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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Finally digging out some my sticks that have been drying for the last year or two. I haven't had much time for stick work the last couple of years due to being the only caregiver for my very ill better half. I hope to get some work done this summer but time will tell. All of these are my usual root handle sticks so I'll just have to see what they turn out to be. Once again doing that ill-advised "looking to see what's in there"

Shastasaurus2.JPG crop.jpg
 

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Alador:
You've got quite a crop there! I know how much work is represented in that batch of sticks already -- their not easy to dig up!
 

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Very nice stock of sticks. They will make some great looking projects!
 

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I dug out two "volunteer" Siberian Elm saplings from the edge of the flower bed. They were tough to get out! They are now trimmed and drying. It will be a couple years before they are ready to be made into walking sticks. The root crowns swell nicely, but are at just a small angle from the rest of the stick. I'm drying them with all bark on, so I haven't had a look at the root grain, yet. I was hoping that the root would make a turn to make a good handle for canes, but no luck so far.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I favor species that have shallow, horizontal roots because they make good root handles. Lucky for me, most of what I have growing here tends to have that type of roots. Maple, locust, staghorn sumac, and even some oaks work quite well. The one single pic is of a golden honey locust. I think it will be my next project. They grow great horizontal roots but are hard to season without cracking. Can only cut them in winter. I have osage orange, black alder, and hawthorn planted but it will be a while before any of them are stick ready.
 

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you have a great variety of wood to go at, pretty enveyous

Most of the shanks i can get are hazel, chestnut,ash and holly with the odd blackthorn and hawthorn
 

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Alador,

I just planted a Staghorn Sumac, but it will be lots of years before it has prunable sticks. I do have hawthorne, even volunteers growing. I'll keep looking for saplings I can have, that do have the shallow roots.

Cobalt,

I have run across several blackthorn patches, got permission to cut standing deadwood from one. Blackthorn seems hard to dry without checking, even the deadwood. One was straight enough to put into my curing tube. we'll see if two weeks is long enough.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Where are you located that you ran into Blackthorn? I can't find any source in the US. There a couple of sellers on EBAY that have seedlings for sale but they are all overseas and I doubt that they would survive the trip. As to your Sumac, the ones I have are very fast growing, at least when they resprout from roots. I suppose they may take a little while to establish at the beginning. Mine were here when I bought the property. My Hawthorns are small, maybe 18 inches. Do they grow pretty fast?
 

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Aldoor blackthorn groes pretty fast here it depends on the conditions there grown under, some consider them a pest but there good for wildlife.

I wouldnt have thought you would have a problem getting them there very hardy
 

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alador,

I'm in southwest North Dakota. Blackthorn was used as a treerow/windbreak tree in the 70's and 80's. NDSU extension service doesn't supply them any more. I have found it in older tree rows, though still a bit rare. I will be collecting seed this year. I found only one seedling, but I'm leaving it where it is, as the tree row I found them in only has 5 trees of it. Here it is at it's Northern end of cold tolerance, and it's drought resistance is low, so I think they were phased out due to short lifespans.

My sumac is only about a foot tall, but seems happy, as it didn't wilt at all when I planted it, and it's making new leaves.

Hawthorne is a Medium grower, and reach about 20' tall in twenty years. I have 4 in my fenceline, that were planted in the early 60's. Their seedlings are prolific, though. They are still used a lot for tree rows/windbreaks.

Cobalt,

The Blackthorn is hardy, but not quite enough. A combination of cold and drought make them a little rare here. I have only taken standing deadwood, and won't take live wood if I can help it. I'm looking forward to collecting Sloe to use to flavor a batch of beer this fall (and keep the seeds to propagate them).
 

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The beer should be good.

There is a lot of blackthorne and hornthorn here speciall;y around nature reserves, you can usually get some during autum when the wild life people cut them back to keep hiking paths clear

There a devil to cut they will shed your clothes to pieces as usually there in a thicket and mainly kept for wildlife shelters during the winter mnths
 

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There is one big sloe briar patch on a ranchers land that I want to go explore. Haven't been able to get permission yet, as he is hard to find at home, he's out in his fields most of the time.

I do use leather chaps, jacket and gloves to harvest a lot of my sticks here. It is amazing how many have nasty thorns! Blackthorn, Hawthorne, Sea Buckthorn, Silver Buffaloberry, Common ChokeCherry, Russian Olive, Honey Locust all are well armed with thorns.
 

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Alador,

I just discovered that I made a mistake about my Hawthorne trees. After a few visits to three local Arboretums, my "Hawthorne" trees leaves didn't match any of the known varieties that grow here, or anywhere else.

One major tell between the hawthorne and blackthorn is that blackthorn flowers before it makes leaves, and it flowers very densely. Hawthorne makes leaves first, then flowers. My "Hawthorne" made leaves and flowers at about the same time, with sparse flowers, like a hawthorne.

Now, after they have flowered, and have little fruits that are Not haws, but drupes, I have come to the conclusion that they are actually blackthorn sloe.

This weekend I visited the treerow where I have harvested my blackthorn standing deadwood, and was pleased to see that there are about a dozen seedlings growing, not just the one I found in early spring. I thought you would like to know that I might be able to provide you with some young trees. But, I thought, these look just like my "Hawthorne" seedlings at home! Incidentally, the same landowner has another 40 acres adjacent to the north that he had planted with tree rows about 4 years ago. The entire middle row is Arnold Hawthorne, Cretaegus Arnoldiana, which I have identified correctly, and matches the hawthorne I've seen in all three of the arboretums.

Today I looked at the young fruit of my "Hawthorne", and they match the fruit of the blackthorn. I will continue to watch these fruits to confirm this theory. Once I made this theory, I decided to dig up a seedling to see if it would survive. I mixed some potting soil, and put the seedling in the pot my new staghorn sumac came in. Totally wrong time of year to be doing this, but this seedling can't stay where it was growing, so I gave it a chance of not dieing. We'll see if it survives. I will do some research on how to transplant properly, and let you know how it goes.

Mine have been growing since the late 50's, and have been pruned to be trees, not shrubs. After thinking about it, I was told by the owner of the neighboring house (who inherited it from his father), that those trees were Hawthorne. I have discovered that I have made several other mistakes with trees, taking the word of someone I thought knew what they were. That is another reason I'm glad I decided to make walking sticks, I now want to know what the wood is that I'm making a stick out of.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
If it turns out you have some blackthorn available I would definitely be interested. I understand the complexity of identifing plants. I've been on a 2 year quest to just identify everything that grows on my little piece of property, starting with trees and working my way down. I'm constantly surprised at the variety there is. By the way, a google search for blackthorn pics netted some really good closups of leaves and fruits. Let me know how it turns out.
 

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Will do, alador. The one little seedling is wilted right now after transplanting, but looks like it will make it. I get so many Siberian Elm seedlings in my lawn, I've just been mowing them with the grass. I've done the same with these BlackThorn seedlings for years. This year I'll mow around a few, and research how to make Bare-root transplantable seedlings. I know the best is to wait until the seedlings go dormant in the fall.
 

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Blackthorn is reasonably plentiful here in Ireland but shanks suitable for stickmaking are extremely rare. The ones that might be suitable are usually in the middle of impenetrable thickets so one is always delighted when a shank of sufficient length to make a good walking stick is found. As to trying to grow them from seed... I wish you luck. They will grow slowly and almost inevitably twisted and knarled.

I am surprised that so many of you have been confused between Blackthorn and Hawthorn as there is little or no similarity between them in leaf, flower or bark. A good reference book on Balckthorn is 'Blackthorn Lore and the art of making Walking Sticks by John Murchie Douglas ISBN 0 907526 16 0.

I attach a few pics of Blackthorn sticks that I've made.

www.derryhicksticks.com
 

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DerryhickPaddy,

Only since this last christmas, have I been making walking sticks. Before that, I was pretty much oblivious to what kind of tree I was walking under, or being shaded by. Once I wanted to make sticks, it became obvious that I had to know what kind of wood I was collecting. As a novice, I have made several mistakes.

One is believing what another person thinks the tree is. Another is memory. I had forgotten that the people who sold me my house had a red maple (two years planted) they wanted, and dug it up and replaced it with an Elm tree the same size. At that time, I couldn't tell the difference. I sure can Now! This spring, when the Maple tree sprouted Elm seed, I was very confused. I have been very embarrased to say so on this forum before now. the Maple Stick at

I share a fence with a neighbor, and volunteer trees tend not not get mowed and grow to full size there. The owner of the other side of the fence called it a Hawthorn, so I believed it.

This spring I visited 3 arboretums that had previously grown Blackthorn (Prunus Spinosa), but all of them had died and been cleaned out. Upon further investigation, I discovered that it had been identified as an invasive species for its spreading, briar patch tendacies. So, I have never been able to actually see a verified Prunus Spinosa (Blackthorn) shrub/tree. I continued to believe that I had Hawthorne trees on that fenceline.

However, the leaf patterns and fruit didn't match the three known varieties of Hawthorn that are propagated here, I came to the conclusion that I didn't have Hawthorn trees growing on my property. I did successfully identify a tree row of young Hawthorn for the groundskeeper at work, (whose expertise is building maintenance, not landscape). At that point, I knew I was getting better at identifying trees.

So, with a liitle net exploration, I was able to identify Prunus Spinosa at its flower time (before the leaves) that matched with what I found in old tree rows planted in the 60's to early 80's, plus some "out of control" briar patches on pasture land on some local ranches. These are all less than 8 feet tall, more shrub/briar than trees. That stiil didn't match with the "NOT-Hawthorn" on my property.

Finally, I discovered that there is a lot of "Prunus Americana" around here, a native plum tree to the Northern Plains, that predated and usurped the Blackthorn as more drought tolerant, and non-invasive. BlackThorn is no longer availble here except by special request, and is very limited.

Wild plum ( Prunus Americana" ) ripens as yellow to reddish-orange, not the deep purple of the Sloe. I now have to wait until fruit ripens to make judgement on which is which.

The Flowering in the springtime tells me that I have Native wild plum, not blackthorn, (as much as I wished it!) on my property. It flowered along with the leaves, not before the leaves like Blackthorn does.
 
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