich, deep scarlet. They are coated
below with pubescence, and have large tufts of pale hairs in the axils
of the veins.

The fruit of pin oak is a small acorn which grows either sessile or on a
very short stem; sometimes in clusters, and sometimes singly. In shape
the acorns are nearly hemispherical, and measure about a half inch in
diameter; they are enclosed only at the base, in a thin, saucer-shaped
cup, dark brown, and scaly.

The bark of a mature tree is dark gray or brownish-green; it is rough,
being full of small furrows, and frequently cracks open and shows the
reddish inner layer of bark. On small branches and young trunks, it is
smoother, lighter, and more lustrous.

Pin oak is smaller than red oak. Average trees are seventy or eighty
feet high and two or three in diameter. Specimens 120 feet high and four
feet in diameter are heard of but are seldom seen. Near the northern
limit of pin oak’s range large trees are not found, nor are small trees
plentiful. This holds true in all parts of New England and northern New
York where the species is found growing naturally. South of
Pennsylvania, along the flood plains of rivers which flow to Chesapeake
bay, a better class of timber is found. The best development of the
species is in the lower Ohio valley.

It grows rapidly, but falls a little short of the red oak. When young
growth is cut, sprouts will rise from the stumps and flourish for a
time, but merchantable trees are seldom or never produced that way. The
acorn must be depended on. It has been remarked that pin oak does not
prune itself well, but it does better in dense stands than in open
ground. In the latter case the limbs are late in dying and falling.

Pin oak has proved to be a valuable street and park tree. It possesses
several characteristics which recommend it for that use. It grows
rapidly, and it quickly attains a size which lessens its liability to
injury by accidents. Its shade is tolerably dense; the crown is shapely
and attractive; the leaves fall late; and it seems to stand the smoke
and dust of cities better than many other trees. It is easily and
successfully transplanted if taken when small. Many towns and cities
from Long Island to Washington, D. C., have planted the pin oak along
streets, avenues, and in parks. Several thoroughfares in Washington are
shaded by them.

Considerable planting of pin oak has been done by railroads which expect
to grow ties. Trees of this species when cut in forests and made into
crossties do not all show similar resistance to decay. Some ties are
perishable in a short time, while others give satisfactory service. The
best endure well without preservative treatment, but all are benefited
by it. If the experimental plantings turn out well, it may be expected
that pin oak will fill an important place in the crosstie business.

Because of numerous limbs, lumber cut from pin oak is apt to be knotty,
and the percentage of good grades small. The annual rings are wide, and
are about evenly divided between spring and summerwood, though the
latter often exceeds the former. Its general appearance suggests red
oak, but it is more porous in trunks of thrifty growth. The springwood
is largely made up of pores. The medullary rays are hardly as prominent
as those of red oak, but in other ways resemble them. The wood weighs
43.24 pounds per cubic foot, which is a little above red oak. It is hard
and strong, dark brown with thin sapwood of darker color. The lumber
checks and warps badly in seasoning.

The uses to which pin oak is put must be considered in a general way
because of the absence of exact statistics. The wood is not listed by
the lumber trade under its own name, but goes along with others of the
black oak group. Its uses, however, are known along a number of lines.
Lumbermen cut it wherever it is found mixed with other hardwoods.
Sometimes vehicle manufacturers make a point of securing a supply of
this wood. That occurs oftener with small concerns than large. It is
made into felloes, reaches, and bolsters. Furniture makers use it, and
well selected, quarter-sawed stock is occasionally reduced to veneer.
The articles produced pass for red oak, and it would be very difficult
to detect the difference between pin oak and true red oak when finished
as veneer. Some highly attractive mission furniture is said to be of pin

More goes to chair stock mills than to factories which produce higher
classes of furniture. Chairs utilize very small pieces, and that gives
the stock cutter a chance to trim out the knots and produce the maximum
amount of clear stuff. Chair makers in Michigan reported the use of
60,000 feet of pin oak in 1910. Slack coopers work in much the same way
as chair mills, and pin oak is acceptable material for many classes of
barrels and other containers. Small tight knots are frequently not
defects sufficient to cause the rejection of staves. Tight coopers do
not find pin oak suitable, because the wood is too porous to hold
liquids, particularly liquors containing alcohol. The wood is mixed at
mills with red oak and other similar species and is manufactured into
picture frames, boxes, crates, interior finish for houses, and many
other commodities requiring strength or handsome finish. In early years
when the people manufactured by hand what they needed, and obtained
their timber from the nearest forest or woodlot, they split fence rails,
pickets, clapboards, and shingles of pin oak.

Oak-apples or galls are the round excrescences formed on the limbs by
gallflies and their eggs. They seem particularly fond of this species
and specimens are often seen which are literally covered with them. The
worms which live inside seem to flourish particularly well on the food
they imbibe from pin oak. The primitive school teachers three or four
generations ago turned these oak galls to account. They are rich in
tannin, and were employed in manufacturing the local ink supply. The
teachers were the ink makers as well as the pen cutters when the pens
were whittled from quills. The process of making the ink was simple. The
galls were soaked in a kettle of water and nails. The iron acted on the
tannin and produced the desired blackness, but if special luster was
desired, it was furnished by adding the fruit of the wild greenbrier
(_Smilax rotundifolia_), which grew abundantly in the woods. It was well
that steel pens were not then in use, for the schoolmaster’s oak ink
would have eaten up such a pen in a single day.





(_Quercus Agrifolia_)

This fine western tree belongs to the black oak group, yet its acorns
mature in one year, like those of white oaks. It is the only known black
oak with that habit. It is properly classed with canyon live oak which
has many characteristics of white oak, yet matures its acorns the second
year. The two oaks with freakish fruit belong in California, and to some
extent occupy the same range. California live oak is apparently making
an effort to conform to the habit of other black oaks by producing two
year acorns. It has not yet succeeded in doing so, but flowers
occasionally appear in the fall, and young acorns set on the twigs. They
drop during the winter, and it is not believed that any of them hang
till the second season.

The range of this tree covers most of the California coast region but
does not reach the great interior valleys. The tree is very common in
the southwestern part of the state. It is called an evergreen, and some
individuals deserve that reputation, but the leaves never remain long
after the new crop appears. Frequently the old leaves do not wait for
the new, and when they drop, the branches remain bare for a few weeks.
The form of the leaf is not constant. Some have smooth margins, but the
typical leaf is toothed like holly. One of the early names by which the
tree was known was holly-leaved oak. The bark looks much like the bark
of chestnut oak. It is bought for tanning purposes, but its principal
use is to adulterate the bark of another oak (_Quercus densiflora_).
Trees range in height from twenty-five to seventy-five feet, and from
one foot to four in diameter. The trunks are very short, and seldom
afford clear lengths exceeding eight feet, and often not more than four.
Trees generally grow in the open, but when in thickets, the boles
lengthen somewhat. They are of slow growth and live to old age.

The wood is hard and brittle. A cubic foot weighs 51.43 pounds when
thoroughly dry. The wood of mature trees is reddish-brown; but young and
middle aged trunks are all sapwood, and are white from bark to center.
When sapwood is exposed to the air a considerable time it changes color
and becomes very dark brown. The medullary rays of this oak are broad,
fairly numerous, and are darker than the surrounding wood. When the log
is quarter-sawed, the exposed flecks of bright surface are the darkest
parts. To that extent, it resembles quarter-sawed sycamore, but the
woods do not look alike in any other particular. This oak is very
porous, and the pores--as is usual with live oaks--are arranged in rows
running from bark to center rather than parallel with the annual rings.
No clear line is distinguishable between spring and summerwood.

Cordwood constitutes the most important use for California live oak. It
rates high in fuel value, and the many large and crooked limbs make the
tree an ideal one, from the cordwood cutter’s viewpoint. By carefully
ricking the wood, with the crooks and elbows in every possible
direction--at which some cordwood cutters are very proficient--a cord of
wood may be constructed in the forest, which, when sold and delivered in
the buyer’s shed, contracts like an accordion.

    CANYON LIVE OAK (_Quercus chrysolepis_). This splendid California
    oak bears many names. It is an evergreen, and therefore is called
    live oak. It is hard when thoroughly seasoned, and this has won for
    it the name iron oak. Wagon makers often so designate it. It is
    called Valparaiso oak, but for what reason is not apparent. Black
    live oak doubtless refers to the dark color of the foliage. The most
    shapely trees grow in the bottoms of canyons, and the name, canyon
    live oak, refers to that circumstance. Hickory oak is not an
    appropriate name, though it doubtless implies that the wood
    possesses the toughness of hickory. It is about as tough as white
    oak. The name golden cup oak is a translation of its botanical name
    which, in Greek, means “golden scale,” a reference to a yellow
    tomentum or wool which covers the cups of the acorns. The wood’s
    hardness qualifies it to serve as mauls, hence the name maul oak.

    The northern limit of its growth is in southern Oregon. It goes
    south from there on the coast ranges of California and the western
    slopes of the Sierra Nevadas to the highlands of southern
    California. Its growth on the mountains of southern Arizona and New
    Mexico is always shrubby. The lowest limit of its range is about
    1,000 feet above sea level, the best specimens occurring at low
    altitudes in the sheltered canyons of the coast ranges of
    California. Gradually diminishing in size, it grows to the very tops
    of many of the high mountains, sometimes reaching 9,000 feet, being
    not more than a foot high at the upper limits of its range. In
    appearance this tree resembles the eastern live oak (_Quercus
    virginiana_), having the same majestic wide-spreading crown, except
    in the high altitudes where it forms dense thickets covering large

    When in its favorite habitat, the massive proportions and majestic
    appearance of this tree are imposing, the crown sometimes being 150
    feet across, the bole short and thick, and the great branches long
    and horizontal. It is not clothed in the somber Spanish moss that is
    often present on the great live oaks of the southeastern states, but
    there is a similarity of appearance in the drooping slender twigs.
    One hundred and fifty feet across is cited as an unusual width of
    crown, one hundred feet being a good average size, and forty or
    fifty feet the usual height, although it sometimes reaches 100. The
    bole is vested in a gray-brown, reddish-tinged bark, about an inch
    thick, and broken into numerous scales which in old age become flaky
    and pliable and fall off.

    The bark is light colored, and has the stringy character of white
    oak. The tree would readily pass for a white oak were it not for its
    two-year acorns which class it in the black oak group. The wood
    resembles white oak, and weighs 52.93 pounds per cubic foot.

    Few oaks, if any, retain their leaves a longer time than this. They
    remain on the branches three or four years. Most evergreen oaks shed
    theirs at the beginning of the second year. The leaves of this tree
    are peculiar in another way. They assume various forms. That in
    itself is not unusual and occurs with many species; but the canyon
    live oak has one pattern of leaf for the young tree, another for the
    old. One form has a margin with sharp, hooked teeth; another has
    smooth-margined leaves, and there are various intermediate forms.
    Sizes vary no less than shapes of both acorns and leaves. Some
    acorns are half an inch in length, others two inches.

    The canyon live oak is believed to be long-lived, but further
    information is desirable. The massive trunks represent centuries.
    They usually occur in sheltered places which are measurably secure
    from the ordinary perils which beset trees, notably the woodsman’s
    ax and the periodic forest fire. The bottoms of canyons where this
    oak makes choice of situation do not usually burn fiercely, and
    trees sheltered there escape. Cordwood cutters are the most constant
    peril to good fuel trees in California; but many a canyon is safe
    from their invasions, because of lack of roads. There the most
    magnificent oaks rear their crowns in security, while trees of
    inferior size and character, which grow on exposed slopes and flats,
    fall before the cordwood cutter, and go to the ricks in village

    The wood of canyon live oak is superior to that of any other oak in
    its range. It is of light brown color, and is tough, strong, stiff,
    and heavy. The trunks are generally unsuitable for sawlogs, being
    too short, but when a chance tree is found that may be cut into
    lumber, it is considered a prize. Trunks are seldom good for more
    than one sawlog. In that respect this oak may be compared with the
    southern live oak. The scarcity of good hardwoods on the Pacific
    coast adds to the value of what may be found there. If the canyon
    live oak grew in the East, and developed a trunk of the same size
    and shape as it has in its present home, it would attract no more
    attention from the users of hardwoods than the live oak in the South
    attracts now. But place makes great difference.

    Factories in California do not report the use of much of this oak,
    yet considerable quantities of it are in service. The most important
    place found for it is in country and village blacksmith shops, where
    wagons are repaired. Nearly every piece of wood which goes into a
    wagon, except the bed, may be this oak. Many persons consider it the
    best wagon timber on the Pacific coast, and it is particularly
    valued for tongues, not only for wagons, but for heavy log trucks
    which are operated by several yoke of oxen. The wood is likewise
    made into singletrees. It has always been in use in California for
    pack saddles. That article is small, but many saddles were formerly
    made, and the pack saddle is still an important article in the
    mountains. Trains of mules, horses, and burros thread the narrow
    paths, where wheeled vehicles cannot go, and deliver supplies to
    camps and mines in remote districts. The pack saddle’s strength is
    frequently all that intervenes between the load and destruction; for
    the snapping of a piece of wood may let the pack go over a precipice
    beyond recovery. The pack trains are slowly passing out of use in
    the West, as they long ago disappeared from the “bridle paths” of
    eastern mountains and forests; but they are still to be seen among
    the fastnesses of the Sierra Nevadas, as in the days when a western
    poet burst into inspired song of the long pack trains going

      “Up and down o’er the mountain trail
      With one horse tied to another’s tail.”

    HUCKLEBERRY OAK (_Quercus chrysolepis vaccinifolia_) is a variety of
    canyon live oak, and is never large enough to supply wood for any
    purpose, but is valuable as a covering to the ground on exposed
    mountains. It is usually a shrub, and specimens no more than a foot
    high are mature and bear acorns enormously out of proportion to the
    size of the tree. If the canyon live oak of largest size in the low
    hills bore acorns proportionately as large, they would be the size
    of barrels. The huckleberry oak’s acorns are set in their golden
    cups. The name huckleberry is applied because of a fancied
    resemblance of the leaves to those of huckleberries. They are
    generally less than one inch in length, sometimes not half an inch.
    This unique variety of oak ranges on elevated slopes and ridges of
    the Sierra Nevada mountains, and the traveler in climbing to the
    peaks is often grateful for the privilege of pulling himself up the
    steep slopes by grasping in his hands the tops of full grown trees.

    PALMER OAK (_Quercus chrysolepis palmeri_) is considered a variety
    of canyon live oak by some, but Sudworth believes it is a distinct
    species, and draws his conclusion from forms of leaves, flowers, and
    fruit. It forms large thickets on foothills and plateaus near the
    southern boundary of California, eighty miles or more east of San
    Diego. The trees do not attain sufficient size to give them
    commercial importance.





(_Quercus Densiflora_)

Botanists dispute the right of this tree to the name of oak, and some of
them refuse to call it an oak. It is admitted that it possesses
characters not found in any other oak, but these are important to the
botanist only, while laymen have never considered the tree anything but
an oak. It has been variously called tanbark oak, chestnut oak,
California chestnut oak, live oak, and peach oak. The trunk, branches,
and foliage look much like chestnut. The leaf is like the chestnut’s,
but it is evergreen. There are three or four crops on the tree at one
time, and none fall until they are three or four years old. Young leaves
are remarkably woolly, but late in their first summer they get rid of
most of the fuzz, and become thick in texture.

Tanbark oaks are of all sizes, from mere shrubs on high mountains in the
northern Sierra Nevadas to fine and symmetrical timber in the damp
climate of the fog belt between San Francisco and the Oregon line. The
average height of mature trees is from seventy to 100 feet, with
diameters up to six feet in rare cases, though more trunks are under
than over two feet in diameter.

The range of this oak reaches southern Oregon on the north, and runs
southward three or four hundred miles along the Sierra Nevada mountains,
to Mariposa county, and six hundred miles through the Coast range to
Santa Barbara county. The tree is affected by climatic conditions, and
where surroundings do not suit, it is small and shrubby, often less than
ten feet high. It does best in the redwood belt where fogs from the
Pacific ocean keep the air moist and the ground damp. It sometimes
associates with Douglas fir, and at other times with California live
oak. If it grows in dense side shade it loses its lower branches and
develops a long, clean trunk; but in open ground it keeps its limbs
until late in life.

This is the most important source of tanbark on the Pacific coast, and
up to the present it has been procurable in large quantities. The annual
output is nearly 40,000 tons, and it commands a higher price than the
bark of any other oak or of hemlock. The absence of other adequate
tanning materials on the Pacific coast gives this tree much importance.
Its range covers several thousand square miles, and the stand is fairly
good on much of it. But on the other hand, the destruction of timber to
secure the bark has been excessive. What occurred with chestnut oak and
hemlock in the East, is occurring with tanbark oak in the West. Trees
are cut and peeled, and are left by thousands to rot in the woods, or
to feed fires and make them more destructive. The bark peelers do their
principal work in the California redwood region, because there the oak
is at its best. Economic conditions make the salvage of the trunks
impossible. The bark can be hauled to market, but the wood is unsalable
at living prices, after the long haul. It has, therefore, been usually
abandoned, and becomes a total loss. It cannot even be sold for fuel,
because the country within reach of it is thinly settled, and wood is
plentiful on every side.

Large oaks are felled, because the bark can not be stripped from the
trunks in any other way, and small trees are not spared. The peelers
often do not take the trouble to cut them down, but strip off the bark
as high as a man can reach, and leave them standing. A future tree is
thus destroyed for the sake of a strip of bark a few feet long. Such
trees live a year or two, sometimes several years, before yielding to
the inevitable. Usually, as a last expiring effort, they bear an
abnormally large crop of acorns. That performance, in the language of
the bark peelers, is “the last kick.” A tanbark slashing, when the
peelers are ready to abandon it, is a sorry spectacle. The barkless and
sun-cracked trunks strew the ground, the tops and limbs are piled in
windrows, the small peeled trees stand dying, and the last ricks of bark
have been sledded down the tote roads, marking the close of operations
in that district. A few months later, when fire runs through, the end of
the tanbark oak on that tract is accomplished.

Within recent years commendable efforts have been made to use the wood
as well as the bark. One of the first steps in that direction was to
overcome the prejudice against the wood. It was long considered to be
valueless. That belief was founded on the single fact that this oak is
difficult to season. Few woods in this country check as badly as this,
when it is left exposed to sun and wind after the bark has been removed.
It checks both radially and along the annual rings. The medullary rays
are broad and extend much of the distance from the center to the
outside. These are natural lines of cleavage when the log begins to
season and the internal stresses develop. It must be admitted that the
prospect of making anything out of timber of that character is
discouraging; but it has been accomplished, and tanbark oak is now a
material of considerable value.

The wood has about the strength and stiffness of white oak, while it is
four pounds lighter per cubic foot. The structure is similar to that of
California live oak, but the pores of tanbark oak are smaller. They run
in rows from center to circumference. The medullary rays are broad
enough to show well in quarter-sawing, but the wood’s appearance when so
worked is not wholly satisfactory. The exposed flat surfaces of the
rays show a faint purplish or violet tinge which is considered
objectionable. But when the wood is worked plain it is dependable and
substantial. It makes good flooring, fairly good furniture, finish,
vehicles, and agricultural implements. It is perishable when placed in
damp situations, and this detracts somewhat from its value as railway
ties; but the wood’s porous nature indicates that it will readily yield
to preservative treatment.

Since the value of the wood is coming to be understood it is to be
expected that less of it will be destroyed than formerly, and that
second growth will be given opportunity to hold the ground when old
stands are cut. The tree is a prolific seeder, but not every year, and
seedlings come up abundantly in sheltered places. Sprouts rise from
stumps and grow to vigorous trees. It would seem, therefore, that the
tanbark oak will hold at least part of the ground where nature planted

TOUMEY OAK (_Quercus toumeyi_). No oak in this country has smaller
leaves than this. They are usually less than three-fourths of an inch
long and half an inch wide, and they hang on petioles one-sixteenth inch
long. The leaves have no lobes or notches. They remain all winter and
fall in the spring in time to make room for the new crop. The acorns are
nearly as long as the leaves and ripen in June of the first year. Few
persons ever see this oak, for its known range is restricted to Mule
mountain, in Cochise county, southeastern Arizona. It attains a height
of twenty-five or thirty feet, and a diameter of six or eight inches.
The trunk is not only small, but is of form so poor that it can never be
of value for anything but fuel. It divides near the ground into crooked
branches. The heart of the tree is light brown, the thick sapwood is

    WOOLLY OAK (_Quercus tomentella_) has apparently been crowded off
    the American continent and has taken refuge on islands off the
    southern California coast. As far as known, not a single tree stands
    on the mainland, but several groves, with a few isolated specimens,
    are found on Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and Catalina islands, where
    they are huddled together in the bottoms of sheltered canyons. The
    leaves are thick, leathery, and are toothed like holly. The trees
    are evergreen. The acorns do not mature until the second season.
    They are generally more than an inch long. The scarcity of this oak
    relegates it to an unimportant place among commercial woods. This
    seems unfortunate, for the appearance of the wood indicates that it
    possesses excellent properties. No other oak looks like this wood.
    It is decidedly yellow, and is dense and firm. The medullary rays
    are different from those of any other oak. When seen in cross
    section they are arranged in short, wavy lines, broadest in the
    middle and tapering toward both ends. The pores are arranged between
    the rays, and follow wavy lines also. Trees grow with fair rapidity,
    and the largest on the islands are seventy-five feet high and two in

    BARREN OAK (_Quercus pumila_) is called dwarf black oak, or simply
    scrub oak. Its habit of growing on barren land is responsible for
    its common name which some people shorten to “bear” oak. It is one
    of the poorest oaks of the East, and it seldom grows more than
    twenty-five feet high and a few inches in diameter. Its range
    follows the Atlantic coast southward from Mount Desert Island,
    Maine, to North Carolina. It is probably more abundant on the pine
    barrens of New Jersey than elsewhere. The trunks are too small to be
    of use for anything but fuel.

    PRICE OAK (_Quercus pricei_) is a California tree, supposed to be
    very local in its range, since it has not been found outside the
    drainage basin of a small stream in Monterey county. That locality
    on the coast of California appears to be the starting place or
    principal abiding place of several tree species, among which are
    Monterey cypress and Monterey pine. The Price oak attains a height
    of twenty-five or thirty feet, and a diameter of twelve inches or
    less; consequently it is too small to be of value to lumbermen, even
    if it were abundant. The leaves resemble those of California live
    oak, and are believed to remain two summers on the tree. The acorns
    mature the second season.



[Illustration: SHINGLE OAK]


(_Quercus Imbricaria_)

The origin of this tree’s name has been the subject of considerable
controversy. According to one account the name was first used by the
French colonists at Kaskaskia, Illinois, nearly 150 years ago. They
found that the wood rived well and it was abundant in the vicinity of
their settlement. They split it for shingles and covered their cabins.
It was the best wood obtainable for the purpose in that region, and they
designated the tree shingle oak, a name translated into Latin by the
botanist Michaux and still retained as the tree’s botanical name. The
story of the name appears to be well authenticated, but the fact cannot
be denied that as much reason exists for another theory. A person who
sees a shingle oak tree in full leaf, particularly if it stands in open
ground where its foliage has had opportunity to develop along natural
lines, will at once notice the peculiar and characteristic overlapping
of the leaves. They suggest the courses of shingles nailed on a roof. No
other oak has that arrangement. The similitude is so striking that it
would be surprising if the name shingle oak were not applied.

It is not a one-name tree, but following the fashion, it carries several
names. It is called laurel oak in some regions. The form and appearance
of the leaf give the name. The oak looks like a mammoth laurel tree more
than like its own species. The shingle oak is known as jack oak in some
parts of Illinois. That is a name liable to be applied to any tree when
its real name is not known. In North Carolina they call the tree water
oak, which name, like jack oak, is often used to conceal ignorance of
the true name. Another southern species (_Quercus nigra_) is properly
named water oak.

Shingle oak requires good soil for growth but is not partial either to
uplands or bottoms. It is found at its best in the lower Ohio river
basin and in Missouri, but is comparatively rare in the East. From
middle Pennsylvania its range extends southward along the Alleghanies to
northern Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and west Arkansas. It is found in
Michigan, Wisconsin, and westward to Kansas.

It manifests a strong tendency to hybridize with other oaks, and it
readily crosses with black jack oak, pin oak, and yellow oak. It is
believed that a cross between yellow oak and shingle oak produced the
species known as lea oak.

A mature tree may be one hundred feet high and three or four feet in
diameter. It has a round or pyramidal attractive crown composed of many
slender branches and twigs. The foliage is distinctively grouped at the
ends of the twigs in star-like clusters. The leaves are four or six
inches long, with wedge-shaped or rounded bases, and are deep green and
shiny on the upper side, but lighter below. The acorns are short,
stubby, and rounded, covered one-third of the way with thin shallow

Shingle oak grows rapidly, and it is often sold by nurseries which deal
in ornamental forest trees. It is hardy as far north as Massachusetts.
Although it bears great abundance of leaves, they are so arranged that
the crown seems open. One may see through the branches of a large
shingle oak, and it suggests an airiness not common with oaks.

Differences of opinion exist concerning the value of shingle oak for
commercial purposes. It belongs in the black oak group, and its wood
goes to market as red oak, and apparently is never listed as anything
else. It is never named in market reports; shops and factories never
report it, and it has been pronounced inferior to red oak in strength
and seasoning properties. Tests have been made of some of its physical
properties, and the results do not indicate that the wood belongs with
inferior timbers. Its breaking strength is given at 39 per cent greater
than white oak, and its stiffness at 28 per cent greater. However, these
values, which are calculated from Sargent’s tables, are based on tests
of only a few specimens of the wood, and fuller investigation might make
revision necessary.

The wood is heavy, hard, and is said to check badly in drying. The pores
are large and are arranged in rows; medullary rays are broad and
conspicuous. The wood is light brown, tinged with red, the sapwood much
lighter. The broad medullary rays, running radially, give the wood its
good splitting qualities.

The tree is fairly abundant in different parts of its range, and is cut
and manufactured with other oaks and hardwoods. Slack coopers use it for
barrels; box makers employ it for crates; chair mills saw dimension
stock and ship it to factories to be finished; some goes to furniture
factories; some is turned for spindles for grills, and for balusters for
stairs; other fills various places as interior finish and molding. But
it all goes to market and passes through factories under names other
than its own.

WATER OAK (_Quercus nigra_) has several names, some of them bestowed
with little apparent reason. It is called possum oak and duck oak, but
these names are neither descriptive nor definitive. Punk oak is another
name. It may refer to a decayed condition of the wood, but this tree is
no more affected by decay than others of the same region. In Texas it is
sometimes known as spotted oak. It thrives in wet situations though not
actually in swamps. It prefers margins of ponds, banks of rivers, and
low swales where the ground water is just below the surface, but it is
not confined to such situations. It does well, within its range,
wherever willow oak flourishes, but willow oak has a wider range. The
leaves take on various forms, and they change shape as they increase in
size. Some have smooth margins, others are lobed. Some are wedge-shaped,
others coffin-shaped. Their typical form, if it may be said of them that
they have a typical form, is narrow at the stem end and wide at the
other. To this is usually added rudimentary lobes, which are sometimes
nearly as well developed as in any other oak. Their typical form is like
the leaf of the black jack oak; but they are not half as large, and are
thin and delicate, while the black jack’s leaf is thick and leathery.

The range of water oak begins in Delaware and follows the Atlantic
coastal plain south to central Florida, and through the Gulf States to
Texas. It grows as far north as Kentucky and Missouri. It keeps clear of
the Appalachian mountain region, and other hilly districts. It is
plentiful in some parts of its range, and trunks three feet in diameter
and long enough for two or three logs are not unusual, yet large numbers
of water oaks may be seen in the South which are not fit for sawlogs
because they stand in open ground and are limby down to ten feet of the
ground. Many have been planted for shade trees in streets and in parks,
and are justly admired. They grow rapidly and are extremely graceful.
Their leaves are deciduous, but adhere to the branches most of the year.
South of the belt of severe frost, the old leaves frequently hang until
the buds for the new crop are opening. The acorns are bitter, and even
the southern pine hog passes them by until the pinch of famine edges up
his appetite.

Water oak possesses value as a source of lumber, but it belongs with the
large class of oaks which lose their names and their identity when they
pass the threshold of the sawmill. They come out red oak. Only in rare
instances is water oak called by its own name in the factory and lumber
yard. Wagon makers employ it for bolsters, axles, spokes, tongues,
sandboards, hounds, felloes and reaches. Entire dump carts, except the
iron, are constructed of this wood. Furniture manufacturers use it as
frame material, but seldom as the outside visible parts, though no
reason for not doing so is offered. Objection is made to its seasoning
qualities, but the same objection applies to most red oaks. A
considerable amount of water oak is cut in the South into thick planks
for bridge floors. It is strong and hard, and satisfactorily resists
decay in that place; though, in common with the black oaks generally, it
is liable to decay when exposed to dampness. The wood weighs a little
less than white oak, and is not quite as strong or as stiff. It is
porous, but the pores are small, except one or two rows in the
springwood. The medullary rays are thin and not numerous, but they are
conspicuous, and the wood may be successfully quarter-sawed. The lumber
has the appearance of red oak, though the reddish color is not so

    BARTRAM OAK (_Quercus heterophylla_). This interesting but
    commercially unimportant oak was named by Michaux from a single tree
    found in a field belonging to John Bartram near Philadelphia more
    than a century ago. A few trees have since been found in widely
    scattered districts as far south as North Carolina and as far west
    as Texas. Botanists believe it is a hybrid, one parent being the
    willow oak (_Quercus phellos_) and the other yellow oak (_Quercus
    velutina_). It is probable that here may be witnessed the origin of
    a tree species. The leaves seem to be a compromise between the
    deeply cut foliage of yellow oak and the entire leaf of willow oak.
    The new species is so scarce that few people have ever seen it.



[Illustration: RED GUM]


(_Liquidambar Styraciflua_)

This tree does not belong to the same group as black gum and tupelo,
which are in the dogwood family, while red gum is of the witch hazel
family. If a tree is to be judged and named by its character, red gum is
more entitled to the name “gum” than any other tree of this country,
because it exudes a yellow resin from wounds in the bark. The botanical
name recognizes that fact. Storax is procured from a closely related
tree is Asia, and has been known in commerce for many centuries. The
other popular names of red gum are sweet gum, liquid-amber gum, gum
tree, alligator wood, bilsted, starleaved gum, and satin walnut.

The last name originated in England where it was desirable to avoid the
name gum when applied to the wood of this tree. Though botanically it is
about as distantly related to walnut as any tree can be, the figure of
the wood often suggests walnut. The name sweet gum refers to the
pleasant odor of the resin which is sometimes used in France, and
probably elsewhere, to perfume gloves. Alligator wood is descriptive of
warty excrescences on the bark of some trees, but they are not common to
all. Starleaved gum relates to the leaf. It is a lopsided star--a six
point star with one point missing.

This tree’s range in the United States extends from Connecticut to Texas
and as far northwest of the Alleghanies as Missouri and Illinois. It
reaches its greatest size in the lower Mississippi valley in rich bottom
land which is subject to repeated inundation. It is not, however, as
purely a swamp tree as tupelo and cypress. It grows well on land which
is never inundated, but it needs plenty of moisture. The largest
specimens exceed a height of 120 feet and a diameter of four; but logs
from eighteen inches to three feet are the usual sizes. The tree’s range
extends southward through Mexico into Central America.

The rise of red gum lumber into prominence forms an interesting chapter
in the industry. It was formerly considered so difficult to season that
few mills cared to deal with it, but that difficulty has been largely
overcome. In the past, gum, having no market value, was left standing
after logging; or, where the land was cleared for farming, was girdled
and allowed to rot, and then felled and burned. Not only were the trees
a total loss to the farmer, but, from their great size and the labor
required to handle them, they were so serious an obstruction as often to
preclude the clearing of valuable land. Now that there is a market for
the timber, it is profitable to cut gum with other hardwoods, and land
can be cleared more cheaply. This increase in the value of gum timber
will be of great benefit to the South in many ways.

Throughout its entire life red gum is intolerant of shade. As a rule
seedlings appear only in clearings or in open spots in the forest. It is
seldom that an overtopped tree is found, for the gum dies quickly if
suppressed, and is consequently nearly always a dominant or intermediate
tree. In a hardwood bottom forest, the timber trees are all of nearly
the same age over considerable areas, and there is little young growth
to be found in the older stands. The reason for this is the intolerance
of most of the swamp species.

Red gum reproduces both by seed and by sprouts, fairly abundantly every
year, but about once in three years there is a heavy production. In the
Mississippi valley the abandoned fields on which young stands of red gum
have sprung up are, for the most part, being rapidly cleared again. The
second growth here is considered of little worth in comparison with the
value of the land for agricultural purposes.

A large amount of red gum growing in the South can be economically
transported from the forests to the mills only by means of the streams,
owing to the expense of putting in railroads solely for handling the
timber. Green red gum, however, is so heavy that it scarcely floats and,
to overcome this difficulty, various methods of driving out the sap
before the logs are thrown into the river have been tried. One method is
to girdle the trees and leave them standing a year. That partly seasons
them, but does not give time for the sapwood to decay. The logs from
such trees float readily, and the swamps and streams are utilized to
carry the logs to the mills.

Some years ago that method of seasoning red gum was extensively
advertised in England by contractors who sold paving blocks of this
wood. It was claimed that the common defects of red gum were thus
overcome. Large sales of paving material were made, particularly in
London, and red gum was popular for a time, but it finally lost its hold
as a paving wood in competition with certain Australian woods. The
theory that by girdling a tree and allowing it to die, the amount of
heartwood will be increased has been abandoned. In selecting trees for
cutting, those with doty tops, rotten stumps, and heavy bark,
indications of an old tree which contains a very small proportion of
sapwood, are now chosen. These are found mainly in the drier localities.
In low, wet places the trees have more sapwood and are smaller. The
heartwood forms while the tree is living, not after it dies.

The rapidity with which red gum has come into use in this country and
elsewhere is the best evidence of the wood’s real value. Its range of
uses extends from the most common articles, such as boxes and crates, to
those of highest class, like furniture and interior finish. It is only
moderately strong and stiff, and is not a competitor of hickory, ash,
maple, and oak in vehicle manufacturing and other lines where strength
or elasticity is demanded; but in nearly all other classes of wood uses,
red gum has made itself a place. It has pushed to the front in spite of
prejudice. As soon as the difficulties of seasoning were mastered, its
victory was won. Its annual use in Michigan, the home and center of
hardwood supply, exceeds 20,000,000 feet in manufactured articles,
exclusive of what is employed in rough form. In Illinois, the most
extensive wood-manufacturing state in the Union, red gum stands second
in amount among the hardwoods, the only one above it being white oak. In
Kentucky, only white oak and hickory are more important among the
factory woods, while in Arkansas, where the annual amount of this wood
in factories exceeds 100,000,000 feet, it heads the list of hardwoods.

As a veneer material, it is demanded in four times the quantity of any
other species. The veneer is nearly all rotary cut, and it goes into
cheap and expensive commodities, from berry crates to pianos.

The wood weighs 36.83 pounds per cubic foot. It is straight-grained, the
medullary rays are numerous but not prominent, the pores diffuse but
small, and the summerwood forms only a narrow band, like a line. The
annual rings do not produce much figure, but wood has another kind of
figure, the kind that characterizes English and Circassian walnuts,
smoky, cloudy, shaded series of rings, independent of the growth rings.
They have no definite width or constant color, but the color is usually
deeper than the body of the wood. This figure is one of the most prized
properties of red gum. It is that which makes the wood the closest known
imitator of Circassian walnut.

All red gum is not figured, and that which is figured may be worked in a
way to conceal or make little use of the figure. It shows best in rotary
cut veneer and tangentially sawed lumber. Various woods are imitated
with red gum. It is stained or painted to look like oak, cherry,
mahogany, and even maple.

Some trees have thin sapwood, and others are all sapwood. This
peculiarity sometimes leads to misunderstandings in lumber transactions.
A buyer specifies red gum, expecting to get red heartwood, but the
seller delivers lumber cut from the red gum tree, though light colored
sapwood may predominate. Properly speaking, the name is applied to the
tree as a whole and does not refer to any particular color of wood in
the tree. The term “red” is said to have referred originally to the
color of autumn leaves, and not to the wood.

The fruit of red gum is a bur, midway in appearance and size between the
sycamore ball and the chestnut bur. It hangs on the tree until late in
winter. The resin which exudes from wounds in the bark is of much
commercial importance and is shipped from New Orleans and Mexican ports.
Near the northern limit of the species’ range the trees yield little
resin, but it is abundant farther south. In the southern states it is
used locally as chewing gum. It is known commercially as copalm balm.

    WITCH HAZEL (_Hamamelis virginiana_) is a cousin to red gum, but
    there is small resemblance. It is known as winter bloom, snapping
    hazel, and spotted alder. Its range extends from Nova Scotia to
    Nebraska, Texas, and Florida. It reaches its largest size among the
    southern Appalachian mountains where the extreme height is sometimes
    forty feet, with a diameter of eighteen inches; but few people have
    ever seen a witch hazel that large. It is usually fifteen or twenty
    feet high and three or four inches in diameter. The wood is much
    like that of red gum, being diffuse-porous with obscure medullary
    rays, and a thin line of summerwood. It is of little commercial use;
    in fact, no report has been found that a single foot of it has ever
    been used for any purpose. Yet it is a most interesting little tree.
    It blooms in the fall, sometimes as late as the middle of November.
    Its rusty summer foliage turns yellow in autumn, and as the leaves
    begin to fall, the tree bursts into delicately-scented golden
    flowers, the most visible part of each consisting of four petals
    which float out like streamers. At the same time that flowers are
    scenting the air, the seeds are discharging. A full year is required
    to ripen them; and when dry, cold weather comes, the contraction of
    their envelopes shoots them with sufficient force to send them
    fifteen or twenty feet. They depend on neither wings, birds, nor
    squirrels to scatter them. The origin of the name witch hazel is
    disputed; but the person who examines the open-topped button which
    holds the black seeds, and notes the fantastic resemblance to a
    weasen face, will feel satisfied that he can guess the origin of the
    name. The tree’s bark is used for medicine, in extracts and gargles.



[Illustration: BLACK GUM]


(_Nyssa Sylvatica_)

Black gum grows from the Kennebec river in Maine to Tampa bay, Florida;
westward to southern Ontario and southern Michigan; Southward through
Missouri, as far as the Brazos river in Texas. The names by which it is
known in different regions are black gum, sour gum, tupelo, pepperidge,
wild pear tree, gum, and yellow gum.

The leaves of black gum are simple and alternate; not serrate. They are
attached by very short petioles, which are fuzzy when young; they are a
rich, brilliant green above and lighter below; rather thick, with
prominent midrib. As early as the latter part of August the leaves
commence to turn a gorgeous red. The flowers are greenish and
inconspicuous, growing in thick clusters, the staminate ones small and
plentiful, the pistillate ones larger. They bloom in April, May or June.
The fruit of black gum is a drupe about one and a half inches long;
inside of it is a rough, oval pit; the pulp is acrid until mellowed by

The bad name given to black gum by early settlers of this country has
stayed with it, though the faults found with it then, should hold no
longer. The pioneers were nearly all clearers of farms. They went into
the woods with ax, maul, mattock, wedges and gluts, and made fields and
fenced them. The fencing was as important as the clearing, for the woods
were alive with hogs, cattle, and horses, and the crop was safe nowhere
except behind an eight-rail staked and ridered fence. The farmer mauled
the rails from timber which he cut in the clearing, and there it was
that he and black gum got acquainted. The oak, chestnut, walnut, cherry,
yellow poplar, and red cedar were split into rails and built into
fences; but black gum never made a fence rail. No combination of maul,
wedge, glut, determination, and elbow grease ever split a black gum log
within the borders of the American continent. An iron wedge, driven to
its head in the end of a rail cut, will not open a crack large enough to
insert the point of a pocket knife. In fact, it is as easy to split the
log crosswise as endwise. Consequently, the early farmers heaped their
anathemas and maranathas on black gum and passed it by.

Nevertheless, the tree had its virtues even in the eyes of the
rail-splitters; for, though it was unwedgeable, it helped along the
fence rail industry in a very substantial way by furnishing the material
of which mauls were made. It drove the wedges and gluts which opened
other timbers. About the only maul that would beat out more rails than
one of black gum was that made of a chestnut oak knot. The oak beetle’s
only advantage over gum was that it was harder and wore longer. So
involved and interlaced are the fibers of black gum, that they cross one
another not only at right angles, but at every conceivable angle. This
can be seen in examining very thin pieces with a magnifying glass.

The wood is not hard, but is moderately strong, and stiff. It has been
compared with hickory, but it is so inferior in almost every essential
that no comparison is justified.

Black gum weighs 39.61 pounds per cubic foot. It is very porous, but the
pores are too small to be seen by the naked eye, and are diffused
through the wood and form no distinct lines or groups. The summerwood is
a thin dark line, not prominent enough to clearly delimit the yearly
rings of growth. The medullary rays are numerous, but very thin. In
quarter-sawed wood they produce a luster, but the individual rays are
practically invisible. The wood is not durable in contact with the soil.

The standing tree is apt to fall a victim to the agencies of decay.
Hollow trunks, mere shells, are not uncommon. The entire heartwood is
liable to fall away. The pioneers cut these hollow trees, and sawing
them in lengths of about two feet, made beehives of them. They called
them gums because they were cut from gum trees. Larger sizes, used in
place of barrels, were also called gums, but these were usually made
from sycamores. The black gum is not usually large. Individuals have
been measured that were five feet in diameter and more than a hundred in
height, but an average of sixty feet high and two in diameter is
probably too much, except in the southern Appalachian mountains where
the species attains its largest size.

It is a tree which will always be easily recognized after it has been
seen and identified once. Its general outline, particularly when leaves
are off, is different from other trees associated with it. It might
possibly be mistaken for persimmon unless looked at closely; but there
are easily-recognized points of difference. Its branches are very small,
slender, and short. Its bark is rougher than that of any other gum, and
is much darker in color. It is the bark’s color that gives the tree its
name. The leaves have smooth edges. In the fall they change to gorgeous
red, and one of their peculiarities is that half a leaf may be red while
the other half remains green. Toward the end of the season, the green
disappears. The dark blue drupes ripen in October. They do not seem to
be food for any living creature.

Sawmills include black gum with tupelo in reporting lumber cut, and
generally call both of them gum without distinction. The woods are quite
different, and neither the standing tree nor the lumber of one need be
mistaken for the other. The range of black gum is much more extensive
than that of tupelo. Gum lumber cut north of the Ohio and Potomac rivers
may be safely classed as black gum, though a little of both red and
tupelo gum is found north of those streams. In the South, the species
cannot be separated by regions, for all the gums grow from Texas to
Virginia. The total annual output of black gum is not known, but some
operators estimate it at about 20,000,000 feet a year, or nearly
one-fourth as much as tupelo.

The bulk of black gum lumber is used in the rough, for floors,
sheathing, frames, and scaffolds; but a considerable portion is further
manufactured. The amounts thus used annually have been ascertained for a
few states, and furnish a basis for estimates for the whole country:
Mississippi, 7,000 feet; Maryland, 85,000; Illinois, 120,000; Louisiana,
120,000; Missouri, 190,000; Texas, 360,000; Massachusetts, 475,000;
Alabama, 486,000.

The uses are general, except that the wood is not employed where
attractive figure is required, for black gum is as plain as cottonwood.
It is not displeasing in its plainness, for the surface finishes nicely
with a soft gloss which, except that it lacks figure, suggests the sap
of red gum. It is specially useful in situations where noncleavability
is required. Black gum mallets for stone masons and woodworkers are in
the market. Mine rollers require a much larger amount. The entire 85,000
feet reported in Maryland was made into such rollers. They furnish the
bearing for the rope that hauls the car up the incline out of the coal
pit. Its toughness qualifies it for wagon hubs, but it is sometimes
objected to because its softness causes the mortises to wear larger
where the spokes are inserted, and the wheel does not stand as well as
when the hubs are of good oak. Early farmers and lumbermen preferred
black gum for ox yokes, and some are still seen where oxen are used; but
many other woods are as strong and equally as serviceable for yokes.
Rollers of this wood for glass factories are common. It is made into
hatters’ blocks where a wood is wanted which, when thoroughly seasoned,
will hold its shape. It is less popular for this purpose than yellow
poplar. One of the best places for black gum is in the manufacture of
bored water pipe. The wood’s interlaced fiber prevents splitting under
the internal stress due to hydrostatic pressure. The shell of such pipes
can be thinner than with most woods. A drawback is found in the
non-durable qualities of black gum. However, the internal pressure of
water keeps the wood thoroughly saturated, and prolongs its life when
used as pipes.

The makers of firearms employ black gum as gunstocks and pistol grips.
The wood is stained to make it darker. It is cut by the rotary process
into cheap veneer and is made into baskets and berry crates. Less
trouble with the veneer, on account of breaking, is experienced than
might be expected of a wood so cross-grained. It is sawed into thin
lumber for boxes for shipping coffee and other groceries. It is a
substitute for cottonwood and yellow poplar in the manufacture of
certain lines of woodenware, notably, ironing boards, rolling pins,
potato mashers, and chopping bowls. It is made into interior finish for
houses; and furniture manufacturers find many places where it is a
serviceable material. Musical instrument makers employ it, particularly
as trusses for pianos, and in frames of pipe organs. In Louisiana it is
converted into excelsior, and in Mississippi into broom handles, and
parts of agricultural implements, particularly hoppers and seedboxes.

All gums are hard to season, and this one is no exception. It checks
badly, but the checks are usually very small.



[Illustration: TUPELO]


(_Nyssa Aquatica_)

Tupelo is said to be an Indian name. White men have applied it to three
species of gum, all of the same genus, namely, black gum (_Nyssa
sylvatica_), sour tupelo (_Nyssa ogeche_), and tupelo (_Nyssa
aquatica_). Probably, the name tupelo applies as well to one as to the
other, for it is said to refer to the drupe-like fruit; but custom
confines the name to the species now under consideration. It is largest
of the three species, most abundant, and most important. Sour gum is
heard in Arkansas and Missouri, swamp tupelo in South Carolina and
Louisiana, cotton gum in the two Carolinas and Florida, wild olive tree
in Louisiana, and olive tree in Mississippi.

The range of tupelo extends from Virginia along the coast to Florida,
northward in the Mississippi valley to southern Illinois, and westward
to Arkansas and Texas. It prefers swamps and attains largest size in low
ground which is subject to frequent overflow. The tree will stand in
several feet of water the greater part of the year without injury. It is
closely associated with cypress, the planer tree, and other species
which grow in deep swamps.

Tupelo has not figured much in tree literature outside the books of
botanists. Travelers and local writers have paid it little attention. It
has not been remarkable for anything in the past, and has escaped
observation to a large extent because it grows in swamps and along
bayous, remote from the usual routes of travel. Its flowers attracted no
attention, its fruit was worthless, and the early settlers did not put
themselves to trouble to procure the wood for any purpose. That was the
situation from the early settlement of the country where this species is
found up to a very recent period when economic conditions began to bring
tupelo into notice.

It first attracted attention in the markets as a substitute for yellow
poplar. That was brought about by an attempt to pass it as poplar. The
growing scarcity of that wood in the region about Chesapeake bay led to
the trial of tupelo. It was sold as bay poplar, and the purchaser was
left to infer that it was poplar cut in the region tributary to
Chesapeake bay. Probably few buyers were deceived, but they found the
wood a fair substitute for the yellow poplar which they had been
purchasing in the Baltimore and Norfolk markets. It is known as bay
poplar yet in many localities. It goes to England as such. One of its
most important uses in that country is as casing for electric wire
fittings. It has, however, many other important uses in England and on
the continent. It is claimed that it may be stained to imitate
Circassian walnut in the manufacture of furniture. This is possible, but
most probably tupelo has been confused with red gum which is a
well-known substitute for Circassian walnut.

Tupelo trees attain a height from seventy to a hundred feet, and a
diameter of two to four feet above the swelled base. The general
appearance of the bark suggests both yellow poplar and red gum. Trees
have a habit of forking near the tops. The leaves are five or seven
inches long, sometimes with smooth margins, and often with a few sharp
points. Flowers appear in March and April, and fruit ripens early in
Autumn. It is a dark purple, tough-skinned drupe, about an inch long.

The wood weighs 32.37 pounds per cubic foot. It is soft, and has about
three-fourths the strength and little more than half the stiffness of
white oak. It is not well suited to places where strength and rigidity
are required. The fibers are interwoven, making the wood difficult to
split. The heart is brown, often nearly white; the sapwood is very
thick; and the annual rings are not clearly defined, because of the
similarity between the springwood and summerwood. The pores are small
but numerous, and are scattered evenly through the whole annual ring.
The wood of roots differs from that of the trunk more than is usual with
hardwoods. It is very light, and has been long employed in the South as
a substitute for cork as floats for fish nets.

Tupelo is often logged with cypress. The two trees grow in close
association in deep swamps. The butt cuts of tupelo are so heavy that
they float deep, or even go to the bottom. It was formerly customary,
and still is to some extent, to girdle trees whose trunks were to be
floated to the mills. In the course of one season the standing trees dry
sufficiently for the logs to float. At other times, trees are cut green,
the logs are skidded and allowed to dry some months before they are
rafted or floated to the mills. The sapwood is liable to decay, even in
the brief period while the logs are on the skids. The wood may be
protected against decay to some extent by smearing the ends of the logs
with tar or some other substance which prevents the spores of
decay-producing fungus from entering.

The seasoning of tupelo was formerly a problem exceedingly vexatious to
the lumberman. The wood is full of water, and warping was one of the
troubles which was constantly encountered. Finally experience gained the
mastery, and seasoning troubles are fewer now. Shrinkage of four or five
per cent is not unusual in passing lumber from the green to dry state.

Tupelo is like hickory in one respect--factories use more wood than the
sawmills cut. The shops and manufacturing plants of ten states use as
much tupelo as is cut by all the sawmills in the United States. These
states are Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan,
Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, and Texas. The reason for factory
use exceeding the sawmill cut is that much reaches factories, in the
form of veneer, which does not pass through a sawmill. The lumber output
of most of the timber trees of this country is from one-third to
one-half greater than the factory use. The difference represents the
rough lumber used, and which never goes to a factory.

Tupelo lately entered the general market, but the yearly demand now
exceeds 100,000,000 feet. Its uses range from boxes and cheap handles to
interior finish and material for musical instruments. It is particularly
liked for containers for berries and small fruits, on their way to
market. Its whiteness and clean appearance fit it for that use.

Higher grades of shipping boxes are also made. Wholesale grocers order
largely of this wood for spice, coffee, and tea boxes. These commodities
are exacting in their requirements because their odor, which is often
regarded as the criterion of their value, must not be impaired. A wood
with an odor of its own is immediately ruled out. Cigar box makers use
tupelo, sometimes as thin lumber for the whole box, but usually as
backing over which to lay a thin veneer of Spanish cedar. Plug tobacco
boxes are also made of tupelo.

In Illinois and Michigan tupelo is listed among woods manufactured into
pianos, organs, mandolins, and guitars. In Maryland they make scows and
barges of it. In Arkansas and Louisiana it is worked into excelsior and
slack cooperage stock. It is a favorite wood in Mississippi for pumplogs
and broom handles. Its leading reported use in Texas is for porch
columns. In Missouri it is manufactured into laundry appliances, such as
washboards, clothes racks, and ironing boards. In nearly all
manufacturing centers of the country it is made into furniture and
interior finish. It is frequently substituted for yellow poplar in
panels, not only in furniture and cabinet work, but in carriage bodies.

The supply of tupelo in southern forests is fairly large, and will meet
demand for some years, but it is a tree of slow growth, and when present
stands are cut, a new supply will probably never come.

    SOUR TUPELO (_Nyssa ogeche_) appears to be the only member of the
    gum group whose fruit is of any value to man, and it is not very
    important. The large, dull red drupes ripen in July and August, and
    sometimes hang on the trees until late fall, allowing ample time for
    gathering them. They are very sour, for which reason the tree is
    called sour gum. The fruit is put through a pickling process which
    renders it palatable and it is not an infrequent article on southern
    pantry shelves. The range of the tree is confined to the region near
    the coast from the southern border of South Carolina, through the
    Ogeechee river valley in Georgia, to northern and western Florida.
    The botanical name refers to the river along whose course the trees
    are most abundant. Local names are gopher plum, Ogeechee lime, and
    wild lime. The tree is sixty or seventy feet high, one or two in
    diameter, and is often divided in several stems. Its wood is
    lightest of the gums, weighing only 28.75 pounds per cubic foot. It
    is diffuse-porous, and the springwood is scarcely distinguishable
    from the summerwood. The annual rings of growth are indistinct, and
    the medullary rays are thin and inconspicuous. The wood is weak,
    soft, tough, and white, and little difference is apparent between
    heart and sapwood. The flowers are rich in honey and are valuable to
    bee keepers. It appears that no reports exist of the use of this
    wood for any purpose. It is not abundant anywhere.

    WATER GUM (_Nyssa biflora_) is a member of the gum group, and is of
    small importance. Trees above thirty feet high are unusual, and the
    trunk is of poor form, owing to its greatly enlarged base. This gum
    is found on the margins of small ponds in the pine barrens from
    North Carolina to the Gulf coast. The leaves turn purple and red in
    the fall, and are then conspicuous objects. The fruit is a blue
    drupe about a third of an inch long. The wood is light, tough, and
    difficult to split.



[Illustration: BLACK WALNUT]


(_Juglans Nigra_)

This tree has few names. It is called walnut, black walnut, and
walnut-tree. The color of the wood and bark is responsible for the word
black in the name, though some people use the adjective to distinguish
the tree from butternut which is often known as white walnut. The
natural range of black walnut covers 600,000 or 700,000 square miles,
and it has been extended by planting. Its northern limit stretches from
New York to Minnesota, its southern from Florida to Texas. It is
difficult to say where the species found its highest development in the
primeval forests, for very large trees were reported in New York, among
the southern Appalachian mountains, in the Ohio valley, and beyond the
Mississippi in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas. The wood cut in
Ohio and Indiana has been of greater commercial importance than that
from any other portion of its range, but that has been due, in part, to
the fact that it came into market before the best of the forest growth
had been destroyed in those states, and instead of burning it or mauling
it into rails, as eastern farmers did in early times, the farmers of the
Ohio valley sold their walnut. Early in the history of black walnut
lumbering, Indiana and Ohio came to the front as the most important
sources of supply, and they still hold that position, notwithstanding
the original forests of those states were supposed to be nearly
exhausted long ago. The states cutting most black walnut in 1910, in the
order named, were Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee,
Missouri, West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Iowa.

During the period from 1860 to 1880 black walnut was in much demand for
furniture, and the largest yearly cut was 125,000,000 feet. It was
during that period of twenty years that operators pushed into all of the
out-of-the-way places in search of the timber. Logs were hauled on
wagons long distances to bring them out of remote valleys and slopes
where no timber buyer had ever gone before. The walnut buyers made such
a thorough canvas of the country that it was generally supposed no
merchantable tree from Kansas to Virginia would escape. Many a dooryard
giant whose wide branches had shaded the family roof for generations,
fell before the ax of the contractor who was willing to pay fifty
dollars for a single trunk, though it might be twenty miles from the
nearest railroad or navigable stream. In spite of the thoroughness of
the search, many a walnut tree was spared. Logs have been going to
market ever since, and still they go. They will continue to go for
years, generations, and centuries; for walnut trees grow with rapidity.

The trunk’s value increases with age. The dark colored heartwood only is
merchantable, and young trees have little heartwood. The thick, white
sap constitutes most of the trunk until long after the tree has reached
small sawlog size. Then the transformation to the dark, valuable
heartwood goes on with fair rapidity, and the outer shell of sapwood
becomes thinner as the heart increases, and in time a trunk is produced
which is fit for good logs. Value comes only with age. The quarter or
half a century which has passed since the country was so diligently
ransacked for merchantable walnut, has been sufficient to develop many a
tree which was then rejected by the purchasers. Many a tree now a foot
in diameter had scarcely sprouted then. In a region of 700,000 square
miles, walnut trees do not need to grow very close together to produce a
yearly cut of 30,000,000 or 40,000,000 feet.

Black walnut is valuable for its color, figure, and the fine polish it
takes. It is stronger than white oak, weight for weight, but it is eight
pounds lighter per cubic foot. The figure of the wood is due wholly to
the annual rings, as its medullary rays are invisible to the naked eye.
The wood is very porous, and the pores are diffused in all parts of the
annual rings, except in the thin, pencil-like mark representing the
outward boundary of the summerwood. When sapwood changes to heartwood,
some of the pores disappear, but those which remain are abundantly
sufficient to absorb any stains or fillers which the wood finisher may
wish to apply.

The annual sawmill cut of black walnut in the United States is from
35,000,000 to 40,000,000 feet, but much goes to foreign countries in the
log, and a considerable quantity goes to veneer mills--about 2,500,000
feet a year--and a quantity finds its way to various factories where it
is worked up without any statistical record being made of it.

Black walnut is never used as rough lumber. It all goes to factories of
some kind to be converted into finished commodities. It is not possible
to say where it all goes, for statistics of manufacture are fragmentary
in this country. It may be of interest to know that demand for walnut by
factories in the following states was 11,641,137 feet in 1910: Alabama,
Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, North
Carolina, and Texas. The wood served so many purposes that a list of
them would be monotonous. In Illinois the largest users are the sewing
machine and the musical instrument industries; in Michigan the makers of
automobiles and of musical instruments; in Kentucky the manufacturers of
coffins, furniture, and musical instruments; in Massachusetts, the
makers of furniture and of firearms. These uses probably afford a fairly
accurate index for the whole country. During the Civil war the largest
demand for walnut came from gunstock makers. Doubtless the largest use
from 1865 to 1885 was for furniture.

Much of the best black walnut is exported. The logs are flattened on the
four sides to make them fit better in ships and cars, and also to be rid
of most of the sapwood which is valueless. The ends are painted with red
lead or some other substance to lessen liability to check. Sometimes
export walnut is sawed in thick planks.

Large quantities of old-time walnut furniture have been resurrected in
recent years from granary and garret where it was stored long ago to
have it out of the way. Some of the old beds, lounges, cupboards, and
chairs were of heavy, solid walnut, the kind not made now. Some of it
has been furbished, re-upholstered, and set among the heirlooms; other
pieces have been sold to furniture makers who saw the solid wood in
veneers, and use it again.

The search for old walnut did not stop with dragging antique furniture
from cubbyholes and attics, but two-inch lumber has been pulled from
floors of old barns, and mills. Many old fence rails were made into gun
stocks during the Civil war. Later, walnut stumps were pulled from field
and wayside, and went to veneer mills. Some finely figured wood comes
from stumps where roots and trunk join.

An occasional walnut tree develops a large burl which is valued for its
figured wood. Sometimes the burl is the form of a door knob, with the
tree trunk growing through the center. The burl sometimes has a diameter
three or four times as great as the trunk. The origin of such burls is
supposed to be a mass of buds which fail to break through the bark.

Black walnut has a compound leaf from one to two feet long, with from
fifteen to twenty-three leaflets, each about three inches long and an
inch or two wide. The nuts ripen in the fall, and are valuable. They are
borne chiefly by trees growing in open ground; forest trees do not bear
until old, and then only a few nuts. The walnuts which germinate are
usually those buried by squirrels, and forgotten.

Within the past twenty or thirty years plantations have been made in
states of the Middle West. Many young planted trees have been cut for
fence posts, with disappointing results. It was known that old walnut is
durable, and it was supposed young trunks would be, when used for posts;
but young trees are nearly all sapwood which rots quickly.

Forest grown walnut trees vary in size from a diameter of two feet and a
height of fifty, to a diameter of six or more and a height of 100 or
120. Trunks which grow in the shade are tall, clear, and symmetrical;
those in the open are shorter, with more taper.

    PALE-LEAF HICKORY (_Hicoria villosa_) is a small tree but large
    enough to be useful wherever it exists in sufficient quantity. The
    largest specimens attain a height of fifty feet and a diameter of
    eighteen inches. The tree bears nuts when very small, and the kernel
    is sweet. The bark of this hickory is rough but not shaggy. The
    range extends from New Jersey to Florida and west to Missouri and
    Texas. It is most abundant in the lower Appalachian ranges. The wood
    possesses the common characteristics of the hickories, and it is cut
    with them wherever it is found, but is seldom or never reported
    separately in lumber operations.

    SMALL PIGNUT HICKORY (_Hicoria odorata_) is considered a species by
    some botanists while others regard it as a variety. It is called
    small pignut in Maryland, and occasionally little shagbark. This
    last name refers to the roughness of the bark which resembles the
    bark of elm. The range of the tree extends from Massachusetts to
    Missouri and south to the Ohio and the Potomac rivers. The wood
    differs little from that of pignut hickory, and the uses are the
    same. No distinction is made between them at the shop and factory.
    This tree is by some botanists believed to be a hybrid between
    shagbark and pignut. It is sometimes called false shagbark. The nut
    is edible.



[Illustration: BUTTERNUT]


(_Juglans Cinerea_)

This tree is known as butternut or as white walnut in all parts of its
range. Butternut is in reference to the oily kernel of the nuts, and
white walnut is the name given by those who would distinguish the tree
from black walnut. Persons acquainted with one of the species in its
native woods are usually sure to be acquainted with the other, for their
ranges are practically co-extensive, except that black walnut extends
farther southwest, butternut farther northeast. Butternut grows from New
Brunswick to South Dakota, from Delaware to Arkansas, and along the
Appalachian highlands to northern Georgia and Alabama.

Butternut resembles black walnut in a good many ways and differs from it
in several. They are very closely related botanically--as closely as are
brothers in the same household. Black walnut is larger, stronger, better
known, and has always dominated and eclipsed the other in usefulness and
public esteem; yet butternut is a tree both useful and interesting. No
person acquainted with both would ever mistake one for the other, winter
or summer. Botanists tell how to distinguish butternut from black walnut
by noting minor differences. The person who is not a botanist needs no
such help. He knows them at sight, and there is no possibility of
mistaking them.

Butternut in the forest may attain a height of eighty or 100 feet, and a
diameter of three, but few persons ever see a specimen of that size, and
never in open ground. In shade, the butternut does its best to get its
crown up to light and sunshine, but it is weak. It often gives up the
struggle and remains in the shade of trees which overtop it. In that
situation its crown is small, thin, and appears to rest lightly in the
form of a small bunch of yellowish-green leaves on the top of a tall,
spindling bole, which is seldom straight, but is made up of slight,
undulating curves. The pale, yellowish tinge of the bark suggests a
plant deprived of sunshine.

When butternut grows in open ground where light falls upon its crown and
on all sides, it assumes a different form and presents another figure.
The trunk is nearly as short as that of an apple tree. It divides in
large branches and limbs, and these spread wide; leaves are healthy, yet
the crown of a butternut always looks thin compared with that of the
black walnut. Tests show that butternut wood, when thoroughly dry, is
somewhat stiffer than black walnut; but it is light and weak. It is
about two-thirds as heavy and two-thirds as strong as black walnut. The
growing tree betrays the wood’s weakness. Large limbs snap in storms.
Trees become lopsided, and a symmetrical, well-proportioned butternut
crown is an exception. The broken branches leave openings for the
entrance of decay, and butternuts nearly always die of disease rather
than of old age.

Leaves are compound, and from fifteen to thirty inches in length. Few
trees of this country have larger leaves. There are from eleven to
seventeen leaflets. They are hairy and sticky. Hands that handle them
are covered with mucilage-like substance. The nuts, which grow in
clusters of three or five, are of the same color as the leaves and
covered with the same sticky fuzz. The nuts are two inches or more in
length, and are borne abundantly when trees stand in open ground. Size
rather than age appears to determine the period when trees commence to
bear. Those of extra vigor produce when ten or twelve years old. The
nuts are salable in the market. They fall with the leaves, immediately
after the first sharp frost, and all come down together. A single day
frequently suffices to strip the last leaf from a tree, though some of
the nuts may hang a little longer. The kernels are very rich, when the
nuts are dry, and are apt to cloy the appetite; but they are improved by
freezing where they lie on the ground among the leaves; but they must be
used quickly after they thaw, or they will spoil. Nuts nearly full-grown
but not yet hard are made into pickles, but the fuzz must first be
washed off with hot water.

Butternut bark has played a rather important role in the country’s
affairs. Doctors in the Revolutionary war made much of their medicine of
the roots and bark of this tree. Drugs were unattainable, and physicians
were forced to betake themselves to the woods for substitutes, and their
pharmacopoeias were enriched by the butternut tree. Housewives dyed
cloth a brown color with this bark long before aniline dyes found their
way into this country. Whole companies of Confederate soldiers from the
mountain regions in the Civil war wore clothes dyed in decoctions of
butternut bark, and popularly known as “butternut jeans.”

The annual output of butternut lumber is placed at a little more than
1,000,000 feet a year. It is widely used, but in small amounts. In
Maryland it is made into ceiling and flooring; in North Carolina into
cabinet work, fixtures for stores and offices, and into furniture; in
Michigan its reported uses are boat finish, interior finish for houses,
molding, and screen frames. In Illinois it is used for all the purposes
listed above and also for church altars and car finish. These uses are
doubtless typical, and hold good in all parts of the country where any
use is made of butternut.

The wood has figure similar to that of black walnut, but the color is
lighter. It is nearer brown than black. The pores are diffused through
the annual ring, but are more numerous and of larger size in the inner
than in the outer part. The springwood blends gradually with the wood of
the latter part of the season, without sharp distinction, but the ring
terminates in a black line which is the chief element of contrast in the
wood’s figure.

The future value of butternut will be less in the lumber than in the
nuts. The tendency in that direction is now apparent. When land is
cleared, the trees which would formerly have gone to the sawmill, are
now left to bear nuts. The averaged price paid by factories in North
Carolina for butternut is $40 a thousand feet. It is cheaper in the Lake

    MEXICAN WALNUT (_Juglans rupestris_) will never amount to much as a
    timber tree, though it is by no means useless. It is known by
    several names, among them being western walnut, dwarf walnut, little
    walnut, and California walnut. The last name is applied in Arizona
    through a misunderstanding of the tree’s identity. It is there
    confused with the California walnut which is a different species.
    The Mexican walnut’s range extends from central Texas, through New
    Mexico to Arizona, and southward into Mexico. It prefers the
    limestone banks of streams in Texas where it is usually shrubby,
    seldom attaining a height above thirty feet. It reaches its largest
    size in canyons among the mountains of New Mexico and Arizona where
    it reaches a height of sixty feet. Trunks are sometimes five feet in
    diameter. The wood weighs 40.85 pounds per cubic foot, is dark in
    color, but the tone is not as regular as that of black walnut;
    neither is it as strong and stiff. It polishes well, and is said to
    be durable in contact with the soil. It finds its way in small
    amounts to local mills, shops, and factories where it is made into
    various commodities. It is particularly liked for the lathe, and is
    suited better for turnery than for any other purpose. It is made
    into gavels, cups, spindles, parts of grills; and it is also worked
    into picture frames, handles, and small pieces of furniture. It does
    not appear that lumber sawed from this walnut ever gets into the
    general market, but the whole output, which is small, is consumed
    locally. Trees do not occur in pure stands and the whole supply
    consists of isolated trees or small groups, with few trunks large
    enough for sawlogs. The nuts are dwarfs. All are not the same size,
    but none are as large as a hickory nut. Many that grow on the
    diminutive trees along the water courses in western Texas are not as
    large, husks and all, as a nutmeg, and the nut itself is about half
    the size of a nutmeg, and not dissimilar in appearance. The kernels
    of such a nut are too small to have any commercial value, but they
    are rare morsels for the native Mexicans and Indians who pick them
    by pocketfuls. Trees in the stony canyon of Devil’s river, in Texas,
    are in full bearing when so small that a man can stand on the ground
    and pick walnuts from their highest branches. The Mexican walnut is
    occasionally cultivated in the eastern part of the United States and
    in Europe. It is hardy as far north as Massachusetts.

    CALIFORNIA WALNUT (_Juglans californica_) is a small tree confined
    to California, and pretty close to the coast, though it grows in
    Eldorado county. It is most abundant within twenty or thirty miles
    of tidewater. In the southern part of the state it ascends to an
    elevation of 4,000 feet. It prefers the banks of streams and the
    bottoms of canyons where the soil is moist, but it will grow in dry
    situations. Trees occur singly or in small groups. Their average
    size is fifteen or twenty feet high, and eight or ten inches in
    diameter; but trees occasionally are sixty feet high and eighteen
    inches through. The leaves are small, measuring from six to nine
    inches in length, with from nine to seventeen leaflets. Nuts are
    about half the size of eastern black walnuts. The kernel is edible.
    The wood is heavier than black walnut, and somewhat lighter in
    color. Otherwise the two woods are much alike, except in strength
    and stiffness. In these the California wood is inferior. It has not
    been reported for any use, but it is suitable for a number of
    purposes, provided logs of sufficient size could be had. The trunk,
    in addition to being small, is usually short. The tree is intolerant
    of shade, and is not often found in forests. It grows rapidly and
    will attain a diameter of fifteen inches in twenty years or less;
    but it apparently does not live long. Its principal usefulness in
    California is as a shade tree, and as a stock in nurseries on which
    to graft English walnut.



[Illustration: SHAGBARK HICKORY]


(_Hicoria Ovata_)

Twelve species of hickory grow in the United States, all east of the
Rocky Mountains. None grow anywhere else in the world, as far as known.
They were widely dispersed over the northern hemisphere in prehistoric
times. The records of geology, written by leaf prints in the rocks, tell
of forests of hickory in Europe, and even in Greenland, probably a
hundred thousand or more years ago, and certainly not in times that can
be called recent. No records there later than the ice age have been
found. This leads to the presumption that the sheet of ice which pushed
down from the North and covered the larger portions of Europe and North
America, overwhelmed the hickory forests, and all others, as far as the
southern limit of the ice’s advance.

In Europe the hickory was utterly destroyed, and it never returned after
the close of the reign of ice; but America was more fortunate. The ice
sheet pushed little farther in its southward course than the Ohio and
Missouri rivers, and forests south of there held their ground, and they
slowly worked their way back north as the ice withdrew. Hickory
recovered part but not all of its lost ground in America, for it is now
found no farther north than southern Canada, which is more than a
thousand miles from its old range in Greenland.

The early settlers in New England and in the South at once came into
contact with hickory. It was one of the first woods named in this
country, and the name is of Indian origin, and is spelled in no fewer
than seventeen ways in early literature relating to the settlements. It
is probable that John Smith, a prominent man in early Virginia and New
England, was the first man who ever wrote the name. He spelled it as the
Indians pronounced it, “powcohiscora,” and it has been trimmed down to
our word hickory. The Indian word was the name of a salad or soup made
of pounded hickory nuts and water, and was only indirectly applied to
the tree itself.

The first settlers along the Atlantic coast nearly always called this
tree a walnut, and the name white walnut was common. They were
unacquainted with any similar nut-bearing tree in Europe, except the
walnut, and most people preferred applying a name with which they were
already familiar. Hickories and walnuts belong to the same family, and
have many points in common.

Although there are twelve hickories in the United States, and in many
respects they are similar, all are not of equal value. Some are very
scarce, and the wood of others is not up to standard. From a commercial
standpoint, four surpass the others. These are shagbark (_Hicoria
ovata_), shellbark (_Hicoria laciniosa_), pignut (_Hicoria glabra_), and
mockernut (_Hicoria alba_). The wood of some of the others is as good,
but is scarce; and still others, particularly the pecans, are abundant
enough, but the wood is inferior. It is impossible in business to
separate the hickories. Lumbermen do not do it; manufacturers cannot do
it. In some regions one is more abundant than the others, and
consequently is used in larger quantities, but in some other region a
different species may predominate in the forest and in the factory. It
cannot be truthfully asserted that one hickory is always as good as
another, or even that a certain species in one region is as good as the
same species in another region. All parts of the same tree do not
produce wood of equal value.

Along certain general lines, hickories have many properties in common.
The wood is ring-porous, that is, the inner edge of the yearly growth
ring has a row of large pores. Others are scattered toward the outer
part of the ring, generally decreasing in number and size outward. There
is no distinct division between spring and summerwood. The medullary
rays are thin and obscure. The unaided eye seldom notices them. The
sapwood is white in all species of hickory, and is usually very thick.
The heartwood is reddish. Common opinion has long held that sapwood is
tougher and more elastic than heartwood, and therefore to be preferred
for most purposes. Tests made a few years ago by the United States
Forest Service ran counter to the long-established opinion of users, by
showing that in most respects the redwood of the heart was as good as
the white sapwood. However, where resiliency is the chief requisite, as
in slender handles, many manufacturers still prefer sapwood.

Hickory is very strong, probably the strongest wood in common use in
this country. The statement that one wood is stronger than all others is
hardly justified because averages of strength should be taken, and not
isolated instances. Satisfactory averages have not yet been worked out
for a large number of our woods; but, as far as existing figures may be
accepted, hickory is at the head of the list for strength, toughness,
and resiliency. Choice samples of certain woods may exceed the average
of hickory in some of these particulars. Sugar maple, hornbeam, and
locust occasionally show greater strength than hickory, but they lack in
toughness and resiliency--the very properties which give hickory its
chief value for many purposes.

Considerable misunderstanding exists as to second growth hickory. Some
suppose it consists of trees of commercial size developed from sprouts
where old trees have been cut. That is not generally correct. When
small hickory trees are cut, the stumps often sprout, but hoop poles are
about the only commodity made from that kind of hickory. If sprouts are
left to grow large, the trees produced are generally defective. Good
hickory grows from the nut. The term “second growth” means little,
unless it is explained in each instance just what conditions are
included. In one sense, all young, vigorous trees are second growth, and
that is often the idea in the mind of the speaker. Some would restrict
it to trees which have come up in old fields or partial clearings, where
they have plenty of light, and have grown rapidly. Their trunks are
short, the wood is tough, and there is little red heartwood. The larger
a pine, oak, or poplar, provided it is sound, the better the wood; but
not so with hickory. Great age and large size add no desirable qualities
to this wood.

Shagbark is largest of the true hickories. The pecans are not usually
regarded as true hickories from the wood-user’s viewpoint. Some
shagbarks are 120 feet high and four feet in diameter, but the average
size is about seventy-five tall, two in diameter. There is confusion of
names among all the hickories, and shagbark is misnamed and over-named
as often as any of the others. Many persons do not know shagbark and
shellbark apart, though the ranges of the two species lie only partly in
the same territory. Shagbark is known as shellbark hickory, shagbark
hickory, shellbark, upland hickory, hickory, scaly bark hickory, white
walnut, walnut, white hickory, and red heart hickory. Most of the names
refer to the bark, which separates into thin strips, often a foot or
more long, and six inches or more wide; and this remains more or less
closely attached to the trunk by the middle, giving the shaggy
appearance to which the tree owes its common name.

The leaf-buds are large and ovate, with yellowish-green and brown
scales. The leaves are compound and alternate; they have rough stalks
containing five or seven leaflets; they are sessile, tapering to a point
and having a rounded base. The lower pair of leaflets is markedly
different from the rest in shape; sharply serrate and thin; dark green
and glabrous above; lighter below. The flowers do not appear until the
leaves have fully matured. They grow in catkins; the staminate ones are
light green, slender, and grow in groups of three on long peduncles; the
pistillate ones grow in spikes of from two to five flowers. The fruit
grows within a dense, green husk, shiny and smooth on the outside,
opening in four parts. The nut is nearly white, four-angled, and
flattened at the sides. The kernel is sweet and of a strong flavor.

This tree’s range is not much short of 1,000,000 square miles, but it is
not equally abundant in all parts. It grows from southern Maine to
western Florida; is found in Minnesota and Nebraska, and southward
beyond the Mississippi. It is most common and of largest size on the
western slopes of the southern Appalachian mountains and in the basin of
the lower Ohio river. Its favorite habitat is on low hills, or near
streams and swamps, in rich and moderately well drained soil.

The hickories have long tap roots, and they do best in soils which the
tap roots can penetrate, going down like a radish. The root system makes
most hickories difficult trees to transplant. Early in life they do a
large part of their growing under ground, and when that growth is
interrupted, as it must be in transplanting, the young tree seldom
recovers. Those who would grow hickories for timber, nuts, or as
ornaments, should plant the seed where the tree is expected to remain.
Most of the planting of hickory in the forest is done by squirrels which
bury nuts, with the apparent expectation of digging them up later.
Occasionally one is missed, and a young tree starts.

The uses of this wood are typical of all the other hickories. Handles
and light vehicles consume most of it. The markets are in all parts of
this country, and in manufacturing centers in many foreign lands.





(_Hicoria Minima_)

The tannin in the thin shelled nuts which grow abundantly on this tree
gives the name bitternut. The name is truly descriptive. Gall itself
scarcely exceeds the intense bitterness of the kernel, when crushed
between the teeth. The sense of taste does not immediately detect the
bitterness in its full intensity. A little time seems to be necessary to
dissolve the astringent principal and distribute it to the nerves of
taste. When this has been accomplished, the bitterness remains a long
time, seeming to persist after the last vestige of the cause has been
removed. In that respect it may be likened to the resin of the incense
cedar of California which is among tastes what musk is among odors,
nearly everlasting. The bitterness of this hickory nut has much to do
with the perpetuation of the species. No wild or tame animal will eat
the fruit unless forced by famine. Consequently, the nuts are left to
grow, provided they can get themselves planted. That is not always easy,
for small quadrupeds which bury edible nuts for food, and then
occasionally forget them, show no interest whatever in the unpalatable
bitternut. It is left where it falls, unless running water, or some
other method of locomotion, transports it to another locality. This
happens with sufficient frequency to plant the nuts as widely as those
of any other hickory. It is believed that this is the most abundant of
the hickories.

The tree bears names other than bitternut. It is called swamp hickory,
though that name is more applicable to a different species, the water
hickory. Pig hickory or pignut are names used in several states, but
without good reason. Hogs may sometimes eat the nuts, but never when
anything better can be found. Besides, pignut is the accepted name of
another species (_Hicoria glabra_). In Louisiana they call it the bitter
pecan tree. Bitter hickory is a common name in many localities. In New
Hampshire it is known as pig walnut, in Vermont as bitter walnut, and in
Texas as white hickory. The names are so many, and so often apply as
well to other hickories as to this, that the name alone is seldom a safe
guide to identification. It has two or three characters which will help
to pick it out from among others. Its leaves and bark bear considerable
resemblance to ash. The leaves are the smallest among the hickories, and
the bark is never shaggy. The small branches always carry yellow buds,
no matter what the season of the year. The compound leaves are from six
to ten inches long, and consist of from five to nine leaflets, always an
odd number.

Bitternut hickory’s range covers pretty generally the eastern part of
the United States. It is one of the largest and commonest hickories of
New England, and is likewise the common hickory of Kansas, Nebraska, and
Iowa. It grows from Maine through southern Canada to Minnesota, follows
down the western side of the Mississippi valley to Texas, and extends
into western Florida.

Hickory is often lumbered in ways not common with other hardwoods. It is
not generally found in ordinary lumber yards, and is not cut into lumber
as most other woods are. It is in a class by itself. The person who
would consult statistics of lumber cut in the United States to ascertain
the quantity of hickory going to market, would utterly fail to obtain
the desired information. The statistics of lumber cut in the United
States for the year 1910 listed the total for hickory at 272,252,000
feet, distributed among 33 states, and cut by 6,349 mills. Reports by
users of this wood in a number of states show that probably twice as
much goes to factories to be manufactured into finished commodities, as
all the sawmills cut. This means that much hickory goes to factories
without having passed through sawmills to be first converted into
lumber. It goes as bolts and billets, and as logs of various lengths.
Some sawmills in the hickory region cut dimension stock and sell it to
factories to be further worked up; but that is a comparatively small
part of the hickory that finds its way to factories of various kinds.
Many sawmills refuse to cut hickory, claiming that it does not pay them
to specialize on a scarce wood. Scattered trees occur among other
timber, but these are left when the other logging is done. Special
operators go after the hickory, and distribute it among various
industries which are in the market for it. That method often results in
much waste, because the man who is specializing in one commodity, such
as wagon poles, ax handles, sucker-rods, wheel stock, or the like, is
apt to cut out only what meets his requirements, and abandon the rest.
Some of the hickory camps where such stock is roughed out are spectacles
of carelessness and waste, with heaps of rejected hickory which, though
not meeting requirements for the special articles in view, are valuable
for many other things. Few woods contribute to the trash heap more in
proportion to the total cut than hickory; but the waste nearly all
occurs before the factories which finally work up the products are
reached. These factories are often hundreds of miles from the forests
where the hickory grows.

Hickory was not a useful farm timber in early times, as oak and chestnut
were. It decayed quickly when exposed to weather, and was not suitable
for fence rails, posts, house logs, or general lumber. It was sometimes
used for barn floors, but when seasoned it was so hard to nail that it
was not well liked. The pioneers were not able to use this wood to
advantage, because it is a manufacturer’s material, not a farmer’s or a
villager’s standby. It can be said to the credit of the pioneers,
however, that they knew its value for certain purposes, and employed as
much of it as they needed.

Fuel was the most important place for hickory on the farm. All things
considered, it is probably the best firewood of the American forest. The
yawning fireplaces called for cords of wood every month of winter in the
northern states. Enough to make a modern buggy would go up the chimney
in a rich red blaze in an hour, and no one thought that it was waste;
and it was not waste then, because farms had to be cleared, and firewood
was the best use possible for the hickory at that time. Every cord
burned in the chimney was that much less to be rolled into logheaps and
consumed in the clearing for the new cornfield.

Hickory has always been considered the best material for smoking meat.
More than 30,000 cords a year are now used that way. It was so used in
early times, when every farmer smoked and packed his own meat. Hickory
smoke was supposed to give bacon a flavor equalled by no other wood; and
in addition to that it was believed to keep the skippers out.

The nuts were made into oil which was thought to be efficacious as a
liniment employed as a remedy against rheumatism to which pioneers were
susceptible because their moccasins were porous and their feet were
often wet. The oil was used also for illuminating purposes. It fed the
flame of a crude lamp.

No other wood equalled hickory for “split brooms,” the kind that swept
the cabins before broom corn was known or carpet sweepers and vacuum
cleaners were invented. The toughness, smoothness, and strength of
hickory made it the best oxbow wood, and the same property fitted it for
barrel hoops. Thousands of fish casks in New England and tobacco
hogsheads in Maryland and Virginia were hooped with hickory before
George Washington was born. The wood’s value for ax handles was learned
early. The Indians used it for the long, slender handles of their stone
hammers with which they barked trees in their clearings, and broke the
skulls of enemies in war.

Bitternut hickory has about ninety-two per cent of the strength of
shagbark, and seventy-three per cent of its stiffness. It yields
considerably more ash when burned, and is rated a little lower in fuel

    MOCKER NUT HICKORY (_Hicoria alba_) has many names. It is called
    mocker nut in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey,
    Delaware, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas,
    Illinois, Iowa, and Kansas; white heart hickory, Rhode Island, New
    York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, North Carolina, Texas, Illinois,
    Ontario, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, and Nebraska; black hickory,
    Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Missouri; big bud and red hickory,
    Florida; hardback hickory, Illinois; white hickory, Pennsylvania,
    South Carolina; big hickory nut, West Virginia; hognut, Delaware.
    The name mocker nut is supposed to refer to the thick shell and
    disappointingly small kernel within. The range is not as extensive
    as some of the other hickories. Beginning in southern Ontario, it
    extends westward and southward to eastern Kansas and the eastern
    half of Texas. The region of its most abundant growth is in the
    basin of the lower Ohio and in Arkansas, the best specimens
    appearing in fertile uplands. This is said to be the only hickory
    that invades the southern maritime pinebelt, growing on the low
    country along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts in abundance. The leaves
    are fragrant with a powerful, resinous odor; they have five or seven
    leaflets with hairy petioles or stems. The bark resembles that of
    bitternut, and is not scaly like that of shagbark. The wood weighs
    51.21 pounds per cubic foot. It is hard, strong, tough, flexible. It
    has about ninety-four per cent of the strength of shagbark, and
    eighty per cent of its stiffness. Certain selected specimens of this
    species are probably as strong as any hickory; but, as is the case
    with all woods, there is great difference between specimens, and
    general averages only are to be relied upon. G. W. Letterman, who
    collected woods for Sargent’s tests, procured a sample of this
    hickory near Allenton, Missouri, which showed strength sufficient to
    sustain 20,000 pounds per square inch, and its measure of stiffness
    was the enormous figure of 2,208,000 pounds per square inch.

    The uses of mocker nut hickory do not differ from those of other
    hickories. The tree is frequently nearly all sapwood, to which the
    name white hickory is due. Some persons suppose that the heartwood
    is white, but that misconception is due to the fact that some pretty
    large trees have no heartwood, but are sap clear through.

    The term “black hickory” is sometimes applied to three species with
    dark-colored bark which bears some resemblance to the bark of ash.
    They are bitternut (_Hicoria minima_), pignut (_Hicoria glabra_),
    and mocker nut (_Hicoria alba_). When the word black is thus used,
    it refers to the bark and the general outward appearance of the
    tree, and not to the wood, which is as white as that of any other



[Illustration: PIGNUT HICKORY]


(_Hicoria Glabra_)

The name of this tree is unfortunate, although so far as the nuts are
concerned, no injustice is done. It is one of the best hickories in the
quality of its wood, and also as an ornamental tree. It is likewise
abundant in many parts of its range, which extends from Maine to Kansas,
Texas, Florida, and throughout most of the territory enclosed by the
boundary lines thus delimited.

The name pignut is common in New England, New York, New Jersey,
Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina,
Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Kentucky,
Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and
Minnesota; bitternut in Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin; black
hickory in Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, and
Indiana; broom hickory in Missouri; brown hickory in Mississippi,
Delaware, Texas, Tennessee, Minnesota; hardshell in West Virginia; red
hickory in Delaware; switch bud hickory in Alabama; and white hickory in
New Hampshire and Iowa.

The nuts are generally bitter, but some trees bear fruit which is not
very offensive to the taste. The avidity with which swine feed upon it
gives the common name. This tree is doubtless confused many times with
bitternut, though their differences are enough to distinguish them
readily if they grow side by side. As far as the woods of the two
species are concerned, there is little occasion to keep them separate.
The pignut is a forked tree more frequently than any other species of
hickory; and the nuts vary in shape and size more than those of any
other. The tree is more remarkable for its variations than for its
regularity. In one thing, however, it is pretty constant: the limbs and
branches are smooth and clean, hence the botanical name _glabra_. As a
name for this tree, smooth hickory would be preferable to pignut. Trunks
attain a height of eighty or ninety feet and a diameter of three or
four, but the extreme sizes are rare. The largest specimens are found in
the lower Ohio valley, and the species is most common in Missouri and
Arkansas. It grows farther south and farther west than any other hickory
except pecan. Its southern limit is in Florida and its western in Texas.

The uses of hickory fall into general classes. More is manufactured into
vehicles than into any other single class of commodities, but not more
than into all other articles combined. The second largest users of
hickory are the manufacturers of handles. The third largest demand comes
from makers of agricultural implements and farm tools. Large amounts
are required for athletic goods, meat smoking, and various miscellaneous
purposes. The total amount used yearly in this country, and exported to
foreign countries, is not accurately known, but it probably exceeds
500,000,000 feet, board measure. About half of this passes through
sawmills in the usual manner, and the other half goes directly from the
forest to the factory or to the consumer.

The superiority of American buggies, sulkies, and other light vehicles
is due to the hickory in their construction. No other wood equals this
in combination of desirable physical properties. Though heavy, it is so
strong, tough, and resilient that small amounts suffice, and the weight
of the vehicle can be reduced to a lower point, without sacrificing
efficiency, than when any other wood is employed. It is preëminently a
wood for light vehicles. Oak, ash, maple, and elm answer well enough for
heavy wagons where strength is more essential than toughness and
elasticity. Hickory is suitable for practically all wooden parts of
light vehicles except the body. The slender spokes look like frail
dowels, and seem unable to maintain the load, but appearances are
deceptive. The bent rims are likewise very slender, but they last better
than steel. The shafts and poles with which carriages and carts are
equipped will stand severe strains and twists without starting a
splinter. The manufacturing of the stock is little less than a fine art.
In scarcely any other wood-using industry--probably excepting the making
of handles--is the grain so closely watched. Hickory users generally
speak of the annual growth rings as the grain. The grain must run
straight in spokes, rims, shafts, and poles. If the grain crosses the
stick, a break may occur by the simple process of splitting, and the
hickory in that case is no more dependable than many other woods.

Handle makers observe the same rule, and must have straight grain. The
more slender the handle, the more strictly the rule must be followed. A
cross grained golf club handle would fail at the first stroke. An ax
handle, if it has cross grain, will last a little longer, but it will
speedily split. Many of the best slender handles are of split hickory.
The line of cleavage follows the grain, but a saw does not always do so.
Heavy handles, like those for picks and sledges, are not so strictly
straight grained, because they are made strong enough to stand much more
strain than is ever likely to be put on them. Red heartwood is
frequently used in handles of that kind. Peavey and canthook handles are
generally split from billets, because the grain must be straight. Though
they are among the largest and heaviest of handles, breakage must be
guarded against with extra care, for the snap of a peavey handle at a
critical moment might cost the operator his life by precipitating a
skidway of logs upon him.

The hickory which goes into agricultural implements fills many places,
among the most important being connecting rods. It is often made into
springs to take up or check oscillation. It is used for that purpose as
picker sticks in textile mills.

Furniture makers could get along without hickory, and they do not need
much. It is oftenest seen in dowels, slender spindles, and the rungs of
chairs. The makers of sporting and athletic goods bend it for rackets,
hoops, and rims, or make vaulting poles, bats, or trapezes.

SHELLBARK HICKORY (_Hicoria laciniosa_) is often mistaken for shagbark.
The ranges of the two species coincide in part only. Shagbark grows
farther east, north and south than shellbark. The latter occupies an
island, as it were, inside the shagbark’s range. Shellbark is found from
central New York and eastern Pennsylvania, westward to Kansas, and
southward to North Carolina and middle Tennessee. The species is at its
best in the lower Ohio valley and in Missouri. The largest trees are 120
feet high and three in diameter, and are often free from branches half
or two-thirds of the length. The species prefers rich, deep bottom
lands, and does not suffer from occasional inundation from overflowing
rivers. The average tree is not quite as large as shagbark. The leaves
are larger than those of any other hickory, ranging in length from
fifteen to twenty-two inches. There are from five to nine leaflets,
usually seven. The upper ones are largest, and may be eight or nine
inches long and four or five wide. In the autumn the leaflets drop from
the petioles which adhere to the branches and furnish means of
identifying the tree in winter. The nuts including the hulls are as
large as small apples. When ripe, the hulls open and the nuts fall out;
but the hulls fall also. The nuts are as large as shagbark nuts, but the
two are seldom distinguished in market, though the shagbark’s are a
little richer in flavor. The bark’s roughness gives the tree its name.
Strips three or four feet long and five or six inches wide curl up at
the lower ends--sometimes at both ends--and adhere to the trunk several
years. The species has other names. It is known as big shellbark in
Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois,
and Kansas; bottom shellbark in Illinois; western shellbark or simply
shellbark in Rhode Island and Kentucky; thick shellbark in South
Carolina, Indiana, and Tennessee; kingnut in Tennessee.

The wood weighs 50.53 pounds per cubic foot, and is very hard, strong,
tough, and flexible. The heartwood is dark brown, the sapwood nearly
white. This hickory usually has less sapwood in proportion to heart than
other members of the species; but the wood is not kept separate from the
others when it goes to market, and its uses are as extensive as the
other hickories’. It is believed by some foresters that shellbark
hickory is worth cultivating for its nuts, as it is a vigorous bearer;
but little planting has been done. East of the Alleghanies, particularly
in Virginia, some planting has been carried out on old plantations for
ornamental purposes. On account of its long taproot, the tree is
difficult to transplant, and the nuts should be planted where the trees
are expected to remain.



[Illustration: PECAN]


(_Hicoria Pecan_)

The name is pecan in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama,
Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and
Kansas; pecan nut and pecan tree in Louisiana. The name is of Indian
origin, and means walnut. The tree’s natural range is smaller than the
present area in which the tree is found, for it has been extensively
planted in recent years. It is found as far north as Iowa, south to
Texas, and east to Alabama and Kentucky. The highest development of the
wild tree is in the lower Ohio valley. Forest trees were once found
there which were said to be six feet in diameter and 170 high. Specimens
that large would be hard to find now.

The pecan is a hickory. As to wood, it is the poorest of the hickories,
and as to nuts it is the best. Its compound leaves are from twelve to
twenty inches long with from nine to seventeen leaflets. The latter are
from four to eight inches in length, and from one to three wide. The
first pairs on the petiole are smallest. The fruit grows in clusters of
from three to eleven, the number exceeding any other hickory. The nuts
are four-angled, and long for their width.

The wood of pecan has disappointed those who have attempted to use it
like other hickories. It does not differ much from them in appearance,
but it falls low in mechanical tests. In strength, toughness, and
stiffness it is inferior to the poorest of the other hickories. It has
less than half the strength and half the stiffness of shagbark hickory.
It is a fairly good fuel, but is high in ash.

The inferior quality of the wood has saved many a pecan tree from the
sawmill and the wagon shop. Fine trunks stand near public highways,
along river banks, and in fields, while all merchantable hickories of
other species have been sent to market. The uses of the wood are few. If
some of it goes to wagon shops or to factories where agricultural
vehicles are made, it is employed for parts which are not required to
endure strain or sustain sudden jars.

Fortunately it is a tree with a value of another kind. It is the most
important nut tree of the United States at this time, and it promises to
remain so. The forest-grown pecans were an article of food for Indians
who once lived in the region, and though white settlers who succeeded
the Indians as occupants of the land, depended less upon forest fruits
than the red men had done, yet the pecan was often of supreme importance
in the early years of settlement. The nuts have constituted an article
of commerce ever since the region had markets.

Nurserymen were not slow to recognize the value of the pecan tree for
planting purposes, and nursery grown stock has been on the market many
years. Extensive orchards have been planted in Texas, Louisiana,
Florida, and other southern states, and some of the earliest of these
orchards are now in bearing. However, by far the largest part of pecans
on the market is wild fruit from the forests. Many are shipped in from
Mexico, but most grow in the rich woods of southern states. They are
gathered like chestnuts in northern woods. The people who pick them sell
to local stores at low prices, often taking pay in merchandise. Buyers
collect the stock from country and village merchants, and put it on the
general market, often at three or four times the price paid to the
gatherers of the nuts.

One of the most important matters connected with pecan is the large
number of horticultural varieties which have been produced by
cultivation and selection. More than seventy have been listed in nursery
catalogues and special reports. Some of the nuts are twice the size of
those of the forest, and shells have been reduced in thinness until some
of them are really thinner than they should be to stand the rough usage
which comes to them in reaching markets.

Dealers occasionally polish pecans to impart the rich, brown color which
is supposed to give them the appearance of being fresh and of high
grade. The polishing is produced by friction, when the nuts in bulk are
shaken violently. Last year’s stock takes on as bright a polish as fresh
stock, and the color and smoothness alone are not sufficient to prove
that pecans are fresh from the trees.

The planted pecan tree grows rapidly and is as easily raised as fruit
trees. The wild tree is long-lived, and the cultivated varieties will
probably be like it.

    NUTMEG HICKORY (_Hicoria myristicæformis_) is so named because the
    nut has the size and the wrinkled surface of a nutmeg, though the
    shape is different. The husk enclosing the nut is almost as thin as
    paper. The only other name by which it is known is bitter waternut,
    in Louisiana. The name scarcely applies, for the kernel is said not
    to be bitter. The range of nutmeg hickory extends from the coast of
    South Carolina to Arkansas. It is rather abundant in Arkansas, but
    scarce in most other parts of its range. The tree has several
    interesting features. It was partly discovered a long time before
    the discovery was complete. In 1802 Andre F. Michaux saw the nut and
    to that extent the species was discovered, but many years passed
    before a full description was given to the world by a competent
    botanist. The wood rates among the strongest and stiffest of all the
    hickories, according to present information; but the calculations
    were based on too few tests to be considered final. Two samples of
    wood procured near Bonneau’s depot, South Carolina, by W. H.
    Revenel, showed the remarkable breaking strength of 19,822 pounds
    per square inch, and the measure of stiffness exceeded 2,000,000
    pounds to the square inch. That strength is sixteen per cent above
    shagbark. The weight of nutmeg hickory is 46.96 pounds to the cubic
    foot. The wood is hard, tough, and compact. The structure, including
    pores, medullary rays, annual rings, springwood and summerwood, is
    similar to the wood of other hickories. Trees grow best in sandy
    soil but near swamps and rivers where there is plenty of water. The
    largest trunks are eighty or one hundred feet in height and two in
    diameter. When use is made of this hickory it serves the same
    purposes as the wood of other trees of the group. It is never
    reported separately in statistics of wood utilization. It is too
    scarce to be important as a timber tree. It apparently has a future
    as an ornament, though it has not yet been widely planted. It has
    proved a success in the Carolinas and it thrives in the climate of
    Washington, D. C. The luster of its foliage makes it the most
    beautiful of the hickories. In common with other members of the
    genus, its long taproot renders the transplanting of nursery stock

    WATER HICKORY (_Hicoria aquatica_) is known as swamp hickory in
    South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana; bitter pecan in
    Mississippi and Louisiana, and water bitternut in Tennessee and
    South Carolina. The northern limit of this species is in Virginia
    near Mobjack bay, the southern limit in the Caloosa valley, Florida,
    west to the Brazos river, Texas, and north to southern Illinois. The
    wood is hard, heavy, strong, but rather brittle; the sapwood is
    thick and often is nearly white, while the heartwood is dark brown.
    It is the most porous of the hickories, and the pores are
    distributed generally through the annual rings of growth. In other
    hickories they are largely restricted to the inner part of each
    ring, though a few are dispersed through all parts. In swamp hickory
    there is little difference in appearance between the wood grown
    early in the season and that produced later. The tree is a rapid
    grower. It is an inhabitant of deep swamps, and if the land is
    inundated a considerable part of the year, the tree seems to grow
    all the better. At its best it may attain a height of 100 feet, and
    a diameter of two, but that size is unusual. The nut is small and
    wrinkled, and when broken open, pockets of red bitter powder are
    frequently found inside the shell. Usually the nuts are too bitter
    to be eaten, but it is said that near the western limit of the
    tree’s range, nuts are sometimes edible.

    The only reported uses for the wood are fuel and fencing. It is poor
    fence material, because, like other hickories, it decays in a short
    time when exposed to weather. The wood of this genus is rich in
    foods on which decay-producing fungi feed. Fungus is a low order of
    plant life which sends its hair-like threads into the wood cells and
    consumes the material found there; but numerous insects bore into
    wood to procure food. Few woods suffer from such attacks more than
    hickory. Even after it is seasoned and manufactured into
    commodities, it is frequently attacked by various species of powder
    post beetles, and much injury results. Water hickory while yet
    standing is often greatly damaged by the larvæ of certain moths
    which find their way into the soft wood just under the bark and
    tunnel minute galleries which subsequently fill with brown
    substance. According to R. B. Hough, these brown streaks in water
    hickory are hard enough to turn the edge of steel tools. They not
    only damage the structure of the wood but spoil its appearance.

    BITTER PECAN (_Hicoria texana_) is a Texas species which has not
    been reported elsewhere. The average size of the tree is from
    fifteen to twenty-five feet in height and eight to ten inches in
    diameter; but in rich bottom land, particularly along the Brazos
    river, specimens sometimes attain a diameter of three feet and a
    height of 100. The leaves are from ten to twelve inches in length,
    with from seven to eleven leaflets. The nuts are very bitter, but
    are of approximately the same size and shape as edible pecans. The
    shells are thin and very brittle. The tree’s range extends inland
    100 or 150 miles from the Texas coast.

    NORTH CAROLINA SHAGBARK HICKORY (_Hicoria carolinæ-septentrionalis_)
    is found in the neighboring parts of the four states: North
    Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama. In the best land this
    tree is occasionally eighty feet high and two or three in diameter,
    but when it occurs on dry hillsides its average height is twenty or
    thirty feet, and its diameter about a foot. The compound leaves are
    from four to eight inches long, with usually three, but occasionally
    five leaflets. The sweet nuts are small and brown. The bark
    separates into thick strips a foot or more in length and three or
    four inches wide. The rough trunk resembles the northern shagbark
    hickory. The wood is very tough, strong, and hard, the heart light
    reddish-brown, the thin sapwood nearly white. It is not
    distinguished from the other hickories in commerce, and it has the
    same uses when any use is made of it.



[Illustration: WHITE ELM]


(_Ulmus Americana_)

Six species of elm occur in the United States, not counting the planer
tree as an elm, though lumbermen usually consider it as such.[5] The
white elm is the most common, is distributed most widely, and is
commercially the most important. More of it is used as lumber, slack
cooperage, and other forms of forest products, than all other elms of
this country combined. The statistics of sawmill output collected
annually by the United States census are not compiled in a way to show
the elms separately. All go in as one. The annual lumber cut of elm in
the whole country is about 265,000,000 feet, distributed over
thirty-four states, with Wisconsin leading, followed in the order named
by Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, Arkansas, New York, and Minnesota.
In addition to lumber, elm furnishes about 130,000,000 slack cooperage
staves yearly.

    [5] The elms are white elm (_Ulmus americana_), cork elm (_Ulmus
    racemosa_), slippery elm (_Ulmus pubescens_), cedar elm (_Ulmus
    crassifolia_), wing elm (_Ulmus alata_), and red elm (_Ulmus
    serotina_). They are all confined to the region east of the Rocky

The elms, taken as a class, are much alike. There is more resemblance
between the species than between species of oaks or pines, yet some
difference exists between elms. This holds not only between different
species, but between individuals of the same species. Climate,
situation, and soil have much to do with the character of the wood of
the same species. So great is the difference at times that fairly good
judges of timber are deceived as to the species. A tree growing on dry,
rocky soil produces wood quite different from one on rich, deep,
well-watered soil. Not only is the wood of one different from that of
the other, but the appearances of the standing trees are not alike. The
differences may not show in leaves, flowers, and fruit as much as in the
shapes and sizes of trees, and the habit of the branches.

White elm is by common consent the type of the genus, the standard by
which the other species are measured. It is proper to compare certain
properties and characters of other elms with white elm, in order that a
general view of all may be had. The dry weights, per cubic foot, of wood
are as follows: White elm 40.54 pounds, slippery elm 43.35, cedar elm
45.15, cork elm 45.26, and wing elm 46.69. Figures which show the weight
of the southern red elm (_Ulmus serotina_) are not available. White elm
is thus shown to be lightest of the group.

Its breaking strength averages 12,158 pounds per cubic inch, under the
usual tests by which the strength of woods is determined. Reduced to
everyday language that means that 12,158 pounds would just break a white
elm stick, 2⅝ inches square, and resting on supports twelve inches
apart. That is the meaning of “breaking strength,” or “modulus of
rupture,” as the term is used in engineering text books relating to
woods. The following figures for the breaking strength of other elms
make comparisons with white elm easy: Cedar elm 11,000; wing elm 11,162;
slippery elm 12,342; cork elm (often called rock elm) 15,172. It is
shown that two elms are stronger and two weaker than white elm. This
wood rates very little below white oak in strength.

The different species of elms vary considerably in stiffness, or the
ability to spring back when bent. This factor is expressed by engineers
in high figures, is purely technical, and is based on a wood’s ability
to stretch and regain its former position. The only service which the
figures can render to the layman is to furnish a basis for comparing one
wood with another. The stiffer a wood, the greater its resistance to an
effort to stretch it lengthwise. White elm’s measure of stiffness
(modulus of elasticity) is 1,070,000 pounds per square inch; wing elm
853,000; cedar elm 981,000; slippery elm 1,318,000; cork elm 1,512,000.
It is shown here, as was shown in the figures representing the strength
of the elms, that two species rate above and two below white elm in

White elm is known by several names. The color of the bark is
responsible for the name gray elm among lumbermen and woodworkers of the
Lake States. American elm is a translation of its botanical name, and is
neither descriptive nor definitive, because there are other elms as
truly American as this one. White elm distinguishes its wood from the
redder wood of slippery elm, but it would often be difficult if not
impossible to identify the elms, or any one of them, by the color of the
wood alone. Some persons who call this elm white doubtless refer to the
color of the bark, as is the case with those who speak of it as gray
elm. It is known as water elm in several states, but that name is
applied indiscriminately to any elm that frequents river banks, as most
of them do in some part of their range. It is called rock elm when it is
found on stony uplands, and swamp elm on low wet ground. In some parts
of the Appalachian mountain ranges it is called astringent elm to
distinguish it from slippery elm.

White elm surpasses the others in extent of range. Its northern boundary
stretches from Newfoundland, across Canada to the eastern base of the
Rocky Mountains, a distance of nearly 3,000 miles. It runs south through
the Atlantic states to Florida, a distance of 1,200 miles or more. Its
southwestern limit is in Texas. The area thus bounded is about
2,500,000 square miles. A few other trees have ranges as large, but none
much exceed it. It covers so much of America, and is so important in
many parts of its range, that it is clearly the leading elm in this
country. It is entitled to first place among elms for other reasons.

It is not easy to give any sure features or characteristics by which the
layman may always distinguish this elm from others with which it is
associated; however, by carefully observing certain features, the
identity of white elm is generally easy to establish.

The leaves have teeth along the margins like beech and birch. They have
straight primary veins running from the midrib to the points of the
teeth. Before falling in autumn the leaves turn yellow. The foliage is
not very thick, and most of it is near the ends of the limbs. The bloom
comes early in the spring, ahead of the leaves, and the seeds are ripe
and ready for flight before the leaves are grown. Sometimes the seeds
are ripe almost before the leaves are out of the buds. The seeds are
oblong, and about the size of a small lentil. The wing entirely
surrounds the seed, and is about half an inch long. The flight of elm
seeds is an interesting phenomenon. The individual seeds are so small
that they are not easily seen as they sail away from the tall tree top
but when they go in swarms, in fitful puffs of wind, they are not hard
to see. It is chiefly by their fruits that they are known, that is, by
the multitudes of seedlings that appear a few weeks later. If one
seedling elm in a thousand should reach maturity, there would be little
besides elms in the whole country. They spring up by highways and
hedges, in gutters, fields, and even between cobbles and bricks of paved
streets; but in a few days they have crowded one another to death, or
have perished from other causes, and those which manage to live to
maturity do not much more than make up for old trees which perish from
natural causes.

The botanist Michaux pronounced the white elm “the most magnificent
vegetable of the temperate zone.” A number of trees are larger, though
this reaches great size. Sargent sets the limit of the tree at 120 feet
high and eleven feet in trunk diameter. That size is, of course,
unusual, but it has been surpassed at least in height. A tree in
Jefferson county, Pennsylvania, was 140 feet high, and although forest
grown, it had a spread of crown of seventy-six feet. It was sent to the
sawmill where it made 8,820 feet of lumber. That trunk was only five
feet in diameter.

Some of the finest forest grown elms in this country have been cut in
Michigan. Their trunks were as tall, straight, and shapely as yellow
poplars, and their crowns surpassed those of poplars. It was formerly
not unusual for sawlogs to be cut from elm limbs which branched from the
trunk fifty or more feet from the ground. The best of the forest grown
elm of this country has been cut; but it is still lumbered throughout
the whole eastern half of the United States.

The finest elms of this country, and doubtless the finest in the world,
are the planted trees in some of the New England villages. The largest
of them have been growing for two hundred years, and in many instances
they still show the vigor of youth. Trunks six or seven feet through are
not uncommon, but the glory of the trees is not alone in the trunks.
Their spread and form of crown are magnificent. The largest are 150 feet
across, and some of the splendid branches, rising in parabolic curves,
are fully 100 feet long, from the junction with the tree to the tips of
the twigs. The most apt comparison for that form of elm is the spray of
a fountain. The upward jet of water corresponds to the trunk of the
tree; the upward, outward, and downward curves of the spray represent
the crown of the elm. Trees which take that form are grown in open
ground where sunlight and air reach every side. Forest grown trees are
less symmetrical, but even in dense woods, the elm frequently rises
clear above the canopy of other trees, and develops the fountain form of
crown. The new England street and park elms surpass those farther west
only because they are older. The splendid trunks and crowns are the work
of centuries.



[Illustration: CORK ELM]


(_Ulmus Racemosa_)

This tree is called cork elm in Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island,
New York, New Jersey, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Wisconsin, Michigan,
Iowa, and Ohio; rock elm in Rhode Island, Kentucky, West Virginia,
Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska; hickory elm in
Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana; white elm in Ontario; Thomas elm
in Tennessee; northern cork-barked elm in Tennessee; corkbark elm, New
York; northern cork elm, Vermont; wahoo, Ohio; cliff elm in Wisconsin.

Cork elm is the natural name. It is a descriptive term which a stranger
would be apt to apply on seeing the tree for the first time. The bark of
the branches, after it has attained an age of three or four years,
becomes rough by the growth of ridges and protuberances. This feature is
sometimes so prominent that it at once attracts attention, particularly
when the branches are bare of leaves; hence the name cork elm.

Lumbermen insist on naming the tree rock elm. They refer to the hardness
of the wood, or they may have in mind the dry, stony situations where
tough, strong elm grows. The latter is often the case, because the name
is applied also to slippery elm and white elm if they grow on stony
ground. A wide-spread opinion prevails that wood which grows among rocks
is harder, tougher, stronger, and more durable than that produced by
deep, fertile soil. It is possible to cite much evidence to support that
view, and the case might be considered proved, but for the fact that an
equal, or greater amount of evidence, in every way as trustworthy, may
be cited on the other side. The strongest hickory, ash, and oak do not
come from stony land. It sometimes happens that a species with tough,
strong wood, is found on rocks, but it is not tough because it is there,
but in spite of being there.

The name cliff elm which this tree bears in Wisconsin is but another
form of the name rock elm, and clearly has reference to the situation
where the tree grows in that part of the country. Hickory elm, on the
other hand, a name applied to this tree much farther south, is a
recognition of the wood’s toughness.

In some particulars it does not fall much below hickory in toughness,
but is not as strong, elastic, or capable of as smooth polish. The
latter property is one of the recommendations of hickory when used for
handles. It is very smooth to the touch; cork elm is less so. In the
northern woods, elm ax handles are in use, and some axmen prefer them
to hickory. Such is probably the case when the best cork elm and a
medium or poor quality of hickory are in competition.

The fibers of cork elm are interlaced, rendering the splitting of the
wood difficult. For uses in which that is a desirable property, it is
preferable to hickory. It is better for hubs for large wagons, and that
is a very important use for this elm.

The wood of all the elms is ring-porous; that is, the springwood, or
inner part of the annual ring, consists of one or more rows of large
ducts. The summerwood contains pores in large numbers, but they are
small, and are usually arranged in short curved lines. The medullary
rays are not prominent in the wood of any of the elms, and
quarter-sawing adds no beauty to the lumber. The wood is practically
without figure, on account of either annual rings or medullary rays; but
it may be stained, polished, and made very attractive. That is done
oftener with white elm than with any other.

The strength of cork elm created demand for it in boat building at an
early day. The tree is and always was scarce in the vicinity of the
Atlantic sea board, and the earliest boat builders seem not to have been
acquainted with the wood. It was most abundant in the forests of
Michigan, though it extended westward to Nebraska. It was plentiful in
the province of Ontario, and the timbers from that region acquainted
English shipbuilders with the merits of the wood. They sent contractors
into Michigan to buy cork elm, long before the other hardwoods of that
region had attracted the attention of the outside world. The most
convenient supplies of cork elm on the Lower Michigan peninsula thus
passed through Canada to ship yards on the other side of the sea. The
wood is reputed to be more durable than any of the other elms.

It is generally understood that the country’s supply of cork elm is
running short, but there are no statistics which show how much is left
or how much has been cut. It is doubtful if the original forests,
including the whole country, had one tree of cork elm to twenty of white
elm. The average size of cork elm is sixty feet high and two in
diameter. The trunks are well shaped, if forest grown. They develop
small crowns in proportion to the size of trunks; and the crowns are
less graceful than those of white elm--lacking the long, sweeping curves
of the latter. The general contour of the tree has been compared to
white oak.

Cork elm grows well when planted on the Pacific coast, in environments
quite different from its native habitat. In the forest it increases in
size slowly; when planted it makes much better headway. It has a
disagreeable habit of sprouting which puts it out of favor as a park

The wood of the different elms is largely used for manufacturing
purposes. They are sometimes kept separate, but generally not. The
particular place where cork elm is preferred is in the manufacture of
vehicles and boats, but it is by no means confined to those commodities.

The state of Michigan alone sends 50,000,000 feet of elm a year to its
factories to be converted into articles of general utility. Furniture
makers take over 2,000,000 feet of it, though elm is not classed as a
furniture wood. In certain places it is superior to almost every other
wood. No matter how discolored it becomes by weathering and the
accumulation of foreign substances, a vigorous application of soap,
water, and a scrubbing brush will whiten it. It is liked in certain
parts of refrigerators which need constant scrubbing. Elm to the extent
of 8,000,000 feet goes into refrigerators in Michigan alone.

The strength and toughness of elm make it suitable for frames of tables.
When thus used, it is generally out of sight, but not infrequently it is
made into table legs as well as frames. Statistics show that more than a
million feet are manufactured yearly into handles in Michigan alone. All
three of the northern elms--white, cork, and slippery--are listed in the
handle industry.

Many millions of feet of elm are yearly converted into automobile
stock--3,000,000 in Michigan. Horse-drawn vehicles take more. The most
common place for it is the hub, but it serves also as shafts, poles,
reaches, and even as spokes for wagons of the largest size.

The important place in the slack cooperage industry held by elm is well
known. It is a flour barrel wood, but is employed for barrels of many
other kinds. It stands high as veneer, not the kind of which the visible
parts of furniture are made, but the invisible interior, built up of
veneer sheets glued together. A similar kind of veneer forms the boxes
or frames of trunks--the part to be covered by metal, leather, or cloth.
The slats which strengthen the outside of trunks are frequently of elm.

This wood is not in favor for one important purpose, hardwood
distillation. It has escaped pretty generally also from being employed
as a farm material, on account of its poor lasting qualities. Some
slippery elm was mauled into fence rails in the pioneer days of Ohio,
Indiana, and southern Michigan, but that was only because it was
plentiful and convenient. Cork elm probably never made a fence rail,
because it is so unwedgeable that no rail splitter would have anything
to do with it. At the best, it is but a temporary makeshift as fence
posts, but by applying creosote and other preservative treatments to
lessen decay, it measures up with most other post woods.

The elms are not indispensable woods in this country, but their
exhaustion, should it ever come, will leave many places hard to fill. As
far as known, no woodlots of any species of elm have been planted in
this country, and there is little prospect that any will be planted,
because the slow growth of the trees discourages foresters. A century
or two is a long look ahead.

However, the exhaustion of no species of the elms in this country need
be expected soon. The most apparent peril lies ahead of cork elm,
because it never was abundant, and demand, which has been large for a
long time, is still strong. The species is scattered over more than
200,000 square miles, and a long time must elapse before the last cork
elm finds its way to the sawmill. The situation of white elm is more
promising. It may be among the last trees of the American forests to
take its final departure. Its wide range and its bounteous seed crops
insure a supply, though not necessarily a large one, for a long time.
The greatest peril to elms, as well as to many other forest trees, is
that, when weakened by depletion, some disease will attack them and
destroy the remnants. Experience in New England and elsewhere has shown
that elm has no great resisting power when a strong attack is made upon



[Illustration: SLIPPERY ELM]


(_Ulmus Pubescens_)

This tree is known as slippery elm in every state where it grows, thirty
or more; but in some localities it has other names also. It is doubtful
if any person who is acquainted with the tree would fail to recognize it
by the name slippery elm, though some who are acquainted with the lumber
only might not know it by that name. Those who call it red elm have in
mind the color of the heartwood which is of deeper red than the wood of
any other elm, or they may refer to the tawny pubescence on the young
shoots in winter. The botanical name describes that characteristic.

In the North, the slippery elm is sometimes known as moose elm. It
furnishes forage in winter for the moose and other herbivorous animals
when ground plants are covered with snow. The moose is able to eat
branches as thick as a man’s thumb. The principal food element in the
twigs is the mucilaginous inner bark. It is this which gives the tree
its name slippery elm. The value of the bark as a food has been
questioned. It is agreeable to the taste of both man and beast, but it
is claimed that a human being will starve to death on it, though it will
prolong life several days. The lower animals, however, seem able to
derive more benefit from eating the bark. An incident of the War of 1812
appears to prove this. The army under General Harrison, operating in the
vicinity of Lake Erie, kept the horses of the expedition alive by
feeding them on slippery elm bark, stripped from the trees and chopped
in small bits.

The inner bark has long been used for medicinal purposes. It is now
ground fine and is kept for sale in drug stores, but formerly it was a
household remedy which most families in the country provided and kept in
store along with catnip, mandrake, sage, dogwood blossoms, and other
rural remedies which were depended upon to rout diseases in the days
when physicians were few. The slippery elm bark was peeled from the tree
in long strips, the rough outer layers were shaved off, leaving the
mucilaginous inner layer. That was from an eighth to a quarter of an
inch thick. It was dried and put away for use. When needed it was
pounded to a pulp, moistened with water, and applied as a poultice, if
an external remedy was wanted. If a medicine was needed, a decoction was
drunk as tea. There is no question that the remedy often produced good
results when no doctor was within reach. A well-known medical writer
said three-quarters of a century ago that the slippery elm tree was
worth its weight in gold.

The range of slippery elm extends from the lower St. Lawrence river
through Canada to North Dakota. It is found in Texas as far west as the
San Antonio river, and its western limit is generally from 200 to 300
miles west of the Mississippi river. Its range extends south nearly to
the Gulf of Mexico. It is not this tree’s habit to grow in thick stands,
but it occurs singly or in small groups on the banks of streams or on
rich hillsides.

The average size is scarcely half that of white elm. Few trees exceed a
height of seventy feet and a diameter of two. It grows rapidly at first,
but does not live to old age. The crown lacks the symmetry and beauty so
conspicuous in white elm. The limbs follow no law of regularity, but
leave the trunk at haphazard. The fruit is mature before the leaves are
half grown. The seeds have more wing area than those of white elm; and,
like those of white elm, the wing surrounds the flat seed on all its
edges. The leaves are rough to the touch, and when crumpled in the hand,
the crunching sensation is unpleasant.

Next to white elm, slippery elm appears to be more abundant than any
other member of the group; but statistics do not give the basis for
close estimates. The factories of Michigan use 3,700,000 feet of
slippery elm a year, and 44,000,000 of white elm. The proportion of
slippery to white is larger in the factories of Illinois.

The uses are the same as for other elms. The wood is rated more durable
than the others, but it is not in much demand for outdoor work where
resistance to decay is an important consideration. It is sometimes set
for fence posts, but the results are scarcely satisfactory, particularly
for round posts which are largely sapwood. Posts sawed from the
heartwood of large trees would do better. The deeper red of the
heartwood gives it an advantage over the other elms for furniture and
finish where natural colors are shown; but this is not important because
no elm’s natural color stands for much in the estimation of users of
fine woods. The more common use of slippery elm is for boxes and
cooperage. Next to red gum, it is employed in larger quantities for
cooperage in Illinois than any other wood.

The supply is rapidly decreasing. The cut for lumber is the chief drain,
but a not inconsiderable one is the peeling of trees for bark. This goes
on all over the species’ range and much of it is done by boys with
knives and hatchets. It is often hard to find slippery elms within miles
of a town, because all have succumbed to bark hunters.

    CEDAR ELM (_Ulmus crassifolia_) appears to bear this name because it
    is often found associated with red cedars on the dry limestone hills
    of Texas. There is little in the form and appearance of the tree to
    suggest the tall, tapering conical crown of cedar. There is still
    less in the wood. In some parts of Texas the species is called red
    elm, on account of the color of the wood, while in Arkansas, which
    is near the northern boundary of its range, it is locally known as
    basket elm, because basket makers find desirable qualities in its
    wood. It is a species of rather limited range, but it is abundant in
    certain regions. It is found as far east as Sunflower river,
    Mississippi, north into Arkansas, west to Pecos river, Texas, and
    south into Mexico. It is confined to three states, this side the Rio
    Grande. Trees on dry hills are inclined to be shrubby, but in damp
    valleys where soil is fertile, specimens attain a height of eighty
    feet and a diameter of three, but the average is not nearly so
    large. The leaves are small but numerous. The flowering habits of
    this elm are somewhat erratic. The usual time for bloom to appear is
    August, and a month or six weeks afterwards the small seeds are
    ready for flight; but occasionally, as if not satisfied with its
    first effort, the tree blooms again in October, and ripens a second
    crop late in the fall. The seeds are poorly supplied with wings,
    which are reduced to narrow margins surrounding the seed. It does
    not appear, however, that the species is in any way handicapped in
    securing reproduction. The small shoots are equipped with flat,
    corky keels, similar to but much smaller than those of the wing elm.

    This tree is important for the lumber it produces. It is the common
    and most abundant elm of Texas, and it is found in a large part of
    that state. The wood is the weakest of the elms, and is likewise
    quite brittle; but in the region where it is most abundant it
    compares favorably with any other. The best is cut from the largest
    trees, which grow in valleys where moisture is abundant. The growth
    found on the dry hills is of poor quality, and is worth little, even
    for fuel. The highest development in Texas, and also the highest in
    the species’ range, is in the valleys of Trinity and Guadalupe
    rivers. In Texas this wood is employed in furniture factories as
    inside frames, to be covered by other woods, but it is not employed
    as outside parts of furniture, unless in very cheap kinds. It is
    suitable for drain boards and floors of refrigerators where it is
    wet much of the time. Under such circumstances it is more easily
    kept clean than most other woods. It whitens with repeated
    scrubbings. One of its most common uses in Texas is for wagon hubs.
    Some wheelwrights pronounce it next to the best native wood for that
    purpose, the first place being accorded Osage orange. The tree is
    often planted for shade along the streets of Texas towns, and
    develops thick crowns and satisfactory forms.

    RED ELM (_Ulmus serotina_) is a lately discovered member of the elm
    family. It so closely resembles the cork elm that it was supposed to
    be of the same species, and the close scrutiny of a botanist was
    required to discover that it was a separate species. Sargent
    observed the flowers opening in September while those of cork elm
    appear in early spring. The seeds ripen in November, while cork
    elm’s are ripe early in the summer. The tree was named red elm, the
    wood being reddish-brown. That name is widely applied to slippery
    elm, but it is improbable that much confusion will result. The red
    elm’s range is quite restricted and in that area the slippery elm is
    not important. Red elm occurs on limestone hills and river banks
    from central Kentucky to northern Georgia and Alabama. It attains a
    height of fifty or sixty feet and a diameter of two or three. The
    leaves are from two to four inches in length, and one or two wide,
    with margins toothed like the other elms. The midrib is yellow, and
    in the autumn the leaves change to an orange yellow before falling.
    Branches which are two or three years old develop corky wings, two
    or three in number.

    It is not known that mechanical tests of the wood have been made in
    a regular way to determine its physical properties, but superficial
    examination indicates that it is hard, tough, and strong, apparently
    about the same as cork elm. Special lists of uses for this wood have
    not been compiled for the reason that lumbermen and operators of
    sawmills have never distinguished it from other elms of the region.
    Since it has never been left standing in districts where other elms
    are cut, it is evident that it has been regularly put to use for
    vehicles, agricultural implements, boxes, crates, and slack
    cooperage, because such articles have been manufactured in the
    region. The red elm has been occasionally planted as a shade tree
    along streets of towns in northern Georgia and Alabama.



[Illustration: PLANERTREE]


(_Planera Aquatica_)

This tree is a first cousin of the elms, but it is no more an elm than a
hackberry is an elm. It is a member of the family but is of a different
genus, and it is the sole representative of its genus in the known
world. There is only one kind of planertree, with no nearer relatives
than the elms on one side and hackberry, sugarberry, and palo blanco on
the other. Except those kinsfolk, it is alone on earth. The name is in
honor of Johann Jacob Planer, a German botanist whose efforts did much
for science nearly two hundred years ago. The name of the species
_aquatica_, recognizes the tree’s habit of growing where water is
abundant. It is a swamp species, or rather, it prefers situations
subject to periodic overflow. It looks like an elm, and that has led
people to call it water elm. That is the name by which it is usually
known in Florida. In Alabama it is called the American planertree, which
is an unnecessary restriction, since there is no planertree except this
one. The Louisiana French gave it the name plene, and the abridgement of
its name is yet heard in that state. In North Carolina it has acquired
the name sycamore, but without good reason. It does not look in the
least like sycamore.

It has the leaf of an elm, and it resembles that tree in bark, and
somewhat in general form. The layman detects the first important
difference when he examines the seeds. Those of the elms have wings, but
the planertree’s are without those appendages, and they would be useless
if it had them, unless they were as large as the parachute of the
basswood seed. The planertree bears a sort of nut, a third of an inch
long, and too heavy to be transported far on the ordinary membranous
wings of tree seeds. Water is doubtless the principal agent in carrying
the seeds from place to place. Probably few of them are transported far,
because the water about the trees is generally stagnant; and, besides,
the species does not seem to be extending its range or increasing in

The planertree has a history. If the terms which the Roman historian
Tacitus applied to people, could be applied to trees, it might be said
of this species, as he said of certain tribes: “The cowards fly the
farthest and are the last survivors.” The planertree is now found only
in certain southern swamps, from North Carolina to Florida, and west to
Missouri and Texas. In former periods, as is shown by the records of
geology, there were several species, and they had a wide range over
portions of the northern hemisphere. They appear to have been a strong
group of trees, able to hold their ground with the best inhabitants of
the forest. They were in the Rocky Mountains, and far north in Alaska.
They were in Europe also, or were represented there by some very similar

For some reason which is not definitely known, they lost out when
competition with other trees became keen, and in the course of long
periods of time they disappeared from their former ranges in the North
and West. They took to the swamps, just as the tribes of which Tacitus
spoke, took to the morasses when they could no longer face their enemies
on open ground. It was a far cry from Alaska to the Chattahoochee swamps
in Florida, yet that was where A. H. Curtis and Charles Mohr went to
procure typical planertree specimens for the tests which Sargent made of
American woods.

It has been suggested that tree species which have lost out in
competition for ground, have been those which were at some decided
disadvantage in the matter of getting their seeds properly scattered and
planted. The case has not been proved, because there are as many facts
and as much argument against that hypothesis as for it. The bigtrees of
California are a noted example of a species which lost out and retreated
to a corner, yet their seeds fly like birds. Plainly, something besides
winged seeds is needed to keep the species in the fight. However, it is
not difficult to see that the planertree, with wingless seeds and of so
little use as food that no bird or rodent will carry them or bury them,
has been much handicapped in the long contest which has crowded it from
the arctic circle to the cotton belt.

It has the habits of the subdued and conquered tree. It has adapted
itself to swamps where few species can grow, and where competition for
light and room is reduced to a minimum. Yet, even there, it is content
to take the leavings of more ambitious species. The crowns make little
effort to rise up to the light, for which many other trees battle during
their whole existence. The planertree’s low, broad top of contorted
branches places it perpetually in the shade of any other trees which
overtop it.

The wood of the planertree is lighter in weight, poorer in fuel value,
weaker, and more brittle than the poorest of the elms. The annual ring
lacks the rows of large open pores common in all the elms, but it has
many small pores scattered through the whole year’s growth. It is not
easy to note a difference between the springwood and that which grows
later. The wood is soft, light brown in color, and the nearly white
sapwood is thick. It is often, perhaps generally, a tree of fairly rapid
growth, and since it does not reach large size, it is probably
short-lived, but exact information along that line is lacking.

The tallest trees seldom exceed a height of forty feet and a diameter of
two. It is evident that a tree of that size and form does not tempt the
lumberman to much exertion to procure it. An examination of reports of
sawmill operations and of the utilization of woods by shops and
factories in the southern states has failed to find a single instance
where the planertree has been reported in use for any purpose whatever.
Doubtless, trees are sometimes cut and the lumber gets into the market,
but not under its own name. The species is interesting for reasons other
than that it ever has had or ever can have a place in the country’s
lumber industry.

    WING ELM (_Ulmus alata_), which is the smallest of the elms, is
    plentifully supplied with names, but in most parts of its range it
    is known as wing or winged elm. It is also called wahoo or wahoo
    elm, and the West Virginians have named it witch elm; the North
    Carolinans refer to it often as simply elm; from Florida to Texas
    some call it cork elm; in Alabama it is water elm; in Arkansas
    mountain elm; while in other regions it is corky elm, small-leaf
    elm, and red elm. Some of these names are self-explanatory. Wing elm
    does not relate to a winged seed, but to winged twigs. That
    characteristic of the tree is very prominent. The wings consist of
    flattened keels along opposite sides of the branches. A twig no more
    than a quarter of an inch in diameter may be decorated with wings
    half an inch or more wide, making the twig four or five times as
    wide as it is thick. As the twig enlarges, the wings do not broaden
    in proportion. The lowest branches and those nearest the trunk are
    most generously furnished with wings. They appear to be entirely
    ornamental, for it is not known that they serve any useful purpose.
    The growth is different from those which give cork elm its name. The
    latter occur on the large branches, often in the form of isolated
    protuberances, but the wings are fairly continuous for a foot or
    more, except that they terminate abruptly at the nodes, but
    recommence immediately after. Branches less than a year old seldom
    have wings. The name wahoo appears to have lost its etymology if it
    ever had any. Dictionaries tell what it means, but they shy at its
    origin. It is a southern word which is applied to this elm, and also
    to other trees, and occasionally it means a fish instead of a tree.
    Some would trace it to the cry of an owl, others to a name in
    Gulliver’s Travels, with a slight change in spelling.

    Wing elm at its best is about fifty feet high and two in diameter;
    but much of the stand is small. The best occurs west of the
    Mississippi river. The range extends from Texas to Virginia, south
    to Florida, and north to Illinois. In Texas it is a fairly important
    wood in furniture factories, the annual supply being about a million
    feet. It is used by turners for table legs. In an investigation of
    the uses of the wood, the same difficulty is encountered that makes
    difficult a study of the uses of all the elms--conflict and
    uncertainty of names. There are few regions in the hardwood areas of
    this country which produce one elm and no more; and after all
    practical means of identification are resorted to, there is often
    doubt and uncertainty concerning the exact species of elm lumber
    found in use. Fortunately, it generally makes little difference,
    because anyone of them is good enough for ordinary use. Wing elm is
    extensively planted for shade along the streets of towns in the
    lower Mississippi valley, but more frequently on the west side of
    the valley. When the trees grow in the open they develop broad
    crowns, and the branches, even of comparatively small trees, are
    long enough to reach well over the sidewalks, and cast satisfactory
    shade. The dark-colored winged twigs add much to the ornamental
    value of the street trees.

    FREMONTIA (_Fremontodendron californicum_) is not botanically in the
    elm family, but it is popularly known as slippery elm in the region
    where it occurs, and for that reason it is here given place among
    the elms. It is known also as leatherwood. It is a California
    species, ranging among the lower mountains and higher foothills in
    dry, gravelly soils, from the Mexican boundary five hundred miles
    northward in the state. The mucilaginous inner bark tastes like that
    of the true slippery elm. The shape of the leaf much more resembles
    sycamore than elm; and it is an evergreen. It bears a bright yellow,
    roselike flower, and the seeds are small, reddish-brown. The wood is
    fine grained, clear reddish-brown, with thick, whitish sapwood. It
    is very soft. The tree attains its largest size among the foothills
    of the Sierra Nevada mountains, but even there it is too small to
    have much economic value, seldom exceeding thirty feet in height and
    a foot in diameter. Its most important use is as a forage plant for
    cattle and sheep. In that particular it resembles slippery elm in
    northern woods. The tree is occasionally planted in the eastern
    states and in Europe for ornament. In its native range it grows



[Illustration: HACKBERRY]


(_Celtis Occidentalis_)

Hackberry is a common name for this tree in nearly all parts of its
range, but it has other names. It is sometimes confused with sugarberry
(_Celtis mississippiensis_). They call it nettle tree in Rhode Island,
Massachusetts, Delaware, and Michigan, and in Tennessee it is known as
American nettle-tree. In Vermont it is hoop ash; in Rhode Island
one-berry; hack-tree in Minnesota, and juniper tree in New Jersey.

The name hackberry is not of American origin. It dates far back in the
languages of western Europe and is believed to have the same origin as
the word haw, which, in its turn meant hedge. If that etymology is
correct, the word really means hedge berry, which is not an
inappropriate name for the tree. The name is sometimes applied to a
small bird cherry in Europe. The New Jersey name juniper-tree is in
recognition of the resemblance of the berries to those of red cedar or
red juniper. No reason has been assigned for the name nettle-tree.

Its range covers about 2,000,000 square miles in the United States
besides part of Canada. It grows from the Atlantic on the coast of New
England to the tide water of the Pacific on Puget sound; in southern
Florida and in Texas. It is not found in pure stands, but often as
single trees far apart. This is the case in the northeastern part of the
United States in particular where probably not more than one tree might
be found in a whole county. Frequently the people in the neighborhood do
not know what the tree is, and suppose it is the last representative on
earth of some disappearing species.

It is far from being a disappearing tree. Not only is it widely
dispersed over the United States, but related species are scattered
through many countries of the old world, from Denmark to India. There
are said to be between fifty and sixty species, only two of which are in
the United States.

It has been claimed by scholars that the lotus referred to by ancient
writers was the hackberry. It was reputed to cause forgetfulness when
eaten, but the claim was fictitious, for the fruit does not produce that
effect. It is not now regarded as human food. Tennyson deals with the
fiction very beautifully in the poem “Lotus Eaters,” but he took
liberties with botany when he represented fruit and flowers on the same
branch; for, though the berries hang several months, they drop before
the next season’s flowers appear.

The hackberry belongs to the elm family, being of the same relation as
the planertree. The leaves resemble those of the elm, but are more
sharply pointed. The fruit is usually classed as a berry. It ripens in
September and October, but remains on the tree several months, becoming
dry. It is about one-fourth inch long, dark purple, with a tough, thick
skin, and with flesh dark orange. Most of the pale brown seeds are eaten
by birds.

The tree varies greatly in size. In some remote corners of its immense
range it is little more than a shrub, while at its best it may attain a
height of 100 feet and a diameter of three or four. Its average size is
about that of slippery elm. The bark varies as much in appearance as the
tree in size. Sometimes it has the smooth surface and pale bluish-green
appearance that suggest the bark of beech; again it is darker and
rougher, like the elm. It frequently exhibits the harsh warty bark which
is peculiar to the hackberry, and when present it is a pretty safe means
of identification. The warts may be conical, oblong, or sharp-pointed,
and probably an inch in height. When closely examined, most of them are
found to consist of parallel strata of bark which may usually be pulled
off without much difficulty. The warts are a decided disadvantage to the
tree in some of the low swampy districts of Louisiana where Spanish moss
is a pest. This moss (which is not a true moss), is propagated
principally by tufts and strands which are carried by wind until they
find anchorage among the branches of trees where they increase and
multiply at a rapid rate until they finally smother or break down the
unfortunate tree which supplied a lodging place. The hackberry’s warts
catch and hold every flying strand of moss that touches them, and
hundreds, perhaps thousands of pounds of it may accumulate on a single
tree. The grayish-green color of the moss often exactly matches the hue
of the tree’s bark.

The reported annual cut of hackberry lumber in the United States is less
than 5,000,000 feet. That can be only a fraction of the total output.
Few mills report it separately, but list it as ash. The wood looks more
like ash than elm. It is heavy, but only moderately hard and strong. Its
color is more yellowish than ash, but the annual rings of growth
resemble that wood. The sapwood is thick, and growth is rapid where
conditions are favorable.

It is doubtless used by industries in thirty states or more, but
comparatively few factories report it. In Texas it is listed in the box
and crate industry. In Louisiana it rises to more importance, for that
is the region where the tree attains its best. Slack coopers make kegs,
tubs, and barrels of it; vehicle manufacturers convert it into parts of
buggy tops and the running gears of wagons; it serves for furniture and
interior finish; and it takes the place of ash for hoe handles and parts
of agricultural implements. The uses are nearly the same in
Mississippi, but it is used there for rustic seats and other outdoor
furniture. In Missouri it is found suitable for cart axles, saddle
trees, stitching horse jaws, and wagon beds. In Arkansas it goes with
ash into flooring, and interior finish for houses. Illinois builders
work it into fixtures for stores. In Michigan it serves the same
purposes as in Texas, baskets, boxes, and crates. These examples
doubtless are representative of its uses wherever the tree is found in
commercial quantities. The wood is not durable in contact with the soil.
It is also liable to attack by boring insects if logs are allowed to
retain their bark.

The hackberry has been planted to a small extent as a street tree in the
southern towns, but it is not as popular as the elms and oaks. It will
never occupy a more important position in the country’s lumber industry
than it holds at present. It is a tree which, for some reason, inspires
little enthusiasm in anybody; but nature takes care of it fairly well,
and the small sweet drupes which it bears are a guarantee that the
species will not want for seed carriers as long as birds continue to
have access to its branches in winter.

SUGARBERRY (_Celtis mississippiensis_) is frequently mistaken for
hackberry even by persons who ought to be able to distinguish them.
Botanists formerly confused the two, and probably some insist still that
sugarberry is only a variety of hackberry. The leaves generally have
smooth margins, and that would differentiate the tree from the hackberry
were it not that sometimes the sugarberry has serrate leaves. The drupes
are bright orange red and are usually smaller than the purple fruit of
hackberry. As for the wood of the two species, it is not easy to tell
one from the other. The sugarberry’s range is not one-third as extensive
as hackberry’s, but covers some hundreds of thousands of square miles in
the southeastern quarter of the United States. Its northern limit is in
Illinois and Indiana where it occupies rich bottom lands and the banks
of streams. It reaches its largest size in the lower Ohio river basin,
grows southward into Florida and west into Texas, Arkansas, and
Missouri. It crosses the Rio Grande into Mexico, appearing to outstrip
the hackberry in that direction. It outstrips it in another direction
also, for it is found in the Bermuda islands. The French of Louisiana
called it bois inconnu, or the unknown wood.

This tree shows a marked tendency to run into varieties, and cultivation
would probably develop the tendency. The differences between the species
and the varieties are plain enough to the systematic botanist, but are
such that the lumberman or other ordinary observer would scarcely notice
them. The variety which has been named _Celtis mississippiensis
reticulata_, but without any English name except sugarberry, is a tree
forty or fifty feet high, covered with blue-gray bark, very rough. It
ranges from Dallas, Texas, to the Rio Grande and westward into New
Mexico, Arizona, and Utah, and into southern California and Lower
California. In eastern Texas it is found on dry limestone hills, but
westward only in mountain canyons in the vicinity of water. In the
southern part of Texas this tree is usually known as palo blanco, but
those who apply that name have no idea that it is a variety of
sugarberry but suppose it is a tree peculiar to their region. In Cameron
and Hidalgo counties, Texas, either because an extra good quality grows
there, or because some opinion exists in its favor, it is liked for
wagon material, and occasionally is turned for table legs and other
parts of furniture. It is quite common in that part of Texas as an
ornamental tree in yards and along streets of small towns. The whiteness
of the bark is the most striking feature.



[Illustration: WHITE ASH]


(_Fraxinus Americana_)

This tree is generally called white or gray ash, or simply ash. American
ash is a translation of its botanical name and is not often used in
business transactions in this country. In some parts of the South the
term cane ash is occasionally employed, but there seems to be no
agreement among those who use the name as to what it means. This is the
common ash in the lumber trade. There are more than a dozen species in
the United States, but white ash goes to market in larger amounts than
all others together. This is known in a general way, but exact figures
cannot be given, because statistics of the cut of different species of
ash are not kept separate.

The range of this tree covers at least a million square miles, and all
or part of every state east of the Mississippi river and west of it from
Nebraska to Texas. It is reported cut for lumber in thirty states. The
various ashes are lumbered in thirty-nine states. Ash does not occur in
pure stands but is scattered in forests of other species, sometimes
growing in small clumps. It is difficult to name an average size for the
tree, because climate and soil control the growth over a large area
where conditions vary. Trees 120 feet high and six feet in diameter are
said to have stood in the primeval forests in the lower Ohio valley; but
logs four feet through are seldom seen now. Trees seventy or eighty feet
high and three in diameter are above the average in any region where
this tree is now lumbered. Some of the old planted trees of New England
are five or six feet through, and are finely proportioned, but growing
as they do in the open, they have larger crowns than are found in forest

All species of ash have compound leaves, and those of white ash are from
eight to twelve inches long. The under sides of the leaflets are white,
and some persons have this fact in mind when they call the species white
ash, while others refer to the bark, and still others to the wood. It is
a characteristic of the tree that most of the leaves grow near the ends
of the limbs. For that reason the crown appears open when viewed from
below, and the larger limbs and branches are naked. The leaves demand
light, and they arrange themselves on the extremities of the limbs to
get it. When the tree is crowded, it sheds its lower limbs and its crown
rises rapidly until it reaches abundance of light. This produces long
trunks in forests.

The boles are often not quite straight, but have several slight crooks,
yet keep close to a general perpendicular line. That form is due to a
peculiarity of growth. The leading shoot of a growing ash has more than
one terminal bud. If a side bud pushes ahead, the stem leans a little in
that direction; next, a bud on the other side may gain the ascendancy,
producing a slight lean for a few years in that direction; or two side
buds may develop simultaneously, causing a forked trunk. Mature trees
often carry the history of these peculiarities of growth.

The seeds of white ash are equipped for moderate flight. The wing is
large, but the seed attached to the end of it is heavy enough to give it
a sharp tilt downward when it begins its flight through the air, and it
generally shoots at a steep angle toward the ground. It is not apt to
whirl through the air with a gliding motion like a maple seed.
Consequently, ash seeds are not great travelers. They are dispersed with
economy, however, for all do not come down at once, but many hang on the
tree for months, and a few go with every strong wind, thus getting
themselves scattered in every direction. Their power of germination is
low, and only about forty per cent of seeds are fertile. This is due to
the fact that pistillate and staminate flowers do not grow on the same
tree, and fertilization is imperfect.

The importance of ash in the industries of the country does not depend
on the quantity but the quality of the wood. Although the various
species are produced in thirty-nine states, as shown by mill statistics,
the total yield is less than 250,000,000 feet a year. That is exceeded
by several woods, among them hickory, elm, beech, basswood, chestnut,
and even larch.

The wood of ash which has grown rapidly is generally considered superior
to that of slow growth. The reason is found in the fact that trees of
slow growth do most of their growing early in the season, and the wood
is porous; but trees of rapid growth lay summerwood on abundantly, and
it is dense. Few species show a sharper line between spring and
summerwood than ash, for which reason the annual rings are clear-cut and
distinct. What figure ash has is produced by the growth rings, and not
by medullary rays. Quarter-sawing brings out no additional beauty.
Slight crooks in many logs produce a moderate cross grain in lumber,
which gives to finished ash its characteristic figure or grain. When
straight-grained wood is wanted, as when it is for tool handles and
oars, logs without crooks are selected.

The wood of white ash is heavy, hard, strong, elastic, but rather
brittle. It lacks the toughness of hickory. The medullary rays are
numerous, but small and obscure. The color is brown, the sapwood much
lighter, often nearly white. It is not durable in contact with the soil.
Notwithstanding its name, the wood rates low in ash, and its fuel value
is under that of white oak. The states which produce the largest yearly
cut of this species are, ranging downward in the order named: Arkansas,
Ohio, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, and Tennessee.

The uses of white ash are so numerous that they can be presented only in
classes. It goes into almost every wood-using industry, but in different
sections of country certain uses lead. Thus in Illinois the makers of
butter tubs take more of it than any other industry; in Michigan
automobiles lead, and in Arkansas the handle factories are largest
buyers; in Louisiana boat oars consume most; in Alabama and Missouri car
construction is in the lead; in Texas boxes and crates; in North
Carolina wagons; in Kentucky handles; in Maryland musical instruments;
and in Massachusetts furniture. The utilization of ash in these states,
scattered over the eastern half of the United States, indicates fairly
well the wood’s most important lines of usefulness. A considerable
quantity is made into flooring and interior finish. It is classed among
sanitary woods, that is, it does not stain or taint food products by

The total quantity of merchantable white ash in the country is not
known, but there is still enough to meet demand, and the extent of the
tree’s range makes supplies convenient in nearly all manufacturing
states. The species grows rather rapidly, and trees a hundred or a
hundred and fifty years old yield logs of good size.

TEXAS ASH (_Fraxinus texensis_) has been regarded by some as a variety
of white ash, while others, including Sudworth and Sargent, consider it
a distinct species. It is often called mountain ash where it occurs
among the mountains of western Texas. Its range lies wholly in that
state, and extends from the vicinity of Dallas to the valley of Devil’s
river. The compound leaves are smaller than those of white ash, and are
usually composed of five leaflets. The winged seeds ripen in May, and
are an inch or less in length. The largest trees are fifty feet high and
two or three in diameter; but generally the trees are much smaller. The
wood is strong, heavy, and hard. The annual rings are marked by one or
more rows of open ducts, and the medullary rays are inconspicuous. The
heartwood is light brown, the sapwood lighter. This ash is employed
within its range for various purposes, but it is not of sufficient
abundance to constitute an important commodity. In market it is not
distinguished from white ash.

GREGG ASH (_Fraxinus greggii_) has some peculiarities which make it
worthy of mention as one of the minor species. Its range is in the dry
mountains of western Texas where a number of ashes seem to have put in
an appearance as members of the thinly-peopled vegetable kingdom of that
region. The compound leaves of Gregg ash are seldom three inches long,
and the leaflets are often half an inch long and less than a quarter of
an inch wide. The petioles are winged like the twigs of wing elm. The
undersides of the leaves have small black dots. The winged seeds are as
proportionately small as the leaves. The flowers have not been described
by botanists, for the species is not well known. The largest trees are
scarcely twenty-five feet high and eight inches in diameter. More
frequently they are shrubs from four to twelve feet tall. The wood is
heavy, hard, brown in color and of slow growth.

DWARF ASH (_Fraxinus anomala_) might be mistaken for some other species
were its telltale winged seeds missing. It has lost the leaflets from
its compound leaf, and a single one remains. Occasionally, however, a
stem bearing three leaflets is found. The seeds are equipped with wide,
oblong wings. It is a desert species, and the desolate surroundings of
its habitat explain why nature has dispensed with as much foliage as
possible. It is found in southwestern Colorado, in southern Utah, and on
the western slopes of the Charleston mountains in southern Nevada. Trees
are small and the wood is not of much use for other than fuel, but a few
small ranch timbers are made of it where other kinds are scarce. Trunks
are usually not more than six or seven inches in diameter. The wood is
heavy, hard, and light brown in color.

    FRINGE ASH (_Fraxinus cuspidata_) has some difficulty in proving
    that it is entitled to be called a tree in the United States, though
    southward in Mexico its right to that title is unquestioned. It is
    very small where its range extends over the dry ridges and rocky
    slopes of southwestern Texas and southern New Mexico and Arizona.
    Its compound leaves are five or seven inches long, and the leaflets
    which number from three to seven have long, slender tips. The
    trowel-shaped fruit is about one inch long. The wood resembles white
    ash, but trunks of considerable size are not found. The name refers
    to the flowers, and they give this small tree its value for
    ornamental purposes. The flowers appear in April and are extremely



[Illustration: BLACK ASH]


(_Fraxinus Nigra_)

When George Washington was a surveyor locating land on the upper waters
of the Potomac river, and westward on the Kanawha and Ohio rivers, he
always spoke of this ash as “hoop tree” when he marked it with two or
with three “hacks,” depending upon whether it designated a “corner” or a
“line,” or a “pointer” in the system of surveying then in use. Trees
were used then as landmarks, and were duly recorded in the surveyor’s
field notes, and were described in the deeds when the title to the land
passed from one party to another. It was not unusual, if subsequent
litigation came up, to cut blocks from marked trees to prove that such a
corner was at such a place. The “hacks” or ax marks, were sometimes
healed over and invisible at the bark, but were found deep in the wood.
The rings of growth covering the ax marks afforded an admissible record
of the years that had passed since the survey was made. The selection of
the black ash as a landmark was one of the few instances in which
Washington showed poor judgment; because it is a tree of short life, and
might be expected to die before a great many years.

The name hoop ash is applied to this tree yet. It has always been good
material for barrel hoops, because it splits into thin pieces, and is
sufficiently tough. It is known as basket ash for the same reason. The
New England Indians were making fish baskets of it when the first white
people landed on those shores, and settlers speedily learned the art
from the children of the wilderness. Those untutored savages knew little
of wood technology, but they were able to take advantage of a
peculiarity in the structure of black ash wood, which the white man’s
microscope has revealed to him. The Indians doubtless discovered it
accidentally. The springwood in the annual ring of black ash is made up
of large pores, crowded so closely together that there is really very
little actual wood substance there. In other words, the springwood is
chiefly air spaces. The result is, that billets of black ash are easily
separated into thin strips, the cleavage following the weak lines of
springwood. A little beating and bending causes the annual rings to fall
apart. In some way the Indians found that out, and utilized their
knowledge in manufacturing baskets in which to carry fish, acorns,
hickory nuts, and other forest and water commodities.

The white people extended the scope of application to include chairs and
other furniture in which splits are manipulated. It is worthy of note
that Indians made a similar discovery with northern white cedar or
arborvitæ, which separates into thin pieces by beating and bending.
Barrel makers took advantage of the splitting properties of black ash to
make hoops of it, hence the name hoop ash, or hoop tree as Washington
called it. The name basket ash has a similar origin.

The names swamp ash and water ash refer to situations in which the tree
grows best. It is one of the thirstiest inhabitants of the forest. Its
aggressive roots ramify through the soil and drink up the moisture so
voraciously that if water is not abundant, neighboring trees and plants
may find their roots robbed, and the functions of healthy growth will be
interfered with. This has led to a general belief that black ash poisons
trees that it touches. It simply robs their roots. Carolina and Lombardy
poplars will sometimes do the same thing.

The name black ash by which this tree is now known in most regions where
it grows refers to the color of the large, prominent, shiny, blue-black
buds in late winter and early spring; to the very dark green leaves in
summer--which at a distance resemble the foliage of post oak--and, to
some extent, to the dark brown color of the heartwood, though the wood
is not always a safe means of identification if judged from superficial
appearance only. The form of the tree assists in identifying it; for it
is the slimmest of the ashes, in proportion to its height. Trunks three
feet through are heard of, but few persons have ever seen one much over
twenty inches, and many are about done growing when they are one foot in
diameter. Yet the trunks of such are very tall, perhaps seventy or
eighty feet. Their appearance has been likened to tall, slender columns
of dark gray granite. They often stand so straight that a plummet line
will not reveal a deviation from the perpendicular.

The tree has been called elder-leaved ash. The form of the foliage has
something to do with that name, but the odor more. Crush the leaves, and
they smell like elder. The compound leaves are from twelve to sixteen
inches long; the leaflets range from seven to eleven in number, and the
side leaflets have no stalks. The leaves appear late in spring, and they
fall early in autumn. They drop with the butternut leaves, and like
them, all at once. The seed is winged, and the wing forms a margin
entirely round the seed.

The wood of black ash is rather soft, moderately heavy, tough, but only
moderately strong, not durable in contact with the soil, dark brown in
color with sapwood whiter. The species ranges farther north than any
other ash, and grows in cold swamps and on the low banks of streams and
lakes from Newfoundland to Winnipeg, and southward to Virginia, southern
Illinois, southern Missouri, and Arkansas.

Black ash fills many important places in the country’s wood-using
industries, but the total quantity is not large. In 1910 Michigan
manufacturers reported the annual quantity in that state at 9,110,432
feet, and in Illinois the total was 9,936,000 feet. The uses for the
wood in Michigan may be regarded as typical of the whole country. The
reported uses were, auto seats, baskets, boat finish, butter tubs, candy
pails, carriage seats, crating, church pews, fish nets, office fixtures,
flooring, furniture, ice chests, interior finish, jelly buckets, kitchen
cabinets, lard tubs, piano frames, putty kegs, racked hoops, spice kegs,
tin plate boxes, veneer, washboards, and woven splint boxes.

Black ash burls are characteristic excrescences on the trunk. They begin
as small lumps or knobs under the bark, and never cease growing while
the tree lives. They may reach the dimensions of wash tubs, but most do
not exceed the size of a gallon measure. The grain of the wood is
exceedingly distorted and involved. The burls are sliced or sawed in
veneers which are much prized by cabinet makers. Early New Englanders
made bowls of them, which seldom checked or split during generations of
service. The burls are believed to be due to adventitious buds; that is,
buds which originate deep in the wood, but are never able to force their
way through the bark. The internal structure of the ash burl indicates
that the buried bud grows, branches, and sends shoots in various
directions, but all of them are hopelessly enmeshed in the wood
substance, and never are able to free themselves and burst through the
bark. A constantly enlarging excrescence is the result.

BLUE ASH (_Fraxinus quadrangulata_) is named from a blue dye procured
from the inner bark. The botanical name relates to the square shape of
the young twigs, particularly the twigs of young trees, and was given by
A. F. Michaux who found the species growing in the South. It reaches its
best development on the lower Wabash river in Indiana and Illinois and
on the Big Smoky mountains in Tennessee. Its northern limit reaches
southern Michigan, its western is in Missouri. It is not abundant, if
found at all, east of the Appalachian mountains. Trees may reach a
height of 100 feet and a diameter of three, but about seventy is the
average height, with a diameter of two feet or less. The leaves resemble
those of black ash in form, but the foliage when seen in mass is
yellow-green instead of dark green like that of black ash. The seeds
look like those of black ash. The tree bears perfect flowers, and in
that respect differs from most other species of ash.

The wood is heavier than that of any other member of the ash group,
except Texas ash. It weighs about the same as white oak, which is six
pounds per cubic foot more than white ash weighs. In general appearance
the wood resembles white ash, but it is usually considered stronger and
more springy. The trunks of young trees are largely or entirely sapwood.
Sometimes no heartwood is formed until an age of seventy or eighty
years is reached. Many manufacturers of ash tool handles prefer this
species to any other ash, because of its thick, white sapwood. It is
often made into handles for hoes, rakes, shovels, pitchforks, spades,
and snaths for scythes. Makers of vehicles draw liberally upon this wood
within its range, as do furniture makers and the manufacturers of
flooring. It is regarded as harder than white ash, and consequently
better flooring material.

    LEATHERLEAF ASH (_Fraxinus velutina_) changes its velvety leaves to
    a leathery condition, hence the conflict in the meanings of its two
    names. _Velutina_ means velvet-like. The compound leaves are seldom
    six inches long, often not three, and they are made up of from three
    to nine leaflets. The small seeds are equipped with wings. The tree
    is small and would be without any commercial importance except that
    it grows in an arid region where any wood is welcome. It is made
    into ax, hammer, and pick handles, and wagon makers are often glad
    to get it. It is found among the mountains and canyons of western
    Texas, in New Mexico, Arizona, southern Nevada, and southeastern
    California, near the shores of Owen’s lake. The largest trees are
    scarcely forty feet high and eight inches in diameter. The wood is
    not hard or strong, and is of slow growth. The largest trunks are
    apt to be hollow. Sapwood is comparatively thick.

    BERLANDIER ASH (_Fraxinus berlandieriana_) may not be entitled to a
    place among native species, of the United States. Some suppose it
    was introduced from Mexico by early Spanish settlers in western
    Texas. It now grows wild there along Nueces and Blanco rivers where
    specimens thirty feet high and a foot in diameter are found.
    Southward in Mexico it is a popular street tree, and trunks reach
    six or eight feet in diameter. The wood is soft and is used only
    locally and in very small quantities.



[Illustration: OREGON ASH]


(_Fraxinus Oregona_)

This tree is unusual in that it has only one common name, and that is a
translation of its botanical name which was given it by Nuttall who
visited the Pacific coast several years before the discovery of gold.

The moist bottom lands of southwestern Oregon are best suited to its
growth, and here the best individuals and most abundant stands are
found. Moist soil and climate are essential to proper development of
this tree, and in such environment it is found from Puget Sound
southward along the coast to San Francisco. A little further from the
coast it grows along the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, to
the low mountains in San Diego and San Bernardino counties, California,
in the southern extension of its range occupying a rather dry region.

The trunk grows to a height of eighty or 100 feet, and is often three
feet in diameter. It is covered with a gray-brown bark, exfoliating in
flaky scales. The leaves are from five to fourteen inches long, and have
five or seven firm, light-green leaflets, finely toothed and bluntly
pointed. The flowers appear in April and May and are in compact
panicles; the fruit in clusters, broadly winged and round pointed, and
from one to two inches long.

The scarcity of good hardwoods on the Pacific coast gives this ash more
importance than it otherwise would have, and the importance which it
possesses has been frequently overstated. It is not abundant of form and
size fitting it for lumber. It has long been cut in small quantities,
but never in large. The census returns for 1910 show that less than
400,000 feet per year are reported in its entire range. Three-fourths of
this is sawed in Oregon, the remainder in Washington. Though the species
has a range of 800 miles north and south through California, no sawmill
reported a foot of it. However, it is probable that census returns fail
to do this wood full justice; for it is well known that considerable
quantities are manufactured into articles without passing through
sawmills. Chief among such commodities is slack cooperage. Butter tubs
of Oregon ash are common. Much goes to wagon shops, and some of it
without aid of sawmills.

Little or none of this wood is shipped outside its range, and its use is
local. Boat builders work it into finish for cabins and upper parts, and
some serves as ribs. It is often seen as handles for picks, shovels,
spades, pitchforks, and rakes. A little finds place, combined with other
woods, in office and store fixtures. Its grain resembles that of white
ash. It is not as heavy, and it is not believed to be as strong. It is
hard, brittle, brown in color, with thick, lighter-colored sapwood.
Furniture makers list it as shop material, and such is its largest
reported use in Washington. A moderate amount is made into saddletrees
and stirrups, and much is used as fuel.

Oregon ash has been planted for shade and ornament in both this country
and Europe. It grows rapidly and develops a symmetrical crown. The habit
it has of coming into leaf late in the spring and throwing its foliage
down early in autumn is held by some as a serious objection to it as an
ornamental tree; but it has compensating habits. It is remarkably free
from disease, and, though leaves come late and go early, while its
foliage is on, it is healthy and vigorous. Reproduction is satisfactory
in the tree’s wild state, and there is no danger that the species will
disappear. No movement has yet been made to plant this ash for
commercial timber growing.

GREEN ASH (_Fraxinus lanceolata_) has been given that name on account of
the bright color of its foliage. It has other names, however, which
indicate that its greenness is not always preëminently prominent. In
Iowa and Arkansas they call it blue ash; in Kansas and Nebraska white
ash; in some regions it is known as water ash, and elsewhere swamp ash.
Some botanists do not regard it as a separate species but call it a
variety of red ash, but the consensus of opinion is that it is a
distinct species, though there appear to be connecting forms grading
from red ash into green ash. Certain it is that the two are distinct
enough in certain parts of the country. The range of green ash is more
extensive than that of any other ash in this country. Beginning in
Vermont it passes southward to Florida; northwestward to the
Saskatchewan river several hundred miles north of the international
boundary line; along the base of the Rocky Mountains and over the ranges
to Arizona, and through Texas. This includes more than half of the area
of the United States. Notwithstanding a range so extensive, the total
quantity of green ash timber in the country is not large. No pure
forests or extensive stands exist. Trees are widely dispersed, and when
lumbermen cut them, the wood is sold as some other, usually as white
ash. The wood has the general characters of red ash. It weighs about
forty-four pounds per cubic foot of dry wood; is moderately strong,
fairly stiff and elastic, and, like other species of ash, it is not
durable in contact with the soil.

Green ash is more planted than any other in the cold and dry regions of
the West and Northwest. It is a prairie tree and is found along highways
and in door yards from Kansas northward into British America. It stands
drought better than any other ash, and resists cold fully as well, and
yet it endures the warm weather and the rains of the South and
flourishes there. It is not a large tree, but of sufficient size for use
as furniture, finish, and vehicle making. It is seldom listed in
statistics of woods which go to sawmills, yet it is known that a good
many logs find their way to mills, while wagon makers and slack coopers
employ it in producing their commodities. The tree is an abundant
seeder, and the seeds continue to fall during most of the winter.

    RED ASH (_Fraxinus pennsylvanica_) is neither a large tree nor very
    abundant, yet it has a wide range and is put to use wherever
    lumbermen find it convenient. The lumber generally passes in the
    market as white ash, and for most purposes it is as good, but is
    rated lower than that wood in elasticity. It is called brown ash in
    Maine, black ash in New Jersey, river ash in Rhode Island. The last
    name is bestowed because the tree prefers moist land near rivers and
    ponds, and largest specimens are found in such situations, where it
    is often an associate of black ash and is frequently mistaken for
    it, though it should not be difficult to tell the species apart. A
    slight reddish tinge sometimes shows on the outer bark; the inner
    layer of bark is reddish; the small twigs and the under sides of
    leaves are clothed with hairs which sometimes suggest redness; and
    the heartwood is reddish-brown. Persons who speak of the tree as red
    ash probably have one or more of those characteristics in mind. As a
    tree it has no striking peculiarities. Its usual height is forty or
    sixty feet; its diameter from fifteen to twenty inches; its compound
    leaves ten or twelve inches long, with seven or nine leaflets; its
    seeds one or two inches in length, narrow, and sharply pointed, with
    slender, graceful wing.

    The range of red ash is from New Brunswick to Dakota, and from
    Florida to Alabama, with all of the included region of a million
    square miles. It attains its best development in the north Atlantic
    states, while it is usually inferior west of the Alleghany
    mountains. It develops a broad crown in open ground, but even there
    its lower limbs die and drop, while in forests the trunk grows tall
    and the crown is reduced. It is planted for shade and ornament, but
    it seems to have no superiority over white ash for that purpose.
    Some of the Michigan manufacturers list red ash separately in their
    factories, and apparently this is not done elsewhere in the country.
    About three-quarters of a million feet a year are used in that
    state, and since uses there are doubtless typical of uses in the
    country generally, the list possesses importance: Automobile frames,
    boxes, butter tubs, crates, eveners, flooring, furniture, interior
    finish, neck yokes, singletrees, wagon poles. Farther east in early
    times red ash was occasionally split for fence rails, but that use
    is important now only as history.

    PUMPKIN ASH (_Fraxinus profunda_) is a tree of peculiar interest. It
    was unknown before 1893, though the region had been settled over a
    hundred years. It has the largest leaves, largest fruit, and largest
    swelled base of all American ashes. Notwithstanding that, it
    remained so deeply hidden in swamps that it escaped discovery. The
    botanical name refers to the deep swamps in which the tree chooses
    its habitation. Its great, swelled base enables it to stand on the
    soft mud of lagoon bottoms, and the abnormal swelling is ribbed like
    a pumpkin, hence the only English name the tree has ever had. These
    are not the only remarkable things connected with this ash. Its
    range includes three or four deep swamps, far apart. One is in
    southern Missouri, New Madrid country, another near Varney,
    Arkansas, and a third, in a vast morass on the Apalachicola river,
    Florida. It is believed to have been originally a Florida species,
    and by some freak of nature it reached the Missouri and Arkansas
    swamps. Certain other Florida plants accompanied it, one of which
    was corkwood (_Leitneria floridana_). It is expected that pumpkin
    ash will be found elsewhere in deep swamps intermediate between the
    extremes of its range. The uses of this wood are few, because it is
    scarce, and the trees are difficult of access on account of being
    nearly always surrounded by water. Lumbermen who operate in swamps
    occasionally bring out a few ash logs with cypress and tupelo. No
    tests seem to have been made of the wood. Trees are sometimes 120
    feet high and three in diameter above the swelled bases.

    WATER ASH (_Fraxinus caroliniana_) is much lighter in weight than
    any other American ash, and the wood is also lighter in color. It is
    weaker and less elastic than any other, and is lower in fuel value.
    It weighs less than white pine. It grows in deep swamps from
    southern Virginia to Florida and westward in swamps to Texas. Some
    have confused it with pumpkin ash, but the two are quite distinct.
    This tree is also called poppy ash. The leaves are from seven to
    twelve inches long, with five or seven leaflets which are much
    blunter than most other ash leaves. The seeds are nearly in the
    center of the broad, long wing, and are better flyers than most ash
    seeds. The tree seldom exceeds forty feet in height, or twelve
    inches in diameter. It is not known that the wood is ever used. Its
    scarcity will keep it from becoming important, though its uncommon
    lightness may lead to its employment for certain purposes.

    BILTMORE ASH (_Fraxinus biltmoreana_) is named from Biltmore, N. C.,
    where the tree attains its best development, a height of forty or
    fifty feet and a foot or less in diameter. Its range extends from
    northern West Virginia southward along the foothills of the
    Appalachian mountains to Georgia, Alabama, and middle Tennessee. The
    seed wings are slender, and only slightly narrowed at the end. The
    leaf is ten or twelve inches long, with seven or nine leaflets. The
    twigs of young trees are hairy. An occasional log doubtless goes to
    sawmills, but no report has been made of uses of the wood.

    FLORIDA ASH (_Fraxinus floridana_) is a deep swamp tree, thirty or
    forty feet high, and a few inches in diameter. It is found in the
    valley of St. Mary’s river, southern Georgia, and along the lower
    Apalachicola river, Florida. The compound leaves are five or more
    inches long with three or five leaflets. The seeds are small but
    their wings are wide and long. No report has been made concerning
    the quality of the wood, nor has it been used, as far as known. The
    supply is very small.



[Illustration: SUGAR MAPLE]


(_Acer Saccharum_)

The makers of sugar in the North call this tree sugar maple, but
lumbermen and users of wood nearly always speak of it as hard maple. All
maples--and there are nearly a dozen--are tolerably hard, and sugar may
be obtained from most of them; but this species is hardest of all, and
the most prolific sugar maker, hence the two names are appropriate. It
is often called rock maple, which name refers to its hard wood. In some
regions the name most heard is sugar tree.

Its range extends from Newfoundland through Canada to Lake of the Woods,
southward through Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, and Arkansas to Texas. It is
found in every state east of the Mississippi, but it is not abundant in
the South. Its best development is found from New England across the
northern states to Michigan. Some very fine sugar maple is found in
fertile valleys and on slopes among the Appalachian ranges from
Pennsylvania southward. The largest lumber cut of maple is in the
following states, ranging in the order given: Michigan, Wisconsin,
Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York, Ohio, Indiana, and Vermont. Since
the different species of maple are not reported separately in
statistics, there is no way of determining how much each of the maples
supplies. It is well known that sugar maple greatly exceeds all others.

At its best this tree may exceed a height of 100 feet and a diameter of
three; but the average for mature timber in the best part of its range
is sixty or eighty feet in height, and two in diameter. The flowers
appear with the leaves in early spring, but the seeds do not ripen until
autumn, when they are bright red. They are winged, and usually two grow
together, but they sometimes become detached, in which case each is
capable of flight with its single wing. It is characteristic of maple
seeds to whirl rapidly while falling, and if a moderate wind is blowing,
they glide considerable distances. They usually fly farther than the
seeds of ash although their wings are no larger. The immense numbers of
seeds borne by the sugar maple insure abundant reproduction in the
vicinity of parent trees. The seeds sprout readily, but often so closely
crowded together that most of them die the first few weeks. Not one in
ten thousand can even become a large tree, and yet large trees are
exceedingly abundant in extensive regions. They often form nearly pure
stands, crowding to death all rivals that try to obtain a foothold. On
the other hand, this maple often contents itself with a place among
other forest trees.

It is one of the most vigorous and dependable of trees. It does not grow
fast, but it keeps steadily at it a long time, and enjoys unusually good
health. Its worst enemy is coal smoke, but fortunately, most sugar maple
forests are out of reach of that disturber, though shade trees near
factory towns and in the vicinity of coke ovens often suffer. Woodlots
of sugar maple, occupying corners of farms in the northern states from
Minnesota to Maine, present pictures of health, vigor, cleanliness, and
beauty which no forest tree surpasses. The intense green and the density
of the crowns in summer make the trees conspicuous in any landscape
where they occur, while their brilliant colors in autumn are the chief
glory of the forest where they abound.

The wood of this tree is hard, strong, and dense. It is three pounds
lighter per cubic foot than white oak, and theoretically it rates a
little lower in fuel value, but those who use both woods as fuel
consider maple worth more. It is thirty per cent stronger than white
oak, and fifty-three per cent stiffer. The wood is diffuse-porous, that
is, the pores are not arranged in bands or rows, as they usually are in
oaks, but are scattered in all parts. They are too small to be seen with
the naked eye, but under a magnifying glass they are visible in large
numbers. The yearly ring is not very distinct, because of the slight
contrast between spring and summerwood. The medullary rays are numerous
but small. In wood sawed along radial lines, from heart to sap, small
silvery flecks are numerous. These are the medullary rays. They add
something to the appearance of quarter-sawed maple, but not enough to
induce mills to turn out much of it.

Such figures as maple has are brought out best in tangential
sawing--that is, cut like a slab off the side of the log. Three distinct
figures are recognized in sugar maple, and to some extent they belong to
other maples. These forms of wood are known as birdseye, curly, and
blister maple. They are accidental forms and exist in certain trees
only. Students of wood structure are not wholly agreed as to the cause
of these forms, but one of them, the birdseye effect, is believed to be
due to adventitious buds which distort the wood in their vicinity. These
buds start near the center of the tree when it is small, but never
succeed in forcing their way out. They remain just beneath the bark
during most or the whole of the tree’s life. A pin-like core, resembling
a fine thread, connects the birdseye with the tree’s pith. This thread
is the pith of the embryonic branch formed by the bud which never breaks
through the bark. When the wood is sawed tangentially, small, dark-brown
points or dots show the center of the buds, or the pith line connecting
it with the tree’s center. Curly maple and blister maple are not
believed to be formed in the same way as birdseye.

The uses of sugar maple are nearly universal, where a hard, white wood
is wanted. Many large trees contain little colored heart, and trees are
generally fifty years old before they have any. More maple is worked
into flooring than into any other one commodity. Mills in Michigan
alone, in 1910, made 185,611,662 feet of maple flooring. It was shipped
to practically every civilized country in the world. Many builders
consider it the best wooden floor that can be laid. In a test made in a
large store in Philadelphia some years ago, a marble floor wore through
sooner than maple, when the same wear was on both.

Nearly all kinds and classes of furniture have places for maple, either
as outside material or inside frames, drawer bottoms, or partitions.
Vehicle manufacturers employ it for heavy axles, running gear, parts of
automobiles, sleigh runners and frames, and hand sleds. It is made into
handles from gimlet sizes to cant hooks. Gymnasium apparatus owes much
to the whiteness, smoothness, and strength of maple. Woodenware from
toothpicks to ironing boards; from butcher blocks to butter molds; from
door knobs to die blocks, is dependent on maple for some of its best
material. It is largely used for boxes, in both solid and veneer form.
Only two woods are now employed in larger amounts for veneers in the
United States than maple. They are red gum and yellow pine.

Maple is one of the three woods most largely employed in hardwood
distillation in this country; beech and birch are the others. Maple
sugar is a product of this tree almost exclusively, and the business is
large. In some parts of New England it is claimed that a grove is worth
more for sugar than the land is worth for agriculture.

    SILVER MAPLE (_Acer saccharinum_) is generally called soft maple by
    lumbermen. It is known also as white maple, river maple,
    silver-leaved maple, swamp maple, and water maple. The sinuses of
    the leaves are very deep. The lighter color of its bark and the pale
    green of the leaves distinguish soft maple at a glance from sugar
    maple when both are in full leaf. The greenish-yellow flowers open
    in early spring, and the seeds are ripe in April or May, depending
    on the season and region. The seeds have large wings and fly well.
    They germinate in a few days after they find suitable soil, and
    before the end of the summer the seedlings have grown several
    leaves. The vigor thus displayed continues until the tree is large.
    It is a fast grower, and for that reason has been extensively
    planted as a street and park tree. The wisdom of doing so is
    doubtful, for this maple throws out long limbs which are often
    broken by wind. The trunk is subject to disease, and a row of old
    soft maples nearly always presents a ragged, unkempt, neglected
    appearance. As to beauty of form and crown, there is little
    comparison between it and the planted sugar maple. Soft maples in
    forests range from seventy-five to 120 feet in height, and two to
    four in diameter; that is, they attain about the same size as sugar
    maples. The species covers a million square miles, practically the
    whole country east of the Mississippi, some west of that river, and
    most of eastern Canada.

    It is a useful wood for many purposes. The custom of mixing this
    with sugar maple makes it impossible to clearly separate the two
    woods afterwards. It is the opinion of some well-informed
    manufacturers that about five per cent of the total maple cut in the
    United States is soft maple. The ratio is less in the North and more
    in the South. The wood is hard, strong, rather brittle, easily
    worked, pale brown with thick, white sapwood. Some rather large
    trunks have no sapwood. It is in general use, but not for as many
    purposes as sugar maple. The largest places found for it are as
    flooring and woodenware, though furniture and boxes, particularly
    veneer boxes, consume much. Its weight is three-fourths that of
    sugar maple. The largest trees and the best wood grow in the lower
    Ohio valley.



[Illustration: RED MAPLE]


(_Acer Rubrum_)

This tree’s names describe it. Some refer to color of leaves, flowers,
and fruit, others to situation where it grows best. It is known as red
maple and swamp maple; also as water maple, white maple, scarlet maple,
and shoepeg maple. New York Indians called it ah-we-hot-kwah, which
meant red flower. Most trees looked alike to Indians, and when they gave
a name, it was descriptive.

The redness of this maple is so marked that it cannot escape notice. The
flowers, fruit, twigs, and leaves all possess the property at one time
or another during the season. The flower comes before the leaf, during
the first warm days of spring. That is pretty early in the South, and
later in the North. The flowers are bright scarlet, and very
conspicuous, growing in umbel-like, drooping clusters. The staminate and
pistillate ones frequently grow on different trees, and always in
separate clusters.

The fruit ripens quickly, and is sometimes almost mature before the
leaves appear. The date of ripening depends upon latitude. The tree’s
range north and south exceeds a thousand miles and that makes much
difference in climate. In the South the fruit outstrips the leaves and
has about reached maturity before the unfolding leaves are large enough
to hide it; but in New England and New York the leaves are large before
the fruit is mature. The seed is the characteristic maple key, with a
wing to carry it. The fruit--and by that term the seed with its attached
wing is meant--is bright red, and a tree loaded with the vivid clusters
is a beautiful spectacle. Two seeds are generally fast together, and
they make surprising flights in that condition, passing with whirling
motion through the air. Gravity spins them, but wind carries them
forward, and the random of their flight depends on the strength of the
wind, which happens to be blowing when they sever their connection with
the tree.

The seeds germinate quickly when they light on damp soil. If they do not
find such situations, they soon perish; because they do not retain their
vitality long. By the middle of summer the young trees have several
leaves, and from that time on the struggle is mainly among themselves
for space and moisture, because they stand so thick that it is a
survival of the fittest.

The young twigs are generally red in spring, but they do not present as
conspicuous a mass as the flowers and fruit do. The leaves are simple,
with long reddish petioles. They have three or five lobes, the lower
pair often entirely missing, and small if present. Each lobe has a
pointed apex, and is irregularly serrate. The base of the leaf is
rounded; also the sinuses, which extend far into the body of the leaf.
The upper surface of the leaf is bright green, the lower a
silvery-white. In the fall this tree is entitled to the name scarlet;
for then the brilliant hues of the leaves are remarkably fine.

The range of red maple covers more than a million square miles, and
touches every state east of the Mississippi river, and west of that
stream it extends from South Dakota to Texas. It prefers rather swampy
ground, but wants fertile soil. It is frequently found on the banks of
creeks and rivers, and rarely on hillsides. It is most abundant in the
South, particularly in the lower Mississippi valley, while trees of
larger size are found in the valley of the lower Ohio. In the North it
takes more to low wet swamps where it sometimes grows in such thickets
as almost to exclude other species.

The best red maple trees attain a height of 100 feet or more, and a
diameter of four feet or less. The average size is seventy feet high and
two in diameter. The form of the tree, like that of all other maples,
depends much upon the situation in which it grows. Good saw timber is
not often cut from this species near the outer borders of its range.

The wood is about three-fourths as strong as hard maple, and is five
pounds lighter per cubic foot, but is about six pounds heavier than soft
or silver maple. It may, therefore, be considered that in some important
points red maple is midway between hard and soft maple. In color it is
light brown, slightly tinged with red. The sapwood is thick and lighter
in color than the heart. The tree is usually not of rapid growth. The
contrast between the springwood and summerwood is not strong. The wood
is very porous, but the pores are so small that the unaided eye cannot
discern them. The medullary rays are numerous, but thin, and are seldom
considered in working the lumber.

Mills which saw this maple do not separate the lumber from other maples.
The woodsman knows the difference, but the lumberman does not consider
it worth while to pile the sawed stock separately. It sometimes goes to
market as hard maple, sometimes as soft, but never under its own name.
Consequently, it has no uses which are not also common to other maples.
Lumbermen cut it when they find it mixed with other hardwoods where they
are carrying on logging operations.

Red maple is made into flooring, interior finish, and veneer box
material. Veneers are also made for furniture. These are the most
important uses for the wood, but the manufacturers of woodenware employ
it for numerous commodities, such as trays, bowls, ironing boards, grain
scoops, snow shovels, clothes racks, garment hangers, and clothes pins.
This species shows birdseye effect similar to that of sugar maple, but
less of the stock goes to market. Logs with birdseye wood are generally
reduced to veneer by the rotary process. Curly and wavy grains also
occur in this maple. The wavy grain was much sought after by the early
hunters who equipped their long rifles with stocks. Having found a piece
of timber with the desired wavy grain, the hunter proceeded to shave and
whittle until the stock was fitted to the barrel, and the gun was
complete. Some of the stocks made with no tools but an ax, drawing
knife, and a pocket knife, were works of art which are worthy of
preservation in museums.

Occasionally some unknown rural Stradivari made a violin and selected
the curly wood of red maple for the neck and sides. A few of these
instruments are floating about the country, but an age of fifty or a
hundred years has not yet imparted classic value to them, but the wood
is unsurpassed in delicacy of grain and figure.

Sugar may be manufactured from red maple, but in smaller quantity than
from sugar maple. In the days when every frontier settlement did its own
manufacturing, inks and dyes were made from the bark of this tree. The
tannin boiled from the bark was treated with sulphate of iron, and it
became ink; when alum was added it became black dye; when the sulphate
of iron was omitted, and alum alone was put in, a cinnamon-colored dye

Red maple is one of the most desirable trees for planting in parks and
by roadsides. Nurserymen complain that seedlings are more difficult to
manage than silver maples; nor do they grow as rapidly, but the trees
are worth much more when once established. They have shorter and
stronger branches than silver maple; are less liable to be attacked by
disease; are more handsome in every way; but they demand damper soil,
and succeed poorly in any other. That drawback tends to restrict the
artificial planting of this tree.

    MOUNTAIN MAPLE (_Acer spicatum_) is known also as moose maple, low
    maple, and water maple. It is a small tree at its best, seldom more
    than twenty-five feet high and eight inches in diameter, while in
    most parts of its range it is only a shrub. Its best growth is on
    mountain slopes of eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina. It
    likes moist, rich hillsides, and does not object to shade. The
    flowers come late, but within a month or six weeks after the bloom
    appears, the fruit is full grown, but it remains on the tree till
    autumn. The tree’s bark is smooth and very thin. The absence of
    stripes distinguishes this tree from striped maple, which has nearly
    the same range. Mountain maple grows from Maine to Minnesota,
    southward to Michigan, and along the mountains to Georgia. The wood
    is light, soft, brown tinged with red. The small size of the trunk
    forbids its conversion into ordinary lumber. The only commercial use
    reported for it is in Pennsylvania where it is cut along with other
    hardwoods for destructive distillation.

    FLORIDA MAPLE (_Acer floridanum_) is a species according to some,
    and according to others is a variety of the hard maple. Its range is
    limited, and the available quantity of the wood is small. It is
    found in the swamps of southern Georgia and western Florida, and
    westward to Texas, Louisiana, and southern Arkansas. Near the
    southwestern limits of its range in Texas and Mexico, it is often a
    shrub; but in the best part of its range it becomes a tree fifty or
    sixty feet high and two or three in diameter. The wood passes for
    hard maple when sawed into lumber, but it is not often sent to
    sawmills. The makers of bent wood rustic furniture in some of the
    southern towns, particularly in Louisiana, have found the slender
    branches of Florida maple well suited to that purpose.

    DRUMMOND MAPLE (_Acer rubrum drummondii_) is a variety of red maple,
    not a separate species. Its range lies in the coastal plain of
    Alabama and Georgia, western Louisiana, eastern Texas, southwestern
    Tennessee, and southern Arkansas. It grows in deep swamps, and has
    three-lobed leaves, and large-winged fruit, ripening in April and
    May. The wood is too scarce to be important in the lumber trade, but
    where it can be had it is used. Violin makers have procured some
    finely curled wood of this maple in Union Parish, Louisiana. Some of
    the wood from that district has been made into gunstocks also.

    WHITEBARK MAPLE (_Acer leucoderme_) has been classed as a variety of
    sugar maple, and also as a separate species. It is named from the
    light gray color of the bark of young stems; but the color turns
    dark with age. The tree is usually twenty or thirty feet high with a
    diameter of a foot or more. The wood is of good quality, but no
    uses, except fuel, have been reported. Trees are not abundant, but
    the range covers parts of North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia,
    Alabama, Louisiana, and Arkansas. It is occasionally planted as a
    shade tree along the streets of towns of Georgia and Alabama.



[Illustration: OREGON MAPLE]


(_Acer Macrophyllum_)

Botanists prefer to call this tree broadleaf maple. The name is not
inappropriate, as its extraordinarily broad leaves constitute the most
striking feature of the tree where it stands in the woods. The leaf is
usually wider than it is long. Some exceed a foot in both measurements.
Bigleaf maple is not an uncommon name for the tree in Oregon, where it
attains its highest development in damp valleys where the soil is good.
The name white maple is not particularly descriptive of any feature of
the tree, though the name is applied in both Oregon and Washington. In
California it is known simply as maple. There is small likelihood in
that region that it will be confused with any other member of the maple
household; nor is there much danger of such a thing in any part of the
Pacific coast, for, though four species of maple occur there, no one of
them bears close enough resemblance to this one to be mistaken for it.

The Oregon maple’s range north and south covers twenty degrees of
latitude. In that particular it is not much surpassed, if surpassed at
all, by any maple of this country. Its northern limit lies in Alaska,
its southern close to the Mexican boundary, in San Diego county,
California. Its range east and west is restricted. It has a width of
about one hundred and fifty miles in California, where it grows from the
coast to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. An altitude of
5,600 feet appears to be the limit of its range upward. It attains
altitudes above 5,000 feet at several points in the Sierra Nevada range.
It descends nearly to sea level. Its geographical range is similar to
the ranges of several other Pacific coast species which occupy long
ribbons of territory stretching north and south parallel with the coast
of the Pacific ocean.

This maple’s leaves change to a clear reddish-yellow before falling.
Flowers appear after the leaves are grown, and the seeds ripen late in
autumn. Some of them hang until late in winter, but the habit varies in
different parts of the range, as is natural in view of its great
extension north and south. The trees which stand in open ground are very
abundant seeders, but those in dense stands produce sparingly, in that
particular following the habit of most trees. This maple often grows in
dense, nearly pure stands in Oregon and Washington where soil and other
conditions are favorable.

The sizes and forms of Oregon maple vary greatly. John Muir spoke of
forests whose trees were eighty or one hundred feet high, so dense with
leaves and so abundantly supplied with branches that moss and ferns
formed a canopy with foliage and limbs high over head, like an aerial
garden; while George B. Sudworth described it in certain situations as a
short-stemmed, crooked tree from twenty-five to thirty feet high and
under a foot in diameter.

This maple has been called the most valuable hardwood of the Pacific
coast, but that claim is made also for other trees. Some persons rate it
with the hard maple of the East, in properties which commend it for use.
It is doubtful if the claim can be substantiated. According to Sargent’s
figures for strength, stiffness, weight, and fuel value, it lacks much
of equalling the eastern tree. It is twelve pounds per cubic foot
lighter; has not three-fourths the fuel value; and is little more than
half as strong or as stiff. The comparison is more in favor of the
western tree when color of wood and appearance of grain are considered.
The wood is light brown with pale tint of red. The rings of annual
growth are tolerably distinct, with a thin, dark line separating the
summerwood of one year from the springwood of the next. The pores are
scattered with fair evenness in all parts of the ring. They are small
and numerous. The medullary rays are thin and abundant. In quarter-sawed
wood they show much the same as in hard maple, but are rather darker in
color. The mirrors are decidedly tinged with brown. The wood is reported
poor in resisting decay when in contact with the soil.

The largest use of Oregon maple appears to be for furniture, second, for
interior finish, and following these are numerous miscellaneous uses.
Statistics of the cut of this wood, as shown by sawmill reports, are
unsatisfactory. Census returns include it with all other maples of the
country, without figures for species. The cut of maple for all the
western states seems too small to give this wood justice. The amount
reported used in Washington, Oregon, and California exceeds the total
reported sawmill cut in the West.

Oregon maple is an important handlewood. The smooth grain appeals to
broom makers. The wood is made into ax handles, but for that use it is
much below hickory, or even hard maple or white oak. It is converted
into pulleys in Washington, also into saddle trees, and tent toggles.
Boat makers employ it for finish material, in which capacity it fills
the same place, and must meet the same requirements as in interior
finish for houses. Curly or wavy wood is occasionally found and this is
worked into finish and also into furniture. The figure is as handsome as
in eastern maple, but birdseye is less frequent. Counter tops for stores
and bar tops for saloons are sometimes made of figured maple. It is seen
also in grill work and show cases, but in order to show the figured wood
to the best advantage it should be worked in flat surfaces.

Oregon maple is converted into flooring of the ordinary tongued and
grooved kind, and also into parquet flooring. Rotary veneers are made
into boxes and baskets. Solid logs are turned for rollers of various
sizes and kinds. Mill yards use them for offbearing lumber, and house
movers find them about the best local material to be had. This maple has
been successfully stained in imitation of mahogany, and is said to pass
satisfactory tests where the color is the principal consideration.

The amount of this species available in the Northwest is not definitely
known, but it is a relatively scarce wood. No attention has ever been
given to planting it as a commercial proposition. It is not of very
rapid growth, and unless it is in dense stands, it develops a short
trunk and large crown. It is better suited for shade and ornament, and
is to be seen as a street tree in some western towns. It does not
flourish in the eastern states, but has found the climate of western
Europe more congenial and is occasionally found as an ornamental tree

The relative importance of this maple in the state of Washington is
indicated by the amount used annually compared with certain other
hardwoods. In 1911 the consumption of willow was 2,000 feet, vine maple
10,000, Oregon ash 58,000, Oregon oak 197,000, western birch 315,000,
Oregon maple 932,500, red alder 1,881,500, and black cottonwood

VINE MAPLE (_Acer circinatum_) is sometimes called mountain maple,
though the name is misleading. It may grow among mountains, but always
near streams. It is found at various altitudes from near sea level to
5,000 feet above. It ranges from the coast region of British Columbia
southward through Washington and Oregon to Mendocino county, California.
This tree is more useful than might be inferred from its name, or even
from a study of it in its usual form. Only an occasional tree is good
for the wood user. A height of twenty feet and a diameter of six inches
are above the average. It is called vine maple because of its habit of
sprawling on the ground like a vine. The trunk lacks sufficient
stiffness to hold it erect. It grows upward to a certain point, then
leans over and the branches lie on the ground. Some of them take root
and in course of time what was first a single stem becomes a thicket of
branches and stems. The winter snow often has much to do with bending
the trunk, which appears to have no power to get back to the
perpendicular when once bowed down. The damp situation where this tree
thrives best, induces a luxuriant growth of moss and mold which help to
bury the branches that lie on the ground.

The tree prospers in deep shade. The young leaves are rose red, and in
the fall become yellow or scarlet. The fruit is the characteristic maple
key. The wing becomes rose-red before falling in autumn. Though this
tree is more a curiosity than a lumberman’s asset, it is not without
value. Handle makers use 10,000 feet of it a year in the state of
Washington. It is shaved and turned for ax and shovel handles. It has
two-thirds the strength and less than half the stiffness of eastern hard
maple. The tree grows slowly and the annual rings are very narrow and
indistinct. Seventy or eighty years are required to produce a trunk five
inches in diameter. The wood is hard, and checks badly in seasoning. The
bark is very pale brown--suggesting the color of a potato sprout that
has grown in a dark cellar. The Indians liked the wood for fish net
bows, though there appears to have been no very good reason why they
preferred it to other woods of the region. Its most extensive use at
present is as fuel, but it is not particularly sought after. The tree’s
future is not promising. Under domestication it does not take on its
fantastic, moldy, moss-grown form, and its forest growth will never be
encouraged by lumbermen.

DWARF MAPLE (_Acer glabrum_) is one of the smallest of the maples, but
in a north and south direction its range is equal to that of any other.
Its southern limit is among the canyons of Arizona, and its northern on
the coast of Alaska within six or seven degrees of the Arctic circle. It
extends to Nebraska, and is found east of the continental divide far
north in British America. It reaches its largest size on Vancouver
island and on the Blue mountains in Oregon. It here is large enough to
make small sawlogs, but it is usually shrubby in other parts of its
range. It grows from sea level in Alaska to 9,000 feet altitude among
the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. Two forms of leaf occur. One
is three-lobed; the other is a compound leaf, the lobes having formed
separate leaves. The bright upper surface of the leaf gives the species
its botanical name. The seeds have large, wide wings. It cannot be
ascertained that the wood of this maple has ever been used for anything.



[Illustration: BOX ELDER]


(_Acer Negundo_)

Attempts to ascertain the meaning of the word _negundo_ which botanists
apply to this species have not been crowned with entire success. It is
known to be a word in the Malayalam language of the Malabar coast of
India, and is there applied to a tree, apparently referring to a
peculiar form of leaf. The name was transferred to the box elder by
Moench, and has been generally adopted by botanists, although at least
seven other scientific names have been given the tree. It bears ten or
more English names in different regions. Among these names are
ash-leaved maple, known from Massachusetts to Montana and Texas;
cut-leaved maple in Colorado; three-leaved maple in Pennsylvania; black
ash in Tennessee; stinking ash in South Carolina; sugar ash in Florida;
water ash in the Dakotas; and box elder wherever it grows.

The tree’s geographical range does not fall much short of 3,000,000
square miles, and is equalled by few species of this country. It extends
from New England across Canada to Alberta, thence to Arizona, and
includes practically all the United States east and south of those
lines. It thrives in hot and cold climates, and high and low elevations;
in regions of much rain, and in those with little. That fact has been
turned to account by tree planters, particularly in the years when the
western plains were being settled by homesteaders. The box elder was the
chief tree on many a timber claim where the letter of the law rather
than the spirit was carried out. It afforded the earliest protection
against scorching summer sun and the keen winds of winter about many a
frontiersman’s cabin on the plains. It was the earliest street tree in
many western towns. The people planted it because they knew it would
grow, and they were not so sure of a good many other trees. Green ash
was often its companion in pioneer plantings on the plains. Many towns
which set box elders along the streets when they did not know of
anything better, still have the trees, though they would willingly
exchange them for something else. They are not ideal street and park
trees; do not produce shapely trunks and crowns; and drop leaves all
summer and seeds all winter. The tree is reputed to be short lived, yet
some of those planted a generation or two ago show no symptoms of

There is no good reason why this tree should be called an elder, or an
ash, except that its leaves are compound. If that is a reason, it might
be called a hickory or a walnut, since they bear compound leaves. It is
clearly a maple. Its fruit shows it to be so, and Indians of the far
Northwest who had no other maple, formerly manufactured sugar from this
tree, collecting the sap in wood or bark troughs and boiling it with hot

The compound leaf does not necessarily take it out of the maple group.
It requires no great exercise of imagination to understand how a lobed
leaf, by deepening the sinuses between the lobes, might become a
compound leaf in the process of evolution. There may be no visible
evidence that the box elder’s leaf reached its present form by that
process, but there is another maple which is at the present time
developing a compound leaf in that way, or seems to be doing so. It is
the dwarf maple (_Acer glabrum_) of the Northwest coast. Lobed leaves
and compound leaves may occur on the same tree.

The seeds of box elder resemble those of other maples. They ripen in the
fall, and are blown off by wind, few at a time, during several months.
The trees are from fifty to seventy feet high, and from one and a half
to three feet in diameter. The trunk is apt to divide near the ground in
several large branches, and is not of good form for sawlogs, being often
crooked as well as short. The small branches, particularly those less
than a year old, are usually nearly as green as the leaves. This fact
may assist in identifying the tree when the leaves are off. The bark
bears more resemblance to ash and basswood than to maple.

The wood is lightest of the maples. It weighs less than twenty-seven
pounds to the cubic foot; has less than half the strength and about
forty per cent of the stiffness of sugar maple; and is much inferior to
it in most mechanical properties. It is equal, if not superior to most
maples in whiteness. The pores are small, numerous, and scattered
through all parts of the growth ring, as is characteristic of maple
wood. The tree grows rapidly. The summerwood is a thin, dark line,
separating one annual ring from another. The medullary rays are many and
obscure, but when wood is sawed or split along a radial line, they are
easily seen, and show the true maple luster.

The uses of box elder are similar to those of soft maple. The wood is
seldom reported under its own name. In fact, an examination of
wood-using reports of various states, shows that in only two states,
Michigan and Texas, has box elder been listed separately. Its uses in
the former state were for boxes, crates, flooring, handles, woodenware,
and interior finish, while in Texas it was made into furniture. The tree
is of commercial size in at least thirty states, and is cut and marketed
in all of them. Tests of the wood for pulp are said to be satisfactory,
and it finds its way in rather large amounts to cooper shops where it is
made into slack barrels. It is cut as acid wood along with other maples,
beech, and birch, and is converted into charcoal and other products of

It may be expected that box elder will exist in the United States as
long as any other forest tree remains. It is willing to be crowded off
good land into low places, which are almost swamps, and there it grows
free from disturbance; but if given the opportunity it will appropriate
the most fertile soil within reach of it; and by scattering seeds during
four or five months of the year, it manages to do much effective

    CALIFORNIA BOX ELDER (_Acer negundo californicum_) is a variety of
    box elder, and not a separate species. As the name implies, it is a
    California tree, and it occurs in the valleys and among the Coast
    Range mountains from the lower Sacramento valley to the western
    slopes of the San Bernardino mountains. The tree is from twenty to
    fifty feet high and from ten to thirty inches in diameter. The
    leaves and young twigs are hairy, in that respect differing from the
    eastern box elder. The seeds are scattered during winter. The wood
    is very pale lemon-yellow or creamy-white, the heart and sapwood
    hardly distinguishable. The wood is soft and brittle, but is suited
    to the same purposes as the eastern box elder. No reports of its
    uses appear to have been made. It is found on the borders of streams
    and in the bottoms of moist canyons. It is believed to be a
    short-lived tree.

    STRIPED MAPLE (_Acer pennsylvanicum_) is usually thirty or forty
    feet high, and eight or ten inches in diameter. Its range extends
    from Quebec to northern Georgia, westward to Minnesota, and is of
    largest size on the slopes of Big Smoky mountains of Tennessee, and
    the Blue Ridge in North and South Carolina. It grows best in shade,
    but maintains itself in open ground; is generally shrubby in the
    northern part of its range. The name refers to the bark. The stripes
    are longitudinal and are caused by the parting of the outer bark and
    the exposure to view of the lighter colored inner layers. The bark
    of small trees is greenish, but later in life the color is darker,
    and the stripes largely disappear. Among its names are moosewood, so
    called because it is good browse for moose and other deer; goosefoot
    maple, a reference to the form of the leaf; whistlewood, an allusion
    to the ease with which the bark slips from young branches in spring
    when boys with jack-knives are on the search for whistle material.
    The names mountain alder and striped dogwood are based on
    misunderstanding of the tree’s family relations.

    The young leaves are rose colored when they unfold, and when full
    grown are six inches wide. The wood is light and soft, and light
    brown in color, the thick sapwood lighter. The wood is liable to
    contain small brown pith flecks, which in longitudinal sections
    appear as brown streaks an inch or less in length and as thick as a
    pin, and in cross section they are brown dots. They are not natural
    to the wood but are caused by the larvæ of certain moths which
    burrow into the cambium layer, or soft inner bark, and excavate
    narrow galleries up and down the trunk. The galleries afterwards
    fill with dark material. The insects sometimes attack other maples,
    the birches, service, and other trees. The wood of striped maple is
    little used, because of the small size of the trees. The species is
    planted for ornament in this country and Europe.

    BLACK MAPLE (_Acer nigrum_) has been by some considered a variety of
    sugar or hard maple, and by others a separate species. It is as
    large as the sugar maple and its range is much the same, but it is
    more abundant in the western part of its range than in the East. The
    name refers to the color of the bark of old trunks. If the name had
    considered the bark of young twigs it would have been yellow or
    orange maple, because the twigs are of that color. In summer the
    peculiar drooping posture of the leaves calls attention to this
    tree. However, the bark, twigs, and leaves combined are not
    sufficient to set it apart, in the eyes of most people, for it
    generally passes without question as sugar maple, even when it
    stands side by side with that tree. It yields sugar abundantly. The
    wood is a little heavier than that of sugar maple, but the
    difference cannot be noticed except when the two woods are weighed.
    Their uses are the same. No maker of furniture, flooring, or finish
    ever protests against black maple. The tree generally prefers lower
    and damper ground than sugar maple, and is often found along



[Illustration: SERVICEBERRY]


(_Amelanchier Canadensis_)

This tree will never be other than a minor species in the United States,
but it is not a worthless member of the forest. It belongs to the rose
family, and therefore is near akin to the haws, thorns, and crabapples.
The genus is found in Europe, Asia, and Africa, as well as in the United
States. Two tree species occur in this country, or, according to some
botanists, three, one west of the Rocky Mountains, two east.

The serviceberry has a number of names: June berry, service-tree, May
cherry, Indian cherry, wild Indian pear, currant tree, shadberry,
savice, and sarvice. The northern limit of its range is in Newfoundland,
the southern in Florida. It grows westward to Minnesota and Arkansas;
but it is not plentiful except in certain restricted localities. It is
most abundant among the ranges of the Appalachian mountains, and of its
largest size toward the south. It is dispersed through forests
generally, a tree or bush here and there; but it prefers the borders of
forests, the brinks of cliffs, banks of streams, or some other open
space where light is abundant. It prospers most in rich soil but does
fairly well in ground thin and dry.

The bloom, where it occurs, is a conspicuous feature of the landscape,
though generally a tree on ten or twenty acres represents the density of
its stand. The white, showy bloom comes early in spring, when most trees
are yet bare of leaves. Occasionally, however, the serviceberry is more
abundant, and the rows and clumps of blooming trees along creek banks or
about the margins of glades or other openings in the forests, look like
distant snowdrifts.

The fruit is a berry a half inch or less in diameter, bright red when
fully grown in early summer, and changing to purple when ripe. The seeds
are brown and very small, and each berry contains from five to ten. When
circumstances are favorable, the tree is a prolific bearer, the slender
branches bending beneath the weight. The tree need not reach any
particular size before beginning to bear. On some of the severely burned
summits of the Alleghany mountains in West Virginia, 4,000 feet or more
above sea level, this tree, when only two or three feet high, bears
abundantly. Such trees are probably sprouts from roots of older trunks
destroyed by fire. At its best, it reaches a height of forty or fifty
feet and a diameter of one or possibly two feet. Trunks of largest size
occur among the southern Appalachian ranges.

The wood is heavy and very hard and strong. It is liable to check and
warp in seasoning, is satiny, and is susceptible of a good polish.
Medullary rays are very numerous, but obscure; color, dark brown, often
tinged with red. The wood is stronger, stiffer and heavier than white
oak. It possesses most of the properties to make it a wood of great
value, but its scarcity, and the usual small size of the trees, relegate
it to the class of minor woods. Some use is made of it in turnery and
for other small articles. It is frequently planted in gardens for its
bloom and berries. In such situations it lacks some of the charm which
it holds as part and parcel of the wildwoods where its early spring
bloom is thrown against a background of leafless branches.

WESTERN SERVICEBERRY (_Amelanchier alnifolia_) is also called
pigeonberry and sarvice. Its botanical name refers to the resemblance of
its leaves to those of alder. Its range covers a million square miles,
and the species reaches its best development on islands and rich bottom
lands of the lower Columbia river. It is found as far south as
California, north to Yukon territory, east to Lake Superior and northern
Michigan. It is nowhere a tree of attractive size, and is usually a
shrub about ten feet tall and one inch thick. Trees are sometimes thirty
feet high and six or eight inches in diameter. The fruit is blue-black
and sweet, and pleasant to the taste if not overripe. Indians in the
northern and western range of this tree gather the berries industriously
while they last, and many of the white settlers do likewise. The birds
flock to the thickets for their share, and though the berries are small,
the bears in the region consider them worthy of prompt and continued
attention. The berries are generally a little more than half an inch in
diameter, and ripen in July or August, depending on latitude. Cattle,
sheep, goats, and deer find this small tree or bush a source of food.
They do not object to eating the berries when obtainable, but their
principal attack is on the leaves and tender shoots which afford
excellent browse. Fortunately, the serviceberry is so tenacious of life
that it is next to impossible to browse it to death. If eaten down to
the ground, with little left but bare and barked trunks sticking up like
bean poles, the roots will throw up sprouts year after year, making the
service thicket a permanent browse-pasture. Fire is not able to destroy
such a thicket, for, when the tops are burned off, the sprouts will
quickly spring up with vigor unimpaired. As a source of food for
insects, birds, beasts, and men, few trees, in proportion to size and
quantity, are the equal of western serviceberry. Flowers, fruit, leaves
and sprouts are all food for something.

LONGLEAF SERVICE TREE (_Amelanchier obovalis_) is by some regarded a
variety rather than a species. It occupies in part the same range as
serviceberry, but runs much farther north, reaching the valley of
Mackenzie river in latitude 65. It is found in North Carolina and
Alabama, but it is only a shrub in the extreme southern part of its
range. The fruit ripens in early summer and is reddish purple. Trees are
seldom more than thirty feet high and eight inches in diameter. A
variety with large fruit is occasionally planted as an ornamental tree.
Unless the crop of serviceberries is unusually plentiful in a locality,
the most of it is eaten by birds which temporarily abandon nearly all
other sources of food and give their undivided attention to the
perishable harvest which must be garnered in at once or it will be lost.

NARROWLEAF CRAB (_Malus angustifolia_) is one of the wild crabapples of
the United States. They are of the genus _Malus_ and the thousands of
varieties of cultivated apples are derived from them, or from other
species found in the old world which are very similar. They belong to
the rose family. The narrowleaf crab is found from Pennsylvania to
Florida and westward to Tennessee and Louisiana. It thrives best in open
spaces in the forest and is often found in glades and along the banks of
streams in the North, while in the South it occurs in depressions in the
pine barrens. The flowers are much like those of apple, very fragrant,
and in color are white, pink, or rose. When in full bloom, the tree is a
beautiful object, and its odor is carried long distances. The fruit is
an apple in all respects except size and taste. It is somewhat
flattened, and is an inch or less across. It is fragrant when fully
ripe, and many a person has been led by appearances to taste, only to
meet disappointment. The flesh is hard and sour, and unfit for food in
its natural state, but by cooking and artificial sweetening, it is made
into preserves. The tree reaches a height of twenty or thirty feet and a
diameter of eight or ten inches. It is smaller than the sweet crab. The
wood is hard, heavy, light brown, tinged with red, with thick yellow
sapwood. It is not put to many uses, but is occasionally made into small
handles, and levers. It has been much used as stock on which to graft
apples. Farmers who wanted orchards formerly dug up small crabapples in
the surrounding woods and fields, planted them in an orchard, and when
securely rooted, the apples of desired kinds were grafted on. If
successful, the apple finally replaced the crab by spreading its own
bark and wood over the entire trunk, until no part of the original stock
remained visible. The sweet crab was also employed as a stock on which
to graft apples.

SWEET CRAB (_Malus coronaria_) is the wild crab of the northeastern
states, although it intrudes on the region to the southwest to a limited
extent. It finds use in ornamental planting in the region of best
growth. It is known as American crab, sweet scented crab, crab apple,
wild crab, crab, American crab apple, and fragrant crab. Its range
extends from the shores of Lake Erie in Canada, south through New York
and Pennsylvania, along the Alleghany mountains to Alabama; west to
Minnesota, eastern Nebraska, Kansas, Louisiana, and eastern Texas. It
needs moist soil for good growth and the best types are found in the
lower Ohio basin. In height this tree rarely exceeds thirty feet and it
is bushy, having short rigid limbs. The leaves are rounded and sharply
toothed, the blossoms generally white and very fragrant; the fruit
small, dry, yellow, tinged with red. The wood is heavy, not strong,
heart light red, sapwood yellow. It is used for tool handles, small
turned articles, and for carving and engraving.

OREGON CRABAPPLE (_Malus rivularis_) grows wild from the Aleutian
Islands, Alaska, southward to central California, and is of largest size
in Washington and Oregon where trees are occasionally forty feet high
and eighteen inches in diameter, but they are generally about ten feet
high and form dense thickets. The fruit is oblong, ripens late in
autumn, is greenish, or reddish, or clear lemon yellow in color, and
rather pleasant to the taste. The tree grows slowly, the wood is hard,
and light reddish-brown in color, and is suitable for tool handles.

IOWA CRAB (_Malus ioensis_) grows from Minnesota to Texas and is the
common crabapple of the Mississippi basin. Large trees are twenty-five
feet high and a foot in diameter. It is believed that this tree crosses
with the common apple, and produces a variety known as the soulard apple
(_Malus soulardi_). Wild apple (_Malus malus_) is a European species
introduced into this country and now running wild.

    MOUNTAIN ASH (_Pyrus americana_) is closely related to the crabs. It
    occurs from Newfoundland to Manitoba, and southward along the
    mountains to North Carolina. Trees have compound leaves, red berries
    the size of small cherries, and reach a height of thirty feet and a
    diameter of a foot or more. There are several forms or varieties,
    among them the small fruit mountain ash (_Pyrus americana
    microcarpa_) of the Alleghany mountains.



[Illustration: RED HAW]


(_Cratægus Coccinea_)

This tree belongs to the rose family, and the genus _Cratægus_ consists
of a large group of small, thorny trees, scattered through many parts of
the world. They are known by their thorns, but comparatively few of them
are known by name to the ordinary observer, and they afford a perpetual
source of study, victory, and bewilderment to the trained botanist. “No
other group of American trees,” says Sudworth, “presents such almost
insurmountable difficulties in point of distinctive characters. It is
impossible, and fortunately unnecessary, for the practical forester to
know them all, and exceedingly difficult even for the specialist.” More
than one hundred species of these thorn trees occur in the United
States, exclusive of shrubs. Their bloom resembles that of apple and
pear trees. Bees and insects swarm round the flowering trees, assisting
in cross fertilization. The various species are aggressive. They force
their way into vacant spaces, and their thorns protect them against
browsing animals. The wood is sappy and heavy, and for most of the
species it is valueless. The growing brambles, however, perform an
important service in forest economy. Seeds of various valuable trees are
blown by wind or carried by birds and mammals into the thickets where
they germinate and get a start under the protecting shelter of the
thorns. Finally the seedlings overtop the brambles, gain the mastery,
shade the thorns to death, and develop valuable forests. The thorn trees
shed their leaves annually. Their seeds are slow to germinate, some not
sprouting until the second year. The fruit is worthless for human
consumption, but some of it has a tart and not unpleasant taste. It is
of many colors and sizes, depending on species.

No attempt is here made to name or to list the species. Such a list
would, for most people, be a dull catalogue of names, and many of them
in Latin because there are no English equivalents. A few representative
species are given. The red haw, though not the most abundant, is widely
distributed, and is probably as well known as any. Its range extends
from Newfoundland westward through southern Canada to the eastern base
of the Rocky Mountains, thence south to Texas and Florida. It covers
one-half of the United States. In the northern part of its range the red
haw is confined to the slopes of low hills and along water courses, but
south in the Appalachian mountains it grows at an elevation of several
thousand feet.

It has various names in different regions. It is called scarlet haw,
red haw, white thorn, scarlet thorn, scarlet-fruited thorn, red thorn,
thorn, thorn bush, thorn apple, and hedge thorn. The fact is worthy of
note that it is well known and is clearly recognized in every region
where it grows, though various names are given it.

The red haw never reaches large size. In rare cases it may attain a
height of thirty feet and a diameter of ten inches, but it is usually
less than half that size. Where it grows in the open it develops a round
crown. The branches are armed with chestnut-brown thorns from an inch to
an inch and a half in length. The bright scarlet color of the fruit
gives name to the tree. It ripens late in September or in October, and
at that time the tree presents a beautiful appearance. The branches
frequently remain laden with fruit after the leaves have fallen.

The wood of red haw is of a high character and but for its scarcity
would have wide commercial use. It is among the heavy woods of this
country. A cubic foot of it, thoroughly seasoned, weighs 53.71 pounds.
The tree is of slow growth and therefore the annual rings are narrow,
and the wood is dense. The evenness and uniformity of the rings of
yearly growth make the wood susceptible of a high polish. The medullary
rays are very obscure in red haw, and for that reason the appearance of
the wood is much the same, irrespective of the direction in which it is
cut. In that respect it is similar to the wood of most members of the
thorn family--usually being too small to be quarter-sawed. However, even
if the trees were large enough, quarter-sawing would bring out little

Red haw is a lathe wood. It is well suited to some other purposes, and
has been used for engraving blocks, small wedges, and rulers, but the
best results come from the lathe. If it is thoroughly seasoned it is not
liable to crack or check, though cut thin in such articles as goblets
and napkin rings. The turner sometimes objects to the wood because of
its hardness and the rapidity with which it dulls tools. This drawback,
however, is compensated for by the smoothness and fine polish which may
be given to the finished article. Red haw checker pieces have been
compared with ebony for wearing quality. In color the ebony is more
handsome, and on that account is generally preferred.

Perhaps the most extensive use of red haw is in the manufacture of
canes. Most of the species of thorn are suitable for that purpose on
account of their weight, strength, and hardness. Red haw is not
specially preferred, but is used with others. As a source of wood
supply, the tree will never be important, but as an adornment to the
landscape it will always be valuable, and at the same time will fill a
minor place in the country’s list of commercial woods.

SUMMER HAW (_Cratægus æstivalis_) is a southern species which
contributes more or less to the food supply of the people within its
range. It is known also as May haw and apple haw. The flowers appear in
February and March, are about one inch in diameter, and flushed with red
toward the apex. The fruit ripens in May, is bright red, very fragrant,
and is from half to three-fourths of an inch in diameter. The flesh is
of a pleasant taste, and is gathered in large quantities by country
people for making preserves and jelly. It is sold in town and city
markets, particularly in New Orleans. The range of this thorn tree is
from South Carolina and Florida, to Texas. It attains a height of twenty
or thirty feet, and a diameter sometimes as great as eighteen inches. It
reaches its largest size in Louisiana and Texas. It grows well on land
which may be submerged several weeks in winter. The wood has not been
reported for any use.

COCKSPUR (_Cratægus crus-galli_) may be taken as the type of more than
twenty species of cockspur thorns growing in this country. Its other
names are red haw, Newcastle thorn, thorn apple, thorn bush, pin thorn,
haw, and hawthorn. It grows southwestward from Canada to Texas, and
extends into Florida. The largest trees are twenty-five feet high and a
foot in diameter. The fruit is dull red, half inch in diameter, ripens
in September and October, and hangs on the branches until late winter.
Hogs eat the fruit when they can get it, and boys utilize the small
apples as bullets for elder pop guns. The thorns are formidable slender
spines from three to eight inches long, strong, and extremely sharp.
They were formerly used as pins to close wool sacks in rural carding
mills. The many species of cockspur thorns are multiplied by numerous
varieties. Fence posts and fuel are cut from the best trunks.

PEAR HAW (_Cratægus tomentosa_) is a representative of at least ten
species. It is called pear haw without any very satisfactory reason,
since the fruit bears little resemblance to pears. It is half an inch in
diameter, dull orange red in color, and sweet to the taste, but it is of
little value as food. The tree has been occasionally planted for
ornament, but never for fruit. The flowers are showy. Trees at their
best are fifteen or twenty feet high and five or six inches in diameter.
They have few thorns and such as they have are small. The tree’s range
extends from New York to Missouri, and along the Appalachian mountains
to northern Georgia, and west to Texas and Arkansas. It is known in
different parts of its range as black thorn, red haw, pear thorn, white
thorn, common thorn, hawthorn, thorn apple, and thorn plum.

HOG HAW (_Cratægus brachyacantha_) is distinguished by its blue fruit.
The name indicates that the fruit is unfit for human food but is eaten
by swine. In some parts of Louisiana the dense thickets produce
considerable quantities of forage for hogs. The range is not extensive,
being confined to Louisiana and eastern Texas where the tree occurs in
low, wet prairies. The largest specimens are forty or fifty feet high
and eighteen inches in diameter. It is one of the largest of the thorns,
and the best trunks are of size to make small, very short sawlogs, but
it does not appear that the wood has ever been manufactured into
commodities of any kind. The tree is occasionally planted for ornament.

BLACK HAW (_Cratægus douglasii_) reaches its best development on the
Pacific coast where trees occur thirty or more feet in height and a foot
and a half in diameter. The principal range is west of the Rocky
Mountains, from British Columbia to northern California, but it extends
eastward to Wyoming, and the tree is found also in northern Michigan.
The fruit is black or very dark purple, is edible, and matures in early
autumn, falling soon after. The heartwood is brownish-red. No use for
the wood has been found on the Pacific coast.

WASHINGTON HAW (_Cratægus cordata_), also known as Washington thorn,
Virginia thorn, heart-leaved thorn, and red haw, grows on banks of
streams from the valley of the upper Potomac river southward through the
Appalachian ranges to northern Georgia, and westward to Missouri and
Arkansas. Flowers are rose-colored, the fruit ripens in the fall and
hangs till late winter. Trees are twenty or thirty feet high, and a foot
or less in diameter. Washington haw is frequently planted in this
country and in Europe.

ENGLISH HAWTHORN (_Cratægus oxyacantha_) was introduced into this
country from Europe and has become naturalized in some of the eastern
states. Thirty or more varieties are distinguished in cultivation. It is
worthy of note that, although the United States has more than 130
species of thorn trees of its own, with varieties so numerous that no
one has yet named or counted all of them, a foreign thorn has been
introduced and added to the number.



[Illustration: MAHOGANY]


(_Swietenia Mahagoni_)

This tree belongs to the family _Meliaceæ_ which has about forty genera,
all of which are confined to the tropic except _Swietenia_ to which
mahogany belongs. This tree has made its way up from southern latitudes
and has secured a foothold in Florida where it is confined to the
islands and the most southern part of the mainland.

No attempt is here made to settle or even to take part in the disputes
among dendrologists as to what mahogany is. There are said to be more
than forty different trees which pass as mahogany in lumber markets.
Various descriptions and keys have been published for the purpose of
separating and identifying different woods which are bought and sold as
mahogany. These woods grow on every continent except Europe; but those
which pass as mahogany nearly all come from Africa or America. Some are
well known, both as to origin and botany, while others are doubtful.
Logs sometimes appear in markets and no one knows where they come from,
or the species which produce them. It has been maintained that annual
rings will separate true mahogany from the false--that the true has no
annual rings. At the best, this evidence is only negative and is worth
little, since many tropical trees show no annual rings, and yet are no
kin to mahogany. Neither is it certain that true mahogany shows no
yearly rings. Some trees do not, but others may. The ring, as is well
known, is produced because the tree grows part of the year and rests
part. In the tropics where growth is continuous, the ring may not exist,
but it sometimes does exist, and thus upsets the theory. Besides, it
proves little in the case of mahogany which has a range extending from
south of the equator northward into the temperate zone, where there are
seasonal changes. It also grows near sea level and at considerable
altitudes, and elevation alone might make considerable variation in the
character of the wood.

The two most important mahoganies of commerce--leaving botany out of the
question--grow in Africa and in America. The most important of the
African mahoganies is _Khaya senegalensis_, and of the American is
_Swietenia mahagoni_. It is the latter which extends its range into the
United States, and it alone will be considered in these pages as true
mahogany; the status of foreign woods which pass as mahogany will not be

Leaves of the mahogany tree are three or four inches long, and an inch
or more wide. They are compound, with from three to five pairs of
leaflets. The tree is an evergreen and presents a fine appearance. The
flowers appear in July and August, are small and cup-shaped. Fruit is
four or five inches long and two or more wide. It ripens in late fall or
early winter. The nearly square seeds are three-fourths of an inch long.
In Florida the tree rarely exceeds fifty feet in height and two in
diameter; but in tropical countries it may exceed a height of 100 and a
diameter of eight or ten. The bark is thin.

The wood is practically of the same weight as white oak, but is stronger
and more elastic. It is exceedingly hard, very durable, and is
susceptible of high polish. Medullary rays are numerous but small and
obscure. The color is rich reddish-brown, turning darker with age, but
the thin sapwood is yellow. It is known in Florida as mahogany, madeira,
and redwood.

The uses of mahogany are so many and so well-known that it is
unnecessary to speak of them in detail. There were importations into the
United States nearly three hundred years ago, and it has been coming
ever since. One thing about this wood deserves mention: the price has
not varied much in three hundred years. Different prices have prevailed,
owing to distance from supply and differences in grade and quality; and
that holds true today; but for similar grades, the prices have been
remarkable for their evenness.

Florida never figured largely in the world’s supply of mahogany. At
their best, the trees were neither large nor numerous, but their quality
was good. Cutting of this timber ceased in Florida about three-quarters
of a century ago. The islands and the small area of the mainland where
the timber grew, were stripped. The logs were shipped to the Bahama
islands and it is said they found their ultimate market in England. A
few trees were overlooked here and there, and some that were small
seventy-five years ago, have grown to merchantable size since. These
have been cut, a few at a time, and the cutting is still going on. The
total is now only a few thousand feet a year, and one of the markets for
the logs, probably the chief market, is Miami, Florida. The logs are
small, and are generally cut and brought in by negroes who find a tree
now and then, cut the logs, and float them as near to market as
possible, and haul them the rest of the way. The scarcity of the trees
may be inferred from the fact that the average resident of south
Florida, where the range of the mahogany lies, never saw one. In
appearance the tree when seen at a little distance, resembles a young,
vigorous black walnut tree.

CHINA TREE (_Melia azedarach_) belongs to the same family as mahogany
but is of a different genus. It is not native in the United States, but
has been extensively planted and is running wild. It is a forest tree in
some parts of Louisiana, but is found under pure forest conditions only
here and there. As such, the trunk and thin crown look like a forest
grown butternut tree in Wisconsin. It is abundant in yards and along
streets, where it is often called Chinaball tree. A little of the wood
is used. The color resembles mahogany, but the texture is much coarser.
Annual rings are clearly marked by rows of large pores, and the wood
does not polish well. It is sometimes known as pride of India, which
country is its native home, or it was carried there from Persia at an
early date. A variety, commonly known as the Texas Umbrella tree (_Melia
azedarach umbraculifera_), has been widely planted, and is known by its
short trunk and dense, round crown.

SOAPBERRY (_Sapindus saponaria_), known also as false dogwood, is a
species of south Florida, and is one of three soap trees in this
country. It has no family kinship with mahogany, but the appearance of
the trees leads some persons to conclude that they are related to the
China tree. In fact, one of the species is locally known as wild China
and Chinaberry. They are called soap trees because their fruit has a
property which causes water to foam, and the natives of the West Indies
once used it for soap. The botanical name _Sapindus_ means “Indian
soap.” The tree is twenty-five or thirty feet high, and ten or twelve
inches in diameter. The bloom appears in November in Florida, and the
fruit ripens the following spring. The wood is heavy, rather hard, and
is light brown, tinged with yellow. It reaches largest size on the
Thousand Islands, Florida. Another species is _Sapindus marginatus_
which attains size similar to that of the first. It is found in southern
Florida, but is not abundant. It grows as far north as the mouth of the
St. John river. A third species is _Sapindus drummondi_ which has its
range from western Louisiana, Arkansas, and southern Kansas, through
Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, to Mexico. The flowers appear in May and
June, and the fruit ripens in September and October, but it hangs on the
trees until the following spring. When first ripe, it is half an inch in
diameter, and yellow, but when it dries it turns black. Trees attain
diameters up to two feet, and heights of forty or fifty. It is commonly
supposed to be the Chinaberry, by persons who judge by general
appearances, but the two are not related. The wood’s appearance suggests
the heartwood of ash. It probably reaches its best development in Texas
where it is manufactured into boxes, crates, and even furniture, but not
in large amounts. It is reputed to be a rapid grower, and it may be
under the most favorable circumstances, but it is usually of rather slow
growth. The wood splits readily into thin strips which are employed in
making baskets for harvesting cotton. In western Texas it is made into
pack saddle frames.

    MOUNTAIN MAHOGANY (_Cercocarpus ledifolius_) is not a mahogany, and
    is not even in the same family. It belongs to the rose family, and
    is closely related to the crabapple; but since it is commonly known
    as mahogany, it is proper to mention it here. Extensive
    consideration is unnecessary, for the tree is not important as a
    source of wood. Three species are recognized by some botanists, four
    by others. All are western, and are noted for their long-tailed
    fruit. The generic name refers to that feature. The seed, with its
    tail, is carried by the wind, or it catches in the wool of sheep and
    the hair of cattle and goats, or the feathers of birds, and is
    carried far and near. The mountain mahogany sometimes is thirty feet
    high, and two in diameter. It grows from 5,000 to 9,000 feet
    elevation, sometimes on steep cliffs. Its range extends from Wyoming
    and Montana to Oregon, California, Arizona, and New Mexico. The wood
    is bright, clear red, or rich dark brown. It reaches its largest
    size on the mountains of central Nevada. Another species is known as
    valley mahogany (_Cercocarpus parvifolius_). It ranges from Nebraska
    to Oregon, and Texas to California. Its rate of growth is very slow,
    and it seldom exceeds a height of thirty feet and a diameter of ten
    inches. The wood is reddish-brown. A third species, called Trask
    mahogany (_Cercocarpus traskiæ_) is chiefly notable on account of
    its restricted range. It occurs as far as known, in a single canyon
    of Santa Catalina island, off the southern coast of California. Some
    of the specimens are twenty feet high and six inches in diameter. A
    fourth species, or a variety, is known as short-flower mahogany
    (_Cercocarpus parvifolius breviflorus_). It occurs in western Texas,
    southern New Mexico and Arizona, usually at elevations about 5,000
    feet above sea level where the largest trees are not more than eight
    inches in diameter and twenty-five feet high.

    VAUQUELINIA (_Vauquelinia californica_) belongs to the same family
    as the so-called western mahoganies, that is, the rose family; but
    it is of a different genus. Its range is largely south of the
    international boundary, but it extends into southern Arizona where
    the best development of the species occurs about 5,000 feet above
    the sea on grassy slopes. It is seldom more than a bush, and the
    wood is very heavy and hard, and is dark-brown, streaked with red.



[Illustration: BLACK WILLOW]


(_Salix Nigra_)

The willows and the cottonwoods belong to the same family of trees,
_Salicaceæ_, and the family is fairly numerous, and it has some
well-defined traits of character. The quinine-bitter of the bark is ever
present, but more marked in willows than in cottonwoods. Though quite
unpleasant to the taste, it is harmless. The leaves never grow in pairs,
and in most instances they fall early in autumn, and some without
changing color. Male and female flowers are borne on different trees,
and fertilizing is done by insects, often by honey bees and bumblebees.
Fruit ripens in late spring, and the seeds are equipped for flight by
being provided with exceedingly fine silky hairs. The wind carries them
long distances. The trees generally grow in the immediate vicinity of
streams or in situations where the soil is damp, but there are

The willow family consists of two genera, one the cottonwoods or
poplars, the other the willows proper. There are about seventy-five
species of willow in America, twenty of them trees. Some, however, are
quite small and only occasionally attain sizes which place them in the
tree class. The willows are old residents of this continent. They grew
in the central portion of what is now the United States in the
Cretaceous age, as is proved by their leaf prints in the rocks. They
have held their ground ever since, and there is no likelihood that they
are about to give it up. Few species are better fitted for holding what
they have. A few trees are capable of seeding a large region in a few
years, and if soil and situation are suitable, reproduction will be
abundant. The willows’ tenacity of life is often remarkable. It
sometimes seems next to impossible to kill them by cutting off their
tops. There are said to be instances in Europe where willows have been
pollarded successively during hundreds of years, the crops of sprouts
being used for wickerwork and other purposes. No such records exist in
this country, but the willow’s sprouting habit is well known. A shoot
stuck in the ground will grow, and a fence post will sprout. Many
willows develop large stools, or roots, and repeatedly send up numerous
sprouts, and it makes little difference how often they are cut, others
will come up.

Comparatively few willows that start in life ever become trees. They are
suppressed by crowding, or meet misfortunes of one kind or another which
keep them small, but occasionally a tree of good size results. Willow
trees are usually not old. Probably few reach an age exceeding 150
years. Large trunks, in old age, are apt to be hollow or otherwise
defective, though a willow tree will live many years after much of its
trunk has disappeared. A little green bark on the side, and sprouts from
the stump will maintain life long after all usefulness has ceased.

Young willows are usually pliant and tough, old are stiff and brash.
They range from sea level up to 10,000 feet or more; grow profusely in
the wet lands about the gulf of Mexico, and likewise on the bleak coasts
of the Arctic ocean. Commander Peary found willows blooming in
considerable profusion on the extreme northern shore of Greenland, where
they produce enough growth during the few weeks of summer sunshine to
afford the muskox the means of eking out a living during his sojourn in
those inhospitable regions.

The identification of willows is one of the most difficult tasks that
fall to the botanists. Black willow is unquestionably the most important
willow in this country from the lumberman’s standpoint. It is the common
tree willow that attains size suitable for sawlogs. If a forest grown
willow of large size is encountered east of the Rocky Mountains in the
United States, it is pretty safe to class it as black willow. There are
some others which grow large, but not many. Planted willows, both large
and small, may be foreign species, and white willows, which are not
native in this country, but have been widely planted, and are running
wild, may be occasionally found of ample size for saw timber.

Black willow’s range extends from New Brunswick to Florida, west to the
Dakotas, and south to Texas, thence passing into Mexico, New Mexico,
Arizona, and California. It attains its best size in the Ohio and
Mississippi valleys, though large trees are found in other parts of its
range. It is difficult to say what its average size is, for some black
willows are only a few feet high and an inch or two in diameter. The
largest trees exceed 100 feet in height and three in diameter. An
extreme size of seven feet in diameter has been reported. It is not
unusual to see willow logs three feet in diameter in mill yards in
Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas, and logs four feet in diameter are
not so unusual as to excite much comment. The average sizes, however, of
willow sawlogs in that region are from eighteen inches to two feet.

The wood of black willow is pale reddish-brown. When freshly cut it is
sometimes purple, almost black. When sawed in lumber and exposed to the
air the dark color fades. The wood is soft but firm. It has about fifty
per cent of the strength of white oak, and forty per cent of its
stiffness. It weighs 27.77 pounds per cubic foot; and considering its
weight, it is tolerably strong and stiff.

Probably no other wood in the United States is as systematically cheated
out of its just credit as this one. Many of the oaks are seldom given
their proper names, but they are listed as oak in sawmill output, and
thus the genus, if not the species is given credit. But willow is almost
totally ignored. The United States census in 1910 credited to all the
willow lumber in this country an amount less than a million and a half
feet; yet a single mill in Louisiana, and not a large mill at that, cut
and sold four times that much during that year. The wood was cut by
hundreds of other mills, some a few logs only, others considerable

It is sold for various purposes, and much of it goes as cottonwood. In
some instances it is called brown cottonwood. Probably ninety per cent
is made into boxes, but it has many other uses. It is cut into
excelsior, made into rotary cut veneer, and finds place in the
manufacture of furniture; it is a common woodenware material; slack
coopers make barrels of it; and it is turned for baseball bats.

The supply of black willow in this country is not small. It is usually
found in wet situations along streams. Sometimes islands and low flats
are taken possession of and pure stands result. The growth is sometimes
phenomenal. Trunks may add nearly or quite an inch to their diameter per
year when conditions are exceptionally favorable. Instances, apparently
well authenticated, are reported of abandoned fields along the
Mississippi, which in sixty years grew 100,000 feet of willow per acre.

    LONGSTALK WILLOW (_Salix longipes_) sometimes grows to a height of
    thirty feet with a diameter of six or eight inches. Its range
    extends from Maryland to Texas, and is at its best in the Ozark
    region of southwestern Missouri and northwestern Arkansas.

    ALMONDLEAF WILLOW (_Salix amygdaloides_) grows across northern
    United States and southern Canada from New York to Oregon, and
    occurs as far south as Missouri and Ohio, and is abundant in the
    lower Ohio valley. At its best it is seventy feet high and two feet
    in diameter. The wood is light, soft, and the heartwood is brown.

    SMOOTHLEAF WILLOW (_Salix lævigata_) attains a diameter of one foot
    and a height of forty or fifty. It is a Pacific coast tree,
    occurring in California on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevadas
    up to an altitude of 3,000 feet. It is known as black willow. The
    wood is pale reddish-brown.

    SILVERLEAF WILLOW (_Salix sessilifolia_) looks like longleaf willow,
    and though usually a shrub it sometimes is twenty-five feet high and
    ten inches in diameter. It grows from the mouth of the Columbia
    river to southern California.

    YEWLEAF WILLOW (_Salix taxifolia_) ranges from western Texas,
    through southern Arizona into Mexico and Central America. Trees are
    occasionally forty feet high and more than one foot in diameter. A
    little fuel and fence posts are cut from this willow.

    BEBB WILLOW (_Salix bebbiana_) is nearly always shrubby, but
    occasionally reaches a trunk diameter of six or eight inches and a
    height of twenty feet. Its northern limit lies within the Arctic
    circle, its southern in Pennsylvania, Nebraska, and Arizona. West of
    Hudson bay it forms almost impenetrable thickets, and in Colorado it
    ascends mountains to elevations of 10,000 feet.

    GLAUCOUS WILLOW (_Salix discolor_), commonly known as silver or
    pussy willow, ranges from Nova Scotia to Manitoba, and southward to
    Delaware, West Virginia, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri. It is one
    of the best known willows within its range, on account of its
    flowers which are among the earliest of the season, and very showy.
    The largest specimens are scarcely twenty-five feet high and twelve
    inches in diameter.

    MACKENZIE WILLOW (_Salix cordata mackenzieana_) is not abundant, and
    is one of the smallest of the tree willows. It is nearly always a
    shrub. Its range extends from California nearly to the Arctic
    circle, where it occurs in gravelly soil on the borders of mountain

    MISSOURI WILLOW (_Salix missouriensis_) is so named because it
    occurs principally in Missouri, but its range extends into Kansas
    and Iowa. It is occasionally forty feet high and a foot in diameter.
    It is used for fence posts.

    BIGELOW WILLOW (_Salix lasiolepis_) is generally called white willow
    on account of its gray bark. It occurs in California and Arizona,
    and at its best it is twenty-five feet high and ten inches in
    diameter. Some use is made of it as fuel, where other wood is

    NUTTALL WILLOW (_Salix nuttallii_), called also mountain willow in
    Montana, ranges from British America, east of the Rocky Mountains,
    to southern California. Its usual height is twenty or twenty-five
    feet, and its diameter six or eight inches. In southern California
    it grows 10,000 feet above sea level.

    HOOKER WILLOW (_Salix hookeriana_) occurs in the coast region from
    Vancouver island to southern Oregon, and varies in height from a
    sprawling shrub to a height of thirty feet and a diameter of one.
    Little use is made of it.

    SILKY WILLOW (_Salix sitchensis_), known also as Sitka willow,
    ranges from Alaska to southern California. The largest specimens are
    twenty-five feet high and ten inches in diameter. Trunks are largely
    sapwood and are of little commercial importance.

    BROADLEAF WILLOW (_Salix amplifolia_), known also as feltleaf
    willow, was discovered in Alaska in 1899. The leaves are woolly. The
    largest trees rarely exceed a height of thirty feet and a diameter
    of six inches. Its range extends to the valley of the Mackenzie

    A number of foreign willows have become naturalized in the United
    States. Among them is white willow (_Salix alba_), which grows to
    large size, probably as large as black willow; crack willow (_Salix
    fragilis_), so named on account of the brittleness of its twigs; and
    weeping willow (_Salix babylonica_). The botanical name is based on
    the supposition that it was this willow, growing by the rivers near
    Babylon, on which the captive Hebrews hung their harps. Basket
    willow is planted for its osiers in several eastern states. It is
    not a single species, but a group of varieties developed by



[Illustration: HARDY CATALPA]


(_Catalpa Speciosa_)

This tree belongs to the family _Bignoniaceæ_ which has its name from
Abbé Bignon, librarian of Louis XV. About one hundred genera belong to
this family, only three of which reach the size of trees in the United
States. These include the catalpas, the desert willow, and the black
calabash tree.

Seven species of catalpa are known, two of them occurring in the United
States. Others are found in China and the West Indies. The name is an
Indian word and was first heard among the tribes of the Carolinas. It
seems probable that the name catalpa as applied to a tree and catawba,
applied to a grape, have the same origin, and in some way refer to the
Catawba Indians, a small tribe--said to be Sioux--that lived two hundred
years ago in the western part of the Carolinas and neighboring regions
where one of the catalpa species was first heard of by Europeans. The
tree in that region is still often called catawba.

The two catalpas of this country are known to botanists as _Catalpa
speciosa_ and _Catalpa catalpa_. Much confusion has resulted from
attempts to distinguish one from the other. Botanists are able to clear
the matter up among themselves, but the general public has not been so
successful. John P. Brown, of Connersville, Indiana, specialized on
catalpas during many years, and published numerous tracts, pamphlets,
and books for the purpose of educating the public to the point where the
differences between common catalpa and hardy catalpa could be
distinguished. His labor was likewise directed toward inducing land
owners to plant catalpa for commercial purposes. Due to his efforts, and
otherwise, catalpa was for a time the most advertised plantation tree in
this country. Some supposed that hardy catalpa was the wood which was to
save the country from a threatened timber famine. Claims made for it
were wide and far reaching.

The judgment of history has been--if it may be classed as a matter of
history--that the tree fell short of expectation. This does not imply an
inferiority of the wood itself, or a slower rate of growth than was
claimed for it; but exceptional cases were interpreted as averages, and
for that reason the whole situation was overestimated. When all
conditions are perfect, hardy catalpa grows rapidly and grows large, but
it demands nearly perfect conditions or it will disappoint. It wants
ground rich enough and damp enough to grow good crops of corn, and
farmers are not generally willing to put that class of land to growing
fence posts and railroad ties.

The range of hardy catalpa before the species was spread by artificial
planting, was through southern Illinois and Indiana, southeastern
Missouri and northeastern Arkansas, western Louisiana and eastern Texas,
and western Kentucky and Tennessee. Its position on the fertile banks of
streams, and on flood plains subject to frequent inundation, indicates
that the spread of the species was effected by running water. In that
case, the dispersal of seeds would be down stream, implying that the
starting place of the species was along the lower reaches of the Wabash

The catalpa may reach a height of 100 or 120 feet and a diameter of four
feet; but few trees attain that size. The leaves are ten or twelve
inches long and seven or eight wide, and are considerably larger than
those of common catalpa. The flowers appear late in May or early in
June, and are showy. The prevailing colors are white and purple, and the
blossoms are about two inches long and two and a half wide.

The fruit is a pod from eight to twenty inches long, and the enclosed
seeds are nearly an inch long, shaped like beans. The trees are prolific

The tree is known by several names in different parts of its range,
including the territory where it is known only from plantings. It is
called western catalpa to distinguish it from the other species found
farther east and south. In Missouri and Iowa it is known as cigar tree.
The name Indian bean is an allusion to the large seeds. Shawneewood is
another name referring to the supposed interest of Indians in the tree.
Shawnee was the name of a tribe of Indians in the Ohio valley in early

The wood weighs less than twenty-six pounds per cubic foot, and is soft
and weak. It is rated very durable in contact with the soil, and this is
one of the chief advantages claimed for it. The annual rings are clearly
marked by several bands or rows of large open ducts, and the denser
summerwood forms a narrow band. The medullary rays are numerous and
obscure. The heartwood is brown, the sapwood lighter. In appearance, the
heartwood suggests butternut, but it is coarser, and lacks the gloss
shown by polished butternut. Quarter-sawing produces no figure, but when
sawed at right angles to the radial lines, the annual rings are cut in a
way to give figure resembling that of ash or chestnut.

The wood of this catalpa has been thoroughly tried out for a number of
purposes. Furniture and finish have been made of it with varying
success, and molding and picture frames are listed among its uses. It is
not a sawlog tree. Statistics of lumber cut seldom mention it, though
now and then a log finds its way to a mill. Efforts have been made to
pass the wood as mahogany, but with poor success. The counterfeit is
easily detected, since the artificial color which may be imparted to
catalpa is about the only resemblance to mahogany.

In the lower Mississippi valley some success, but on a very small scale,
has resulted from attempts to induce catalpa to grow in crooks suitable
for small boat knees. The young trunk, after being hacked on one side,
is bent and induced to grow the crook or knee. Natural crooks have been
utilized in the manufacture of knees for small boats in Louisiana.

Probably ninety per cent of all the catalpa ever cut has gone into fence
posts. It is habitually crooked. A straight bole is the exception;
though in plantations trees are crowded and pruned until they grow
fairly straight, and sometimes trunks of forest grown trees of large
size are nearly faultless in their symmetry.

It was once believed in some quarters that catalpa would solve the
railroad tie problem by growing good ties quickly. It must be admitted,
however, that in spite of extensive plantings, the railroad tie problem
has not yet been solved by catalpa.

COMMON CATALPA (_Catalpa catalpa_) originated many hundred miles outside
the range of hardy catalpa, to judge by the localities in which it was
first found by white men. It is supposed to have been indigenous in
southwestern Georgia, central Alabama, and Mississippi, and northwestern
Florida. Its range has been greatly extended by planting, and it grows
in most parts of the country east of the Rocky Mountains, as far north
as New England. It has been planted in many parts of Europe. Its leaves,
flowers, fruit, and the tree itself are smaller than hardy catalpa. The
pods hang unopened all winter. The trunks sometimes are three feet in
diameter and sixty high, but are generally small, crooked, rather
angular, and poor in appearance, but the leaves and flowers are
ornamental. The wood is durable in contact with the ground, and its
largest use has been for posts, crossties, and poles.

DESERT WILLOW (_Chilopsis linearis_) does not even belong to the willow
family, notwithstanding its names, all of which are based on the
presumption that it is a willow. The shape and size of its leaves are
responsible for that misapprehension. The very narrow leaves may be a
foot long. It is called flowering willow and Texas flowering willow. Its
flowers are always emphasized when it is compared with willow, for they
are totally different from the willow’s characteristic catkins. The
flowers appear in early summer in racemes three or four inches long, and
continue open during several months in succession. The fruit is a pod
seven or nine inches long, and as slender as a lead pencil. It is this
pod which gives the plainest hint of its relationship to the catalpas,
for it is in good standing in the family with them. The seeds resemble
very small beans with wings at each end. They are light, and the wind
disperses them. The tree is a prolific seeder.

The range of this small tree extends across western Texas, New Mexico,
Arizona, Utah, Nevada, into San Diego county, California. The tree
occurs in dry, gravelly, porous soil near the banks of streams and in
depressions in the desert. The wood is weak and soft, the heart brown,
streaked with yellow. No use has been found for it. The tree is
cultivated for ornament in Mexico and sometimes in the southern states.
The flowers look well when they are encountered in the desert. They are
white, faintly tinged with purple, with bright yellow spots inside. They
are funnel shaped and have the odor of violets.



[Illustration: CUCUMBER]


(_Magnolia Acuminata_)

This tree is a member of the magnolia family which has ten genera in
North America, two of them, magnolia and liriodendron, being trees. The
family has its name from Pierre Magnol, a French botanist who died in
1715. The genus magnolia has seven species in the United States, all of
which are of tree size. They are evergreen magnolia (_Magnolia fœtida_),
sweet magnolia (_Magnolia glauca_), cucumber (_Magnolia acuminata_),
largeleaf umbrella (_Magnolia macrophylla_), umbrella tree (_Magnolia
tripetala_), Fraser umbrella (_Magnolia fraseri_), and pyramidal
magnolia (_Magnolia pyramidata_). The remaining member of the magnolia
family is the yellow poplar (_Liriodendron tulipifera_). Though of the
same family it is of a different genus from the seven other magnolias.

The cucumber is the hardiest member of the magnolia family. It is found
in natural growth farther north than any other, yet it has the
appearance of a southern tree. All magnolias look like trees belonging
in the South. Their large leaves indicate as much, and some of them do
not venture far outside of the warm latitudes. It is one of the oldest
of all the families of broadleaf trees, and it has been a family that
during an immense period of the earth’s history has clung near the old
homestead where it came into existence countless ages ago. There were
magnolias growing in the middle Appalachian region, and eastward to the
present Atlantic coast, so far in the past that the time can be measured
only by hundreds of thousands of years. Leaf prints in rocks, which were
once mud flats, tell the story--though but a page here and there--of the
magnolia’s ancient history, doubtless antedating by long periods the
earliest appearance of man on earth.

Next to the yellow poplar, the cucumber tree is the most important
species of the magnolia family, at least as a source of lumber. As an
ornamental tree it may not equal some of the others, particularly
certain of the southern species which are evergreen and produce large,
showy flowers.

The cucumber tree receives its name from its fruit, which looks like a
cucumber when seen at a distance, but it is far from being one. Its
intense bitter makes it safe from the attacks of birds and beasts. So
far as known, it is not eaten, tasted, or touched by any living
creature--except man. Some of the pioneer settlers, in the days when
there was precious little to eat on the frontiers, discovered a way of
extracting the bitter from the wild cucumber, and making some sort of a
pickle of the remainder; but the art seems to have been lost with the
passing of the pioneers of the Daniel Boone type, and the wild cucumber
now hangs untouched, and tempts nobody. It is three inches or less in
length, generally slightly curved, and is green in color until fully
ripe. Even the flowers which produce the fruit are green, with the
merest suggestion of yellow. They are so inconspicuous that few persons
ever notice them, even though cucumber trees stand in door yards. The
ripe cucumbers are dark red or scarlet, or rather the seeds are, which
grow on the surface like grains of corn on a cob, though fewer in number
and farther apart. Something seems to be lacking in the machinery by
which the flowers are fertilized, with the result that often nearly half
the seeds which ought to cover the surface of the cucumber, fail to
materialize. There are many blank spaces representing flowers which the
pollen missed.

There is likewise something missing in the modus operandi of scattering
the seeds. They have no wings, and the wind is powerless to carry them.
They are as bitter as quinine and no bird, squirrel, or mouse will
plant, carry, or touch them. Nature appears to have forgotten to provide
any other means for dispersing the seeds of this remarkable tree. When
seeds are fully ripe, they drop away from the parent fruit--the
cucumber--but the fall of each seed is arrested by a small thread which
suspends it from one to three inches below the fruit. There the seeds
hang, swinging and dangling in the wind. What part the threads play in
the economy of nature is not apparent, unless their purpose is to expose
the seeds to a chance of becoming entangled with the wings, feet, or
feathers of flying birds, whereby they may be carried away and dropped
in suitable places for growing. There can be no doubt that this happens
occasionally, and constitutes one of the methods of seed dispersal.
Others are transported by flowing water.

The chances seem to be greatly against the survival of the cucumber tree
in competition with maples, birches, pines, and cottonwoods, whose
winged seeds are wind-borne; or with oaks, hickories, and walnuts whose
heavy, wingless nuts are planted hither and thither by accommodating
squirrels which are intent only on providing for their own winter wants,
but in reality are industrious and effective forest planters.
Notwithstanding the disadvantages under which the cucumber tree is
placed, it has managed to hold its ground in the forest during immense
periods of time, and it seems to be as firmly established now as ever.

The leaves of this tree are from seven to ten inches long, and four to
six wide. In autumn before they fall they turn a blotched yellow-brown
color. The first severe frost brings them all down in a heap. At sunset
the tree may be laden with leaves, and by the next noon all will be on
the ground. They are so heavy that the wind does not move them far, and
they drop in heaps beneath the branches. In color they resemble owl
feathers, and the suggestion that comes to one’s mind, who happens to
pass under a cucumber tree the morning following the first frost, is
that during the night some prowler picked a roost of owls and scattered
the feathers on the ground.

The range of cucumber extends from western New York to Alabama,
following the Appalachian mountains; and westward to Illinois and
Mississippi, appearing west of the Mississippi river in Arkansas. It
occurs on low rocky slopes, the banks of mountain streams, and on rich
bottom land. It is of largest size and is most abundant in the narrow
valleys in eastern Tennessee and the western parts of the Carolinas. The
tree is from two to four feet in diameter, and sixty to ninety feet
high. The trunk is of good form for sawlogs. Among its local names are
pointed-leaf magnolia, black lin, magnolia, and mountain magnolia.

The wood of cucumber resembles that of yellow poplar in appearance and
in physical properties, except that it is ten per cent heavier than
poplar. It usually passes for that wood at sawmill and factory. The
Federal census credits it with less than a million feet a year as
lumber. That is much too small. It is valuable and finds ready sale.
Manufacturers of wooden pumps regard it as the best material for the
bored logs. It is worked into interior finish for houses, flooring for
cars, interior parts of furniture, woodenware, boxes and crates, slack
cooperage, including veneer barrels.

The tree is planted for ornament in the northern states and Europe. The
chief value lies in its large, green leaves and symmetrical crown. The
red fruit adds to the tree’s attractiveness late in summer.

    LARGELEAF UMBRELLA (_Magnolia macrophylla_) is valuable chiefly as a
    sort of ornamental curiosity, on account of its enormous leaves and
    flowers. The leaf is from twenty to thirty inches long and ten to
    twelve wide. It drops in autumn before its green color has undergone
    much change. The leaves lack toughness, and the wind whips them into
    strings long before the summer is ended. Thus what otherwise would
    be highly ornamental becomes somewhat unsightly. When well protected
    from wind by surrounding objects, the leaves fare better and last
    longer. The white, fragrant flowers are likewise remarkable on
    account of size. They are cup-shaped and some of them are almost a
    foot across. They pay a penalty no less severe than the leaves pay,
    on account of large size, and are liable to be thumped and bruised
    by swinging leaves and branches.

    The largeleaf umbrella is a tree of the southern Appalachian
    mountains although its range extends southwest to Louisiana, and
    northward from there to Arkansas. It is at its best in deep rich
    soil of sheltered valleys, occurring in isolated groups, but never
    in pure forests. It is known as large-leaved cucumber tree,
    great-leaved magnolia, large-leaved umbrella tree, and long-leaved
    magnolia. The fruit is nearly a sphere, from two to three inches in
    diameter, and bright rose color when fully ripe. The seeds are
    two-thirds of an inch long. The smooth, light gray bark is usually
    less than a quarter of an inch thick. Large trees are forty or fifty
    feet high and twenty inches in diameter. It is not considered
    valuable for lumber, because of scarcity and small size. The wood is
    considerably heavier than yellow poplar, and is hard but not strong;
    light brown in color with thick, light yellow sapwood. Reports do
    not show that the wood is put to any use. Planted trees are hardy as
    far north as Massachusetts, and success has attended the tree’s
    introduction in the parks and gardens of southern Europe.

    YELLOW FLOWERED CUCUMBER TREE (_Magnolia acuminata cordata_) is
    usually considered a variety of the common cucumber tree, rather
    than a separate species. The most noticeable feature is the yellow
    blossom which gives the names by which it is generally known, among
    such being yellow-flowered magnolia, and yellow cucumber tree. It is
    not a garden variety, for it grows wild; but it has been cultivated
    during more than a century, and has undergone changes which are not
    matched by wild trees. The finest forms of the forest variety are
    found on the Blue Ridge in South Carolina, and in central Alabama.
    The cultivated tree is distinguished by its darker green leaves, and
    by its smaller, bright, canary-yellow flowers. The variety has no
    value as a timber tree, but is widely appreciated as an ornament.
    Cultivated trees generally remain small in size, and do not develop
    the long, clean trunks common with the cucumber tree under forest

    UMBRELLA TREE (_Magnolia tripetala_) is one of the magnolias and
    should not be confounded with the Asiatic umbrella tree often
    planted in yards. The flower is surrounded by a whorl of leaves
    resembling an umbrella, hence the name. It is also known as
    cucumber, magnolia, and elkwood. The range of the tree extends from
    Pennsylvania to Alabama and west to Arkansas. It prefers the margins
    of swamps and the rich soil along mountain streams. Leaves are
    eighteen inches long and half as wide. They fall in autumn. Flowers
    are cup-shaped and creamy-white. The fruit somewhat resembles that
    of the common cucumber tree, but is rose colored when fully ripe.
    Trees are thirty or forty feet high and a foot or more in diameter.
    The brown heartwood is light, soft, and weak, and is used little or
    not at all for commercial purposes. The tree is cultivated for
    ornament in the northern states and in Europe.



[Illustration: YELLOW POPLAR]


(_Liriodendron Tulipifera_)

In diameter of trunk the yellow poplar is, next to sycamore, the largest
hardwood tree of the United States, and if both height and trunk
diameter are considered, it surpasses the sycamore in size. It belongs
to a very old group of hardwoods which have come down from remote
geological ages, and the species is now found only in the United States
and China. Mature trees are from three to eight feet in diameter and
from 90 to 180 in height.

It has many names in different parts of its range, but it is never
mistaken for any other tree. The peculiar notched leaf is a sure means
of identification. The resemblance of the flower to the tulip has given
it the name tulip tree in some localities, and botanists prefer that
name. It is so called in Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island,
Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia,
West Virginia, District of Columbia, North Carolina, South Carolina,
Georgia, Arkansas, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Ontario. Wood
users in New England and in some of the other northern states prefer the
name whitewood and it is so known, in part at least, in New England, New
York, New Jersey, Delaware, South Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan,
and Illinois. Yellow poplar is the name preferred by lumbermen in nearly
all regions where the tree is found in commercial quantities, notably in
New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia,
North and South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana,
Illinois, Missouri, and Tennessee. The name is often shortened to
poplar, which is used in Rhode Island, Delaware, North and South
Carolina, Florida, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, and Indiana. The name
tulip poplar is less frequently heard, and blue poplar and hickory
poplar are terms used in West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina,
but generally under the impression that they refer to a different form
or species. In Rhode Island it is called popple, in New York cucumber
tree, and canoe wood in Tennessee and in the upper Ohio valley.

The botanical range of yellow poplar is wider than its commercial range;
that is, a few trees are found in regions surrounding the borders of the
district where the tree is profitably lumbered. The boundaries of its
range run from southwestern Vermont, westward to Lake Michigan near
Grand Haven, southward to northern Florida, and west of the Mississippi
river in Missouri and Arkansas. The productive yellow poplar timber belt
has never been that large but has clung pretty closely to the southern
Appalachian mountain ranges and to certain districts lying both east and
west of them. The best original stands were in Pennsylvania, Maryland,
Virginia, West Virginia, western North Carolina, eastern Kentucky and
Tennessee, and in some parts of Ohio and Indiana. However, considerable
quantities of good yellow poplar have been cut in other regions.

The physical properties of the wood of yellow poplar fit it for many
purposes but not for all. It is not very strong and is tolerably
brittle. It is light in weight, medium soft, and is easily worked. The
annual rings of growth are not prominent compared with some of the oaks,
yet select logs show nicely in quarter-sawing. The medullary rays are
numerous, but small and not prominent, for which reason bright streaks
and flecks are not characteristic of the wood. Yellow poplar is fairly
stiff and elastic, but is not often selected on account of those
qualities. In color it is light yellow or brown. The color gives name to
the tree. The sapwood is whiter, and it is the abnormally thick sapwood
of some trees which causes them to be called white poplar. The wood has
little figure, and it is seldom employed for fine work without stain or
paint of some kind. It is not usually classed as long lasting when
exposed to the weather, yet cases are known where weather boarding of
houses, and bridge and mill timbers of yellow poplar have outlasted the
generation of builders.

The quantity of yellow poplar in the country is but a remnant of the
former enormous supply that covered the rich valleys and fertile coves
in a region exceeding 200,000 square miles. It occupied the best land,
and much was destroyed by farmers in clearing fields. It was not
generally found in groves or dense stands, but as solitary trees
scattered through forests of other woods. The trunks are tall and
shapely, the crowns comparatively small. The form is ideal for sawlogs,
and very few trees of America produce a higher percentage of clear,
first class lumber. That is because the forest-grown poplar early sheds
its lower branches, and the trunks lay on nothing but clear wood. In the
yellow poplar’s region it was the principal wood of which the pioneers
made their canoes for crossing and navigating rivers. It is still best
known by the name canoewood in some regions. It worked easily and was
light, and a thin-shelled canoe lasted many years, barring floods and
other accidents. Builders of pirogues, keelboats, barges, and other
vessels for inland navigation in early times when roads were few and
streams were the principal highways of commerce, found no timber
superior to yellow poplar. It could be had in planks of great size and
free from defects, and while not as strong as oak, it was strong enough
to withstand the usual knocks and buffetings of river traffic.

Yellow poplar sawlogs have probably exceeded in number any other wood,
except white pine, floated down rivers and creeks to market. The wood
floats well and lumbermen have usually pushed far up the rivers, ahead
of other lumber operations, to procure it. Enormous drives have gone and
are still going out of rivers in the Appalachian region.

The uses of yellow poplar are so many that an enumeration is
impracticable, except by general classes. These are boxes and
woodenware, vehicles, furniture, interior finish, and car building.
There is another class consisting of low-grade work, such as common
lumber, pulpwood, and the like.

There is a class of commodities which are usually packed in boxes and
require a wood that will impart neither taste nor stain. That
requirement is met by yellow poplar. It has been an important wood for
boxes in which food products are shipped. It is so used less frequently
now than formerly because of increased cost, but veneer is employed to a
large extent, and while the total quantity of wood going into box
factories is smaller than formerly, the actual number and contents of
poplar boxes are perhaps about the same. It is a white wood and shows
printing and stenciling clearly. That is an important point with many
manufacturers who wish to print their advertisements on the boxes which
they send out. Woodenware, particularly ironing boards, bread boards,
and pantry and kitchen utensils, are largely made of poplar because it
is light, attractive, and easily kept clean. It is popular as pumplogs
for the same reason.

As a vehicle wood, yellow poplar is not a competitor of oak and hickory.
They are for running gear and frames; poplar for tops and bodies. No
wood excels it for wide panels. It receives finish and paint so well
that it is not surpassed by the smoothest metals. Many of the finest
carriage and automobile tops are largely of this wood. In case of slight
accidents it resists dints much better than sheet metal.

Cheap furniture was once made of yellow poplar. It now enters into the
best kinds, and is finished in imitation of costly woods, notably
mahogany, birch, and cherry. No American wood will take a higher polish.
It is also much employed as an interior wood by furniture manufacturers.
It fills an important place as cores or backing over which veneers are

When used as an interior house finish and in car building, it is nearly
always stained or painted. Many of the broad handsome panels in
passenger cars, which pass for cherry, birch, mahogany, or rosewood, are
yellow poplar, to which the finisher and decorator have given their best

All poplar lumber is not wide, clear stock, though much of it is. The
lower grades go as common lumber and small trees are cut for pulpwood. A
large part of the demand for high-grade yellow poplar is in foreign
countries, and a regular oversea trade is carried on by exporters.
Foreign manufacturers put the wood to practically the same uses as the
best grades in this country.

Yellow poplar seasons well, and is a satisfactory wood to handle. When
thoroughly dry it holds its shape with the best of woods. Bluing is apt
to affect the green wood if unduly exposed. Fresh poplar chips in damp
situations sometimes change to a conspicuous blue color within a day or
two. However, millmen do not experience much difficulty in preventing
the bluing of the lumber.

GYMINDA (_Gyminda grisebachii_) is also called false boxwood, and
belongs to the staff family. The name gyminda is artificial and
meaningless. The genus has a single species which occurs in the islands
of southern Florida where trees of largest size are scarcely twenty-five
feet high and six inches in diameter. The wood is very heavy, hard,
fine-grained, and is nearly black. It is suitable for small articles,
but it is not known to be so used, and its scarcity renders improbable
any important future use of the wood. The fruit is a small berry,
ripening in November. The range of the species extends to Cuba, Porto
Rico, and other islands of the West Indies.





(_Magnolia Fœtida_)

This is not a timber tree of first importance. A few years ago it was
seldom cut except in very small quantities; but it was found to possess
good qualities, and now it goes regularly to the mills which saw
hardwoods in the region where it grows. The wood of different magnolia
trees, or even the wood of the same tree, shows lack of uniformity. Some
of it looks like yellow poplar and compares favorably with it in several
particulars, while other of it is very dark, with hard flinty streaks
which not only present a poor appearance, but dull the tools of the
woodworking machines and create an unfavorable impression of the wood
generally. This magnolia holds pretty closely to the damp lands in all
parts of its range. The amount of the annual cut is not known, because
it goes in with the minor species in most places and no separate account
is taken. It is coming into more notice every year, and some
manufacturers have been so successful in finding ways to make it
serviceable that the best grades are easily sold. The wood does not hold
its color very well. The light-colored sapwood is apt to become darker
after exposure to the air, and the dark heartwood fades a little. The
tree is so handsome in the forest that it is occasionally spared when
the surrounding trees are removed.

It is doubtful if any American tree surpasses it as an ornament when its
leaves, trunk, flowers, and bark are considered. It is not perfect in
all of these particulars; in fact, it possesses some serious faults. The
crown is often too small for the tree’s height; the branches straggle,
many on some parts of the trunk and few on others; the flowers are
objectionable because of strong odor which is unpleasant to most people.
But these shortcomings are more than compensated for by splendid
qualities. The rich, dark green of the leaves, their size and profusion,
their changeless luster, place them in a position almost beyond the
reach of rivalry from any other tree.

Those who see this splendid inhabitant of the forest only where it has
been planted in northern states, and elsewhere outside of its natural
range, miss much of the best it has to give. It belongs in the South.
The wet lands, the small elevations in deep swamps, the flat country
where forests are dense, are its home. The yellowish-green trunk rises
through the tangled foliage that keeps near the ground, and towers fifty
feet above, and there spreads in a crown of green so deep that it is
almost black. It likes company, and seldom grows solitary. Its
associates are the southern maples, red gum, tupelo, cypress, a dozen
species of oak, and occasionally pines on nearby higher ground.
Festoons of grayish-green Spanish moss often add to the tropical
character of the scene. The moss seldom hangs on the magnolia, but is
frequently abundant on surrounding trees.

Lumbermen formerly left the evergreen magnolia trees on tracts from
which they cut nearly everything else. Large areas which had once been
regarded as swamps were thus converted into parks of giant magnolias,
many of which towered seventy or eighty feet. The tracts were left wild,
and those who so left them had no purpose of providing ornament, but
they did so. Many a scene was made grand by its magnolias, after other
forest growth had been cut away.

The range of evergreen magnolia is from North Carolina to Florida and
west to Arkansas and Texas. The species reaches largest size in the
vicinity of the Mississippi, both east and west of it. Trees eighty feet
high and four feet in diameter occur, and trunks are often without limbs
one-half or two-thirds their length, when they grow in forests.

The common name for the tree in most parts of its range is simply
magnolia, though that name fails to distinguish it from several other
species, some of which are associated with it. Occasionally it is called
big laurel, great laurel magnolia, laurel-leaved magnolia, laurel, and
laurel bay. Bull bay is a common name for it in Georgia, Alabama, and
Mississippi. It is called bat tree, but the reason for such a name is
not known.

Leaves are from five to eight inches long and two or three wide, and
dark green above, but lighter below. They fall in the spring after
remaining on the branches two whole years.

The odor of the flowers is unpleasant, but they are attractive to the
sight, being six or eight inches across, with purple bases. The
flowering habit of this tree is all that could be desired. It is in
bloom from April till August.

The fruit resembles that of the other magnolias and is three or four
inches long and two or less wide. Its color is rusty-brown. The ripe
seeds hang awhile by short threads, according to the habit of the
family. The wood is stronger than poplar, fully as stiff, and nearly
fifty per cent heavier. The annual rings are rather vaguely marked by
narrow bands of summerwood. Pores are diffuse, plentiful, and very
small. Medullary rays are larger than those of yellow poplar, and show
fairly well in quarter-sawed stock. The wood is compact and easily
worked, except when hard streaks are encountered. The surface finishes
with a satiny luster; color creamy-white, yellowish-white, or often
light brown. Occasionally the wood is nearly diametrically the opposite
of this, and is of all darker shades up to purple, black, and blue
black. The appearance of the dark wood suggests decay, but those who
pass it through machines, or work it by hand, consider it as sound as
the lighter colored wood.

The uses of magnolia are much the same in all parts of its range, and
those of Louisiana, where the utilization of the wood has been studied
more closely than in other regions, indicate the scope of its
usefulness. It is there made into parts of boats, bar fixtures, boxes,
broom handles, brush backs, crates, door panels, dugout canoes,
excelsior, furniture shelving, interior finish, ox yokes, panels, and
wagon boxes. In Texas where the annual consumption probably exceeds a
million feet, it is employed by furniture makers, and appears in window
blinds, packing boxes, sash, and molding. In Mississippi, fine mantels
are made of carefully selected wood, quarter-sawed to bring out the
small, square “mirrors” produced by radial cutting of the medullary

Evergreen magnolia has long been planted for ornament in this country
and Europe. It survives the winters at Philadelphia. Several varieties
have been developed by cultivation and are sold by nurseries.

Southern forests have contributed, and still contribute, large
quantities of magnolia leaves for decorations in northern cities during
winter. The flowers are not successfully shipped because they are easily
bruised, and they quickly lose their freshness and beauty.

    SWEET MAGNOLIA (_Magnolia glauca_) ranges from Massachusetts to
    Texas and south to Florida. It reaches its largest size on the
    hummock lands of the latter state. Trees are occasionally seventy
    feet high and three or more in diameter, but in many parts of its
    range it is small, even shrubby. Among the names by which it is
    known are white bay, swamp laurel, swamp sassafras, swamp magnolia,
    white laurel, and beaver-tree. It inhabits swamps in the northern
    part of its range, hence the frequency of the word “swamp” in
    coining names for it. Beaver-tree as a name is probably due to its
    former abundance about beaver dams, where impounded water made the
    ground swampy. In the North, sweet magnolia’s chief value is in its
    flowers, which are two or three inches across, creamy-white, and
    fragrant. They were formerly very abundant near the mouth of the
    Susquehanna river in Maryland and Pennsylvania, and northward
    through New Jersey; but the traffic in the flowers has destroyed the
    growth in many places where once plentiful. It is not important as a
    timber resource, but it is employed for a number of useful purposes
    where logs of fair size may be had. The sapwood is creamy-white, but
    the heart is nearly as dark as mahogany, and in Texas it is used to
    imitate that wood. The brown and other shades combine with fine
    effect. One of its common uses is for broom handles. Heartwood is
    worked into high-grade chairs. It takes a beautiful polish.

    FRASER UMBRELLA (_Magnolia fraseri_) ranges south from the Virginia
    mountains to Florida and west to Mississippi. It is of largest size
    in South Carolina where trees are sometimes thirty feet high and a
    foot or more in diameter. The leaves fall in autumn of the first
    year; the creamy-white, sweetly-scented flowers are eight or ten
    inches in diameter, and the fruit resembles that of the other
    magnolias. The wood is weak, soft, and light. The heart is clear
    brown, the sapwood nearly white. It has not been reported in use for
    any commercial purpose. Among its other names it is known as
    long-leaved cucumber tree, ear-leaved umbrella tree, Indian bitters,
    water lily tree, and mountain magnolia. In cultivation this species
    is hardy as far north as Massachusetts, and it is planted for
    ornament in Europe.

    PYRAMID MAGNOLIA (_Magnolia pyramidata_) seems to have generally
    escaped the notice of laymen, and it therefore has no English name
    except the translation of the Latin term by which botanists know it.
    Its habitat lies in southern Georgia and Alabama, and western
    Florida, and it is occasionally seen in cultivation in western
    Europe. It is a slender tree, twenty feet or more in height. Its
    flowers are three or four inches in diameter, and creamy-white in
    color. A tree so scarce cannot be expected to be commercially

    WESTERN BLACK WILLOW (_Salix lasiandra_) is a rather large tree when
    at its best, reaching a diameter of two feet or more, and a height
    of fifty, but in other parts of its range it rarely exceeds ten feet
    in height. It follows the western mountain ranges southward from
    British Columbia into California. The wood is soft, light, and
    brittle, and is used little if at all. Lyall willow (_Salix
    lasiandra lyalli_) is a well marked variety of this species and is a
    tree of respectable size.

    GLOSSYLEAF WILLOW (_Salix lucida_) is a far northern species which
    has its southern limit in Pennsylvania and Nebraska. It grows nearly
    to the Arctic circle. Trees twenty-five feet high and six or eight
    inches in diameter are the best this species affords.

    LONGLEAF WILLOW (_Salix fluviatilis_) is known also as sandbar
    willow, narrowleaf willow, shrub, white, red, and osier willow, and
    by still other names. It ranges from the Arctic circle to Mexico,
    reaching Maryland on the Atlantic coast, and California on the
    Pacific. In rare cases it is sixty feet high, and two in diameter,
    but it is usually less than twenty feet high.



[Illustration: WAHOO]


(_Evonymus Atropurpureus_)

No one seems to know what the original meaning of the word wahoo was. It
is applied to no fewer than six different trees in this country, four of
them elms, one a basswood, and one the tree now under consideration. The
generic name, _Evonymus_, appears to be an effort to put somebody’s seal
of approval on the name, for it means in the Greek language “of good

It belongs to the family _Celastraceæ_, which means the staff family.
Some designate members of this group as “Spindle trees,” because
formerly in Europe the wood was employed for knitting needles, hooks for
embroidering, spindles for spinning wheels, and the like. Unless the
members of the family in Europe have wood quite different from that of
the wahoo tree in this country, no adequate reason can be found for the
use of the wood for spindles or staffs, because it is poor material for
that purpose. It may be compared with basswood.

This beautiful little tree, scarcely more than a shrub in most regions
of its growth, is a widely distributed species, its range extending
through western New York to Nebraska, southeastern South Dakota and
eastern Kansas, and in the valley of the upper Missouri river, Montana,
southward to northern Florida, southern Arkansas and Oklahoma. In these
localities it is generally a shrub, rarely reaching a height of more
than nine or ten feet. It attains the proportions of a tree only in the
bottom lands of southern Arkansas, Oklahoma, and in the lower
Appalachian regions. The most favorable habitat of the tree is moist
soil along the banks of streams. In the southern and western parts of
its range, under favorable conditions of soil and climate, and when
isolated from other species, the wahoo tree grows to rather large size
and develops a wide flat top of slender spreading branches.

The largest and most beautiful specimens of wahoo grow in the
mountainous regions of West Virginia, eastern Tennessee, and western
North Carolina. In these sections it is no unusual thing for a tree of
this species to attain a height of sixty or seventy feet and a diameter
of twenty or twenty-four inches. It is never found in pure stands but is
isolated along the edge of the forest, and thrives best near water

The tree is known by a variety of names in the different parts of the
country. The Indians are said to have called it wahoo. Burning bush, a
very popular name, is especially appropriate, as no brighter dash of
color is displayed by any tree than the scarlet fruit of this growth,
which remains on the branches long after the leaves have fallen, often
until the winter storms beat it to the ground. The growth is also
called occasionally by the name bleeding-heart tree, in reference to the
blood-red contents revealed by the bursting fruit.

The wahoo in the fall of the year may be identified by the flaming color
of its fruit, or rather the seeds of the fruit. The hull bursts and
exposes the bright red seeds within. These, contrary to the usual run of
red fruits, are not of a glossy surface, and in this the tree is unique.
During the summer season, however, identification is not such a simple
matter, for the foliage is quite ordinary, and the flat, unassuming
flowers have little that is distinctive about them; but as the autumn
approaches and the leaves turn a pale yellow color, the tree becomes a
conspicuous and beautiful object with its scarlet berries.

The bark of the wahoo is ashen gray, thin, furrowed, and divided into
minute scales. On the branchlets it is a dark purplish-brown, later
becoming brownish-gray.

The heartwood of wahoo is white, with a slight tinge of orange. The
sapwood, scarcely distinguishable from the heartwood, is more nearly
white in tone. The wood is heavy and close-grained but not very hard. It
weighs when seasoned a little less than forty pounds to the cubic foot.
Such of this wood as is sawed into lumber, which is but a small
quantity, sells commercially with poplar saps, thus masquerading like
its forest fellow, the cucumber tree. The character of the wood is such
that it will not stand exposure to the weather any length of time. It is
far from durable, but is remarkably clear from defects and answers
admirably many purposes for which sap poplar is desirable.

The leaves of the tree are waxy in appearance, opposite, entire,
elliptical or ovate in shape, from two to four inches long, one to two
broad. They are finely serrate and pointed at both apex and base, and
the stems are short and stout.

The flowers, which appear in May and June, are definitely four-parted,
presenting a Maltese cross in shape. They are half an inch across, and
their rounded petals are deep purple in color. The fruit which succeeds
these flowers and which ripens in October is also four-parted. It is
about half an inch across, a pale purple when full size, and hangs on
long slender stems. When ripe the purple husk bursts and reveals the
seed enveloped in a scarlet outer coat that fits it loosely. The leaves,
bark, and fruit of the wahoo are acrid and are reputed to be poisonous.

The wood is one-third heavier than that of yellow poplar, and it is
evident that it would not pass as poplar with any one disposed to reject
it. It is also much harder than poplar, and is more difficult to season,
as it checks badly. The medullary rays are so thin as to be scarcely
discernible. The wood contains many very small pores. The bark is said
to possess some value for medicinal purposes. No special uses for the
wood have been reported, and it is too scarce to be of much value. The
tree’s principal importance is as an ornament, and it shows well in
winter borders where the bright colors of the seeds are exposed. It is
planted both in this country and in Europe. The plantings seldom or
never reach tree size.

FLORIDA BOXWOOD (_Schæfferia frutescens_) is of the same family as wahoo
but of another genus, and is quite a different kind of tree. The generic
name is in honor of Jakob Christian Schaeffer, a distinguished German
naturalist who died in 1790. Two species of this tree occur in the
United States, one the Florida boxwood, the other a small, shrubby
growth in the dry regions of western Texas and northern Mexico. Florida
boxwood is a West Indies tree which flourishes in the Bahamas and
southward along the other islands to Venezuela. It has gained a foothold
on the islands of southern Florida where it has found conditions
favorable and it grows to a height of thirty or forty feet, and reaches
a trunk diameter of ten inches, but such are trees of the largest size.
The leaves are bright yellow-green, about two inches long, and one or
less in width. They appear in Florida in April and persist a full year,
until the foliage of the succeeding crop displaces them. The flowers
which are small and inconspicuous, open about the same time as the
leaves. The fruit is a scarlet berry which ripens in November, and has a
decidedly disagreeable flavor. The bark is very thin.

When sound wood in sufficiently large pieces is obtainable it is
valuable for a number of purposes, but chiefly as a substitute for
Turkish boxwood as engraving blocks. The trees are always small in
Florida, which is the only place in the United States where they occur,
and the largest are often hollow or otherwise defective. The wood weighs
48.27 pounds per cubic foot, thoroughly dry, which is about two pounds
heavier than white oak. It is rich in ashes, having about four times as
much as white oak. The color of the heartwood is a bright, clear yellow
to which is due the name yellow-wood occasionally applied to the tree in
the region where it grows, as well as in markets where it is sold. This
is not the tree known in commerce as West Indies boxwood, though it may
be an occasional substitute. It is said that Florida boxwood was
formerly much more abundant in this country than it is now. It was
lumbered for the European market at about the same time that the south
of Florida was stripped of its mahogany. It is suitable for many small
articles where a hard, even-grained wood is wanted.

IRONWOOD (_Cyrilla racemiflora_) ranges from the coast region of North
Carolina to Florida, and west near the coast to Texas. It is known as
leatherwood, burnwood, burnwood bark, firewood, red titi, and white
titi. Ten woods besides this are called ironwood in some parts of this
country. The name is applied because the hardness of the wood suggests
iron. It is not remarkable for its weight nor its strength. The
medullary rays are thin and inconspicuous. In color it is brown, tinged
with red. It is not apparent why it is a favorite fire wood, for its
fuel value does not rate high theoretically, being much below many
species with which it is associated. The largest trees rarely exceed a
height of thirty feet and a diameter of twelve inches. They flourish in
shady river bottoms and along the borders of sandy swamps and shallow

The tree occasionally assumes the form of a bush and sends up many stems
which produce almost impenetrable thickets. Aside from its use as fuel,
it is in small demand anywhere. In Texas it is sometimes made into
wedges, and similar uses for it are doubtless found in other regions
where it is abundant. It is named from Domenico Cirillo, an Italian
naturalist who died in 1799.

TITI (_Cliftonia monophylla_) is of the _cyrilla_ family and is one of
three species which occasionally pass under that name. It sometimes
reaches a height of fifty feet and a diameter of one or more. Its range
follows the coast region from South Carolina to Louisiana. It betakes
itself to swamps and flourishes in situations that would be fatal to
many species. Half under water during many months of the year it is
placed at no disadvantage. It grows equally well in shallow swamps which
are rarely overflowed. Near the southern limits of its range in Florida
it is reduced to a shrub. It is known as ironwood and buckwheat tree.
The last name is due to its seeds which are about the size of a
buckwheat grain and otherwise resemble it. The flowers appear in early
spring on long racemes, and are very fragrant. The wood weighs about
thirty-nine pounds per cubic foot, is not strong, but is moderately
hard. It is valuable as fuel and burns with a clear, bright flame.



[Illustration: MOUNTAIN LAUREL]


(_Kalmia Latifolia_)

This tree belongs to the heath family and not to the laurels, as the
name seems to imply. The same is true of rhododendron. The kalmia genus
has five or six species in this country, but only one of tree size, and
then only when at its best. Mountain laurel reaches its best development
in North and South Carolina in a few secluded valleys between the Blue
Ridge and the western mountains of the Appalachian ranges. The largest
specimens are forty or fifty feet high and a foot or a foot and a half
in diameter. Trunks are contorted and unshapely, and lumber is never
sawed from them.

The tree has many names, most of them, however, are applied to the
species in its shrubby form. A common name is simply laurel, but that
does not distinguish it from the great laurel which is often associated
with it. Calico bush is one of its names, and is supposed to be
descriptive of the flowers. Spoonwood is one of its northern names,
dating back to the times when early settlers, who carried little
silverware with them to their frontier homes, augmented the supply by
making spoons and ladles of laurel roots. Ivy is a common name,
sometimes mountain ivy, or poison ivy. Poison laurel and sheep laurel
are among the names also. The leaves are poisonous, and if sheep feed on
them, death is apt to follow. The exact nature of the poison is not
understood. Sheep seldom feed on the leaves, and do so only when driven
by hunger. Other names are small laurel, wood laurel, and kalmia. The
last is the name of the genus, and is in honor of Peter Kalm, a Swedish

The species is found from New Brunswick to Louisiana, but principally
among the ranges of the Appalachian mountains. Its thin bark makes it an
easy prey to fire and the top is killed by a moderate blaze. The root
generally remains uninjured and sends up sprouts in large numbers.
Thickets almost impenetrable are sometimes produced in that way.

Flowers and foliage of mountain laurel are highly esteemed as
decorations, foliage in winter, and the flowers in May and June. The
bloom appears in large clusters, and various colors are in evidence,
white, rose, pink, and numerous combinations. The seeds are ripe in
September, and the pods which bear them burst soon after.

The wood of mountain laurel weighs 44.62 pounds per cubic foot. It is
hard, strong, rather brittle, of slow growth, brown in color, tinged
with red, with lighter colored sapwood. This description applies to the
wood of the trunk; but in nearly all cases where mention is made of the
wood of this tree, it refers to the roots. These consist of enlargements
or stools, often protruding considerably above the ground. If the area
has been visited repeatedly by fire, the roots are generally out of
proportion to the size of the tops. In that respect they resemble
mesquite, except that the enlarged root of mesquite penetrates far
beneath the surface while that of mountain laurel remains just below the
surface or rises partly above it.

The utilization of mountain laurel is not confined to the trunks which
reach tree size. Generally it is the root that is wanted. Roots are
usually sold by weight, because of the difficulty of measuring them as
lumber or even by the cord. The annual product of this material in North
Carolina alone amounts to about 85,000 pounds, all of which goes to
manufacturers of tobacco pipes and cigar holders. The use of the laurel
root for pipes is as old as its use for spoons. Pioneers who raised and
cured their own tobacco smoked it in pipes which were their own
handiwork. The laurel root was selected then as now because it carves
easily, is not inclined to split, does not burn readily, and darkens in
color with age. It is cheap material, is found throughout an extensive
region, and the supply is so large that exhaustion in the near future is
not anticipated.

The wood is employed in the manufacture of many small articles other
than tobacco pipes. Paper knives, small rulers, turned boxes for pins
and buttons, trays, plaques, penholders, handles for buckets, dippers,
and firewood, are among the uses for which laurel is found suitable.

It is of no small importance for ornamental purposes, and is often seen
growing in clumps and borders in public parks and private yards, where
its evergreen foliage and its bloom make it a valuable shrub. It is
planted in Europe as well as in this country.

GREAT LAUREL (_Rhododendron maximum_) is also in the heath family. More
than two hundred species of _rhododendron_ are known, and seventeen are
in this country, but only one attains tree size. The generic name means
“rose tree,” and the name is well selected. The flowers are the most
conspicuous feature belonging to this species, and few wild trees or
shrubs equal it for beauty. It is not native much west of the Alleghany
mountains, but grows north and east to Nova Scotia. It is at its best
among the mountains, thrives in deep ravines where the shade is dense,
and on steep slopes and stony mountain tops. It forms extensive thickets
which are often so deep and tangled that it is difficult to pass through
them. This laurel is seldom found growing on limestone. It reaches its
largest size in the South. Trees thirty or forty feet high and a foot in
diameter occur in favored localities. It grows on the Alleghany
mountains in West Virginia at an elevation exceeding 4,000 feet and
there forms vast thickets. Some use is made of the wood for engraving
blocks and as tool handles. It is hard, strong, brittle, of slow growth,
and light clear brown. It is frequently planted in parks in this country
and Europe, and three or more varieties are distinguished in
cultivation. This laurel’s leaves have a peculiar habit of shrinking and
rolling up when the thermometer falls to zero or near it. Among the
names applied to it are great laurel, rose bay, dwarf rose bay tree,
wild rose bay, bigleaf laurel, deer tongue, laurel, spoon hutch, and

CATAWBA RHODODENDRON (_Rhododendron catawbiense_) is a rare,
large-flowered species of the mountain regions from West Virginia
southward to Georgia and Alabama. The wood is not put to use, and the
species is chiefly valuable as an ornamental shrub. It seldom reaches
large size.

SOURWOOD (_Oxydendrum arboreum_) follows the Alleghany mountain ranges
south from Pennsylvania, and extends into Florida, reaching the Atlantic
coast in Virginia, and Indiana, Tennessee, and Louisiana westward. The
best development of the species is found among the western slopes of the
Big Smoky mountains in Tennessee. It is called sorrel-tree, sour gum,
and sour gum bush, on account of the acidity of the leaves when chewed.
Arrow-wood, another name, refers to the long, straight stems between the
whorls of branches of young trees--those three or four feet high. The
stems are of proper size for arrows, and amateur bowmen use them. Those
who designate the tree as lily-of-the-valley have in mind the flowers.
The shape suggests an opening lily, but the size does not. The flower is
about one-third of an inch long, but panicles several inches long are
covered with them. They open in July and August, and in September the
fruit is ripe. The seed is pale brown and one-eighth of an inch long.

The sourwood tree at its best is fifty or sixty feet high and from
twelve to eighteen inches in diameter. The bark of young trees is
smooth, but on mature trunks it resembles the exceedingly rough bark of
an old black gum. In fact, many people suppose this tree to be black
gum, never having noticed the difference of leaf, fruit, and flower. The
genus consists of a single species. The wood is heavy, hard, compact,
and it takes good polish. The medullary rays are numerous, but thin, and
they contribute little or nothing to the figure of the wood. The annual
rings show little difference between springwood and summerwood, and
consequently produce poor figure when the lumber is sawed tangentially.
The pores are many and small and are regularly distributed through the
yearly ring. Heartwood is brown, tinged with red, the sapwood lighter.
The strength and elasticity of sourwood are moderate. The wood is made
into sled runners in some of the mountain districts where it occurs, but
no particular qualities fit it for that use. It is occasionally employed
for machinery bearings. It has been reported for mallets and mauls, but
since it is not very well suited for those articles, the conclusion is
that those who so report it have confused it with black gum which it
resembles in the living tree, but not much in the wood. Small handles
are made of it, and it gives good service, provided great strength and
stiffness are not required. Sourwood is not abundant anywhere, and
seldom are more than a few trees found in a group.

    TREE HUCKLEBERRY (_Vaccinium arboreum_) is the only tree form of
    twenty-five or thirty species of huckleberry in this country. The
    cranberry is one of the best known species. The range of tree
    huckleberry extends from North Carolina to Texas, and it reaches its
    largest size in the latter state where trunks thirty feet high and
    ten inches in diameter occur, but not in great abundance. The fruit
    which this tree bears has some resemblance to the common
    huckleberry, but is inferior in flavor, besides being dry and
    granular. It ripens in October and remains on the branches most of
    the winter. The fruit is about a quarter of an inch in diameter,
    dark and lustrous, and is a conspicuous and tempting bait for
    feathered inhabitants of swamp and forest. The bark of the roots is
    sometimes used for medicine, and that from the trunk for tanning,
    but it is too scarce to become important in the leather industry.
    The tree is known in different parts of its range as farkleberry,
    sparkleberry, myrtle berry, bluet, and in North Carolina it is known
    as gooseberry. The wood is hard, heavy, and very compact; is liable
    to warp, twist, and check in drying; polishes with a fine, satiny
    finish. Medullary rays are numerous, broad, and conspicuous; wood
    light brown, tinged with red. Small articles are turned from it.



[Illustration: OSAGE ORANGE]


(_Toxylon Pomiferum_)

Osage orange belongs to the mulberry family. There are fifty-four
genera, three of which are found in the United States, the mulberries,
the Osage orange, and the figs. Osage orange is known by several names,
the principal one of which refers to the Osage Indians, who formerly
lived in the region where the tree grows. It is called orange because
the fruit, which is from two to five inches in diameter, looks like a
green orange, but it is unfit for food. In its range most people call it
bodark or bodock, that being a corruption of the name by which the
French designated it, bois d’arc, which means bow wood. It was so called
from the fact that Indians made bows of it when they could get nothing
better. Its value as material for bows seems to be traditional and
greatly overestimated. It is lower in elasticity than white oak and very
much lower than hickory, and, theoretically, at least, it is not well
suited for bows. The wood is known also as mock orange, bow-wood, Osage
apple tree, yellow-wood, hedge, and hedge tree. The last name is given
because many hedges have been made of it.

Osage orange has been planted in perhaps every state of the Union, and
grows successfully in most of them. It is one of the most widely
distributed of American forest trees, but its distribution has been
chiefly artificial. It was found originally in a very restricted region,
from which it was carried for hedge and ornamental planting far and
wide. Its natural home, to which it was confined when first discovered,
embraced little more than ten thousand square miles, and probably half
of that small area produced no trees of commercial size. Its northern
limit was near Atoka, Oklahoma, its southern a little south of Dallas,
Texas; a range north and south of approximately one hundred miles. Its
broadest extent east and west was along Red River, through Cooke,
Grayson, Fanning, Lamar, and Red River counties, Texas, about 120 miles.
Some Osage orange of commercial size grew outside the area thus
delimited, but no large amount. Much of that region, particularly south
of Red River, was prairie, without timber of any kind; but scattered
here and there were belts, strips, thickets, and clumps of Osage orange
mixed with other species. On the very best of its range, and before
disturbed by white men, this wood seldom formed pure stands of as much
as 100 acres in one body, and since the country’s settlement, the stands
have become smaller or have been entirely cleared to make farms. All
accounts agree that the Osage orange reaches its highest development on
the fertile lands along Boggy and Blue rivers in Oklahoma, though fine
bodies of it once grew south of the Red River in Texas, and much is
still cut there though the choicest long ago disappeared. Few trees are
less exacting in soil, yet when it can make choice it chooses the best.
In its natural habitat it holds its place in the black, fertile flats
and valleys, and is seldom found on sandy soil. It is not a swamp tree,
though it is uninjured by occasional floods. The tracts where it grows
are sometimes called “bodark swamps,” though marshy in wet weather only.

The tree attains a height of fifty or sixty feet when at its best, but
specimens that tall are unusual. Trunks are occasionally two or three
feet in diameter, but that size is very rare. At the present time
probably ten trees under a foot in diameter are cut for every one over
that size.

Rough and unshapely as Osage trees are, they have been more closely
utilized than most timbers. Fence posts are the largest item. The board
measure equivalent of the annual cut of posts has been placed at
18,400,000. The posts are shipped to surrounding states, in addition to
fencing nearly 40,000 square miles of northern Texas and southern
Oklahoma. Houseblocks constitute another important use. These are short
posts set under the corners of buildings in place of stone foundations.
The annual demand for this kind of material amounts to about 1,000,000
board feet. An equal amount goes into bridge piling. The principal
demand comes from highway commissioners. Telephone poles take a
considerable quantity, and insulator pins more.

One of the most important uses of Osage orange is found in the
manufacture of wagon wheels, though the total quantity so used is
smaller than that demanded for fence posts.

About 10,000 or 12,000 wagons with Osage orange felloes or rims are
manufactured annually in the United States. That use of the wood is not
new. It began in a small way soon after the settlement of the region. At
first the work was hand-done by local blacksmiths and wheelwrights. They
found the wood objectionable, from the workman’s standpoint, on account
of its extreme hardness and the difficulty of cutting it. That objection
is still urged against it though machines have taken the place of the
hand tools of former times. Saws and bits are quickly dulled, and the
cost of grinding, repair, and replacement increases the operator’s
expense much above ordinary mill outlay for such purposes. On that
account many prefer to work the wood green. It is then softer, and cuts
more smoothly. If seasoned before it is passed through the machines it
is liable to “pull.” That term is used to indicate a rough-breaking of
the fibres by the impact of knives. The readiness with which the wood
splits calls for extraordinary care in boring it, and many felloes are
spoiled in finishing them to receive the tenoned ends of spokes.

A number of commodities are made of Osage orange but in quantities so
small that the total wood used does not constitute a serious drain upon
the supply. Police clubs are occasionally made as a by-product of the
rim mill. Some years ago at the Texas state fair at Dallas, a piano was
exhibited, all visible wood being Osage orange, handsomely polished. The
rich color of this wood distinguishes it from all other American
species. When oiled it retains the yellow color, but unoiled wood fades
on long exposure. Clock cases of Osage have been manufactured locally,
and gun stocks made of it are much admired, though the wood’s weight is
an argument against it for gun stocks. Canes split from straight-grained
blocks, and shaved and polished by hand, are occasionally met with, but
none manufactured by machinery have been reported. Sawmills in the Osage
orange region use the wood as rollers for carriages and off-bearing
tables. Rustic rockers and benches of the wood, with the bark or without
it, figure to a small extent in local trade. It has been tried
experimentally for parquetry floors, with satisfactory results. Sections
of streets have been paved with Osage orange blocks. The wood wears well
and is nearly proof against decay, but no considerable demand for such
blocks appears ever to have existed. Railroads which were built through
the region years ago cut Osage for ties and culvert timber, but no such
use is now reported. The demand for the wood for tobacco pipes is
increasing, more than 100,000 blocks for such pipes having been sold
during a single year.

Osage orange weighs 48.21 pounds per cubic foot. It is twenty-eight per
cent stronger than white oak, but is not quite as stiff, is very
brittle, and under heavy impact, will crumble. For that reason, Osage
wagon felloes will not stand rocky roads. The bark is sometimes used for
tanning, and the wood for dyeing.

    RED MULBERRY (_Morus rubra_) is frequently spoken of simply as
    mulberry, and is sometimes called black mulberry. The full grown
    fruit is red, but turns black or very dark purple when ripe. The
    berry is composed of a compact and adhering cluster of drupes, each
    drupe about one thirty-second of an inch long. What seems to be a
    single berry is really an aggregation of very small fruits, each
    resembling a tiny cherry. The mulberry is naturally a forest tree,
    but it is permitted to grow about the margins of fields, and is
    often planted in door yards for its fruit and its shade. It is
    looked upon by many as a tame species.

    Two mulberries grow naturally in this country. The red species
    ranges from Massachusetts west to Kansas, and south to Texas and
    Florida. Its best growth is found in the lower Ohio valley and the
    southern foot hills of the Appalachian mountains. The largest trees
    are seventy feet high and three or four in diameter. If this tree
    were abundant the wood’s place in furniture and finish would be
    important. The heartwood is dark, of good figure, and fairly strong.
    It takes a fine polish, and resembles black walnut, though usually
    of a little lighter shade. Its largest use is as fence posts. It is
    durable in contact with the soil. The effect when made into
    furniture, finish, and various kinds of turnery, is pleasing. Farm
    tools, particularly scythe snaths, are made of it, and it has been
    reported for slack cooperage and boat building, but such uses are
    apparently infrequent. The wood is evidently sold under some other
    name, or without a name, for the total sawmill output in the United
    States is given in government statistics at only 1,000 feet, which
    is probably not one per cent of the cut.

    MEXICAN MULBERRY (_Morus celtidifolia_) ranges from southern Texas
    to Arizona. Trees are seldom more than thirty feet high and one in
    diameter. The berry is about half an inch long, black, and made up
    of a hundred or more very small drupes. It is edible, but its taste
    is insipid. The wood is heavy and is of dark orange or dark brown
    color. It is suitable for small turnery and other articles, but no
    reports of uses for it have been found. The tree is occasionally
    planted for its fruit by Mexicans, but Americans care little for it.

    Two foreign mulberries have been extensively planted in this
    country, and in some localities they are running wild and are
    mistaken for native species. One is the white mulberry (_Morus
    alba_), a native of China; the other is the paper mulberry
    (_Broussonetia papyrifera_) a different genus, but of the same
    family. It is a native of Japan, and has been naturalized in some of
    the southern states. Nine varieties of the white mulberry have been
    distinguished in cultivation.



[Illustration: PERSIMMON]


(_Diospyros Virginiana_)

Persimmon belongs to the ebony family, and the family has contributed to
the civilization of the human race since very early times. Some of the
oldest furniture in existence, that which was found hidden in the ruins
of ancient Egypt, is ebony, and there is evidence among the old records
in the land of the Nile that the Egyptians made voyages southward
through the Red sea and brought back cargoes of ebony from Punt, a
region in eastern Africa. The name ebony is believed to be derived from
a Hebrew word, probably brought to Palestine by some of Solomon’s
captains who traded along the south coast of Asia or the east coast of
Africa about the time of the building of the first temple. The botanical
name for the genus (_diospyros_) is made up of two words meaning
“Jupiter’s wheat”--supposed to be a reference to the value of persimmons
as food. The name, however, is not as old as the Hebrew word, nor is the
Hebrew as old as the references to ebony in the records of Egypt. A
piece of the old furniture--not less than 4,000 years old--is still in
existence. It probably matches in age the cedar of Lebanon coffins in
the oldest Egyptian tombs.

The ebony family consists of five genera, one of which is persimmon
(_diospyros_). This genus consists of 160 species, only two of them in
the United States. Thus the persimmon trees of this country are a very
small part of the family to which they belong, but they are a highly
respectable part of it. The word persimmon is of Indian origin, and was
used by the tribes near the Atlantic coast. The original spelling was
“pessimin,” and that was probably about the pronunciation given it by
the aborigines.

It has never been called by many names. It is known as date plum in New
Jersey and Tennessee, and as possumwood in Florida. The avidity with
which opossums feed on the fruit is responsible for the name.

The range of persimmon extends from Connecticut to Florida, and westward
to Iowa, Missouri, and Texas. It reaches its largest size in the South.
It is of vigorous growth, spreading by means of seeds, and also by
roots. The latter is the most common method where the ground is open.
Such situations as old, abandoned fields invite the spread of
persimmons. Roots ramify under the ground, and sprouts spring up, often
producing thickets of an acre or more. Trees do not generally reach
large size if they grow in that way, but their crowded condition does
not make them fruitless as can be attested to by many a boy who
penetrates the persimmon thickets by means of devious paths that wind
with many a labyrinthic turn which takes in all that is worth finding.

The variation in the quality of persimmons is greater than that of most
wild fruits. Nature usually sets a standard and sticks closely to it,
but the rule is not adhered to in the case of persimmons. Some are twice
as large as others; some are never fit to eat, no matter how severely or
how often they are frosted; others require at least one fierce frost to
soften their austerity; but some may be eaten with relish without the
ameliorating influence of frost.

The austerity of a green persimmon is due to tannin. It is supposed that
cultivation might remove some of this objectionable quality, but no
great success has thus far attended efforts in that direction. Japanese
persimmons, which are of a different species, are cultivated with
success in California.

The sizes of persimmon trees vary according to soil, climate, and
situation. They average rather small, but occasionally reach a height of
100 feet and a diameter of nearly two. Mature trunks are usually little
over twelve inches in diameter, and many never reach that size.

The dry wood weighs 49.28 pounds per cubic foot, which is about the
weight of hickory. It is hard, strong, compact, and is susceptible of a
high polish. The yearly rings are marked by one or more bands of open
ducts, and scattered ducts occur in the rest of the wood. The medullary
rays are thin and inconspicuous; color of heartwood dark brown, often
nearly black; the sapwood is light brown, and frequently contains darker

The value of persimmon depends largely upon the proportion of sapwood to
heartwood. That was the case formerly more than it is now; for until
recent years the heartwood of persimmon was generally thrown away, and
the sapwood only was wanted; but demand for the heart has recently
increased. There is much difference in the proportion of heartwood to
sapwood in different trees. It does not seem to be a matter of size, nor
wholly of age. Small trunks sometimes have more heart than large ones. A
tree a hundred years old may have heartwood scarcely larger than a lead
pencil, and occasionally there is none. In other instances the heart is
comparatively large.

Persimmon has never been a wood of many uses, as hickory and oak have
been. In early times it was considered valuable almost wholly on account
of its fruit, and that had no commercial value, as it was seldom offered
for sale in the market. In the language of the southern negroes who
fully appreciated the fruit, it was “something good to run at”--meaning
that the ripe persimmons were gathered and eaten from the trees while
they lasted, but that few were preserved.

It is recorded that the “small wheel” of the pioneer cabins was
occasionally made of persimmon wood. The wheel so designated was the
machine on which wool and flax were spun by the people in their homes.
Spinning wheels were of two kinds, one large, with the operator walking
to and fro, the other small, with the operator sitting. It was the small
wheel which was sometimes made of persimmon. There is no apparent reason
why it should have been made of that wood in preference to any one of a
dozen others.

The demand for persimmon in a serious way began with its use as shuttles
in textile factories. Weavers had made shuttles of it for home use on
hand looms for many years before the demand came from power looms where
the shuttles were thrown to and fro by machinery. Up to some thirty
years ago, shuttles for factories were generally made of Turkish
boxwood, but the supply fell short and the advance in price caused a
search for substitutes. Two satisfactory shuttlewoods were found in this
country, persimmon and dogwood. The demand came not only from textile
mills in America but from those of Europe. The manufacture of shuttle
blocks became an industry of considerable importance.

Persimmon wood is suitable for shuttles because it wears smooth, is
hard, strong, tough, and of proper weight. Most woods that have been
tried for this article fail on account of splintering, splitting,
quickly wearing out, or wearing rough. The shuttle is not regarded as
satisfactory unless it stands 1,000 hours of actual work. Some woods
which are satisfactory for many other purposes will not last an hour as
a shuttle.

The manufacture of shuttles, after the square has been roughed out,
requires twenty-two operations. Probably more shuttlewood comes from
Arkansas than from any other section, though a dozen or more states
contribute persimmon. The total sawmill cut of this wood in the United
States is about 2,500,000 feet, but this does not include that which
never passes through a sawmill.

The wood has other uses. It has lately met demand from manufacturers of
golf heads. Skewers are made of it in North Carolina, and billiard cues
and mallets in Massachusetts.

The heartwood is dark and shuttle makers and golfhead manufacturers will
not have it. Until recently it was customary to throw it away, because
no sale for it could be found. It is now known to be suitable for
parquet flooring and for brush backs, and the demand for the heartwood
is as reliable as for the sapwood. A little of the dark wood is cut in
veneer and is employed in panel work, and other is used in turnery.

The seeds of persimmon furnished one of the early substitutes for coffee
in backwoods settlements when the genuine article could not be obtained.
They were parched and pounded until sufficiently pulverized. During the
Civil war many a confederate camp in the South was fragrant with the
aroma of persimmon seed coffee, after the soldiers had added the fruit
to their rations of cornbread.

MEXICAN PERSIMMON (_Diospyros texana_) grows in Texas and Mexico. It is
most abundant in southern and western Texas, where it suits itself to
different soils, is found on rich moist ground near the borders of
prairies, and also in rocky canyons and dry mesas. The largest trees are
fifty feet high and twenty inches in diameter, but trunks that large are
not abundant. The tree differs from the eastern persimmon in that the
sapwood is thinner, and the heartwood makes up a much greater proportion
of the trunk; the uses are consequently different, since it is taken for
its dark wood, the eastern tree for its light-colored sap. The fruit of
the Mexican persimmon is little esteemed. It is small, black, and the
thin layer of pulp between the skin and the seed is insipid. Until fully
ripe it is exceedingly austere. The Mexicans in the Rio Grande valley
make a dye of the persimmons and use it to color sheep skins. The
fruit’s supply of tannin probably contributes to the tanning as well as
the dyeing of the sheep pelts. The wood is heavier than eastern
persimmon, and has more than three fold more ashes in a cord of wood,
amounting to about 160 pounds. The bark is thin and the trunk gnarled.
The dark color of the wood gives it the name black persimmon in Texas.
Mexicans call it chapote. Sargent pronounces it the best American
substitute for boxwood for engraving purposes, but it does not appear to
be used outside of Texas. The wood is irregular in color, even in the
same piece, being variegated with lighter and darker streaks, and cloudy
effects. It ought to be fine brush-back material. It is worked into tool
handles, lodge furniture, canes, rules, pen holders, picture frames,
curtain rings, door knobs, parasol handles, and maul sticks for artists.





(_Cornus Florida_)

The dogwood or cornel family is old but not numerous. It originated
several hundred thousand years ago and spread over much of the world,
but preferred the temperate latitudes. One species at least crossed the
equator and established itself in the highlands of Peru. There are forty
or fifty species in all, about one-third of them in the United States,
but most are shrubs. Black gum and tupelo are members of the family, and
are giants compared with the dogwoods. In Europe the tree is usually
called cornel, and that has been made the family name. It is a very old
word, coined by the Romans before the days of Caesar. They so named it
because it was hard like horn (_cornus_ meaning horn in the Latin
language). They used it as shafts of spears, and so common was that use
that when a speaker referred to a spear he simply called it by the name
of the wood of the handle or shaft, as when Virgil described a combat
which was supposed to have occurred 800 years before the Christian era,
and used the words: “Clogged in the wound the Italian _cornel_ stood.”

The qualities of this wood which led to important uses among the Romans,
have always made dogwood a valuable material. Civilized nations do not
need it for spear shafts, but they have other demands which call for
large amounts.

The flowering dogwood has other names in this country. It is generally
known simply as dogwood, but it is called boxwood in Connecticut, Rhode
Island, New York, Mississippi, Michigan, Kentucky, and Indiana; false
box-dogwood in Kentucky; New England boxwood in Tennessee; flowering
cornel in Rhode Island; and cornel in Texas.

Its range extends from Massachusetts through Ontario and Michigan to
Missouri, south to Florida, and west to Texas. The area where it grows
includes about 800,000 square miles. It is most common and of largest
size in the South, comparatively rare in the North, generally occurs in
the shade of taller trees, and prefers well-drained soil, but is not
particular whether it is fertile or thin.

The dogwood is valuable as ornament and for its wood. It was formerly a
source of medicine, from roots, bark, and flowers; but it seems to have
been largely displaced by other drugs; was once considered a good
substitute for quinine, that use having been learned from Indian
doctors. The Indians dug roots for a scarlet dye with which the vain
warrior stained escutcheons on buckskin, and colored porcupine quills
and bald eagle feathers for decorating his moccasins and his hair.

The dogwood varies in size from a shrub with many branches to a tree
forty feet high, eighteen inches in diameter, and with a flat but
shapely crown. The trunk rises as a shaft with little taper, until the
first branches are reached. All the branches start at the same place,
and the trunk ends abruptly--divides into branches. Flowers are an
important part of the tree, as might be inferred from the prominence
given them in the tree’s names. In the South the flowers appear in
March, in the North in May, and in both regions before the opening of
the leaves. The flowers on vigorous trees are three or four inches
across, white, and very showy. A dogwood tree in full bloom against a
hillside in spring is a most conspicuous object, and is justly admired
by all who have appreciation of beauty. The flowers fall as leaves
appear, and for some months the tree occupies its little space in the
forest unobserved; but in the autumn it bursts again into glory, and
while not quite as conspicuous an object as when in bloom, it is no less
worthy of admiration. The fall of the leaves reveals the brilliant
scarlet fruit which ladens the branches. The berries are just large
enough for a good mouthful for a bird, but birds spare them until fully
ripe to the harvest, and they then harvest them very rapidly. The tree
is thus permitted to display its fruit a considerable time before
yielding it to the feathered inhabitants of the air whose mission in
forest economy is to scatter the seeds of trees, when nature provides
the seeds themselves with no wings for flying.

The two periods in the year when dogwood is highly ornamental, the
flowers in spring before leaves appear, and fruit in autumn after leaves
fall, are responsible for this tree’s importance in ornamental planting.
It is a common park tree, but it is small, generally not more than
fifteen feet high, and it occupies subordinate places in the plans of
the landscape garden. It is a filler between oaks, pines, and spruces,
and it passes unnoticed, except when in bloom and in fruit.

Dogwood is about four pounds per cubic foot heavier than white oak, has
the same breaking strength, and is lower in elasticity. It is quite
commonly believed that this tree has no heartwood, but the belief is
erroneous. It seldom has much, and small trunks often none; but when
dogwood reaches maturity it develops heart. Sometimes the heartwood is
no larger than a lead pencil in trunks forty or fifty years old. The
heart is brown, sapwood is white, and is the part wanted by the users of
dogwood. Annual rings are obscure and it is a tree of slow growth. The
wood is as nearly without figure as any in this country. It seldom or
never goes to sawmills. The logs are too small. Most of the supply is
bought by manufacturers of shuttles and golf stick heads, in this
country and Europe. They purchase it by the cord or piece. It does not
figure much in any part of the lumber business, but is cut and marketed
in ways peculiar to itself. Log cutters in hardwood forests pay little
attention to it. The dogwood harvest comes principally from southern
states. Village merchants are the chief collectors, and they sell to
contractors who ship to buyers in the manufacturing centers. The village
merchants buy from farmers, who cut a stick here and there as they find
it in woodlots, forests, or by the wayside, on their own land or
somebody else’s. When the cutter next drives to town he throws his few
dogwoods in the wagon, and trades them to the store keeper for groceries
or other merchandise. It is small business, but in the aggregate it
brings together enough dogwood to supply the trade.

Dogwood has many uses, but none other approaches shuttle making and
golfhead manufacture in importance. The wood is made into brush blocks,
wedges, engraver’s blocks, tool handles, machinery bearings as a
substitute for lignum-vitæ, small hubs, and many kinds of turnery and
other small articles.

WESTERN DOGWOOD (_Cornus nuttallii_) is a larger, taller tree than the
eastern flowering dogwood. A height of 100 feet is claimed for it in the
low country along the coast of British Columbia, but there are no
authentic reports of trees so large anywhere south of the boundary
between Canada and the United States. Its height ranges from twenty to
fifty feet, and its diameter from six to twenty inches. The appearance
is much the same as its eastern relative. Its berries are red, and grow
in clusters of forty or less; the bark on old trunks is rough, but is
smooth on those of medium size; the flowers are generally described as
very large and showy, but the true flower is quite an inconspicuous
affair, being a small, greenish-yellow, button-like cluster, surrounded
by four or six snowy-white or sometimes pinkish scales which are
popularly but erroneously supposed to form a portion of the real flower.
The western dogwood in its native forest often puts out flowers in
autumn; is well supplied with foliage which assumes red and orange
colors in the fall when the showy berries are at their best. However,
the tree has not yet won its way into the good graces of landscape
gardeners, and has not been much planted in parks. It wants some of the
good points possessed by the flowering dogwood. The western tree shows
to best advantage in its native forest where it thrives on gentle
mountain slopes and in low bottoms, valleys, and gulches, provided the
soil is well drained and rich. It runs southward fifteen hundred miles
from Vancouver island to southern California. It cares little for
sunshine, and often is found growing nicely in dense shade. Seedlings do
better where shade is deep. The wood is lighter but somewhat stronger
than that of the flowering dogwood; is pale reddish-brown, with thick
sapwood; is hard, and checks badly in seasoning. Mature trees are from
100 to 150 years.

BLUE DOGWOOD (_Cornus alternifolia_) is given that name because of the
blue fruit it bears. It has a number of other names, among them being
purple dogwood, green osier, umbrella tree, pigeonberry, and
alternate-leaved dogwood, the last being simply a translation of its
botanical name. It grows in more northern latitudes than the flowering
dogwood, and does not range as far south. It is found from Nova Scotia
to Alabama, and westward to Minnesota, but its southern habitat lies
along the Appalachian mountain ranges. It attains size and assumes form
similar to the flowering dogwood. The wood is heavy, hard, brown, tinged
with red, the sapwood white. It is a deep forest tree, but has been
domesticated in a few instances where it has been planted as ornament.
The wood seems to possess the good qualities of flowering dogwood, but
no reports of uses for it have been made.

Two varieties of flowering dogwood have been produced by cultivation,
weeping dogwood (_Cornus florida pendula_), and red-bract dogwood
(_Cornus florida rubra_). English cornel or dogwood (_Cornus mas_) has
been planted in many parts of this country. The so-called Jamaica
dogwood is not in the dogwood family.

    ANDROMEDA (_Andromeda ferruginea_) is a small southern tree of South
    Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, and in the latter state is sometimes
    known as titi, though other trees also bear that name. The largest
    are thirty feet high, if by chance one can be found standing erect,
    for most of them prefer to sprawl at full length on the ground. The
    fruit is a small berry of no value. The wood is weak, but hard and
    sufficiently compact to receive fine polish. The heartwood is light
    brown, tinged with red.





(_Umbellularia Californica_)

This tree’s range lies in southern Oregon and in California. It is a
member of the laurel family and is closely related to the eastern
sassafras and the red and the swamp bays of the southern states; but it
is not near kin to the eastern laurels which, strange as it may appear,
do not belong to the laurel family, notwithstanding the names they bear.

The people of California and Oregon have several names for this
interesting tree. It is known as mountain laurel, California bay tree,
myrtle tree, cajeput, California olive, spice tree, laurel, bay tree,
oreodaphne, and California sassafras.

Those who call it laurel name it on account of its large, lustrous,
thick leaves which adhere to the branches from two to six years. All new
leaves do not come at once, as with most trees, but appear a few at a
time during the whole summer.

The names which connect this tree with sassafras, spice and cajeput are
based on odor and taste. All members of the laurel family in this
country are characterized by pungent, aromatic odor and taste, and the
one under consideration shares these properties in a remarkable degree.
When the leaves and the green bark are crushed, they give off a light,
volatile oil in follicles which float in the air, like those of an
onion, and when inhaled it produces severe pain over the eyes, and may
induce dizziness and violent sneezing. Though the symptoms are alarming
to one who is undergoing the experience for the first time, no serious
inconvenience follows. Dried leaves are capable of producing a similar
effect but with less violence. The California laurel’s close
relationship to the camphor tree is readily believed by persons who
inhale some of the oily spray from the crushed leaves.

Attempts have been made to produce the commercial oil of cajeput, or a
substitute for it, by distilling the leaves and bark of this laurel. A
passable substitute has been manufactured, but it cannot be marketed as
the genuine article. By distilling the fruit a product known as
umbellulic acid has been obtained.

The California laurel carries a very dense crown of leaves. This is due
partly to the old crops which hang so long, and to the tree’s habit of
lengthening its leading shoots during the growing season, and the
constant appearance of young leaves on the lengthening shoots. It can
stand an almost unlimited amount of shade itself, and is by no means
backward in giving abundance of shade to small growth which is trying
to struggle up to light from below. It delights in dense thickets, but
it prefers thickets of its own species.

Its fruiting habits and its disposition to occupy the damp, rich soil
along the banks of small water courses, are responsible for the thick
stands. The fruit itself is an interesting thing. It is yellowish-green
in color, as large as a good-sized olive, and looks much like it. The
fruit ripens in October, and falls in time to get the benefit of the
autumn rains which visit the Pacific coast. Since the trees generally
grow along gulches, the fruit falls and rolls to the bottom. The first
dashing rain sends a flood down the gulches, the laurel drupes are
carried along and are buried in mud wherever they can find a resting
place. Germination takes place soon after. The fruit remains under the
mud, attached to the roots of the young plants, until the following

The result is that if a laurel gets a foothold in a gulch through which
water occasionally flows, lines of young laurels will eventually cover
the banks of the gulch as far down stream as conditions are favorable.

The wood of California laurel weighs 40.60 pounds per cubic foot when
kiln-dried. That is nine pounds heavier than sassafras. It is very heavy
when green and sinks when placed in water. It is hard and very firm,
rich yellowish brown in color, often beautifully mottled; but this
applies to the heartwood only, and not to the thick sapwood.

Lumbermen have discovered that the wood’s color can be materially
changed by immersing the logs when green, and leaving them submerged a
long time. The beautiful “black myrtle,” which has been so much admired,
is nothing more than California laurel which has undergone the cold
water treatment.

The annual rings of growth are clearly marked by dark bands of
summerwood. The rings are often wide, but not always, for sometimes the
growth is very slow. The wood is diffuse-porous, and the pores are small
and not numerous. The wood’s figure is brought out best by tangential
sawing, as is the case with so many woods which have clearly-marked
rings but small and obscure medullary rays. Figure is not uniform; that
is, one trunk may produce a pattern quite different from another. The
figure of some logs is particularly beautiful; these logs are selected
for special purposes. Sudworth says that none of our hardwoods excels it
in beautiful grain when finished, and Sargent is still more emphatic
when he declares that it is “the most valuable wood produced in the
forests of Pacific North America for interior finish of houses and for

The wood of this tree has more than ninety per cent of the strength of
white oak, is considerably stiffer, and contains a smaller amount of
ash, weight for weight of wood. The species reaches its best development
in the rich valleys of southwestern Oregon, where, with the broadleaf
maple, it forms a considerable part of the forest growth. The largest
trees are from sixty to eighty feet high, and two to four in diameter.
In crowded stands the trunks are shapely, and often measure thirty or
forty feet to the first limbs; but more commonly the trunk is short.

The boat yards in southwestern Oregon were the first to use California
laurel for commercial purposes, but early settlers made a point of
procuring it for fuel when they could. The oil in the wood causes it to
burn with a cheerful blaze, and campers in the mountains consider
themselves fortunate when they find a supply for the evening bonfire.

Shipbuilders have drawn upon this wood for fifty years for material. It
is made into pilot wheels, interior finish, cleats, crossties, and
sometimes deck planking. Furniture makers long ago made a specialty of
the wood for their San Francisco trade. For thirty years travelers
admired the superb furniture of the Palace hotel in that city, and
wondered of what wood it was made. It was the California laurel. The
hotel’s furniture was hand-made, or largely so, at a time when
woodworking factories were few on the Pacific coast. The furniture was
finally destroyed in the San Francisco earthquake. Furniture is still
one of the products made of the wood, but the quantity is small. Other
products are interior finish; fixtures for banks, stores and offices;
musical instruments, including organs; mathematical instruments, and
carpenters’ tools, including rulers, straight-edges, spirit levels,
bench screws and clamps, and handles of many kinds.

Makers of novelties and small turnery find it serviceable for paper
knives, pin trays, match safes, brush backs, and many articles of like
kind. One of the largest uses for it is as walking beams for pumping
oilwells in central and southern California. The beauty of grain has
nothing to do with this use.

Country blacksmiths repair wagons and agricultural implements with this
wood. Farmers have long employed it about their premises for posts,
gates, floors, and building material. Cooks flavor soup with the leaves,
and poultrymen make henroosts of poles, believing that the wood’s odor
will keep insects away. This is probably the old sassafras superstition
carried west by early California settlers.

    RED BAY (_Persea borbonia_) is a southern member of the laurel
    family, and close akin to sassafras and the California laurel. The
    bark is red, hence the name; but it is known also as bay galls,
    laurel tree, Florida mahogany, false mahogany, and sweet bay. It
    grows from Virginia to Texas, but is most abundant near the coast,
    yet it ascends the Mississippi valley to Arkansas. The leaves remain
    on the tree a full year, but turn yellow toward the last, in
    consequence of which the species is not evergreen. In shape and
    color the leaves resemble laurel. The fruit is a small, dark blue
    drupe, with thin flesh. The wood is heavy, hard, very strong,
    rather brittle, bright red, with thin, lighter-colored sapwood. It
    was once very popular in the South for furniture. Rare pieces, some
    150 years old, are still found in southern homes. The wood was
    exported prior to 1741 from the Carolinas, and the quantity seems to
    have been considerable. It was then regarded as a finer wood than
    mahogany. It was exported to the West Indies, where mahogany was
    abundant, and was made into furniture and finish for the homes of
    wealthy planters and merchants. An old report describes the wood as
    resembling “watered satin.” It was in early demand by shipbuilders,
    but it has now ceased to go to boat yards. Except in rare instances,
    it is not reported by any wood-using industries. In Texas a little
    is made into pin trays, small picture frames, canes, and shelves. It
    deserves a more important place, for when polished and finished, it
    is one of the handsomest woods of this country. Trees attain a
    height of sixty or seventy feet, and a diameter of two or three.

    SWAMP BAY (_Persea pubescens_) attains a height of thirty or forty
    feet, but is seldom more than a foot in diameter, and is too small
    for saw timber. The wood is strong, heavy, rather soft, orange
    colored, streaked with brown, and not as handsome as its larger
    relative, red bay, which is associated with it from North Carolina
    to Mississippi. It is an evergreen in some cases, but in others the
    leaves turn yellow the second spring. The black fruit is a drupe
    nearly an inch long. The wood is without attractive figure, since
    its medullary rays are obscure, and the annual rings are indistinct
    and produce little contrast when the trunks are sawed tangentially.
    Color is the chief attraction that can be claimed for the wood. A
    little is occasionally worked into interior finish.



[Illustration: LOCUST]


(_Robinia Pseudacacia_)

Locust belongs to the pea family, known in botany as _Leguminosæ_.[6] In
most parts of its range it is known simply as locust, but in some
localities it is called black locust, an allusion to the color of the
bark; yellow locust, descriptive of the heartwood; white locust,
referring to the bloom; red locust, probably a reference to the wood,
and green locust for the same reason; acacia and false acacia; honey
locust, a name which belongs to another species; post locust, because it
has always been a favorite tree for fence posts; and pea-flower locust,
a reference to the bloom.

    [6] This is a very large family, containing trees, shrubs, and
    vines, such as locusts, acacias, beans, and clovers. There are 430
    genera in the world, and many times that many species. The United
    States has seventeen genera and thirty species of the pea family
    that are large enough to be classed as trees. Their common names
    follow: Florida Cat’s Claw, Huajillo, Texan Ebony, Wild Tamarind,
    Huisache, Texas Cat’s Claw, Devil’s Claw, Leucæna, Chalky Leucæna,
    Screwbean, Mesquite, Redbud, Texas Redbud, Honey Locust, Water
    Locust, Coffeetree, Horsebean, Small-leaf Horsebean, Greenbark
    Acacia, Palo Verde, Frijolito, Sophora, Yellow-wood, Eysenhardtia,
    Indigo Thorn, Locust, New Mexican Locust, Clammy Locust, Sonora
    Ironwood, Jamaica Dogwood. These species are treated separately in
    the following pages, and are given space according to their relative
    commercial importance in the particular regions where they grow.

Several of the names refer to the color of the wood, and seem
contradictory, for yellow, green, and red are not the same; yet the
names describe with fair accuracy. Color of the heartwood varies with
different trees, yellow with some, tinged with red with others, and
sometimes it might be appropriately called blue locust, for the
heartwood is nearer that color than any other.

The natural range of locust seems to have been confined to the
Appalachian mountain ranges from Pennsylvania to Georgia. It probably
existed as a low shrub in parts of Arkansas and Oklahoma. Its range has
been extended by planting until it now reaches practically all the
states, but is running wild in only about half of them. It has received
a great deal of attention from foresters and tree planters. It attracted
notice very early, because of its hardness, strength, and lasting
properties. At one time the planting of locust came nearly being a fad.
In England it was supposed that it would rise to great importance in
shipbuilding, and in France it was looked upon as no less important.
Books were written on the subject in both English and French. All the
details of planting and utilization were discussed. Its generic name,
_Robinia_, is in honor of a Frenchman, Robin. Extravagant claims were
once made for the wood. When American ships were gaining victory after
victory over English vessels in the war of 1812, it was asserted in
England that the cause of American success was the locust timber in
their ships. The claim may have been partly true, but other factors
contributed to the phenomenal series of successes.

The locust craze died a natural death. Too much was claimed for the
wood. Possibilities in the way of growth were over estimated. It was
assumed that the tree, if planted, would grow everywhere as vigorously
as on its native mountains in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia,
where trees two or three feet in diameter and eighty feet high were
found. Experience proved later that nature had planted the locust in the
best place for it, and when transplanted elsewhere it was apt to fall
short of expectations. Outside of its natural range it grows vigorously
for a time, and occasionally reaches large size; but in recent years the
locust borer has defeated the efforts of man to extend the range of this
species and make it profitable in regions distant from its native home.
The tree is often devoured piecemeal, branches and twigs breaking and
falling, and trunks gradually disappearing beneath the attacks of the
hungry borers. No effective method of combating the pest is known. The
planting of locust trees, once so common, has now nearly ceased.

Within its native range, and beyond that range when it has a chance,
locust is a valuable and beautiful tree. It is valuable at all times on
account of the superior wood which it furnishes, and beautiful when in
bloom and in leaf. A locust in full flower is not surpassed in
ornamental qualities by any tree of this country. It is a mass of white,
exceedingly rich in perfume. It blooms in May or June. During the summer
its foliage shows tropical luxuriance with exquisite grace. Its compound
leaves are from eight to fourteen inches long, with seven to nine
leaflets. They come late in spring and go early in autumn. The tree’s
thorns, resembling cat claws, are affixed to the bark only, and usually
fall with the leaves. The fruit is a pod three or four inches long, and
contains four or eight wingless seeds. They depend on animals to carry
them to planting places. The pods dry on the branches, and rattle in the
wind most of the autumn. The tree spreads by underground roots which
send up sprouts. A locust in winter is not a thing of beauty. It appears
to be dead; not a bud visible. Its black, angular branches lack every
line of grace.

Locust wood is remarkable for strength, hardness, and durability. It is
about one pound per cubic foot lighter than white oak, but is
thirty-four per cent stiffer and forty-five per cent stronger. Its
strength exceeds that of shagbark hickory, and it is doubtful whether a
stronger wood exists in the United States. Its hardness is equally
remarkable, and is said to be due to crystals formed in the wood cells,
and known as “rhaphides.” Its durability is probably equal to that of
Osage orange, mesquite, and catalpa, but it is not easy to fix a
standard of durability by which to compare different woods. Locust is
the best fence post wood in this country, because it is usually much
straighter than other very durable woods. The posts are expected to last
at least thirty years, and have been known to stand twice that long.

For more than 150 years locust was almost indispensable in shipbuilding,
furnishing the tree nails or large pins which held the timbers together.
It supplied material for other parts of ships also, but in smaller
quantities. The substitution of steel ships for wooden lessened demand
for locust pins, and in many instances large iron nails are used to
fasten timbers together. In spite of this, the demand for locust tree
nails is nearly always ahead of supply.

The wood’s figure is fairly strong, due to the contrast between the
springwood and that grown later, but not to the medullary rays, which
are small and inconspicuous. The wood is not in much demand for
ornamental purposes. Small amounts are made into policemen’s clubs, rake
teeth, hubs for buggy wheels, ladder rungs, and tool handles.

The tree grows rapidly where conditions are favorable, and very slowly
when they are not. Usually trees of fence post size are twenty years old
at least, but trunks thirty five years old have been known to produce a
post for each two years of age, though that was exceptional. Railroads,
especially in Pennsylvania, planted locust largely a few years ago for
ties. It has been reported that in some instances expectations of growth
have not been fully realized.

    CLAMMY LOCUST (_Robinia viscosa_) was originally confined to the
    mountains of North Carolina and South Carolina where its attractive
    flowers brought it to the notice of nurserymen who have enlarged its
    natural range a hundred if not a thousand fold. It is now grown in
    parks and gardens not only in the United States east of the
    Mississippi river and as far north as Massachusetts, but in most
    foreign countries that have temperate climates. It is usually a
    shrub, but on some of the North Carolina mountains it attains a
    height of forty feet and a diameter of twelve inches. The wood is
    seldom or never used for any commercial purpose. The leaves are from
    seven to twelve inches long, and contain thirteen to twenty-one
    leaflets. The flowers appear in June, possess little odor, and are
    admired solely for their beauty. They are mingled red and rose
    color. The pods are from two to three and a half inches long, and
    contain small, mottled seeds. The wood is hard and heavy, the heart
    brown and the sap yellow. In its wild haunts it is usually a shrub
    five or six feet high.

    NEW MEXICAN LOCUST (_Robinia neo-mexicana_) is a small southwestern
    tree, seldom exceeding a height of twenty-five feet or a diameter of
    eight inches. It ranges from Colorado to Arizona, and takes its name
    from its presence in New Mexico. It reaches its largest size near
    Trinidad, Colorado. It is found at elevations of 7,000 feet. Leaves
    are from six to twelve inches long, and the leaflets number from
    fifteen to twenty-one. The flowers appear in May and are less showy
    than those of the eastern locust. The wood is heavy, exceedingly
    hard, the heartwood yellow, streaked with brown, the thin sapwood
    light yellow. This locust is occasionally used locally for small
    posts or stakes, but is generally too small. It is sometimes met
    with in cultivation in Europe and the eastern states.

    TEXAN EBONY (_Zygia flexicaulis_) ranges from the Texas coast
    through Mexico to Lower California. It reaches a height of thirty
    feet or more, and a diameter of two or less. It is a beautiful tree
    along the lower Rio Grande where it reaches its largest size. The
    light yellow or cream-colored, very fragrant flowers bloom from June
    till August; the fruit ripens in Autumn but adheres several months
    to the branches. Mexicans roast the seeds as a substitute for
    coffee. The color of the heartwood gives this tree its name, but it
    is not a true ebony. The wood of the roots is blacker than that of
    the trunk, and small articles made of roots resemble black ebony of
    Ceylon. The trunk wood is liable to be streaked with black, brown,
    and medium yellow. The rings of annual growth are frequently of
    different colors. Considerable demand is made upon this wood in
    Texas for crossties. It is very durable, but is so hard that holes
    must be bored for the spikes. It is sold in large amounts as
    cordwood, and it burns well. Other articles made of this so-called
    ebony are foundation blocks for buildings and rollers for moving
    houses. It is used also for small turnery.

    HUAJILLO (_Zygia brevifolia_) has no English name, but Americans in
    the Rio Grande valley where this tree grows call it by its Mexican
    name. It is a larger tree in Mexico than on this side of the river.
    It is not often more than thirty feet high and six inches in
    diameter, and is generally a shrub. Its beautiful foliage looks like
    masses of ferns, and the flowers range from white to violet-yellow.
    The wood is dark, hard, heavy, and is seldom used for anything but

    FLORIDA CAT’S CLAW (_Zygia unguis-cati_), with a Latin name that
    would make Julius Caesar stare and gasp, reaches its largest size in
    the United States on Elliott’s Key, Florida. Its name refers to its
    curved thorns. Trunks twenty-five feet high and eight inches in
    diameter are the largest in this country. It bears pods, but the
    leaves are not compound, thus differing from most trees of the pea
    family. The wood is not put to any use, though it is very hard and
    heavy, rich red, varying to purple, with clear yellow sapwood. It is
    said to check badly in drying. The bark is used for medicine in some
    of the islands of the West Indies.



[Illustration: HONEY LOCUST]


(_Gleditsia Triacanthos_)

This tree has never suffered for want of names, but most of them refer
either to the sweetness of the pod or to the fierceness of the thorns.
The belief has long prevailed that it was the pods of this tree on which
John the Baptist fed while a recluse in the Syrian desert. The tradition
should not be taken seriously. It was certainly not this tree, if any,
which furnished food to the prophet in the wilderness, for it does not
grow in Syria. Some related species may grow there, for species of
_Gleditsia_ occur in western Asia as well as in China, Japan, and west
Africa. The generic name is in honor of Johann Gottlieb Gleditsch, a
German botanist who died in 1786.

The name honey locust refers to the pod, not the flowers. The latter are
greenish, inconspicuous, and though eagerly sought by bees, they offer
no particular attractions to people. Few persons ever notice them.

In some of the southwestern states the tree is called black locust,
though for what reason it is not apparent. Sweet locust, by which name
it is known in several states, has reference to the pods, as do the
names honey, and honey-shucks locust, applied in different localities.
Many persons in naming the tree have thorns in mind. It is known as
three-thorned acacia, thorn locust, thorn tree, thorny locust, and
thorny acacia. The botanist who named it considered thorns a
characteristic, for _Triacanthos_ means “three-thorned.”

No one who has ever had dealings with the thorns, will fail to duly
consider them. They are about the most ferocious product of American
forests. The tree’s trunk and largest branches bristle with them,
standing out like porcupine quills, and sharper than any needle devised
by human ingenuity. Microscopists use them for picking up and handling
minute objects, their points being smooth and delicate though their
shafts may be strong and rough. Thorns are arrested branches, coming
from deep down in the wood. No more can one of them be pulled out than a
limb can be extracted by the roots. They come from the center of the
tree or limb. Some put out leaves and become true branches, but others
sharpen their points, assume an attitude of hostility, and remain thorns
to the end of their lives. Some of them are a foot long, and are so
strong that birds flying against them are impaled and meet cruel death.
A well-armed trunk is proof against the agility and skill of the
squirrel. He cannot negotiate the thorns, and probably he tries only
once. The hot pursuit of a dog will not compel him to attempt it. All
trees, however, are not formidably thorned; some have few, and certain
varieties have none.

The honey locust is sometimes called the Confederate pin tree in the
South. This is a reference to the Civil war, and the use occasionally
made of the thorns by soldiers in mending the rents in their torn
uniforms. The thorns were once put to a somewhat similar use among the
Alleghany mountains where local factories for carding and spinning
country wool employed them to pin up the mouths of wool sacks.

The natural range of honey locust has been greatly extended by man. It
was not originally found east of the Alleghany mountains. It grew from
western Pennsylvania to northern Alabama and Mississippi, and westward
to Nebraska and Texas. It is now naturalized east of the Alleghanies,
and southward to the Gulf of Mexico. Planting for ornamental purposes
and for hedges has been the cause of its extension into new territory.
In spite of thorns, it is ornamental. Its foliage is thin, and its
flowers inconspicuous, but the tree possesses a grace which wins it
favor. It grows very rapidly, and in a short time a seedling becomes a
respectable tree, and continues its rapid growth a long time. In
southern Indiana and Illinois, which is the best part of its range,
trees have attained a height of 140 feet and a diameter of six. The
average size of forest-grown specimens is seventy-five feet in height,
and two or more in diameter.

The leaves are seven or eight inches long, doubly compound; the fruit a
pod a foot or more in length, which assumes a twist when ripe, or
sometimes warps several ways. The green pod contains a sweet substance
often eaten by children, but it is believed to be of little value for
human food. Cattle devour the pods when in the sugary condition; but
they cannot often obtain them, because thorns intervene, when the pods
would otherwise be in reach. In rural districts, a domestic beer is
brewed from the young fruit. The juice extracted from it is permitted to
ferment, but the beverage is probably never sold in the market.

The pods are in no hurry to let go and fall, even after they are fully
ripe. They become dry, distort themselves with a number of corkscrew
twists, and hang until late fall or early winter, rattling in the wind
and occasionally shaking out a seed or two.

Honey locust has never been considered important from the lumberman’s
standpoint. Sawlogs go to mills here and there, but never many in one
place. The wood is not listed under its own name, but is put in with
something else. Occasionally, it is said, it passes as sycamore in the
furniture factory, though the difference ought not be difficult to
detect. It doubtless depends to a considerable degree on the particular
wood, for all honey locust does not look alike when converted into
lumber. Some of that in the lower Mississippi valley might pass as
sycamore if inspection is not too conscientiously carried out. The
medullary rays, being darker than the body of the wood, suggest sycamore
in quarter-sawed stock. Some of it goes into furniture, finish,
balusters, newel posts, panels, and molding, particularly in eastern
Texas. In Louisiana, where wood of similar texture and appearance might
be expected, it is not looked on with favor, but is employed only in the
cheapest, roughest work.

The principal use of the wood is for posts and railroad ties. It lasts
well, and is strong. Claims have been made that it is generally equal
and in some ways superior to locust. It is difficult to see on what
these claims are based. It is lighter, less elastic, and much weaker.
Figures showing the comparative durability of the two woods are not
available, but in like situations, locust would doubtless last much
longer. As timber trees, the former may have the advantage over locust
in being free from attacks of borers, attaining greater size, and
thriving in a much larger area. It has been planted for ornament in
other lands than this, and is now prospering in all the important
countries of the temperate zone. One variety is thornless, and is known
to botanists as _Gleditsia triacanthos lævis_; another has short thorns.

    WATER LOCUST (_Gleditsia aquatica_) looks so much like honey locust
    that the two are often supposed to be the same species in Louisiana;
    yet there are a number of differences. Water locust has fewer thorns
    and they are smaller, and often flat like a knife blade. The pods
    are entirely different from those of honey locust, being short and
    wide. The two species share the same range to some extent, but that
    of water locust is smaller, extending from South Carolina to Texas,
    Illinois, and Missouri; but the best of the species is west of the
    lower Mississippi where trees may reach a height of sixty feet and a
    diameter of two. The wood is heavy, hard, and strong, the heartwood
    rich bright brown, tinged with red, the sapwood yellow. The wood is
    much like that of honey locust, and when used at all is employed in
    the same way.

    TEXAS LOCUST (_Gleditsia texana_) is of no importance as a timber
    tree, and deserves mention only because its extremely restricted
    range gives it an interest. It exists, as far as known, in a single
    grove on the bottom lands of the Brazos river, near Brazoria, Texas,
    where some of the trees exceed 100 feet in height, and a diameter of
    two. The bark is smooth and thin, the leaves resemble those of honey
    locust, and the pods are about one-third as long.

    HUISACHE (_Acacia farnesiana_) is native along the Rio Grande in
    Texas, but it is running wild in Florida from planted trees. It is
    one of the most widely distributed species in the world, both by
    natural dispersal and by planting; and it is one of the handsomest
    members of the large group of acacias which includes more than 400
    species. It bears delicate double-compound leaves, small and
    graceful. A tree in full leaf in its native wilds along the Rio
    Grande looks like a trembling fluffy mass of green silk. Nature
    formed the tree for ornament, not for timber. It attains a height of
    from twenty to forty feet, diameter eighteen inches or less. Trunk
    usually divides into several branches near the ground. Perhaps the
    only place in this country where the wood is used is in southern
    Texas where is it called “cassie,” a shortening of acacia. The wood
    so much resembles mesquite that locally they are considered the
    same. Huisache warps and checks in seasoning, but it is employed in
    a small way for furniture, usually as small table legs, spindles,
    knobs, and ornaments. It takes high polish, and resembles the best
    grades of black walnut, but is much heavier, harder, and stronger.
    It is next to impossible to drive a nail into it without first
    boring a hole. When used as crossties, holes must be bored for the
    spikes. The heartwood resists decay a long time, but the thin
    sapwood is liable to be riddled by small boring insects, which
    seldom or never enter the heartwood.

    TEXAS CAT’S CLAW (_Acacia wrightii_) is a hardluck tree of western
    Texas where it is usually found on dry, gravelly hills and in stony
    ravines. Its twice-compound leaves are among the smallest of the
    acacias, seldom exceeding two inches in length. The fragrant, light
    yellow flowers appear from March to May, and the short pods ripen in
    midsummer, but like so many trees of the pea family, they are in no
    hurry to fall. The largest trees are thirty feet high and one in
    diameter, but most people associate cat’s claw with low, tangled
    brush, tough as wire, and armed with curved thorns so strong that
    their hold on clothing can hardly be broken. When a cat’s claw bush
    strikes out to become a tree--which is infrequent--it grows rapidly.
    It has been known to attain a diameter of nine inches in
    twenty-three years. The heart is dark in color and exceedingly hard.
    The color varies from nearly red to nearly black, and takes a polish
    almost like ivory. The thin yellow sapwood is preyed on by boring
    insects. Heartwood is made into canes, umbrella sticks, tool
    handles, rulers, and turned novelties.

    DEVIL’S CLAW (_Acacia greggii_) has such paradoxical names as
    paradise flower, ramshorn, and cat’s claw. It deserves them all
    where it grows wild on the semi-deserts of the Southwest from Texas
    to California. The double-compound leaves are one or two inches
    long, its bright, creamy-yellow and exquisitely fragrant flowers are
    the glory of desert places, while its masses of thorns readily
    suggest the common name by which it is known. The wood is scarce,
    but extraordinarily fine. It is dark rich red, but clouded with
    streaks and patches of other shades, becoming at times gray, at
    others green. No nail can be driven into it, and an ordinary gimlet
    will hardly bore it. It is so saturated with oil that it is greasy
    to the touch. It is manufactured into small articles, but apparently
    is not used outside of the locality where it grows. The wood is
    often contorted, due to pits and cavities which slowly close as the
    tree advances in age. They add to rather than detract from the
    wood’s beauty.



[Illustration: COFFEE TREE]


(_Gymnocladus Dioicus_)

This tree is scarce though its range covers several hundred thousand
square miles, from New York to Minnesota, and from Tennessee to
Oklahoma. It never occurs in thick stands, and usually the trees are
widely scattered. Many districts of large size within the limits of its
range appear to have none.

The names coffeetree and Kentucky coffeetree refer to the custom of the
pioneers, who settled the region south of the Ohio river, and who used
the grotesque fruit as a substitute for coffee at a time when the
genuine article could not be procured. The seed is a very hard bean that
can be procured in abundance, where trees abound.

The beans were softened by roasting or parching, and were then pounded
into meal with hammers, and boiled for coffee. The beverage was black
and bitter, and a little of it would go a long way with a modern coffee
drinker. When the Kentuckians were able to procure coffee they let the
wild substitute alone.

The name was sometimes varied by calling it coffeenut or coffeenut tree,
and sometimes it was known as coffeebean and coffeebean tree. It is less
easy to explain why it was called mahogany in New York, and virgilia in
Tennessee. Some knew it as the nicker tree, but the reason for the name
is not known. Stump tree was another of its names. This was meant to be
descriptive of the tree’s appearance after it had shed its leaves. It
has remarkable foliage, double compound leaves two or three feet long,
with four or five dozen leaflets. When leaves fall in autumn it looks as
if the tree is shedding its twigs; and when all are down, the stripped
and barren appearance of the branches suggests the name stump tree.

The flowers are greenish-purple and are inconspicuous. In this respect
they differ from many trees of the pea family which are noted for their
attractive bloom. The fruit is among the largest of the tree pods of
this country, ranging in length from six to ten inches and from one and
a half to two in width. When fully grown they are heavy enough to make
their presence felt if they drop on the heads of persons beneath. They
are slow to fall, however, and it is not unusual for them to cling to
the branches until late winter or early spring.

The coffeetree has been known to attain a diameter of five feet and a
height of more than a hundred, but the usual size is about half of that.
It prefers rich bottom lands, and the trunks generally separate into
several stems a few feet above the ground. Only one species exists in
this country, and as far as known, only one other species elsewhere, and
that grows in southern China where it is said the natives make soap of
the pods. It is not known that any such utilization has been attempted
in this country.

The coffeetree’s range has been considerably extended by planting for
ornament. In summer it is attractive, but from the first autumn frost
until the leaves put out the following spring, it is uninteresting. The
spring leaves are late, and the branches are bare more than half the

The wood is heavy, strong, and durable in contact with the soil. The
heart is rich light brown, tinged with red, the sapwood thin and lighter
colored. Annual rings are distinct. The springwood is porous and wide,
the summerwood dense. The medullary rays are inconspicuous and of no
value in giving figure to the wood. When the annual rings are cut
diagonally across they give figure like that of ash. The wood of the
coffeetree has never been in much demand. Furniture makers may use it
sometimes, but specific instances of such use do not exist in
manufacturers’ reports. There are many places in furniture and finish
which it might fill in a satisfactory manner.

It is suitable for fence posts, and that is where it commonly gives
service. It is occasionally employed as frame work in house and barn
building, but is not sought for that purpose, and is used only when it
happens to be at hand. Though the tree has the habit of branching, some
of the trunks grow tall and shapely, and are good for two or three
sawlogs or railcuts. An occasional tree serves as fuel. Medicine is
sometimes made of a decoction of the fresh green pulp of unripe pods;
and the leaves are reported to produce a fly poison if soaked in water.

REDBUD (_Cercis canadensis_) is also known as Judas tree, red Judas
tree, Canadian Judas tree, and salad tree. The last name refers to a
custom in some parts of its range of making salad of the flowers. It is
the flower rather than the bud that is red and gives the tree its name,
the bloom being conspicuous in early spring. The tree ranges from New
Jersey to Missouri, Texas, Louisiana, and Florida, but reaches its
fullest development in southern Arkansas, Oklahoma, and eastern Texas
where trunks fifty feet high and a foot in diameter are found. It is
shrubby in many parts of its range. Leaves are not compound. The fruit
is a pink or rose-colored pod two or three inches in length, and by some
is considered nearly as ornamental though not as showy as the flowers.
No one ever thinks of redbud as a timber tree or considers its wood, yet
it might be used for a number of purposes. It is heavy and hard, but
weak; and the heartwood is rich dark brown tinged with red. The tree is
planted for ornament in this country and Europe.

TEXAS REDBUD (_Cercis reniformis_) differs somewhat from the common
redbud, but it takes a botanist to point out the differences. The
largest trees are forty feet high and a foot in diameter; the range
extends from eastern Texas into Mexico; the wood closely resembles that
of the other species, and is not known to be used for any purpose.

CALIFORNIA REDBUD (_Cercis occidentalis_) is often classed as a shrub,
but Sudworth gives it a place among the forest trees of the Pacific
coast. The pea-shaped flowers are a clear magenta color. The pods turn
purple when ripening but afterwards change to russet-brown. The wood is
dark yellowish-brown, but because of the smallness of the trunks, it can
never be important. The tree is found along the California mountains,
six hundred miles north and south; is an abundant seeder, and is
valuable as a protection to slopes and ravines, and as an ornament.

HORSEBEAN (_Parkinsonia aculeata_) is generally called retama in the
valley of the lower Rio Grande in Texas where the species attains its
largest size. Trees are occasionally thirty feet high and a foot or more
in diameter. Trunks usually separate in several stems near the ground.
The range extends from southern Texas to California, and the species is
naturalized in south Florida, the West Indies, and many tropical
countries. Leaves vary in form, and are occasionally eighteen inches
long. Fruit consists of pods, each containing from two to eight beans.
The yellow flowers are small and fragrant; the bark on young twigs is
green, but on older trunks is brown. The brown, however, is easily
rubbed off, exposing the green beneath, as may be seen in school grounds
in some of the southern towns in Texas where this tree has been planted
for ornament, and abrasions, due to children climbing about the
spreading stems, keep the bark green. The upper branches are armed with
thorns which discourage the climbing propensities of children. The wood
is heavy, hard, tinged with yellow, and is made into small novelties,
but is not of much importance.

SMALL-LEAF HORSEBEAN (_Parkinsonia microphylla_) is well named, for the
compound leaves, with four or six pairs of leaflets, are about an inch
long, covered with hairs, and fall at the end of a few weeks.
Consequently, the tree is bare most of the year, except for the pale
yellow flowers which appear in spring before the leaves, and the
clusters of striped pods, each containing from one to three beans. The
pods are nearly always present, for they have the pea family habit of
adhering to the branches a long time. Trees reach a height of fifteen or
twenty feet, and a diameter of ten inches or less. The wood is very hard
and dense, in color deep yellowish-brown, often mottled and streaked
with dull red; the sapwood thick and yellow. The wood is suitable for
small articles, but its scarcity renders it of little importance. It is
found in the deserts of southern Arizona and the adjacent parts of
California, and is usually a small shrub.

JAMAICA DOGWOOD (_Ichthyomethia piscipula_) is the lone representative
of the genus, and is found in this country only in southern Florida. It
is not in the same family with the dogwoods, and its name is misleading.
The Carib Indians formerly used the leaves to stupify fish and render
them easier to catch; hence the botanical name. The leaves are compound,
but bear little resemblance to the foliage of most members of the pea
family to which this tree belongs. The flowers are the tree’s chief
source of beauty, and are delicately clustered, hanging in bunches a
foot long. The fruit is a pod three or four inches long, with four wings
running the full length. The wings are useless for flying. Trees are
forty or fifty feet high and two or three feet in diameter; are common
in southern Florida and on the islands. The wood is of considerable
importance in the region where it grows but figures little in general
markets. It weighs 54.43 pounds per cubic foot, and is moderately strong
and stiff. In color it is a clear yellow-brown, with thick, lighter
colored sapwood. It is very durable in contact with the ground, and in
Florida it is used for posts, and occasionally for railway ties. It has
been commonly reported as a wood for boatbuilding in Florida, but its
importance for that purpose has probably been overstated, since an
investigation of the boatbuilding industry in Florida failed to find one
foot of this wood in use, although some may be employed but not listed
in reports.



[Illustration: Yellow-wood]


(_Cladrastis Lutea_)

This wood’s color is evidently responsible for its names yellow ash,
yellow locust, and yellow-wood in Tennessee, North Carolina, and
Kentucky, but no reason is offered for the name gopherwood by which it
is known in some parts of Tennessee. The botanical name is based on the
brittleness of the twigs. It is the only species of the genus, and it is
not known to grow anywhere, except by planting, outside of Kentucky,
Tennessee, Alabama, and North Carolina.

It occurs in an area not much exceeding 60,000 square miles, and it is
not abundant in that area. It prefers limestone ridges and slopes, and
does best where the soil is fertile. It often overhangs the banks of
mountain streams, and is most abundant and of largest size in the
vicinity of Nashville, Tennessee, where a few trees have reached a
diameter of three or four feet and a height of fifty or sixty. A
diameter of eighteen or twenty-four inches is a good average.

The tree’s habit of dividing six or seven feet from the ground into two
or more stems is responsible for the scarcity of trunks suitable for saw
timber, even in localities where trees of large size are found. However,
an occasional trunk develops a shapely form. It goes to sawmills so
seldom that it is never mentioned in statistics of lumber cut or

Most people who are acquainted with this tree, know it as planted stock
in parks and yards where it is a favorite on account of its flowers. The
bloom may properly be described as rare from two viewpoints. The beauty
of its large clusters of white flowers differs from those of all
associated trees; and it seldom blooms. One year of plenty is generally
followed by several lean years. Those who plant the tree understand
this, and feel amply repaid for the long wait, when the flowering year
arrives. The planted tree is often known as virgilia, that being the
name under which nurseries sell it. Flowers appear about the middle of
June, in clusters a foot or more in length. It is claimed, but with what
correctness cannot at present be stated, that the odor of flowers of
different trees varies greatly, being faint with some, and strong and
luxurious with others.

The leaves are compound, but have no resemblance to those of locust and
the acacias. They are eight or twelve inches long, with five or seven
leaflets. In autumn before falling they change to a clear yellow, but
adhere to the branches until rather late in the season. The fruit, which
consists of small pods hanging in clusters, is ripe in September.

Yellow-wood is a little below white oak in strength and seven pounds per
cubic foot under it in weight; is hard, compact, and susceptible of a
beautiful polish. Rings of yearly growth are clearly marked by rows of
open ducts, and contain many evenly-distributed smaller ducts. The wood
is bright, clear yellow, changing to brown on exposure; sapwood nearly
white. Trunks of largest size are generally hollow or otherwise

The uses of yellow-wood have been few. In the days when families in
remote regions were under the necessity of manufacturing, growing, or
otherwise producing nearly every commodity that entered into daily life,
the settlers among the mountains of Kentucky and Tennessee discovered
that the wood of this tree, particularly the roots, yielded a clear,
yellow dye. The process of manufacture was simple. The wood was reduced
to chips with an ordinary ax, and the chips were boiled until the yellow
coloring matter was extracted. The resulting liquor was the dye, and it
gave the yellow stripe to many a piece of home-made cloth in the cabins
of mountaineers.

The women usually attended to the dye making and the manufacture of yarn
and cloth; but the men found a way to utilize yellow-wood in producing
an article once so common in Tennessee and Kentucky that no cabin was
without it--the trusty rifle. The gunsmith, assisted by the blacksmith,
made the barrel and the other metal parts, but the hunter generally was
able to whittle out the wooden stock. Yellow-wood’s lightness, strength,
and color suited the gun stock maker’s purpose, and he slowly hewed and
whittled the article, fitted it to the barrel, adjusted it to his
shoulder, and completed a weapon which never failed the owner in time of

FRIJOLITO (_Sophora secundiflora_) is found in Texas, New Mexico, and
southward in Mexico. The name is Spanish and means “little bean.” A
common name for it in English is coral bean. Sophora is said to be an
Arabic word of uncertain meaning, except that it refers to some kind of
a tree that bears pods. It is a species, therefore, which draws its
names from four languages, while the name applied to it by Comanche
Indians is translated “sleep-bush.” The bright scarlet seeds, as large
as beans, but in shape like door-knobs, grow from one to eight in a pod,
and contain a narcotic poison, “sophorin.” It is probable that Indians
discovered that the beans, if eaten, produced sleep, hence the name. The
tree is from twenty-five to thirty-five feet high, and from six to ten
inches in diameter. The leaves are compound, and consist of seven or
nine leaflets. The small, violet-blue flowers appear in early spring.
They are not conspicuous, but their presence cannot escape the notice of
a traveler in the dry, semi-barren canyons and on the bluffs where the
tree holds its ground. Their odor calls attention to their presence. The
perfume is powerful but pleasant, unless the contact is too close. The
pods are from one to seven inches long, and hang on the boughs until
late winter. It is not believed that birds or mammals distribute the
seeds, as their poison renders them unfit for food. Running water
appears to be the principal agent of distribution. The tree reaches its
largest size in the vicinity of Metagorda bay, Texas. Among the dry
western canyons it is usually a shrub. The small size of this tree
stands in the way of extensive use of the wood. It burns well and its
principal importance is as fuel. The weight is 61.34 pounds per cubic
foot; it is hard, compact, susceptible of a beautiful polish; medullary
rays are numerous and thin; color is orange, streaked with red, the
sapwood brown or yellow. The wood is worked into a few small articles.

SOPHORA (_Sophora affinis_) ranges through portions of Arkansas and
Texas. It is popularly supposed to be a locust, and is called pink
locust or beaded locust, the first name based on the color of the wood,
the last on the appearance of the pod which looks like a short string of
beads, sometimes three inches in length, but usually shorter. In early
times the pioneers manufactured ink from the pods. It was a fairly
serviceable article, but was never sold, each family making its own.
This tree’s flowers appear in early spring with the leaves. Trunks reach
a height of twenty feet and a diameter of eight or ten inches; but the
habit of separating into several stems a few feet above the ground
lessens the use of the wood, even as posts, for the stems are usually
very crooked. The tree’s preferred habitat is on limestone bluffs, or
along the borders of streams, or in depressions in the prairie where
small groves often occur. The wood weighs fifty-three pounds per cubic
foot, and is very hard and strong. The annual rings are clearly marked
with bands of large, open pores; medullary rays are thin and
inconspicuous; color of the heartwood light red, the sapwood yellow. The
wood is not sawed into lumber, but is whittled into canes and tool

GREENBARK ACACIA (_Cercidium floridum_) is properly named. Its green
bark makes up for its scarcity of leaves, and answers the purpose of
foliage. The manufacture of the tree’s food goes on in the bark, because
the leaves are too small to do the work. The foliage resembles that of
locust and acacia in form, but the compound leaves are about an inch in
length, and the leaflets are one-sixteenth of an inch long. Flowers are
small, but the tree puts on three or four crops of them in a single
summer. The pods are two inches long. The tree is found in the United
States only in the south and west of Texas, where it is occasionally
called palo verde. It attains a height of twenty feet and a diameter of
ten inches when at its best. The wood is pale yellow tinged with green,
and, because of small size, is of little importance.

PALO VERDE (_Cercidium torreyanum_) sheds its leaves and its pods so
early in the season that its branches are bare most of the year. Trees
are from fifteen to thirty feet high, and some are considerably more
than a foot in diameter. Its range covers a portion of southern
California, the lower part of the Gila valley in Arizona, and extends
southward into Mexico. It is a typical tree of the desert, and its
extreme poverty of foliage enables it to live in a dry, hot climate. It
clings to the sides of desert gulches and canyons, ekes out a dreary
life in depressions among desolate dunes and hills of sand and gravel,
and spends its allotted period of years in solitude, growing either
singly or in small groups where the full foliage at the best time of
year is insufficient to offer much obstruction to the full glare of the
sun from a cloudless sky. The small flowers have little beauty or
sweetness, but what they have is wasted on the desert air. Wayfarers in
the barren country use the wood for camp fires.

    INDIGO THORN (_Dalea spinosa_) receives its name from the color of
    its flowers which appear in June. The tree has few leaves and they
    fall in a short time. This appears to be a provision of nature to
    enable the tree to endure the heat and dryness of its desert home.
    Its range covers the lower Gila valley in Arizona, and extends into
    the Colorado desert in southern California. It is not abundant, and
    if it were, it is of a size so small that it is practically
    valueless for commercial purposes. Some trees are a foot in diameter
    and twenty feet high. The wood is light, soft, and of a rich
    chocolate-brown color. It is known also as indigo bush and dalea.

    EYSENHARDTIA (_Eysenhardtia orthocarpa_) is so little known that it
    has no English name. It grows from western Texas to southern
    Arizona, but reaches tree size only near the summit of Santa
    Catalina mountains in Arizona where it is twenty feet or less in
    height and seldom more than eight inches in diameter. It inhabits an
    arid region, and bears fruit sparingly, with usually a single seed
    in a pod. The wood is heavy and hard, light reddish-brown in color,
    with thin yellow sap. It is not of commercial importance and
    probably never will be.



[Illustration: MESQUITE]


(_Prosopis Juliflora_)

There are known to be sixteen species at least of mesquite in the world,
in Asia, Africa, and North and South America. The one here considered
has a geographical range of at least seven thousand miles north and
south, from Kansas to Patagonia, and an east and west range of four
thousand miles, if the naturalized growth in Hawaii may be considered
the western outpost of the species.[7]

    [7] Botanists have had much controversy among themselves concerning
    mesquite, particularly as to what is its correct name. In giving in
    these pages some of the important facts concerning this interesting
    tree, or group of species and varieties, it is not necessary to
    touch the points in dispute.

The generic name _prosopis_ is a Greek word meaning “burdock;” the rest
of the botanical name is Latin, meaning “July flower.” Mesquite is an
Aztec word (mezquitl), coming down through the Spanish. Other names for
the tree are algaroba, honey locust, honey pod, and ironwood.

The largest size of mesquite is found along the Rio Grande in southern
Texas where trees three feet in diameter and fifty feet high are found,
but individuals of that size are rare. The species is supposed not to
extend west of New Mexico, but varieties grow farther west.

The leaves are compound, with twenty or more leaflets. The foliage is
thin and casts a penumbrous shadow; trees generally occur wide apart,
and there is enough sunshine reaching the ground to satisfy grass and
other plants growing there. The pods are from four to nine inches long,
and each contains from ten to twenty seeds. The principal growth of this
tree in the United States is in Texas. It has been planted in Hawaii and
has run wild in some of the islands of the group. It is of slow growth,
but of remarkable vitality, holds its own, and gains ground in the face
of obstacles.

Persons well acquainted with conditions in Texas, both past and present,
say that the mesquite area is at least double now what it was when the
state came into the Union. Old stands were scattered here and there, but
hundreds of square miles which were in grass only, and little of that,
half a century ago, now support forests of mesquite. It is perhaps a
misnomer to designate some of these stands as forests, for they present
a rather ragged and sorry appearance, but they are forests in the
process of forming. The old growth, which is found principally in the
counties bordering on the lower Rio Grande, is made up of trunks of
large size, but the stands that have come on within the past fifty or
sixty years are of smaller trees. A large mesquite trunk is from one to
three feet in diameter; a small one from one foot down to an inch or
two. A person would need to hunt from center to circumference of Texas
to find many mesquite trunks that would make a straight sawlog twelve
feet long. The tree is generally one of the most crooked, deformed and
unpromising in the whole country; and its habit of dividing into forks
near the ground, like a peach tree, makes it still more difficult to
make use of. In fact, in winter when mesquite trees are bare of leaves
the appearance of a forest reminds the observer of an old, neglected,
diseased, moss-grown peach orchard in the eastern states; but in summer
the leaves conceal much of the trunk scaliness and deformity, and there
is something positively restful and attractive in the prospect of a wide
range of these trees, covering hills and prairies. The leaves are
compound like the acacias, and are delicate and graceful.

The spread of mesquite in the last fifty or seventy-five years has been
attributed to the checking of grass fires which Indians once set yearly
to keep the prairies open. The dispersion of the trees is facilitated by
the scattering of seeds by cattle which feed on the pods. It is a tree
hard to kill. Roots send up sprouts year after year during long periods.
Sometimes, but not often in Texas, when adverse circumstances become so
severe that the mesquite tree can no longer survive above the surface,
it grows beneath the ground, sending only a few sprouts up for air. “Dig
for wood” is a term applied to trees of that kind, when fuel is dragged
out with mattocks, grab hooks, and oxen.

The roots of the mesquite penetrate farther beneath the surface for
water than any other known tree in this country. Depths of fifty or
sixty feet are occasionally reached. Well diggers on the frontiers
learned to go to the mesquite for water. Large trunks never develop
unless their roots are abundantly supplied with moisture. Railroad
engineers on the “Staked Plains” of northwestern Texas turned that
knowledge to account in boring wells.

Though mesquite is seldom or never mentioned in the lumber business, it
is and has been one of the most important trees of the region. Its fuel
value is very great. It has cooked more food, warmed more buildings,
burned more bricks, than any other wood in Texas. The tannic acid in it
injures boilers and it is not much used for steam purposes. It is very
high in ash. A cord of mesquite wood when burned leaves from ninety to
one hundred pounds of ashes. This exceeds five fold the ashes left when
white oak is burned.

Mesquite is a high-grade furniture material, though it is difficult to
work because of its exceeding hardness. Ordinary wood-working tools and
machinery will not stand it. Suites of nine pieces are sold in some
southwestern cities at $200 or $300. The merchants find difficulty in
getting mesquite furniture made. Factories do not want to handle it,
though the articles sell higher than mahogany. Large, heavy tables,
deeply carved, are sold in some of the cities, but all seem to be made
to order and largely by hand. The appearance of the polished and
finished wood is a little lighter in color than mahogany. It is not
uniform in color, but shades from tone to tone in the same piece. A
little of the lighter colored sapwood is worked in with pleasing effect.
Some of the tones resemble black walnut, and some suggest the luster of
polished cherry.

Mesquite is brittle. Pieces of large size may be broken by a few blows
with an ax. It has about half the strength of white oak, and is very low
in elasticity. The wood has been used for two hundred years--possibly
for thousands of years--as beams and sills for adobe houses; but it is
not required to carry much weight. Spaniards employed it in building
their churches and forts within its range. A timber taken from the
Alamo, at San Antonio, Texas, in 1912, was said to have served more than
190 years with no sign of decay. Fence posts survive the men who set
them. Paving blocks outlast sandstone subjected to the same use.
Railroads in southern Texas employ this wood for crossties, but it is so
hard that holes must be bored for the spikes.

Mesquite baskets are made by hand of splits the size of knitting
needles, some of white sapwood, others of dark heartwood. Such baskets,
large enough to contain five quarts, sell in the curio shops at San
Antonio for $1.25 each. Some wagon makers insist that mesquite is in the
same class with Osage orange for wagon felloes in hot, dry regions; but
it does not appear that much of it is so used. The brittleness of the
wood is against it, in use as felloes, except for vehicles of the
heaviest sort where large pieces are demanded.

Among the uses of mesquite, by-products are an important consideration.
The pods are food for farm stock. Before the first railroad reached San
Antonio mesquite pods were a regular market commodity. The Mexicans know
how to make bread and brew beer from the fruit; tan leather with the
resin; dye leather, cloth, and crockery with the tree’s sap; make ropes
and baskets of the bark. Parched pods are a substitute for coffee; bees
store honey from the bloom which remains two months on the trees; riled
water is purified with a decoction of mesquite chips; vinegar is made
from the fermented juice of the legumes; tomales of mesquite bean meal,
pepper, chicken, and cornshucks; mucilage from the gum; and candy and
gum drops from the dried sap.

One of the most promising uses for this wood is in turnery. Short
lengths can be utilized to advantage. The artistic color fits it for the
manufacture of lodge gavels, curtain rings, goblets, plaques, trays,
and numerous kinds of novelties. Spindles for grills and stairways do
not suffer in comparison with black walnut, mahogany, cherry, and teak.
The wood is porous, annual rings narrow and indistinct, and the
medullary rays thin and inconspicuous.

A variety (_Prosopis juliflora glandulosa_) is found from Kansas to
eastern Texas, and also in Arizona and California. It is the common
mesquite of eastern Texas. Another variety (_Prosopis juliflora
velutina_) occurs in some of the hot valleys of southern Arizona and
southward in Mexico.

    SCREWBEAN (_Prosopis odorata_) is known also as screwpod mesquite,
    and tornillo. The name is due to the pod’s habit of growing in
    spiral form, there being a dozen or more tight twists. The flowers
    appear in early spring and new crops follow until summer. The pods
    ripen early in autumn or late in summer, and many become infested
    with grubs. The tree is from twenty-five to thirty feet high, and a
    foot or less in diameter. Its range extends from western Texas and
    Utah and Nevada through New Mexico and Arizona to southern
    California. The wood is stronger and stiffer than common mesquite,
    but a little lighter. Its uses are much the same, and it has the
    same habits of growth, including its disposition to develop enormous
    roots. The name might lead to the conclusion that the flower is rich
    in perfume, but such is not the case. The tree grows slowly and
    lives to old age, if it escapes fire and other accidents.

    CHALKY LEUCÆNA (_Leucæna pulverulenta_), commonly called mimosa,
    occurs in the United States only in southern Texas, but is somewhat
    abundant in Mexico, where trees sixty feet high and nearly two feet
    in diameter are sometimes manufactured into lumber. Along the Rio
    Grande it is called “tepeguaja” by Mexicans. This name is said to be
    equivalent to “hardwood,” which is an appropriate name. It is very
    smooth and handsome when finished, and is used for tool handles,
    small spindles, grills, and other small articles, particularly
    products of the lathe. In color it resembles the lighter shades of
    mahogany; weighs about forty-two pounds per cubic foot; foliage
    extremely delicate and the tree is highly valuable for ornamental
    purposes. It has been planted outside of its natural range. The pods
    sometimes exceed a foot in length.

    LEUCÆNA (_Leucæna glauca_) is small and probably will never be of
    much importance. Trunks are seldom more than five inches in diameter
    and twenty feet high. The tree grows in canyons and ravines in
    western Texas. The compound leaves are six or seven inches long,
    with thirty or less pairs of leaflets; fruit is a pod six or eight
    inches long. The rich brown wood is streaked with red.



[Illustration: SWEET BIRCH]


(_Betula Lenta_)

Ten species of birch occur in the United States, including Alaska. Six
are eastern and four western.[8] Sweet birch is known by that name in
many localities, but in others as black birch, cherry birch, river
birch, mahogany birch, and mountain mahogany. Its range extends from
Newfoundland to northwestern Ontario, south to southern Indiana,
Kentucky, and along the Appalachian mountains to Tennessee and North
Carolina. Probably the best development of the species is found in the
Adirondack region of northern New York, in the northern peninsula of
Michigan, through southern Ontario, and along the mountain ranges
southward through Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

    [8] The eastern species, which do not extend west of the continental
    divide, are, Sweet Birch (_Betula lenta_), Yellow Birch (_Betula
    lutea_), River Birch (_Betula nigra_), Paper Birch (_Betula
    papyrifera_), White Birch (_Betula populifolia_) and Blue Birch
    (_Betula cærulea_). The western birches, none of which are known to
    extend much east of the continental divide, are: Western Birch
    (_Betula occidentalis_), Mountain Birch (_Betula fontinalis_), White
    Alaska Birch (_Betula alaskana_), and Kenai Birch (_Betula
    kenaica_). The last two occur in Alaska, but not in United States

It attains a height of seventy or eighty feet, and a diameter of two or
three. It prefers deep, moist, rich soil, but will grow in comparatively
dry, rocky ground. Its seeds are produced in large numbers and are
scattered by the wind a hundred feet or more from the parent tree. They
lack the wing power and the buoyancy of the seeds of some of the other
birches, but they manage to get themselves sown in sufficient numbers,
and their powers of germination are good.

The young seedling comes into existence with smooth bark, but it does
not keep it through life. As age increases, the bark becomes rough and
black. It is not shed in papery rolls and flakes as is the bark of river
birch, yellow birch, and paper birch, with which it is associated in
some parts of its range. It is generally an easy tree to identify and
the black, rough bark is generally a sufficient guide.

The sweet birch is tapped like sugar maple, but not for the same purpose
or to the same extent--only an occasional tree. Immense quantities of
sap will flow from it during the two or three weeks when the buds are
swelling in the spring. It is said that as much as two tons has been
known to flow from a medium sized birch in a single season. The sap is
made into a beer which has some commercial value, but is chiefly used
locally. One of the ways of making it, employed by farmers and woodsmen,
is to jug the sap, put in a handful of shelled corn, and let
fermentation do the rest.

A substance known in commerce as oil of wintergreen is procured almost
exclusively from this birch, though occasionally it is made from the
small wintergreen plant (_Gaultheria procumbens_). The product is
manufactured in very crude stills made by mountaineers in Pennsylvania
and southward along the mountains where sweet birch is abundant.
Frequently the woodsman’s whole family go into the business, chopping
down birch bushes and hacking them with hatchets into chips of the
desired sizes. The oil is extracted from the hogged mass by a steaming
and roasting process. It is sold by the quart to country storekeepers
who ship it to wholesale druggists where it is refined and used to
flavor candy, medicine, and drugs. The woodsman who manufactures the oil
prefers young birches from half an inch to two or three inches in
diameter, and he usually procures them in old logging grounds where
seedlings have sprung up. It is said that on an average one hundred
small birch trees are destroyed for each quart of oil that goes to
market. It is a process wasteful in the extreme.

In the open ground, sweet birch develops a full crown, short trunk,
abundance of limbs, with numerous slender, graceful twigs and small
branches. Its leaves form a dense mass, and they are so free from
attacks by insects and worms that diseased foliage is unusual. That
cannot be said, however, of the trunk. It is not particularly liable to
disease, but many old trees show the results of decay. It is of slow
growth, and a small tree may be much older than its size indicates. The
sapwood is generally thick, heartwood forms slowly, and the contrast in
color between sap and heart is strong.

The wood of sweet birch had few uses in early times, except fuel. The
pioneer sawmill had little to do with it. Lumber was hard to saw and was
seasoned with difficulty. Its tendency to warp was too great a tax on
the lumberman’s patience and ingenuity. The only way he could hold it
straight was to cob a few layers in the bottom of a pile, and stack
thousands of feet of other lumber on top, and leave it a year or two.
That was generally too much trouble, particularly when the wood had slow
sale, and the price was low. Birch reached market in large quantities
only when modern mills and improved drykilns came into existence.

The wood is heavy, strong, hard, in color dark brown tinged with red.
The light brown or yellow sapwood generally makes up seventy or eighty
annual rings. The difference between springwood and that of the later
season is not clearly marked, and consequently the rings are often
indistinct. The wood is very porous, and the pores are diffused through
all parts of the ring. They are too small to be seen with the naked eye,
except under the most favorable conditions. The medullary rays are
numerous but so small that they appear on the quartered wood merely as a
gloss, which, however, gives the surface a rich appearance.

Forms known as curly and wavy birch are highly esteemed. They are
accidents of growth, well developed in birch, and occurring in several
other woods. Difficulties are encountered in assigning sweet birch its
individual place in the industrial world. As a tree it is well known,
but that is not the case when its lumber goes to market. The sweet birch
log goes into the sawmill, but when the lumber goes out at the other end
of the mill, it is often simply birch having lost the adjective “sweet”
somewhere in the operation. The reason is that sweet birch and yellow
birch, quite distinct in the forest, are often mixed and become one, to
all intents and purposes, when they reach the market. That is not always
the case, but it frequently is. Something depends on the region. The
yellow birch’s range is more extensive, and in areas where it is
abundant, and sweet birch is not, it prevails in the lumber markets. But
south and southeast of the great lakes, as well as in the northeastern
part of the country, the two species mingle, and they are apt to go to
market simply as birch. The woods may be distinguished by a microscopic
examination, but the ordinary observer would make many mistakes if he
attempted to tell one from the other in the lumber yard.

The two woods are different in several physical properties. Both are
heavy, but sweet birch weighs 47.47 pounds per cubic foot, while yellow
birch weighs only 40.84 pounds, according to tests averaged by Sargent.
Yellow birch rates a little above the other in breaking strength. Both
are very stiff, but yellow birch rates superior. In most respects the
two woods are put to similar uses--flooring, interior finish,
furniture--but for some purposes sweet birch is preferred. It is
substituted oftener for cherry and mahogany, and for that reason is
known as cherry birch or mahogany birch. Its color makes the
substitution easy, and the appearance of the grain, with a little
doctoring with stains and fillers, helps in the deception. The buyer may
be deceived as to the exact kind of wood he is getting, but he is not
cheated in the quality. Birch is substituted where strength is required,
as in the rails of beds, the frames of sofas, davenports, large chairs,
and certain parts of large musical instruments. It is much stronger, and
fully as hard as cherry or mahogany, and as its appearance is so much
like them, the article is actually better on account of the
substitution. Sweet birch is largely employed for various parts of
vehicle manufacture, particularly for wagon hubs and frames of
automobiles. It is also much used in the manufacture of sleds, boats,
and handles.

The demand is heavy and the supply is diminishing. The tree is of such
slow growth that few timber owners will be inclined to wait for a second
crop, after the old trees have been cut, since 150 years are necessary
under forest conditions to produce a merchantable tree.

    SONORA IRONWOOD (_Olneya tesota_) is a desert tree, and the only
    representative of the genus. It takes its name from the Mexican
    state where it is most abundant and where it was discovered in 1852.
    It grows in southern California and Arizona, and there it thrives in
    gulches and depressions in the desert, frequently associated with
    mesquite. It is so heavy that perfectly dry wood will sink in water.
    The heartwood is deep chocolate-brown, mottled with red, the thin
    sapwood is lemon-yellow. Its hardness renders it difficult to work,
    and it can scarcely be split. The wood is made into canes and other
    small articles of great beauty. It is not abundant, and the small
    supply is remote from manufacturing centers; otherwise it would be
    more valuable. It is excellent fuel, but it is burned chiefly by
    stockmen and miners in their camps. The largest trees are thirty
    feet high and eighteen inches in diameter. It is an evergreen, and
    its pea-like flowers brighten many a remote desert place.

    WILD TAMARIND (_Lysiloma latisiliqua_) is forty or fifty feet high,
    two or three in diameter, grows in southern Florida, and has
    double-compound leaves, four or five inches long. The fruit is a pod
    one inch wide and five or less in length. The wood weighs forty
    pounds to the cubic foot, is neither strong nor tough, very low in
    elasticity, is rich dark brown tinged with red, the sapwood white.
    It has been reported for boatbuilding, and claims have been made
    that it is equal to mahogany for that purpose, but the claim is of
    doubtful validity, in view of the rather poor showing it makes in
    several physical properties, though it takes good polish.



[Illustration: YELLOW BIRCH]


(_Betula Lutea_)

There is little likelihood of mistaking the yellow birch for any other
as it stands in the woods. Its points of individuality may be discovered
on slight acquaintance, and there is little need of studying leaves,
flowers, and fruit to find ways of distinguishing this birch from other
members of the family. Its tattered, yellow and gray bark fixes it in
the memory of all who have seen it a few times. Two other eastern
birches have tattered, curling bark also, but they do not look like
this. They are the paper birch and the river birch. The former is too
white to be mistaken for yellow birch, and the river birch is too much
the color of bronze or copper. Yellow birch is named from the color of
its bark, the part which shows when the outer layers break and roll
back, disclosing the fresh, smooth, satiny layers below. Sometimes the
tree is called silver birch, gray birch, or swamp birch.

Its geographic range is bounded by a line drawn from Newfoundland to
northern Minnesota, southward through the Lake States, and along the
Atlantic coast to Delaware. It follows the Appalachian ranges of
mountains to eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina. Generally the
tree is small near the southern limit of its range. The best grows in
Michigan and Wisconsin, but it is of considerable importance in

Few trees are better equipped than yellow birch to perpetuate their
species. It is an abundant seeder, and the seeds are light, winged, and
they are scattered by wind over long distances. Sometimes they are
carried miles. Of course, most of them fall in unfavorable places, and
either do not germinate or perish soon after; but they are not
particularly choice in situations, and will grow on bare mineral soil,
even in old fields, where they are flooded with sunshine, or they will
grow in deep shade where a beam of sunlight seldom touches them. They
often germinate without touching mineral soil, and take root quickly and
grow vigorously.

It is not unusual in the northern part of the tree’s range, and on high
mountains farther south, to see yellow birches standing on high,
spreading roots, two, three, or four feet above the ground. That
peculiar attitude is brought about by the manner in which the seed
begins to grow. It falls on moss which occupies the top of a log or a
stump. The moss in the deep shade retains much moisture, and the seed
germinates, grows, sends roots down the sides of the log or the stump
until they strike mineral soil, and become firmly fixed. In course of
time the log or stump decays, and the spreading roots continue to
sustain the trunk, high above the ground. This attitude of the yellow
birch tree is very common in damp woods. Occasionally the seed finds
lodgment in the moss on top of a large rock. The roots descend the sides
until they reach the ground, and as the rock does not decay, the tree
grows to maturity on the rock. The most favorable seed bed for this
species is a mass of rotten wood where a log has decayed and fallen to
pieces. Frequently such a plot is covered with yellow birch seedlings.
They have the space all to themselves, because the seeds of few trees or
plants will grow in rotten wood, unmixed with mineral soil.

The trunk of yellow birch averages a little smaller than that of sweet
birch, but may equal it in some instances. Trees reach a height of 100
feet and a diameter of three or four, but a more common size, even in
the regions of best development, is a height of sixty or seventy feet,
and a diameter of two or less.

Yellow birch was a long time coming into use. One of the first things
learned about it by early settlers in the region where it was abundant,
was that it decays quickly in situations alternately wet and dry. That
prejudiced the woodsmen against it, and they were not disposed to give
it a fair trial, as long as there was plenty of other timber. All
birches are subject to quick decay, if conditions are right to produce
it. Yellow birch in the woods sometimes dies standing, and when that
happens, the wood falls to pieces so quickly that the bark may remain
standing with very little inside of it except powder of decayed wood.
This tree is seldom mentioned in early accounts of lumber operations,
and practically never with a good word. Operators generally left it
standing when they cut the timber which grew with it.

Yellow birch is heavy, very strong, hard, light brown tinged with red,
with thin, nearly white sapwood. The color of the heartwood varies
considerably. The pores are very numerous, rather small, and are
scattered through the wood with little tendency to run in bands or
groups. The springwood blends gradually with the summerwood in a way to
make the boundaries of the annual rings somewhat indistinct. Medullary
rays are numerous, but very thin and obscure. Quarter-sawing adds little
or nothing to the appearance of the wood. It has poor figure, except an
occasional tree with wavy or curly grain, or with burls.

The wood may be readily stained. The pores hold the coloring matter
applied, and by varying the application, the appearance of the surface
can be varied. The colors of mahogany and of cherry are easily imparted,
and yellow birch often imitates those woods.

Vehicle makers choose this wood for its strength and elasticity. In the
North it is manufactured into frames for cutters and sleighs of all
kinds. It is a competitor of sugar maple for that purpose. Hubs are made
of it for horse-drawn vehicles, and its hardness gives long wear where
the spokes are inserted. That is one of the first points of failure when
a soft, inferior wood is used for hubs. The spokes work loose.

Manufacturers of automobiles have tried out yellow birch as material for
frames; it has stood the test, and is much used in competition with
other woods. The amount demanded for that purpose is not necessarily
large, but it must be the best wood that can be had.

This material reaches the markets in all grades. Large amounts are used
for packing boxes, crates, and shipping containers. Low grades answer
for these purposes, leaving the better sorts for the more exacting
industries. The logs are cut in rotary veneer for baskets, and for ply
work. Some of the veneer in three-ply is worked into commodities of high
class, such as seats and backs of theater chairs.

Birch flooring competes closely with maple for popular favor. It may
lack something of maple’s whiteness, but it takes no second place in
hardness, smoothness, and wearing qualities. It is made into parquet
flooring as well as the ordinary tongued and grooved article. As such,
the sap matches the light colored woods, and the heart the dark.

It goes into all kinds of interior house finish, from floor to ceiling,
and the finest grades are often devoted to stair work. Door and window
frames are made of it in large quantities, but it is not suited to
outside work exposed to weather, because of its tendencies to decay. It
is much employed as door material. Furniture demands the same class of
wood. Medium priced articles may be of solid birch, but the best
commodities are made of veneers laid upon other woods. Figured birch is
a favorite material for that class of work.

The more common commodities manufactured of this wood can be listed only
by groups, because of their great number. Novelties constitute a large
class. One of the earliest demands was from the manufacturers of pill
boxes, such as apothecaries use. That was before anyone had tried to
sell yellow birch in the general market, and the demand came principally
from New England and New York. Another early demand came from coopers
who found that barrel hoops of yellow birch were highly satisfactory for
certain kinds of vessels. Fish kits were among the first to appear in
birch hoops. Small saplings were used, not over two inches in diameter.
They are large enough to make two hoops by splitting. The bark was left
on, and the identity of the wood was never in doubt, because when the
sapling is of that size, the bark is a fine yellow. It has not yet
commenced to crack open and roll up, as it does later. Millions of birch
hoops are still produced yearly in the United States, but all of them
are not of this species. The hoop business has existed much more than a
century, and millions of young birches have been cut every year to meet
the demand.

Birch broom handles have been a commodity since the first lathe went to
work on that product. They are made of all the commercial birches, but
yellow birch contributes a large part. Other handles are manufactured of
it also, such as are fitted to hand saws, planes, drawing knives,
chisels, and augers.



[Illustration: RIVER BIRCH]


(_Betula Nigra_)

This tree is known as red birch, river birch, water birch, blue birch,
black birch, and simply as birch. The name red birch refers to the color
of the bark which is exposed to view in the process of exfoliation. The
trunk is constantly getting rid of its outer bark, and in doing so, the
exterior layers are rolled back, hang a while, and are gradually whipped
off by the wind. The new bark which is exposed to view when the old is
rolled back is reddish. Its color varies considerably, sometimes
suggesting the tint of old brass, again it is brown, but people in
widely separated regions have seen fit to call the tree red birch
because of the color of its bark. The name black birch is not
appropriate, though the old bark near the base of large trunks may
suggest it. No reason can be assigned for calling it blue birch, unless
the foliage in early summer may warrant such a term. River birch and
water birch are more appropriate, as these names indicate the situations
where the species grows. It clings to water courses almost as closely as
sycamore. A favorite attitude of the tree is to lean over a river or
pond, with the long, graceful limbs almost touching the water.

Nature seems to recognize the tree’s habit of hanging over muddy banks,
and has prepared it for that manner of life. Seeds are ripe early in
summer when the rivers are falling. They are scattered by myriads on the
muddy shores and upon the water. Those which fall in the mud find at
once a suitable place for germination, and those whose fortune it is to
drop in the water float away with the current or they are driven by the
wind until they lodge along the shores, and the receding water leaves
them in a few days, and they spring up quickly. Before the autumn or
early winter high water comes, they are well rooted in the mud and sand,
ready to put up a fight for their lives.

The provision is a wise one. If the seeds matured in the fall, when
water is low, they would be strewn along the low shores, and before they
could take root and establish themselves, the high water and the ice of
winter would destroy them. The seeds need mud to give them a start in
life, and they need that start early in summer.

The range of river birch is less extensive than that of the other
important eastern birches, yet it is by no means limited. Its eastern
boundary is in Massachusetts, its western in Minnesota, and it adheres
fairly well to a line drawn between the two states. Its range extends
200 miles west of the Mississippi and covers most of the southern
states. It is found in an area of nearly 1,000,000 square miles, but is
scarce in most of it. In certain restricted localities it is fairly
abundant, but there are thousands of square miles in the limits of its
range which have not a single tree. Its greatest development is in the
south Atlantic states, and in the lower Mississippi basin.

Trees at their best are from eighty to ninety feet high and from two to
four in diameter, but most trunks are less than two feet in diameter.
The tree frequently forks fifteen or twenty feet from the ground, or
occasionally sends up several stems from the ground. Forms of that kind
are practically useless for lumber.

The wood is among the lightest of the birches and weighs 35.91 pounds
per cubic foot. It is rather hard, medium strong, the heartwood light
brown in color, with thick, pale sapwood. It rates below sweet and
yellow birch in stiffness, is very porous, but the pores are quite
small, and can scarcely be seen without a magnifying glass. They are
diffused throughout the entire annual ring. There is no marked
difference in the appearance of the springwood and that of the late
season. The medullary rays are very small and have little effect on the
appearance of the wood, no matter in what way the sawing is done.

The wood is apt to contain pith flecks and streaks. These are small,
brown spots or lines scattered at random through the wood. They are a
blemish which is not easily covered up if the wood is to be polished;
but they are small and may not be objectionable. The flecks are caused
by insects which, early in the season, bore through the bark into the
cambium layer (the newly-formed wood), where eggs are deposited. The
young insect cuts a tunnel up or down along the cambium layer, an inch
or less in length and a sixteenth of an inch wide. This gallery
subsequently fills with brown deposits which remain permanently in the
wood. Sometimes these deposits are sufficiently hard to turn the edge of

River birch is widely used but in small amounts. It may properly be
described as a neighborhood wood--that is, wherever it grows in
considerable quantity it is put to use, but nearly always in a local
way. For example, in Louisiana, where it is as abundant as in any other
state, it is a favorite material for ox yokes, and no report from that
state has been made of its employment for any other purpose. The reason
given for its extensive use for ox yokes there is that it is very strong
for its weight, and that it resists decay. The yokes there are usually
left out of doors when not in use, and the dampness and hot weather
cause rapid decay of most woods. The birches are usually listed as
quick-decaying woods, but the verdict from Louisiana seems to be that
river birch is an exception.

Plain furniture is made of it, and the manufacturers of woodenware find
it suitable for most of their commodities. It is sometimes listed as
wooden shoe material, but no particular instance has been reported where
it has been so used in this country. In Maryland some of the
manufacturers of peach baskets make bands or hoops of it, and pronounce
it as satisfactory for that purpose as elm.

The supply is not in much danger of exhaustion. The species is equipped
to take care of itself, occupying as it does, ground not in demand for
farming purposes. When a tree once gets a start it has a chance to
escape the ax until large enough for use.

WHITE ALASKA BIRCH (_Betula alaskana_) is usually called simply white
birch where it grows. It is not exclusively an Alaska species though
that is the only place where it touches the territory of the United
States. It is supposed by some to be closely related to the white
birches of northern Asia, but the relationship, if it exists, has not
been established. In Alaska it grows as far north as any timber extends.
It was first discovered and reported in 1858 on the Saskatchewan river,
east of the Rocky Mountains, and its range is now known to extend down
the valley of the Mackenzie river toward the Arctic ocean to a point
more than 100 miles north of the Arctic circle. It is common in many
parts of Alaska both along the coast and in the interior. In some
portions of that territory it is an important source of fuel. Trees are
from twenty-five to sixty feet high, and from six to eighteen inches in
diameter. The bark is thin and often nearly white, separating into thin
scales. The tree bears typical birch cones, but larger than those of
some of the other species. No tests of the wood’s physical properties
have been made, but it looks like the wood of paper birch, and will
probably attain to considerable importance in the future, since it grows
over a large area, and in many parts is abundant. There remain many
things for both botanists and wood-users to investigate concerning this
tree which has a range of more than half a million square miles.

WESTERN BIRCH (_Betula occidentalis_) is believed to be the largest
birch in the world, and yet it is not of much commercial importance in
the United States, because of scarcity, occurring only in northwestern
Washington and in the adjacent parts of British Columbia, as far as its
range has been determined. It resembles paper birch, and has often been
supposed to be that tree. The people in the restricted region where it
grows speak of it simply as birch. The largest trees are 100 feet high
and four feet in diameter, clear of limbs forty or fifty feet. A height
of seventy feet and a diameter of two are common. The general color of
the trunk is orange-brown, the new bark, exposed by exfoliation, is
yellow. The tree prefers the border of streams and the shores of lakes.
Though it is the largest of the birches, its seeds are among the
smallest. They are provided with two wings and are good flyers.
Manufacturers of flooring and interior finish in Washington reported the
use of 315,000 feet of this birch in 1911. That was the only use found
for it in the only state where it grows. Information is meager as to the
probable quantity of this birch available. It has been reported in
Idaho, but exact information on the subject is lacking.

    MOUNTAIN BIRCH (_Betula fontanalis_) is a minor species concerning
    which there has been much contention among botanists. It has finally
    been called mountain birch because it grows on mountains, as high as
    10,000 feet among the Sierra Nevadas in California. It has many
    local names for a tree so small as to be almost a shrub throughout
    most of its range: Black birch, sweet birch, cherry birch, water
    birch, and canyon birch. Its bark is of the color of old copper;
    wood is light yellowish-brown, with thick white sapwood; trunks
    seldom exceed ten inches in diameter and thirty feet high; range
    extends from northern British Columbia to California, and along the
    Rocky Mountains to Colorado and possibly further south. The uses of
    the wood are few.



[Illustration: PAPER BIRCH]


(_Betula Papyrifera_)

This tree is called paper birch because the bark parts in thin sheets
like paper. It is known as canoe birch from the fact that Indians and
early white explorers and travelers constructed canoes of the bark. The
name silver birch is an allusion to the color of the bark; and big white
birch is the name used when the purpose is to distinguish it from the
white birch with which it is associated in the northeastern part of its
range. It grows as far north as Arctic British America, east to
Labrador, south to Michigan and Pennsylvania, and west nearly or quite
to the base of the Rocky Mountains. This indicated area exceeds
1,000,000 square miles. The quantity of birch of this species in the
forests is unknown, but it runs into billions of feet, probably
exceeding any other single species of birch. The tree sometimes grows
dispersed through forests of other woods, sometimes in nearly pure
stands. Persons well acquainted with the species have expressed the
opinion that paper birch exists in larger quantities now than at the
time when the country was first explored by white men. That can be said
of few other species; but probably holds true of lodgepole pine in the
West, loblolly pine in the Southeast, and mesquite in the Southwest.
Each of these species took advantage of man’s presence and influence to
extend its range. Cattle spread the mesquite; the lodgepole pine came up
in fire-burned tracts; loblolly pine spread into abandoned fields; and
paper birch profited by fires which destroyed large tracts of timber.

The seeds are light, are furnished with wings which sail them long
distances through the air, and they are quickly scattered over the
burned areas where they spring up. In the contest, they are competitors
of aspen. Birch often captures the ground, but does not always do it.
Some of the largest stands in the Northeast occupy tracts bared by fire
half a century or more ago. When paper birch does not find open tracts,
it contents itself with sharing ground with other species. That was the
usual manner of its growth in the original forests; but it has been
quick to seize opportunities to take full possession.

It does not like shade and, if crowded, one of the first things it does
is to rid its lower trunk of all branches. Only limbs remain which are
at the top where they receive plenty of light. Therefore, forest-grown
paper birches have long, clean trunks, though they are not always
straight. The largest trees are seventy feet high and three in diameter,
but those fifty feet in height and eighteen inches in diameter are above
rather than under the average.

The bark of paper birch has played an important part in American
history, story, and poetry. It was the canoe material, the roof, and the
utensil in its region. The Indians had brought the art of canoe making
to perfection before white men went among them. The bark peels from the
trunks in large pieces, and may be separated into thin sheets, which are
very tough, strong, and durable. The Indians sewed pieces of bark
together, using the long, slender roots of tamarack for thread. The bark
was stretched and tied over a frame, the shape of the canoe, and made of
northern white cedar, or some other light wood. Holes in the bark, and
the partings at the seams, were stopped with resin from balsam fir, wax
from balm of Gilead, or resin from pine. The forest supplied all the
material needed by the Indian, and a canoe thus made, and large enough
to carry 800 or 1,000 pounds, weighed no more than fifty pounds. Frail
as it seemed, it was good for long service on rivers and lakes, and
could weather storms of no small severity.

White men adopted the bark canoes at once, and learned from Indians how
to make them. The daring explorers and venturesome fur traders who
threaded every river and navigated every important lake of British
America, found the birch canoe equal to every requirement, even to
attacking whales in the tidewater of the Arctic ocean. The bark from
this birch was used for tents and the roofs of cabins; vessels in which
to store or carry food were made of it, as well as beds on which to
sleep, and wrapping material for bundles. These uses have now
practically ceased; but as sport, recreation, and for the novelty,
articles, from canoes to visiting cards, are still made of the bark.

The wood of paper birch is valuable for certain purposes. The trees are
largely white sapwood, which is without figure. It is as plain a wood as
grows in the forest, but it may be stained. That, however, is seldom
done. The heartwood is dark or red, and is made into brush backs and
parquet flooring, but the hearts are small, and no large quantity of
that wood is used. The largest use of paper birch is for spools, the
common kind for thread. Some of larger size are made for use in mills.
The sapwood only is accepted by makers of spools. The heart is cut out,
and most of it is thrown away or burned under the boilers. The qualities
of paper birch which appeal to spool makers are, white color, small
liability to warp, and the ease with which it may be cut without dulling
the tools. The logs are worked into bars of the various spool sizes, and
are carefully seasoned. One of the problems that must be constantly
solved is the prevention of sap stain while the bars are seasoning. The
wood discolors quickly and deeply.

Tooth picks, shoe pegs, and shoe shanks are other important commodities
manufactured from paper birch. It has not yet been satisfactorily
converted into lumber, because it is more valuable for spools, tooth
picks, pegs, and the like. This wood is frequently listed as a pulpwood,
and it is quite generally believed that its use for that purpose is
important. This is apparently an error, as the wood is not even
mentioned in statistics of pulpwood output in this country.

Paper birch weighs 37.11 pounds per cubic foot, is strong, hard, tough;
medullary rays are numerous but very small and obscure; wood is
diffuse-porous, and earlywood blends gradually with latewood in the
annual rings which are not very distinct.

This is one of the woods which does not threaten to become soon
exhausted. A supply for half a century, at present rate of use, is in
sight, if no more should grow; but in fifty years new forests, now
young, will be large enough to use.

    KENAI BIRCH (_Betula kenaica_) is an Alaska species concerning which
    comparatively little is known, except that its botanical identity
    and something of its range have been established. Its small size,
    and the remote regions where it grows, do not necessarily indicate
    that it can never be important. Scarcity of other woods may give it
    a place which it does not now occupy. No reports on the properties
    of the wood have been made. The bark is deep brown in color. Trees
    are from twenty to thirty feet high and from twelve to eighteen
    inches in diameter. The trunks are very short. Cones are an inch or
    less in length and the double winged seeds are very small. The name
    applied to this species relates to the region where the best
    developed trees have been found. As far as known, the species is
    confined to the coast region of Alaska and to adjacent islands from
    the head of Lynn canal westward. It has been reported on Koyukuk
    river above the Arctic circle.

    WHITE BIRCH (_Betula populifolia_) is known also as gray birch,
    old-field birch, poverty birch, poplar-leaved birch, and small white
    birch. It is chiefly confined to the northeastern part of the United
    States, but grows as far east as Nova Scotia, and west to the
    southern shore of Lake Ontario. It occurs on the Atlantic coast
    south to Delaware, and along mountain ranges to West Virginia. The
    names describe either the habits or the appearance of the tree. The
    bark is white, and is the most prominent feature of a thicket of
    these graceful but practically worthless little birches. It is
    called an old-field species because it quickly scatters its small,
    winged seeds over abandoned farmland and takes possession when it
    does not have to compete with stronger species. Poverty birch is an
    allusion, either to the poor ground it occupies or the unpromising
    nature of the tree itself. The rese