Thursday, March 5, 2015
Another common tree that I rarely harvest myself around here is the Sycamore. Or more precisely the American Sycamore since I understand there is a European and African variety as well. The natural range for this tree is listed as pretty much the entire Eastern half of the US from Kansas to the coast up to about the middle of Iowa but I have read that it has been planted just about everywhere in the US so I am sure most people are familiar with it.
Sycamore trees are not easy to split by hand but I understand they do produce passable wood for use in furniture and other projects although I have not read that the wood is especially durable for outdoor use. At 17.9 BTU output per cord however it is nothing to sneer at for firewood and it does burn nicely even at lower oxygen levels.
The real issue I have with harvesting Sycamore trees however is where they typically like to grow. Around here they can usually be found in the deepest ravines, drainage ditches or creek beds and rarely if ever located near open areas they can be gotten to easily. Not to say it doesn't happen and I have cut a few dead ones up but usually they are just too damned hard to get to. The reason for this I am told is because Sycamore trees are about the least drought tolerant trees around and will only live for years in areas that remain constantly moist. You see em all the time growing along the roads where the run off ditches have been reduced and the ground remains damp year round but when you travel out away they become a bit more scarce.
Another thing about Sycamores is around here they tend to be the trees most likely to house feral bee hives too. Sycamores, like many other trees, like to become hollow as the age but their usual proximity to water and the size of the cavities within the tree makes the Sycamore very attractive habitat to feral honey bees.
As far as I know the prickly looking nuts are not good for human consumption but those combined with the bark peeling off and exposing the white wood beneath make Sycamore trees easy to identify.
One of the best features of this tree however is it's fast growth potential. In the proper soil and moisture conditions a Sycamore tree can grow as much as 6 foot in a season. Only a couple varieties of Willow or Popular can beat the Sycamore for fast growth. I have tried a few times to get some started in my own miserable wood lot with no luck but I think the horses actually destroyed em rather than them not growing.
Perhaps I will try again this year though.
I will be at a sheep shearing class all day tomorrow so I may not post dpending on how tired I am when I get home.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!