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Author Topic: ID Ash and Basswood  (Read 6068 times)

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Offline wheelinguy

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ID Ash and Basswood
« on: March 11, 2012, 06:16:03 pm »
Maybe its simple but I was wondeing how to tell the difference between ash and basswood, especially in winter?  They seem to have similar bark, even when they are cut down I think that they are hard to tell apart.  I'm not even totally sure how to tell them apart in the summer????

Offline Al_Smith

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Re: ID Ash and Basswood
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2012, 06:58:20 pm »
In Ohio the ash trees are the ones that are dead .

Ash has 5 leaves per stalk or twig whatever you call it .Basswood ,Linden has leaves as wide as they are long .

Offline Linda

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Re: ID Ash and Basswood
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2012, 10:47:35 pm »
Ash bark is a little lighter in color & kind of looks like it's been scrubbed. Basswood bark is a little darker in color & has more defined vertical lines with flatter tops on the ridges.

Check out these pictures I found online:

ASH - http://treedoctor.anr.msu.edu/ash/ashtree_id.html

BASSWOOD - http://ontariotrees.com/main/species.php?id=2016
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Offline WDH

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Re: ID Ash and Basswood
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2012, 11:02:16 pm »
Ash has opposite branching while basswood has alternate branching, so all you have to do is look up at the branches.

Ash has a compound leaf with 5 or more leaflets.  Basswood has a simple heart shape leaf.
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Offline Clark

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Re: ID Ash and Basswood
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2012, 12:51:03 am »
In the winter with no leaves things can become more difficult.  Some random thoughts on things that stick out to me:

All ash buds are very large and combined with the opposite branching it's a dead giveaway (although red maple meets those critieria!) that it's an ash.  Basswood buds have a red bud scales and an alternate branching pattern.  Basswood also tends to grow very well from stump sprouts so seeing groups of 3-8 mature trees growing from one stump is not uncommon.  It's uncommon for ash to have more than 2 or 3 from one stump.

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Offline WDH

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Re: ID Ash and Basswood
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2012, 01:18:43 am »
Basswood buds are in-equilateral.  That is, they sit slightly to the side of the leaf scar versus directly on top of the leaf scar like almost all other species.  Once you see this in the field, you will own basswood ID.
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Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: ID Ash and Basswood
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2012, 04:48:46 am »
Basswood buds are pretty large too, but the terminal bud is canted outward. My father used to confuse it for hard maple, by just the bark. And we cut it in areas that had a lot of ash to. Our white ash bark is brown with white blotches up here. Some really old ones get grey bark though, but most often a scrape with an axe will reveal brown or orange brown. I find the crowns are quite distinct. I can pick out the basswoods from a long way off my looking at the tops and it most always grows in with ash up here. Ash limbs are more upswept and basswood more lateral. I believe this is a trait from being very shade tolerant, which ash is not.

Pre-commercial thinning pays off. :)

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Offline MHineman

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Re: ID Ash and Basswood
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2012, 08:16:11 am »
  The easiest way is to put a saw into the wood.  Basswood cuts a lot easier.
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Offline cutterboy

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Re: ID Ash and Basswood
« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2012, 08:48:59 pm »
Thanks Wheelinguy for asking your question. I have some trees growing with ash that look like ash in the bark but the leaves are wrong. Now I think they are basswood.

Does basswood make good Lumber?

Offline wheelinguy

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Re: ID Ash and Basswood
« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2012, 09:14:53 pm »
when its dry its very lightweight, lots of carvers seem to like it,

Offline Al_Smith

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Re: ID Ash and Basswood
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2012, 09:15:14 pm »
It's soft .I guess they use it for certain musical instruments .Other than that I know of no other commercial use .

I have about a truck load left from about a two cord pile which I've given most away for firewood .It burns okay it just takes a lot of it .

Offline WDH

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Re: ID Ash and Basswood
« Reply #11 on: March 12, 2012, 10:11:07 pm »
It has specialty uses like for carving blocks, but it is not used in most applications because it is so soft.  You never see any basswood plantations, and there is a reason why.
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Offline MHineman

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Re: ID Ash and Basswood
« Reply #12 on: March 12, 2012, 11:15:23 pm »
  Venetian blinds were made of basswood, but probably most are some type of plastic now.
  I sawed Basswood for a farmer a couple years ago as 6/4 boards.  He used them for siding on a shed for 4-H calves.  He covered it with used motor oil.  It seems to be holding up fairly well.
  I've got several logs to saw and I'm going to use them for siding on a chicken house.  I'll use good paint instead of motor oil. 
  My understanding is it light weight, medium to light strength, and must be protected from weather by paint, etc.
  Time will tell how well they hold up.
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Offline Dodgy Loner

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Re: ID Ash and Basswood
« Reply #13 on: March 12, 2012, 11:47:14 pm »
Basswood twigs are much thinner than ash twigs as well. Ash has larger leaves, and therefore requires thicker branches to support the leaves. It takes a bit of "calibration" before you can pick out the different immediately, but it will come with practice.
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Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: ID Ash and Basswood
« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2012, 06:01:37 am »
My grandfather used it for trim board around the counter top of the cupboards years ago. There is really nothing special about it, in fact not much character, pretty boring stuff. ;) Every town around here seems to have one or two native basswoods on the main street. They get huge. I guess the nice thing about basswood is it's form and flowering, it can stand some hard pruning and the fact it heals fast after injury. I have three I transplanted from the woods on the farm to the lawn. It's not common here, but not rare. In NB it mainly grows here along the farming belt of the St John River. I never actually began noticing it until the mid-90's when I began tramping a lot of local woodlots. Dad never knew what it was actually, yet it grew on all the farms he owned. On the woodlot I discovered a big old stump beside a cedar stand, right where the land changes from moist to very wet. It has suckered and I trim it every once in awhile to encourage a couple stems. It has flowered now for a couple years. I've been taking seed from the yard and transporting it to the woodlot. Never seen one germinate yet though. Tough stuff to grow, but once it takes hold tough to kill to. ;D Basswood up here has huge heart-shaped leaves, I would bet they weigh as much as any ash leaf.

Pre-commercial thinning pays off. :)

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Offline Clark

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Re: ID Ash and Basswood
« Reply #15 on: March 13, 2012, 11:22:59 am »
It has specialty uses like for carving blocks, but it is not used in most applications because it is so soft.  You never see any basswood plantations, and there is a reason why.

It's also the preferred wood of trappers to use for fur stretchers because it's soft, easily worked and has no pitch in it.

Nobody grows plantations of it but up here there are places where it occurs naturally in nearly pure stands.  It also happens to be our hardwood with the best form and growth rate, aspen aside (I find it tough to call it aspen hardwood but basswood in my book is, we are all full of contradictions!)  Most foresters around here will tell you that basswood is the junkiest tree in the woods but they have their wires crossed.  They are thinking of markets and applying that to the tree's form.   I have measured basswood 80' tall, straight as a gun barrel and the first limb was 50' up.  No other species will grow like that here.

Clark

Online Ron Wenrich

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Re: ID Ash and Basswood
« Reply #16 on: March 14, 2012, 06:37:49 am »
I don't see many plantations of hardwoods, other than apple, peach and pear.  Never seen any for fiber production, although they tried it with hybrid poplar and willow for fuel.  Must be the area.
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Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: ID Ash and Basswood
« Reply #17 on: March 14, 2012, 06:50:59 am »
I planted about 3500 yellow birch on the woodlot one time. Within a week the hare and moose dealt with them. They were inter-planted with other species and those critters have yellow birch radar I guess. Heck the moose come up to the yard to each some I planted back there, about 500 or so. A few got by and I have a pretty nice looking yellow birch stand growing. :D



These are from seed I collected and the provincial seed center extracted and stored it. A nursery in NS grew them. They were 12-18" tall when I sunk them in. Grown in Jiffy.

Pre-commercial thinning pays off. :)

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Offline WDH

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Re: ID Ash and Basswood
« Reply #18 on: March 14, 2012, 08:41:12 am »
I have seen cottonwood, sycamore, sweetgum, and yellow poplar for short rotation pulpwood, all soft hardwoods.  I have never seen a hard hardwood plantation except for pecan.
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Offline MHineman

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Re: ID Ash and Basswood
« Reply #19 on: March 14, 2012, 10:26:21 am »
  There are a few Walnut plantations here, but most tree plantings are mixed hardwoods.  Usually Walnut, Cherry, Poplar, Red Oak, and White Oak with a few other species for good measure. 
  Pines or fast growing, but short lived hardwoods are sometimes interplanted to keep the more valuable hardwoods reaching for the sun.
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