Tree Cookie Preservation - Seeking information

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Jim Wright

Tree Cookie Preservation - Seeking information

Post by Jim Wright » Wed Mar 30, 2011 3:56 pm

Hello to all,
I have read many of your postings and am inspired by your collective knowledge and varied interests. Recently I came across a very colorful and dramatic pattern inside a of a 12 inch tree that I helped a neighbor cut down. It was located in a stone row alongside a corn field in north western New Jersey; unfortunately, I do not know what type of tree it was as there were no leaves present at the time. If anyone is interested in seeing a photo of a cross section of this tree, I will gladly post it somewhere in order to solicit opinions on what causes this unusual design and what may have contributed to the red, orange and yellow colors that are present. I have little knowledge of trees and would appreciate advice.
Thank you all.
Jim Wright
jimwright01@yahoo.com

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edfrank
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Re: Seeking information

Post by edfrank » Wed Mar 30, 2011 4:15 pm

Jim,

Go ahead and post it here on the BBS. Did you ask your neighbor if he knew what kind of tree he was cutting? If there is a stump or a piece of the log that shows the bark perhaps someone here could identify the species.

Ed Frank,
Board Administrator, Webmaster
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

Jim Wright
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Re: Seeking information

Post by Jim Wright » Wed Mar 30, 2011 5:55 pm

Ed,
Thank you for your prompt reply. The neighbor just moved in and wanted to clear several trees and shrubs at the back of the property; no identification was considered. Not sure if the stump has been removed yet; I'll followup on that. Two photos attached. Comments appreciated.
Jim Wright
Photo 2of2
Photo 2of2
Photo 1 of 2
Photo 1 of 2

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James Parton
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Re: Seeking information

Post by James Parton » Wed Mar 30, 2011 11:28 pm

I don''t know the species but it is absolutely beautiful! I would cut some thin cookies from it for decorative use.
James E Parton
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Joe

Re: Seeking information

Post by Joe » Thu Mar 31, 2011 6:53 am

Jim Wright wrote:Ed,
Thank you for your prompt reply. The neighbor just moved in and wanted to clear several trees and shrubs at the back of the property; no identification was considered. Not sure if the stump has been removed yet; I'll followup on that. Two photos attached. Comments appreciated.
Jim Wright
Tree Cookies 2 004.jpg
Tree Cookies 2 006.jpg
Jim, I suspect that's what the famous tree researcher, Alex Shigo, called "discoloration and decay". He diced up many trees and followed such discoloration and decay. He showed that small injuries, such as branch stubs, will be overgrown by the tree but there is a succession of species of virus, bacteria, fungia that slowly rot the wood- though it may take decades.

I think in this case, we can see where branches broke off or were cut- then the tree grew over them. It appears that over several years- the tree produced new branches which also broke off or were cut.

I'm not explaining this as well as Shigo could. He was the world authority on the subject. He published several books on the subject which are fantastic contributions to tree science.

However, I may be wrong on this- it might be something else but I can't imagine what.
Joe

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Re: Seeking information

Post by TN_Tree_Man » Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:39 pm

Jim,

It looks like a condition known as "calico poplar" in a yellow-poplar tree. It is caused by a beetle (Corthylus columbianus). It looks attractive but is considered a defect.

Steve Springer
"One can always identify a dogwood tree by it's bark."

Joe

Re: Seeking information

Post by Joe » Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:47 pm

TN_Tree_Man wrote:Jim,

It looks like a condition known as "calico poplar" in a yellow-poplar tree. It is caused by a beetle (Corthylus columbianus). It looks attractive but is considered a defect.

Steve Springer
interesting--- maybe a defect for timber, but it might make a nice table top

Jim Wright
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Re: Seeking information

Post by Jim Wright » Fri Apr 01, 2011 9:03 am

Steve & Joe,
Thanks for your comment. Your ideas are certainly nothing that I would have thought of. I am trying to determine how to best preserve this tree section with minimal cracking, warping and without loosing the vibrant colors. I just ordered some PEG and will give it a try. (still not sure if the water-to-PEG ratio is by weight or by volume).
Jim

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edfrank
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Re: Seeking information

Post by edfrank » Fri Apr 01, 2011 10:54 am

Jim,

The following was posted to the ITRDBFOR International Tree Ring DataBase Forum:
The standard treatment for dimensional stabilization of most wood is to
treat it with polyethylene glycol (PEG), a chemical substance related to
antifreeze. Treatment method is to soak the wood sample in a solution
of PEG and water for a period of about two months, then to remove the
sample to a well ventilated area for drying for another two months. The
result is a piece of wood that doesn't alter its dimensions greatly in
response to fluctuations in its environment, i.e. it doesn't crack. The
drawback is that the end product has an altered appearance, looking
generally darker (at least among pines) and having a waxy texture and a
distinct PEG/antifreeze odor. Of course, since your sample is from a
snag it might already have a distinct appearance, texture, and odor, and
treating with PEG may be an improvement over that.

I have seen samples of old growth longleaf pine from south Alabama that
were simply cut, dried, and then treated with a thick polyurethane
finish. The specimens mostly retained their original appearance, but
did develop cracks as time went on. This treatment is probably your
best approach in combination with the metal bands you mentioned. Some
cracking seems to be inevitable, though.

Another idea to consider, intellectually, at least, is to put the sample
in a glass case in which the ambient air has a higher moisture content
than the wood sample. This will eliminate the water loss from the wood
sample, though it would promote the growth of just about every fungus
spore currently on the sample.

While I have seen displays of this sort here and there, I am not aware
of a standard procedure for how such specimens are preserved. Hopefully
one of the other list members can pipe in with additional
recommendations.

Matthew C Anderson
Forest Biometrician
Mason, Bruce, & Girard, Inc.
707 SW Washington Street, Suite 1300
Portland, Oregon 97205
I wanted to point out that the note says the treatment will darken the wood - perhaps this is not what you want with the colorful specimen. The other alternative suggested is to simply give it multiple coats of clear polyurethane. More discussion is found here: http://www.ents-bbs.org/viewtopic.php?f=174&t=383

Good luck!

Ed
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

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Don
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Re: Seeking information

Post by Don » Sat Apr 02, 2011 2:58 pm

Wonderful slice of that tree's life! And I think Joe's onto it as to how it came about.
Regarding preservation, PEG is a marvelous solution. I'm recalling a visit to a college chum in the 70's. His father, a pastor of a church in Tranquility, California, had a mechanical bent that was hard to hide with his churchly robes. Working on rebuilding the engine on a 50's Oldsmobile when we first met, he asked what it was that I did for a living. A young forester, full of myself, I was quick to claim my knowledge of everything trees. He asked if I was familiar with the practice around the turn of the previous century, where black walnuts and english walnuts were grafted to combine their respective superior rooting qualities with their superior nut production. I was in fact, and asked why he'd asked. It turns out that a local vintner needed to expand his vineyard and had cut down a row of these walnuts. Having an idea what the wood at the interface of the two species might look like after a hundred years, he asked the vintner if he could cut some 'cookies' off of the 'stumps'. Given the approval, the good pastor obtained a saw capable of cutting cookies off of these 3-4' diameter stumps. He'd done his research and had ordered as I recall it now, a cubic foot of PEG (I believe it was in solid form?); and had obtained some large stainless steel wine vats that were being discarded from a local winery, that he was to use for 'soaking' the walnut 'cookies' in.
Six months later, he turned them over in the vat, and at a year, he removed them. Probably a year after that, he started working the wood, and it was he said, heavenly work as the wood's cells had filled with PEG and needed no preservatives, oils, or surface protectants. FInal surfacing was accomplished with a burred straight edge. The grain that occurred at the two species interface was incredible to behold, and his wood working products were treasures to behold.
-Don
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
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