Transition Culture

An Evolving Exploration into the Head, Heart and Hands of Energy Descent

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7 Feb 2006

Top Five Trees for Life Beyond Oil – Now Let’s Hear Yours…

treesI’m sure you read my offerings over the last week thinking “he never mentioned the ……..”, or “how could he not have included the …….”. Its over to you now. What would be your essential tree for life beyond oil? What was the glaring omission for you? Which one would be an essential part of your energy descent toolkit? Do share with us you choice of tree and why…

Picking five trees was a tough one, a veritable forest of wonderful trees had to be put to one side. I had to leave out plums, and greengages, possibly the single most delicious fruit that will grow in the British Isles. I had to neglect to mention the Medlar, a Victorian oddity which TV organic gardening supremo Bob Flowerdew said he had planted in his garden until it was mature enough to try one, and he thought it so revolting he dug the tree up and burnt it (I rather like them).

treesI had to bypass the hazel (we’d have had too many nuts), even thought that meant I couldn’t tell you about the work of Badgersett Farm and their astounding work breeding heavily cropping hazel varieties. I couldn’t wax lyrical about the good old oak, the true king of the forest, home to more species than any others. The Juneberry had to be put to one side, with its beautiful spray of white flowers in the spring, scarlet red leaves in Autumn, and delicious berries in the summer. The mulberry, with its juicy fruit. The ash with its easy to split firewood and clean straight poles. Western Red Cedar, great for windbreaks and a gorgeous timber. Ginko biloba, the tree that the dinosaurs left behind, with its leaves which are exciting so much interest as a cure for cancer. The lime tree, whose bark made the ropes on ships of old and whose young leaves can come straight off the tree and straight into your sandwich.

Do tell us about your choice….

Categories: Food, Peak Oil, Permaculture

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7 Feb 12:09pm

From a purely practical point of view, I think Willow & Poplar may become extremely important as biofuel feedstock after Peak Oil. I feel that the energy crisis is going to catch the majority of society napping and the result will be widespread need for quick solutions, so the short rotation offered by these trees could be a very valuable characteristic.

Sinbad Wilmot
7 Feb 4:01pm

From a practical point of view, I’d have to include willow, again the bark can be used for cordage, in some cases also for curing headaches (make sure you are OK with Asprin though) and it coppices well for fuel purposes. Not so hot on the grub front I guess. From an aesthetic perspective I’d have to have at least some Beech and Birch, and hey, you can get Birch sap this time of year too! Just plug the hole when you are finished so as not to kill the tree.

Graham Strouts
7 Feb 5:31pm

How about the Monkey Puzzle? A bit ugly in its common place as an architectural feature in a small garden, but Ive always dreamed of planting a whole forest of them for nut production.Would be spectacular! Takes 30-40 years, but potentially one of the highest yielding food crops, and ideally suited to the wetter Western sea-boards of Ireland or Wales or SW England.

8 Feb 6:49pm

after much debate…

the white oak. this majestic tree provides summer shade, excellent wood and huge edible acorns each fall. it also inspires with its size and structure.

i’ll send you some acorns to plant.