My neighbour has an ornamental cherry tree that has died. It is still standing but presumably a dead tree becomes increasingly hazardous and should be felled. I am wondering whether, were I to offer felling it in exchange for taking the firewood, whether the wood would need to be stacked to dry or would be dry enough - given that the tree is dead and a dead tree can't draw water - to use for burning indoors this season.

I'm presuming that this question is a good fit for TGO because wood is wood, whether it's sourced domestically or in the wild, and when finding a dead tree in the wild, it may be helpful to know whether it's a good or poor candidate for burning.


4 Answers 4


Maybe you could start by burning the thinner branches before moving on to the bits that are thick enough to need splitting, but it probably hasn't dried enough, without much surface area and that covered by bark.

Cherry is desirable for woodworking though - the trunk probably has some value.


The dead wood will certainly be dryer than it was when the tree was alive. However, whether it's dry enough is uncertain. Cut it and see.

You could offer to cut the tree in return for the wood. Worst case, you store the cordwood under a tarp for a while. You'd probably have to do this anyway. Unless you have something very unusual, you're not going to be able to use a entire tree of firewood immediately anyway.


I have done lots of heating via firewood, and while wood from a standing dead tree is pretty dry, once it has been sawn into lengths there is so much more surface area that you can then dry it out much more completely.

Wood from standing dead trees that have been cut down and stored for a while as whole tree trunks will still have moisture inside that will dry out once cut to length.

On the other hand, it doesn't take all that long, so if you were to cut and stack it now, it should be good to use this winter.

  • 3
    I would update to say "been sawn into lengths and split" The splitting is where you gain the significant surface area Oct 8, 2018 at 11:59

Try and see. Standing dead poplar burns very well, as does standing dead spruce. Standing dead birch produces a short burst of flame from the bark, and then smoulders with little heat and extremely irritating smoke. Alder is nearly as bad.

I heat with wood burning about 6 cords a year. I burn mostly poplar, but I split anything I can't pick up by the end with one hand, and dry it for 2 years under cover from rain.

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