Need help on Mountain Ash (Rowan) genus "Sorbus"

Discussion in 'Woods for Smoking' started by sqwib, Mar 4, 2014.

  1. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    My brother is having three Mountain Ash Trees removed and he asked the tree guy about using it as firewood.

    I figured its about a cord, it would save him a bit on a few seasons worth of gas.

    The tree guy said it was no good for firewood as it turns white and spongy after it has been cut and will not burn good.

    As I have gotten older, my trust in certain people has been slowly diminishing, I am not a cynic but when it comes to dealing with people that can gain from someones naivety or trust I get fired up. I have seen too much in the way of unscrupulous activities as people are becoming more cut throat to survive.

    Here's the Dilemma, I am trying to convince him to save a good portion of the wood for firewood and for my pit, I offered to do all the chainsawing and splitting myself.

    I think hes reluctant because of what the tree guy said... and who knows, he may be spot on!

    I am not worried about flavor of the wood as I will use this as a two part fuel source if need be.

    When I burn unwanted woods I will only use that wood when foiled or if the food is covered.

    I went through a good amount of bug infested ash this way, hell why use up my premium wood when I don't need it, this works out great because I get rid of a lot of junk wood this way.

    Here's the only info I could find and there's no first hand use experience with this species that I can find.

    Rowan: Also called mountain ash (but unrelated to the common ash) this tree produces a decent firewood.

    Rowan: A good heat and reasonably slow burn. Also known as Mountain Ash.

    Not an ash but related to the Rose family

    Mostly deciduous trees. However, Eucalyptus regnans, which is sometimes called Mountain Ash, is an evergreen tree

    2) "Mountain Ash is a name used for several unrelated trees. It may refer to:
    - Eucalyptus regnans, the tallest of all flowering plants
    - Fraxinus texensis, an ash tree species in Texas
    Trees in the genus Sorbus in North America (mainly U.S.A.)
    - In Ireland and Britain it is used exclusively for Sorbus aucuparia which is also commonly known as Rowan"

    Sorbus subgenus Sorbus (genus Sorbus s.s.), commonly known as the rowan (primarily in the UK) or mountain-ash (in both North America and the UK), with compound leaves usually hairless or thinly hairy below; fruit carpels not fused; type species Sorbus aucuparia (European rowan). Distribution: cool-temperate Northern Hemisphere. (Genus Sorbus s.s.)

    I'm calling BS here.

    Anyhow.. any advice or first hand experience would be greatly appreciated.
  2. woodcutter

    woodcutter Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    No experience with Mountain Ash but I burn a lot of White and Black ash. The ash leaves a completely burned ash. The is no small pieces of lump coal. I can't think of any reason it would not burn if it was dry. As long it is not poisonous?[​IMG]
  3. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Don't eat the berries. I don't know about using it as firewood, but my Grandfather thought it useless.
  4. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    It's in the rose family (Rosaceae) its not a true ash.
    The berries can be made into jams and stuff, although It doesn't matter because I wouldn't eat them anyway.

    This is from a website I frequent, thought it was interesting.

    Rowan is another name for the European Mountain Ash. Mountain ashes around the world tend to fall into two groups. One group has berries that are usually processed into jelly or jams and are barely edible off the tree after frost if not after freezing a few times or a long stint in your freezer. Raw their quality is not great. The other group has been bred to be eaten raw and can also be made into various sweet products. So the fruit is edible but… You will read in some places that the seeds contain compounds which upon digestion release small amounts of cyanide. This is probably true.  The seeds of some 1,000 plants in the greater group (Rose) do have some cyanidic compounds. Processing (the breaking down of cell structures and letting enzymes go to work) and or cooking usually take care of that issue. Small amounts of raw fruit are considered tolerable and to my knowledge there are no bad cyanide-related reports about Mountain Ash fruit. Man probably discovered these fruit — and their necessary vitamin C — were edible in the winter time because they persist on the tree and taste better the older they get (which additionally might reduce the potential cyanide amount.) The berries also contain malic acid and parasorbic acid. Malic acid is what makes apples tart. Parasorbic acid can upset the tummy raw but cooking changes it to sorbic acid which is not a problem.
  5. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Ash is a very hard Hardwood. Very hard to chainsaw carve, but I've made some nice kitchens with it. Also one of the best woods for Baseball bats.

    Mountain Ash is a Softwood.

  6. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I have used a ton of ash for my pit.

    Softwood...Very interesting...

    Another thing that blows my mind is that Balsa is a Hardwood.
  7. maple sticks

    maple sticks Smoking Fanatic

    "Another thing that blows my mind is that Balsa is a Hardwood"

    Not sure about that. Do you have a link?
  8. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Yeah, it's strange, but it goes by what type of tree it is, not how hard it actually is.

    The difference is if it's one word or two words.

    Poplar is a "Soft" wood, but it is a "Hardwood".

    Same thing with Balsa.

    I made kitchens with Oak, Maple, Cherry, Hickory, Ash, Birch, etc.  I always refused to use Pine for kitchens.

    However if they wanted a "Paint-grade" or "Laminated" kitchen, I would use Poplar, because it was a pleasure to work with, and very few knots, because the trees first limbs are usually way up there.

  9. SQWIB,
    Mountain ash is a hard hardwood.
    Not the best firewood, but it'll burn just fine.

  10. maple sticks

    maple sticks Smoking Fanatic

    Yep, SQWIB balsa is a hard wood.

    As it turns out, a hardwood is not necessarily a harder material (more dense) and a softwood is not necessarily a softer material (less dense). For example, balsa wood is one of the lightest, least dense woods there is, and it's considered a hardwood.
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2014
  11. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Mountain Ash isn't used for Tool handles or Baseball bats.
    That would be good old plain "Ash", which is a very hard Hardwood. Very hard to chainsaw carve!!![​IMG]

    Below is Mountain Ash:

    Trunk ---------short, slender
    Branches----- spreading
    Bark ----------thin and smooth.
    Bud Scales--- hairless and sticky.
    Wood ---------pale brown, soft, and weak.
    Roots--------- fibrous

  12. SQUIB,

    Here's the Janka hardness of some common hardwoods, as you can see, mountain ash has nearly the same hardness as red oak, beech and white ash.

    Shagbark Hickory: 1,880 lbf
    Black Locust: 1,700 lbf
    Hard Maple: 1,450 lbf
    White Oak:1,350 lbf
    White Ash: 1,320 lbf
    Beech: 1,300 lbf
    Red Oak: 1,220 lbf
    Mountain Ash (Rowan): 1,210 lbf
    Black Cherry: 950 lbf
    White Birch: 910 lbf
    Elm: 830 lbf
    Poplar: 540 lbf
    Basswood: 410 lbf
    Balsa: 90 lbf

    Last edited: Mar 4, 2014
  13. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Must be different Mountain Ash Trees.

    I was talking about the "American" Mountain Ash  (Sorbus):

    Sorbus americana

    American Mountain Ash

    American Mountain Ash, BWCAW
    Photo © by Earl J.S. Rook

    Flora, fauna, earth, and sky...
    The natural history of the northwoods


    • Sorbus, from the Latin name for Sorbus domestica, the common European Mountain Ash or "Service Tree"
    • americana, from the Latin, "of America"
    • Common Name from its North American distribution and the similarity of its compound leaves to those of the true Ash (Fraxinus  spp).
    • Other common names include Dogberry, Small Fruited Mountain Ash, Roundwood, Missey-mossey,cormier  (Qué)


    • Kingdom Plantae, the Plants
      • Division Magnoliophyta, the Angiosperms (flowering plants)
        • Class Magnoliopsida, the Dicotyledons
        • Subclass Rosidae, the Roses
          • Order Rosales, the Roses
            • Family Rosaceae, the Roses; with Amelanchier  (Juneberries), Aronia(Chokeberries), Crataegus  (Hawthorns), Malus  (Apples), Physocarpus(Ninebark), Potentilla  (Cinquefoils), Prunus  (Cherries & Plums), Rubus(Blackberries, Dewberries, and Raspberries), and Spiraea  (Spirea)
              • Genus Sorbus, the Mountain Ash
    • Taxonomic Serial Number: 25319
    • Also known as Pyrus americana, Pyrus microcarpa
    • Hybridizes naturally with Black Chokeberry (Pyrus melanocarpa)


    • Leaves  alternate, compound, 13"-17" long, tapered, finely toothed leaflets. The leaflets are 2-4 inches long, 5/8-1 inch wide, and without hairs.
    • Stem
      • Trunk  short, slender
      • Branches  spreading
      • Bark  thin and smooth.
      • Bud Scales  hairless and sticky.
      • Wood  pale brown, soft, and weak.  <<<<<<<<<<<<<<
    • Roots  fibrous
    • Flowers  small, creamy-white,and borne in cymes.
    • Fruit  bright red, berry-like, about ¼" in diameter, remaining on the tree late into the winter.
    • Seed
    • A native, deciduous shrub or small tree with a short trunk, slender, spreading branches, and a narrow, open round-topped crown; in closed canopies a longer trunk, with the lower portions branch-free.
    • Height 10'-30' with an average diameter of 4"-10"
    • Tends to be slow growing and short-lived in the wild.


    • Identifiable as a Mountain Ash by the toothed compound leaves.
    • Distinguished from the only other North Woods trees with compound leaves, the true Ash, by the toothed leaf edges. Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) and Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra) have smooth leaf edges.
    • Distinguished from the very similar Northern Mountain Ash (Sorbus decora) by:
      • Lateral leaflets averaging  more than 3 times as long as wide, an hairy beneath.
      • Slightly smaller fruits which are bright red rather than orange/red.
    • Field Marks
      • Toothed, compound leaves
      • Bright red berries in fall
  14. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I'm going to tell my brother to keep it. .I can use it for the firepit, chimenea or fuel for the stickburner when foiling, then Ill experiment later with using it on the GOSM as a smoking wood.
  15. bigwheel

    bigwheel Smoking Fanatic

    I can't read all this stuff but a nice fellow gave me a big load of regular old everyday Ash one time. It did not take it long to age..had good heat production..maybe slightly less than oak but did not seem by much...just about a neutral smell to the smoke. Made a great base fire for more aromatic upper layers. Not a good coals producer as think was previously mentioned. Put a person in mind of hackberry sorta. It operates the same way but prob makes more coals. Total zero aroma for either one. Or so it appeared to the untrained

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