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Is Catalpa good for firewood??

Discussion in 'Chainsaw' started by Happyjack, May 6, 2009.

  1. Happyjack

    Happyjack ArboristSite Operative

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    I looked in 4 different firewood btu charts, and Catalpa is not listed. I found a ton of it on Craigslist. The person told me it was Catalpa. Is it worth my time to go cut up the downed tree and split the wood. I don't want to waste my time with crap wood.

    I usually only try to burn good hardwood in my wood stove. It's a small stove, 1.6cu firebox, so I'm fussy about burning wood with a high btu rate.

    Thanks in advance for the help.
     
  2. 7oaks

    7oaks DRUGSTORE LOGGER

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    HOW ABOUT THIS FROM WIKIPEDIA...IT IS OBVIOUSLY A SOFTWOOD.

    Catalpa
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Jump to: navigation, search
    For other uses, see Catalpa (disambiguation).
    Catalpa
    Catalpa speciosa flowers, leaf and bark
    Catalpa speciosa flowers, leaf and bark
    Scientific classification
    Kingdom: Plantae
    (unranked): Angiosperms
    (unranked): Eudicots
    (unranked): Asterids
    Order: Lamiales
    Family: Bignoniaceae
    Tribe: Tecomeae
    Genus: Catalpa
    Scopoli
    Species

    11 species, including:
    Catalpa bignonioides
    Catalpa speciosa

    Catalpa, also spelled Catawba, is a genus of flowering plants in the trumpet vine family, Bignoniaceae, native to warm temperate regions of North America, the Caribbean, and east Asia.

    Catalpas are mostly deciduous trees that typically grow to 12–18 metres (39–59 ft) tall and 6–12 metres (20–39 ft) wide. A 10-year-old sapling will stand about 6 metres (20 ft) tall. They can be recognized by their large heart-shaped to three-lobed leaves, showy white or yellow flowers in broad panicles, and in the autumn by their 20–50 centimetres (7.9–20 in) long fruits which resemble a slender bean pod, containing numerous small flat seeds, each seed having two thin wings to aid wind dispersal. Because of the leaves, they are sometimes confused with the Tung tree (Vernicia fordii) in the southern U.S.

    Due to their large leaf size, Catalpas provide very dark shade and are a popular habitat for many birds, providing them good shelter from rain and wind. These trees have very little limb droppage, but drop large bean pods during late summer. The wood of catalpas is quite soft.[1]

    The two North American species, Southern Catalpa (Catalpa bignonioides), and Northern Catalpa (Catalpa speciosa) have been widely planted outside their natural ranges as ornamental trees for their showy flowers and attractive shape, or growing habit. Northern and Southern Catalpa are very similar in appearance, but the northern species has slightly larger leaves, flowers, and bean pods. Flowering starts after 275 growing degree days. The Yellow Catalpa 梓樹 (Catalpa ovata) from China, with pale yellow flowers, is also planted outside its natural range for ornamental purposes.
    Beanpods and leaf details of the Northern Catalpa.

    The name derives from the Catawba Native American name catawba for these trees (the tribal totem), with the spelling Catalpa being due to a transcription error on the part of the describing botanist (Scopoli) making the first formal scientific description of the genus. The rules of botanical naming state that the spelling used in the formal scientific description has to be retained for the scientific name. The name in vernacular use has very largely (though not completely) followed Scopoli's erroneous transcription, with catawba still in use in some areas of the United States, most particularly within the trees' native range.

    The bean-like seed pod is the origin of the alternative vernacular names Indian Bean Tree and Cigar Tree for C. bignonioides and C. speciosa.

    The tree is the food plant of the Catalpa Sphinx moth (Ceratomia catalpae), the leaves being eaten by the caterpillars. The caterpillars are an excellent live bait for fishing, particularly in the southern United States where some dedicated anglers plant catalpa mini-orchards for their own private source of "catawba-worms".
    The Catalpa tree in Reading, Berkshire, England.

    The largest living Catalpa tree is on the grounds of the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan and was planted in the year of its dedication, 1879. The oldest is the 150-year-old specimen in the Minster graveyard of St Mary’s Butts in the English town of Reading in Berkshire.

    Catalpa is also occasionally used as a tonewood in guitars.

    AND THEN THIS:


    Dave:

    Just 2 questions, I recently had to cut 2 Catalpa trees down, First is the wood good for firewood, or would it be good to cook with in an outside bbq or smoker?

    Posted by Dave | August 9, 2006 6:37 PM

    Posted on August 9, 2006 18:37
    Susan Sweeney:

    Dave -- catalpa is rated as "Fair" quality firewood -- it's not very (like willow) so doesn't do a nice slow, hot burn like oak. So I don't know if I'd use it indoors 'cause I don't know whether it would build up in the chimney like pines do.

    This Utah site has the details:
    http://extension.usu.edu/forestry/HomeTown/General_HeatingWithWood.htm



    ...Carl
     
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  3. HimWill

    HimWill Addicted to ArboristSite

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    It isn't much for firewood and the smoke stinks up the area.Not a pleasant wood to work with.Best let it go.
     
  4. huskystihl

    huskystihl Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I burnt a chord of it last year and it was wood. If it's free why not?
     
  5. buzz sawyer

    buzz sawyer Addicted to ArboristSite

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    It's fine for woodcarving and one of the most dimensionally stable woods you will find. I think it works and turns very well. Grain is like Oak or Sassafrass but even with respect to hardness across the grain.

    It may tend to pop a lot when burning due to the natural oils in it but due to the light density, may not last long for firewood.
     
  6. super3

    super3 Addicted to ArboristSite

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    The worms are great for bass fishing!
     
  7. HimWill

    HimWill Addicted to ArboristSite

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    You might want to make sure it is Catalpa,sometimes it's actually Paulownia which is very valuable stuff,in high demand in Japan.
     
  8. Cope

    Cope ArboristSite Member

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    I've always called them Catawba trees, never thought any different until I read that wikipedia link. Anyway, I cut one down a few years back and burned it. Its certainly not the best firewood, but I have to agree with others. If its free then go ahead and use it.
     
  9. slinger

    slinger AboristSite Guru

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    Burning some now, I like it early fall and late spring as it is less dense and does not have the btu's of the oak/hickory/maple I usually use.

    Don't know about smell.... mine's used in a OWB.

    Splits easy, easier than any broadleaf tree I've tried:cheers:

    I bust it in big pieces cause it is light and easier to load in the stove.
     
  10. rms61moparman

    rms61moparman Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Burns a lot better than snowballs in the winter.

    Mike
     
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  11. TreePointer

    TreePointer Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Last edited: May 6, 2009
  12. Happyjack

    Happyjack ArboristSite Operative

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    Thank you for all the comments and input. I think I will pass on this Catalpa.

    I would rather spend my effort on Oak, Maple or Beech. I get a good 6hr burn in my small woodstove Osburn 1100 with a load of dry red Oak. The stove top temp runs at 600-700 degrees with her damped down.

    I was able to heat my house with this little stove I purchased on ebay for $250. I cut my Natural Gas Bill in half. I burned about 3 cords of White Oak. I was lucky enough to get it from a nice Tree Guy doing a job on my Street last year. Cost me a case of Coors Light as a thank-you.
     
  13. A REAL Arborist

    A REAL Arborist New Member

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    Just plain stunning...

    This is, I freely admit, several years too late, and yes perhaps a bit harsh.. BUT, there needs to be some actual facts available for the next poor soul curious about burning Catawba (Catalpa) wood who follows the Google/Bing/Yahoo link into this Arborist site!

    First, just what is this site's purpose? Should not a forum for/about/related to Arborists, be comprised of at minimum a few actual Arborists willing to dedicate some time to help out, and at a minimum dispel myths? Along with the link, provided by TreePointer, should there not be actual facts like the BTU's, the difficulty in splitting Catawba (Catalpa) wood, etc. or at a bare minimum actual facts pertaining to the qualities of the Catawba (Catalpa) wood as a fuel, and not a mass of half-hearted guesses/personal opinions and a cut and paste of the entire Wikipedia entry for the tree? (There is a Wikipediest every forum.)

    Comments like Pine causing build up in chimneys, or It may tend to pop a lot when burning, etc. should be addressed not ignored.

    "Pine causing build up in chimneys"
    All wood can cause build up of creosote in chimneys if it is not seasoned properly! All wood, but especially Pine, and Fir, when properly seasoned create a hotter, more intense fire. The draft created by the intense fire moves the air up the chimney faster so the smoke does not have as much time to condense in the form of creosote inside the chimney.
    Hardwoods although once in full burn have a lot of excellent heat, actually create MORE creosote. The dense hardwood tends to smolder more, creating a cooler smoke. thus more creosote is able to condense on the surface of the flue. The pitch in wood does not cause creosote, it is the water in the pitch. Pitch itself without the water/moisture becomes a fuel in addition to the properly seasoned wood! When dry, softwoods burn extremely hot!

    So again, a little different way to explain it, moisture content in wood determines how much heat will be produced, and the amount of creosote that will build up in your chimney. Pine, Catawba (Catalpa), Oak, Elm, Fir, Eucalyptus, etc ad nauseum, will all cause creosote to build up in your chimney if not properly seasoned. Proper seasoning does not occur at the same rate for all wood. Properly seasoned wood of all type will burn hot enough to prevent deposits of creosote in your chimney, (including Pine and other pitch rich woods, as explained above) the cause of creosote is condensation, not pitch. Creosote forms when the surface temperature of the flue is too cool, when the smoke comes in contact with the cool flue (caused by improperly seasoned wood being burned) it causes the vaporized carbon particles in the smoke to solidify in the form of condensation. This condensation is creosote build-up. The myth that Pine, Fir, and other pitch rich softwoods cause creosote build up, is not only not true, it can be a dangerous mindset. Creosote is most often caused by improperly seasoned Oak, Walnut, Black Walnut and other hardwoods! People burning these woods may believe because they do not have pitch, they won't cause creosote, so they do not check their chimneys for creosote build up...

    "It may tend to pop a lot when burning" Catawba (Catalpa) is low on the scale when it comes to "popping", again we are talking about properly seasoned wood, right?

    As far as the quality of Catawba (Catalpa), as a burning wood? It is considered fair, also in this "fair" category would be Aspen, Spruce, or American Elm. So if you would consider these woods, you should be happy with Catawba (Catalpa). Of course many factors go into the rating, including the ease of splitting, the smoke, the tendency to "spark", the smell etc.
    When we think of "Poor" quality wood for firewood/heat, we are speaking of Cottonwood, Willow and Yellow Poplar although I personally have burned them all for heat, and being they were free, I was quite pleased with the results.

    If you want the best of the best, try to get a hold of some Madrona!
     
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  14. J.W Younger

    J.W Younger Tree Freak

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    I think I would go for it.It seems a little denser than sweet gum or maybe just a tad lighter than black cherry. Definitly better than willow or black gum.
     
  15. CTYank

    CTYank Peripatetic Sawyer

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    Welcome, RA. Looks like you've found your niche. :clap:
     
  16. A REAL Arborist

    A REAL Arborist New Member

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    I'm a bit slow when it comes to discerning the difference between a sincere compliment and the opposite, so I'll take that as a compliment! Thank you Sir!
    Before receiving one of my certificates, we had to learn Wood 101, Wood 102, Wood 103 Wood 104Wood 105Wood106Wood107Wood108Wood109... My wife said I turned into a termite.. She left me for a Bug Exterminator :frown: Fortunately I still have my wood and my Tree and Wood Knowledge. :cool2:
     
  17. ultimate buzz

    ultimate buzz ArboristSite Member

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    Catalpa

    Catalpa is a fantastic wood for both hand carvers and chainsaw carvers. If you can get a hold of any that does not have the center rotted out. You could sell the catalpa and use the cash to get some quality firewood. -ken
     
  18. fearofpavement

    fearofpavement Trying them all

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    I cut down plenty of trees but don't claim to be an arborist. However, I heat 3000 square feet solely with wood so do consider myself to be well versed in what wood works well for heating a home. I also have catalpa trees growing on my property and based on my experience with that wood, I only burn it as debris. I don't think it is worth wasting the time on to haul it home. I would burn it if it was the only wood I had available but if there are any alternatives I say leave it where it is.
     
  19. Arrowhead

    Arrowhead RARE BREED

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    "A Real Arborist"..... I was losing sleep thinking everybody else here were imposters. Kinda ballsy to dig up a 2+ year old thread that was originally posted in the wrong forum.... just to smack talk on your first post. This is the chainsaw forum.... now what are the timing numbers on your work saws?
     
  20. fearofpavement

    fearofpavement Trying them all

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    Real Arborist, don't go away yet. I don't know how much you have looked around the site but Arborist Site is a very large and stratified site and this particular segment you are on is the Chainsaw forum. There are also separate forums for heavy equipment, newbies, wood burners, tree climbers and all sorts of things. So if you are a working arborist find the sections that would more relate to your skills and knowledge. Of course if you use chainsaws, then this is the site to have all your questions about saws answered or answer other's questions. You have to be able to give and receive insults as a pre-requisite for posting:) And no matter what brand of saw you prefer you will discover here why it is the wrong choice and you must convert to another brand! Stick around, it's fun (and cheap)
     

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