Issue: November 2, 2002

Burning willow wood


Can wood from a willow tree be put in our fireplace to burn?


Willow wood may be burned in a fireplace if it is adequately cured (dried). It produces less heat than many other woods, but it may be burned unless the tree was recently treated with pesticides. If it has been treated, it may still be possible to use the firewood, depending on what was used to treat the tree. Many pesticides will break down during the curing period and not be a concern when burning the wood. Contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent for information about specific pesticides.

George Duda, Urban Forester with the New Mexico Division of Forestry, provided the following information: Different woods yield different amounts of heat. Here are some heat values of dry wood, per cord (in 1,000's of British Thermal Units):

  • One seed juniper.....21958
  • Gamble oak...........21163
  • Utah juniper.........20149
  • Pinyon pine..........18737
  • Alligator juniper....17288
  • Douglas fir..........15330
  • White fir............14212
  • Ponderosa pine.......14085
  • Aspen................12576
  • Englemann spruce.....10880

Your willow is related to aspen and will have a BTU production similar to aspen.

You may have noticed the absence of cedar from his list. He explains that there are no native cedars in New Mexico. Juniper is often called „cedarš. In New Mexico, when you buy "cedar," you are buying juniper.

George also points out that chimney fires are dangerous. Hire a professional to inspect and clean your wood burning equipment. Burn only dry wood to minimize creosote and maximize the efficiency of your equipment. Poorly seasoned (damp or wet) wood will yield about 18% less heat because water must be driven off (water vapor combines with smoke to make creosote) before the wood can burn. Creosote is a major factor in chimney fires.

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Also, please join us on Southwest Yard & Garden, a weekly program made for gardeners in the Southwest. It airs on KRWG in Las Cruces Saturdays at 11:30 a.m., repeating Thursdays at 1:00 p.m.; on KENW in Portales on Saturdays at 10:00 a.m.; and on KNME in Albuquerque on Saturdays at 9:30 a.m.

Send your gardening questions to Yard and Garden, ATTN: Dr. Curtis Smith NMSU Cooperative Extension Service 9301 Indian School Road, NE, Suite 112 Albuquerque, NM 87112

Curtis W. Smith, Ph.D., is an Extension Horticulture Specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. New Mexico State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and educator.

Please join us on Southwest Yard & Garden, a weekly garden program made for gardeners in the Southwest on: KNME-TV Albuquerque at 9:30 p.m. Saturdays, KENW-TV Portales at 10 a.m. Saturdays, and KRWG-TV Las Cruces at 11:30 a.m. Saturdays (repeated at 1 p.m. Thursdays.)