Here is some good information published by the US Forest Products Laboratory. Regarding Seasoning of Wood Freshly cut wood has a very high moisture content. As much as 60% (or more) of the weight of a tree is water. At least some of this water must be removed before trying to use it as a fuel wood. See Amount of Energy in Wood, for a discussion of why that is necessary. Several bad results can occur from burning wood that is not fully dried to below 25% moisture content. (Such wood is referred to as "green" wood). As that discussion mentions, the effective available heat is MUCH less, not just because there is less wood fibers in each pound of wood put in the woodburner, but that a good percentage of that heat must be used to evaporate all that water before those wood fibers can burn. Another VERY important consequence of burning green wood is that the presence of all that moisture tends to keep "putting out" the fire, and therefore making it burn very poorly, which tends to produce a lot of creosote and pollution. Don't Do It! Generally, the way this drying is accomplished is by "seasoning" it. Firewood is cut to length and then seasoned (dried) in a stack, with air being able to get to it, for at least 9 months before burning. The natural 60%-70% moisture content must be reduced to about 20% to burn well. The wood cells don't lose much moisture through the bark; the moisture is most effectively removed through the cut cells at the ends of each piece. That's why logs which have lain in the woods for years may still have a lot of moisture and may not burn well (unless cut and dried.) We have heard of people cutting up these downed trees and immediately putting them in a woodburner! And the wood burns poorly! Now you know why! OK! So, sometimes, it turns out to be NECESSARY to burn some green wood. Which species would be best under those conditions? It turns out that the desirability is NOT the same as for seasoned wood! While they are living, various species of trees have different moisture contents. If you suitably dry them all, that difference rather disappears. But, while still green, it becomes significant. It is possible to correlate both the heat-content of the wood fibers and the green moisture content to form a table of desirability for those situations when green wood must be burned. There are people who insist that wood should be dried (seasoned) for at least one or two years. Experimental evidence has established that that is nearly always unnecessary, as long as the pieces of wood are cut to length and stacked. Natural airflows through the stack, and particularly through the cut cells of the pieces of wood themselves, dries them sooner than that. Experimental evidence has established that one-foot long cut pieces generally dry to acceptable levels in just two or three months. Two-foot long cut pieces take about six or seven months for similar acceptability. Four-foot long cut pieces DO require at least a year. Associated with this, covering the woodpile with a tarp slightly improves this, but probably not enough to make the expense of a tarp worthwhile, except in a climate where rain and very high humidity is common. Similarly, split pieces of wood tend to dry slightly faster than full diameter logs, but again by minimal amounts. There appears to be no value in drying firewood more than about nine months. If wood is stacked in four-foot or longer lengths, the drying process is greatly slowed. In other words, if wood is cut to four-foot length and stacked, for nine months, and then cut to shorter burning length just before use, it will probably not burn well because it is still to wet (green).