What others say:
"This historical account of trees, civilizations and the Mediterranean Basin is an insightful look at ancient times. Mr. Reuschel provides an invigorating narrative of the trees and forests of the Middle East." - Michael D. Moore, Past Director, Michigan Department of Natural Resources
"For anyone interested in the historic incidence of forests and the use of wood, as well as a deeper read of the many historic Bible references, this is an engaging book." - H. William Rockwell, Jr., Past President, Society of American Foresters
What the author says:
"Hey, lots of very interesting stuff, here!"
Are you looking for information about forests, trees and wood?
Are you fascinated by really big trees?
Are you thinking about harvesting trees from your own woodlot?
Do you like reading about the unique place of trees in nature and our environment?
Would you like to learn more about the uses and abuses of ancient forests?
You've come to the right place.
?? Did You Know ??
By some estimates, more than 5,000 products used by mankind are made from wood or its derivatives. In addition to very traditional products and uses still clearly recognizable as wood, they include components of explosives, plastics, many kinds of medicine, flavorings and aromatics, absorbents, insulation, anti-bacterial agents, rayon and other textiles, toothpaste, ice cream, photographic film, cellophane bags, linoleum tile, shampoo, vitamins, aspirin, throat lozenges, hairspray, lotions, shoe polish, automotive waxes, adhesives, chewing gum, sausage casings, ink, and additives to asphalt and concrete.
However, numerous other amazing innovations continue to be discovered and developed from trees. Here are just a few interesting examples:
• In the 1980’s it was determined that taxol, an extract from the bark and needles of the Pacific yew tree, had unique benefits as a chemotherapeutic agent for reducing certain cancer growths. More recently the Taiwan yew has also shown promise.
• Scientists are aggressively seeking new medicine to deal with bacteria which have grown increasingly resistant to antibiotics. They have found that honey has an unusual ability to fight bacteria in wounds. And honey made by bees which gather their nectar from the Manuka trees of New Zealand has proven to be unusually potent and effective.
• Microcrystalline cellulose is being looked at as a replacement for silica, currently used as a reinforcing filler in the manufacture of rubber tires. It is readily made from almost any kind of plant fiber, including trees. Its use in tires is expected to reduce the cost and energy use of production, and improve fuel efficiency and performance in hot weather.
• As many as one hundred different kinds of fungi may be found growing on and within a single forest tree. The mycelium of fungi feed on and digest the cellulose in wood. A number of these are being found to exhibit characteristics helpful in addressing some health and environmental concerns. As an example, one has been found to encourage the bacteria that can break down petroleum products and thereby help in the clean-up of oil spills.
• Tests in some species of trees indicate that they internally generate a very small, but steady electric voltage. Scientists are speculating that such circuits might someday power tree sensors to detect environmental conditions or forest fires, or even to gauge a tree’s health.
• The water naturally taken up by trees through their roots also contains dissolved nutrients and minerals. Researchers have found that one of the materials taken up can be gold. In Australia, the leaves of the eucalyptus tree show traces of gold where growing over gold deposits as much as 35 meters deep. This may one day prove helpful in the discovery of a variety of valuable minerals.
You can find more examples in Chapter 10 of my book!
Q. I know that tall trees of good form and quality are sought after for lumber and veneer. Are there any uses for the poorer quality and crooked trees?
A. Yes, indeed! While straight pieces may be preferred even for firewood use, most any sound piece of wood of any shape can be and is used for firewood. In fact, firewood is still used in great quantities in many parts of the world. Short or curved trunks and branches also find their way into a wide variety of specialty and craft products. Pieces with vari-colored and distorted grain are even preferred by some craftsmen, as they can bring out elaborate and beautiful patterns for wooden bowls, plates, and other turnings. Distorted stumps are particularly sought after for such purposes. Other products include small furniture items like tables and footstools. Wooden hobby pieces come in multiple sizes and shapes. For many of the very rare and expensive woods, being able to use just small segments for such projects keeps them affordable.
Most any piece of wood can be converted into a variety of unusual products, including liquid fuels, medicines, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, pesticides, plastic-like polymers, lubricants and a host of others.
And finally, those decaying trunks and branches remaining alive in the woods are, of course, of great value to wildlife. Woodpeckers seek larvae burrowing in the decaying wood. Hollow trunks are sought out by squirrels, raccoons, wood ducks, owls and other critters. They find them useful for protection from the elements, raising their young, and storing food. Forest managers intentionally leave a distribution of such trees when designing harvests, in order to maintain the wildlife values of the forest.
Contact me with your own question about forests, trees or wood.