Written By Tom Pavlesich.

Posted on January 26th, 2017.

Tagged with Wood Products.

Share it!

I was trying to think of a Valentine’s-inspired forest topic for today’s blog, but I wasn’t having much luck. Then I took a trip out to the wood pile, and I finally got some inspiration in the form of a small piece of heart-shaped wood.

This week is Valentine’s Day, so I was trying to think of a Valentine’s-inspired forest topic for today’s blog. Frankly, I wasn’t having much luck. Then I took a trip out to the wood pile, and I got some inspiration in the form of a small piece of heart-shaped wood.

image1

The wood got me thinking about another heart-related forest term: heartwood. For those who don’t know, heartwood is the darker-colored, inner-most portion of a tree’s trunk (you can see it pretty well in the picture above).

Despite its important-sounding name, heartwood doesn’t do much in a tree. In fact, it’s basically dead. It no longer transports water up to the leaves or food created through photosynthesis down to the roots. Its main purpose is to give the tree some more structural support.

In order to keep trees standing, the heartwood needs to resist rot. It has chemicals inside it that fight off fungi that try to eat it. It’s those rot-resisting chemicals that turn heartwood its darker color compared with newer wood on the outside of the tree.

Different trees have different chemical mixes, which in turn means they have different colors of heartwood. Some trees like black cherry and walnut are prized for their heartwood’s rich, deep color. Other trees, like red and sugar maple, aren’t as lucky. For them, the desired wood is the pale white newer wood, and the smaller the heartwood, the better.

Aside from the name, is there any connection between Valentine’s Day and heartwood? Well, think about this. Heartwood is built slowly over time. It lends support and structure to the rest of the tree. It’s resilient in the face of forces that would break it down. Seems like a fitting material for the season. I wonder if I can make a valentine out of it?

image2


Share it!