Pollarding and Coppicing


Examples of trees that do well as pollards include broadleaves such as beeches (Fagus), oaks (Quercus), maples (Acer), black locust or false acacia (Robinia pseudoacacia), hornbeams (Carpinus), lindens or limes (Tilia), planes (Platanus), horse chestnuts (Aesculus), mulberries (Morus), redbud (Cercis canadensis), tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) and willows (Salix), and a few conifers, such as yews (Taxus)


In the days of charcoaliron production in England, most woods in ironmaking regions were managed as coppices, usually being cut on a cycle of about 16 years. In this way, fuel could be provided for that industry, in principle, indefinitely, as long as the nutrient mineral content of the soil was appropriately maintained. This was regulated by a statute of Henry VIII, which required woods to be enclosed after cutting (to prevent browsing by animals) and 12 standels (standards or mature uncut trees) to be left in each acre, to be grown into timber. The variation of coppicing known as coppice with standards (scattered individual stems allowed to grow on through several coppice cycles) has been commonly used throughout most of Europe as a means of giving greater flexibility in the resulting forest product from any one area. The woodland provides not only the small material from the coppice but also a range of larger timber for jobs like house building, bridge repair, cart-making and so on.


The splitting of large logs, whether for firewood or fencing, was a custom adopted by Americans in response to the conditions of their forests: vast numbers of huge trees covered the continent when the first settlers moved westward. In preindustrial Europe, the notion of growing a tree to a great size, only to chop it into small pieces, was seen as wasteful of human energy. Poles and timbers were grown to the size needed, and no more, while fire-wood was cut at just the dimension required for stoves and fireplaces.

Oak, ash, beech, and elm were commonly the standards, while hazel, alder, lime (linden, Tilia cordata), willow, and hornbeam were often grown in the understory. Hazel yielded not only edible nuts, but fodder from the young shoots, and like willow, made excellent basketry, while lime leaves were eaten and the trees usually allowed to flower before harvesting, to provide a flavored honey crop. Lime was also made into greenwood furniture, while hornbeam went for fuel, and alder (a nitrogen-fixer) bolstered soil fertility. Many of these same species have additional medicinal or craft use, providing dyes, seeds, and flowers of value.

Overstory and underwood were usually of different species. This made the woodland ecologically resilient, as canopy and ground cover exploited not only different soil layers and nutrients, but grew at different seasons. The coppice and groundcovers did about two-thirds of their photosynthesis for the year before the overstory came into leaf.


World Agroforestry Systems


For example, leeks, corn, and strawberries are grown in peach orchards in Ontario, Canada; oats are grown in some New York apple orchards; and potatoes, grains, soybeans, squash, and peaches have been planted in pecan (Carya illinoensis) orchards in the southern United States (Williams and Gordon, 1991). Approximately 10% of all fruit and nut orchards in Washington State (USA) are intercropped with vegetables for home use, and in another 25% of the orchards cattle or sheep are grazed during part of the year (Lawrence et al., 1992).

One of the most widely intercropped group of trees is the poplar species (Populus spp.) and their hybrids; these species were traditionally planted for short rotation fiber and fuel production. Poplar plantations in Europe and eastern Canada have been interplanted with corn, potatoes, soybeans, and other cereal and tuber crops, in different temporal sequences, for the first three to six years after tree establishment (Gold and Hanover, 1987). Many of the poplar plantations are only grown for an additional five to ten years after crop harvest before harvesting and establishment of the next rotation. In China, sesame, soybeans, peanuts, cotton, indigo, and various vegetable crops are grown in both hybrid poplar (Figure 25.2) and Paulownia tomentosa plantations (Figure 25.3); the poplars are widely planted in a variety of other crop-border configurations (Farmer, 1992). In Australia, various melon and squash crops are grown for two years, followed by permanent pasture, with cattle grazing on both the pasture and branches lopped from the poplars. Poplar is also frequently planted on plot boundaries of wheat and barley fields in northern India and Pakistan.

The vast majority of research on silvopastoral systems in North America has focused on pine forest with deliberate management of both pasture and trees. These systems are most important in the Southern Coastal Plain under slash pine (Pinus elliottii), and longleaf pine (Pinus palustris); they are popularly known as “pine-and-pasture” or “cattle-under-pine” systems. The earliest studies on pasture improvement in these systems, initiated in the 1940s, indicated that mechanical site preparation and fertilization were essential for forage establishment, and that production of established pasture declined with increasing tree-canopy closure (Lewis and Pearson, 1987). Among the most productive pasture species were Pensacola bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum), annual lespedeza (Lespedeza striata), and white clover (Trifolium repens), with Pensacola bahiagrass being the most shade tolerant.


Interesting site on coppicing


Farmers actually only pollard trees during dry seasons, when the hay harvest falls short of their needs.  From mid-July through September’s end farmers harvest leaf fodder from hedge maple (Acer campestre), Norway maple (A. Platinoides), hornbeam (Carpins betulus), oriental hornbeam (C. orientalis), ash (Fraxinus excelsior), black mulberry (Morus nigra)oak (Quercus spp. – except for Q. cerris which is the animals do not eat), white willow (Salix alba), large leaved linden (Tilia platyphyllos) and elm (Ulmus spp.).  Only in years of severe feed shortage do they use European beech (Fagus sylvatica), while black alder (Alnus glutinosa) remains even less common.  They collect the nuts from hazel (Corylus avellana) and use the leaves medicinally to treat prostate problems and kidney disease in humans.

Great Permi Legume Tree/Plant List

All Nitrogen Fixers Are Not Created Equal


TREES, NATIVE   Robinia pseudoacacia Catalpa speciosa (*), Gladitsia aquatica (*), Gymnocladus dioicus (*)
TREES, NON-NATIVE Alnus glutinosa, Elaeagnus angustifolia Albizia julibrussin  
SHRUBS, NATIVE   Alnus incana, A. maritima, A. serrulata, Amorpha fruticosa, A. glabra, Elaeagnus commutata, Morella pensylvanica (=Myrica), Senna marilandica, Shepherdia argentea, S. canadensis Acacia constricta, Alnus viridis crispa, A. incana rugosa, Ceanothus americanus, Comptonia perigrina, Myrica gale,
SHRUBS, NON-NATIVE Cytisus scoparius Caragana arborescens, Elaeagnus umbellata  
VINES, NATIVE   Apios americana, Lathyrus japonicus, Wisteria frutescens Vicia americana
VINES, NON-NATIVE Pueraria lobata (**) Lathyrus tuberosus, Vicia cracca Vicia sativa
HERBS, NATIVE Dalea candida Amorpha canescens, Dalea formosa, Dryas octopetala, Lespedeza hirta, L. capitata, Hedysarum boreale Astragalus canadensis, Baptisia tinctoria, Dalea purpurea, Desmanthus illinoiensis, Desmodium paniculatum, D. perplexum, D. tortuosum, Glycyrrhiza lepidota,
HERBS, NON-NATIVE Astragalus cicer, Medicago sativa, Trifolium repens Lotus corniculatus, Melilotus indicus, Securigera varia (=Coronilla), Trifolium pratense  

*Reports vary on the ability of this species to fix nitrogen but it is identified as doing so in USDA Plants Database, it may be an error.

**235 kg/ha/yr or 207 pounds/acre. Hickman, Jonathan E., Shiliang Wu, Loretta J. Mickey, and Manuel T. Lerdau. “Kudzu (‘‘Pueraria Montana’’) Invasion Doubles Emissions of Nitric Oxide and Increases Ozone Pollution.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol. 107.22, 10115-10119, 2010.

Avian predation of Locust Borer


It looks like the life-cycle of the borer is out of sync with the woodpeckers, so unless all other woodpecker food was made scarce somehow during the predation window for the borer, and the borer population was made high enough to sustain a local population… Perhaps something that can be designed?

Thoughts on Baptisia australis (False Indigo)


B. australis grows best in lime-free, well-drained stony soil in full sun to part shade. It grows to about 90 to 120 cm tall (3 to 4 feet) in height with a similar spread. Like other members of the genus, it has a very deep taproot, which makes it quite difficult to move once planted. It thrives in full sun and requires water only in times of low rainfall. One slightly negative feature it that the leaves tend to drop early in the fall, but this may be avoided by cutting the dead stems as they die back. It is hardy in USDA zones 3 through 8.[4] It is commonly employed as a border plant in gardens.[5]

It almost seems like Legume plants drop their leaves early so that other things might thrive beneath them…



A study on nurse cropping nut trees with leguminous plants and trees. Results were not very telling.

The interplanting and underplanting of nodulated nitrogen-fixing plants in tree
plantings can increase early growth and foliage nitrogen content of hardwoods, especially black walnut and pecan. Recent studies have demonstrated that some non-nodulated woody legumes may be capable of fixing significant levels of atmospheric nitrogen. The following nine nurse crop treatments were established with and without interplanted northern pecan: the nodulated legumes black locust, false indigo, and smooth false indigo; non-nodulated thornless honeylocust, Kentucky coffeetree, and redbud; non-leguminous buttonbush; 16N-8P-8K tree food spikes; and a control without shrubs or fertilizer. Average foliage nitrogen
content of the nurse trees ranged from 3.3 percent for black locust, false wild indigo, and smooth wild indigo, and 2.1 percent for honeylocust and Kentucky coffeetree, to 1.8 percent for redbud and buttonbush. In the fourth growing season, pecan foliage nitrogen was similar across all treatments (1.8 to 2.0 percent); however, black locust had increased pecan foliage nitrogen to 2.2 percent in the sixth growing season. Pecan growth is similar across all treatments except when interplanted with black locust that overtopped the pecan and is suppressing its growth. Interpretations include the possibilities that soil nitrogen was adequate to preclude any benefits from biologically fixed nitrogen, that nurse plants did not release sufficient fixed nitrogen to increase pecan growth, and foliage nitrogen in non-suppressed saplings, or that other soil factors are limiting pecan development.

Thoughts on the Kentucky Coffeetree


From the Wiki:

The Kentucky Coffeetree is a moderately fast-growing tree and the male trees are often grown in parks and along city streets for ornamental purposes. The tree is typically long-lived, healthy trees living from 100 to 150 years;[5] however they often appear dead for the first six months of its growth.[citation needed] This is because the Kentucky Coffeetree sheds its leaves early during the fall and therefore appears bare for up to 6 months. The naked appearance of the tree is reflected through the Kentucky Coffeetree’s Greek genus name: γυμνοκλαδυς = “naked branch.”[6]

Gymnocladus dioicus is cultivated by specialty tree plant nurseries as an ornamental tree for planting in gardens and parks. The peculiarly late-emerging and early-dropping leaves, coupled with the fact that the large leaves mean few twigs in the winter profile, make it a tree that is ideal for urban shading where winter sunlight is to be maximized (such as in proximity to solar hot-air systems).

Think about this early fall leaf shed and the establishment of an overwintering crop. The germination of something like spinach might be aided by the shade of the tree, then come fall/winter the sun penetration should help the spinach get good root growth. It is also the last tree to put out leaves so that might be perfect for shade tolerant overwintered crops.


Status: Kentucky coffeetree‟s numbers are declining rapidly due to over harvesting. The species is not invasive; it is only found in small clusters due to root sprouting and makes up a rare component of any woodland. In nature the seeds germinate with difficulty due to a hard outer shell. Squirrels do not cache them, so the seeds do not spread from the mother tree except along streams where the seeds may be transported by water down stream.
It looks like the KCT evolved along side some large animal that could break open the seed pods and is gradually disappearing due to their absence. Sounds like a good place for MANKIND to get involved and break up them seed pods.
It also looks like it isn’t a very good nitrogen fixer unfortunately, and doesn’t have a particularly fast growth rate. The seeds have use as coffee and fish poison. The wood is good but the leafing pattern is most interesting…