Monday, March 2, 2020

A few pictures of trees trained as "pollard"

A pollard willow. Next to a drain where water leaves my property. One last chance to grab nutrients before they leave. Slightly to the left of the willow and in the background is a pollard Black Locust.
There is nothing exceptional about this clone. I saw it growing beside Peppermint Creek at McNamara's Landing (a local park). It is a Crack Willow (Salix fragilis). The lady at the local wildlife rehab place likes the fresh limbs when she has a beaver in residence.

As you can see, the tree produces a super-abundance of poles.  Poles = pollard

Three pollard Black Locust in this image. All three originally cut at 6'. If I were attempting to maximize biomass production I would plant on 10'-by-25' centers.
One of the advantages pollard (which has a trunk) has over coppice (cut near ground level) is that the newly emerging shoots are above the convenient browsing height of deer and cattle.
My first effort at pollard. Cut at 12'.

Another example cut at 12'.
This Black Locust was cut at 4'. It struggled to regrow due to shade from nearby Northern Red Oak. Please notice that the limbs come out of the trunk BELOW the topping cut so cutting those limbs near the trunk entails bending over.
I decided to take my advice and get rid of a legacy project. These are some of the first grapes I planted back in the 1990s. One row has already been removed in this picture.
And now the second row is gone. That freed up a 20'-by-30' patch. I have a row of elderberries and a row of aronia penciled in for replacements. The cardboard on the right is mulch for a row of rootstock that I am trying to turn into a stool-bed.
Bonus picture
Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa) breaks dormancy and blooms very, very early in the spring. Not a rare species but a bit of an oddity.


  1. Replies
    1. A stool bed is a way of propagating clones of fruit trees generally reserved for rootstocks.

      The young tree/bush is grown in place for a year then cut off close to the ground. It typically sends up more than one stem...really a bush.

      After the stems are a foot high, sawdust is mounded around the base and the young stems, deprived of light and exposed to 100% humidity strike roots.

      In the late fall, the sawdust is raked away and the rooted stems are cut from the bush.

      Lather, rinse, repeat. A stool bed can last fifty years.

      I buy thirty-to-fifty rootstock every year and pay through the nose on a per-unit basis. It a matter of economics for me to produce about that number just so I have something to play around with.

      Thanks for asking.

  2. I've tried coppices, which I now call "deer food", and pollards, but on a smaller scale than you, since I'm late to the party. My trees are primarily maple/hickory/basswood. The basswood pollard seems to be doing well, though not growing "up" so much as "out". My experiment at harvesting just a few of the poles out of a maple is a failure, as the tree just keeps on keepin' on with the remaining poles, not sending out new shoots. So that one's going to get whacked to a single pollard stool.
    My goal is to get almost the entire woods (~7 acres) managed as a pollard grove, to prepare for long-term wood heating, and maybe cooking.
    One thing I don't know about is how hickory nut production works with a pollarded hickory. I guess I'll find out.

    I've yet to try my hand at grafting fruit trees, but it's on the list.

    Do you give tours? :) I'm in SE Mich and it would be fun to connect with other "small holders" in the region.

  3. Oh, I meant to ask: I've thought about black locust, but have been scared off due to its "invasiveness". What's been your experience with black locust taking over?


    Sprout Lands: Tending the Endless Gift of Trees
    William Bryant LoganMarch 26, 2019
    W. W. Norton & Company

    I have been waiting on this this from the library for weeks. You can read 30 pages of it under the link.

    Pollarding is one way to make a tree ugly.


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