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The wood you could call "poor-man's ash" Historically, North American tree species received colorful, descriptive names from the Native Americans who first encountered them. In turn, the colonists early on either adopted those names or chose their own for the tree. Not so with the hackberry. Records from the period make no mention of the even then abundant tree. Maybe it was because hackberry, although a member of the elm family, doesn?t look much like an elm. Even its leaves more closely resemble the nasty nettle weed. And its wood, despite being fairly easy to work, was long ignored. Eventually, though, someone called the tree hackberry, and the species at least had a title, if not respect. Today, hackberry still is one of the most neglected hardwoods in North America, but for little explainable reason. Hackberry's first commercial role was as hoops for barrels because of the wood's toughness and flexibility. Now, though, the wood becomes kitchen cabinets, inexpensive furniture, and inevitably, boxes and crates. Increasing demand for it as a substitute for more costly white ash has increased hackberry's volume in the marketplace.


Continued on page 2:  Wood identification


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