Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Why the interest in trees like Rock Elm
Frequent commentor Lucas Macias observed, "I don't believe you have mentioned what your interest in Rock Elm is"
I don't want to go into a huge dissertation but I will take a few swipes at it.
H.T. Odum's thoughts on the power of Transformity basically states, "Let light remain light. Let food remain food. Let mechanical motion remain mechanical motion. And let heat remain heat."
It is a hierarchy of entropy. Light is the "highest" form of energy. While different forms of energy can be converted it is wasteful to transform from a low entropy (high form) of energy to a higher entropy (lower form) of energy. And it is extravagantly wasteful to try to trade from a high entropy form up to a low entropy form. How many rusty Yugos would you have to trade to get a pristine '63 Corvette? How many no-name baseball cards to get a Mickey Mantle rookie card? So it is with trying to trade heat up to light or human quality food.
Immediately below light is food, human food. So if one had to choose between a tree that produced human food and a tree that only produced wood to burn, then one would be a poor manager if he chose the more limited, higher entropy option. I suppose good dimension lumber might be akin to mechanical energy, which falls between food and heat. It should be noted that all trees produce burnable wood by way of incidental harvest.
So the Rock Elm has a lot going for it. It produces (tiny amounts of) human quality wood during the hunger gap, it produces wood strong enough to be tool handles, wagon wheels, cogs and shafts, it produces burnable wood and it can do it under difficult growing conditions.
Edited to add: I also think that growing Rock Elm (and Burr Oak and Hill's Oak) would be a good fund raising project for our local FFA chapter. I think there are many land owners who would be happy to pay $3 a tree if it was "containerized" in a Red Solo cup or a biodegradable container.
If you take a portfolio approach, it should not be a high percentage of the canopy. But, like "junk" silver dimes, it could be handy to have a few of them lying about.
Now, if only I can figure out how to grow bioluminescent fungi on them!