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Safe Wood!!!

Scoops111

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10 Feb 2021
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26
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Colwyn bay
Hi all, found this root/stump in a skip the other day, I think it’s from a privet bush, but I’m not sure, does anyone think it would be safe to use??? I’ve taken some pictures it was full of mud and I’ve removed the bark...Any information would be appreciated 👍🏻
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dw1305

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Hi all,
It maybe a root from Yew (Taxus baccata), you can see where the root has grafted itself (cross at the top of the bottom picture), which is really common in Yew.

Have you got anywhere you can soak it? I chuck those sort of bits in the pond until I want them.

cheers Darrel
 

Scoops111

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Colwyn bay
Thanks for the reply, yeah I can soak it no problem, is there any particular length of time to soak it? do you think its safe then? It seems a shame to throw it away
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
if it’s Yew is it not going to be toxic to my fish?
Yes Yew is toxic, and Conifers aren't usually recommended as "Bog" wood.

If the wood is dead and doesn't have any sap it should be all right, it is only the outside of the tree that is really alive, the cambial layer and the sap wood just below it. The heart wood is dead and lignified, even in a living tree.

cheers Darrel
 

Scoops111

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10 Feb 2021
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Colwyn bay
Thank you so much for your information it’s been valuable, it looks like I’ve a new addition to my new hardscape, I’ll get it straight on to soak😁👍🏻🌱
 
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Another Phil

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1 Jan 2015
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I don't know if yew Taxus baccata is poionous to fish, but i do know sawdust can give you heart problems (granddad did wood turning), so i def wouldn't risk it with wood rasping fish. Maybe like the tannins in oak the taxine leaches out rapidly making it safe.

If you look at this list you'd think any wood would be bad for fish, even oak and beech
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
If you look at this list you'd think any wood would be bad for fish, even oak and beech
Yes, I think you are right and it is also sort of the point. Wood is built of lignin <"because it is very difficult to degrade">. The harder, and more rot resistant, a wood is the more lignin it has in it and it may also have residual tannins etc.

It is always going to be a balance between <"rot resistance and toxicity">.

I look at it as any dead heart wood, that has soaked for a while, is unlikely to be toxic, because any soluble compounds will have been lost. If you keep a wood eating <"(xylophagous) fish like a Panaqolus sp."> they maybe more at risk.

Trees don't want wood boring insects and fungi degrading their wood and they can only grow into massive, long lived, trees by protecting the water conducting xylem vessels in the wood. They also need to protect their leaves, shoots and sap-wood and particularly the cambial layer, containing the phloem, just below the bark. They do this by producing toxic alkaloids, latex, tannins, resins etc.

The cells of all the wood under the cambial layer are dead, so that the tree can't actively protect them but they are still essential structural support and also to transport water (and mineral nutrients as ions) to the leaves. Transpiration is a passive process, where the evaporation from the leaf stomata maintains a continuous column of water (the transpiration stream) all the way from root to leaf.

cheers Darrel
 

Maf 2500

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I thought the wood looked rather fresh. I would be tempted to weather the (likely to be Yew) wood by alternately soaking for a month then leaving out for a month, rinse, repeat just to be on the safe side. While it will undoubtedly become safe in time I would try and give it as much soak time as possible.

Split trunks of Yew are known to be remarkably resistant to disease and insect attack compared to most woods, one of the reasons why many living trees are hundreds or even thousands of years old and split into pieces. How much of this is down to the physical/chemical structure of the wood and how much down to residual toxins? I would not know...

(I hope this post does not seem too negative. Would I use Yew myself? Yes. Would I wait a long time first?.. Also yes.)
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
I thought the wood looked rather fresh. I would be tempted to weather the (likely to be Yew) wood by alternately soaking for a month then leaving out for a month, rinse, repeat just to be on the safe side. While it will undoubtedly become safe in time I would try and give it as much soak time as possible.................(I hope this post does not seem too negative. Would I use Yew myself? Yes. Would I wait a long time first?.. Also yes.)
That sounds a sensible approach.

cheers Darrel
 

Simmo

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Interesting, when I started this hobby bogwood was the common aquarium timber, anecdotally when I’ve been camping in remote areas of the Highlands we’ve burned bogwood fragments from the loch shore to stay warm. It gives off fierce heat and black smoke, I expect because it has been soaking up hydrocarbons from the peat for thousands of years. Presumably some of these hydrocarbons were present in bogwood I bought and leached into my aquariums but the fish appeared to tolerate it!
 
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Scoops111

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Hi, the wood in the pictures is fresh, as I said in one of my earlier posts I’ve cleaned off the mud and stripped off the bark. I have about 4 months to soak the hell out of this piece with water changes every couple of days planned then fingers crossed by everything I’ve read on all your replies I’m going to give it a go! Thanks all👍🏻
 

Danlacey1988

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5 May 2021
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Bristol
Boiling wood brings out tannins faster so I'd guess it might help speed things up for you. I'm currently soaking some old mopani wood and fill the bucket with warm tap water every time I change the water. This seems to work well.
I was thinking of doing the same thing so this advice here has been amazing thank you
 

PARAGUAY

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13 Nov 2013
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Lancashire
I tend to collect wood were l am almost sure of the trees the other day l found some branches of Birch dense and solid. I just leave in back garden.l have some been there a year or two with all the elements through at it its got no rot . Lots of hawthorn and oak
 

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