Kentucky Coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioicus) is a rare tree species in the woods of Indiana. It is most often found in small patches on limestone outcroppings and bottomland
soils, and has scaly, irregular, light-gray bark that curls up slightly at the edges. The leaves are large, up to 3 feet in length. Each leaf has one central stem with several branching stems that bear the small leaflets, which can number more than 100.
Throughout the year on female trees, you will find the short, thick seed pods containing 4-8 beans which give the tree its name. These large roundish beans, the size of a nickel, were roasted by settlers and ground as a poor substitute for coffee. The beans must be roasted
first to remove their natural toxins and the pods are also toxic.
Native Americans are reported to have placed large quantities in streams and lakes to kill fish for food. Some scientists also believe that the trees were spread by pre-historic mammoths eating and partially digesting the seeds. This would explain why the tree is so rare. Now that the mammoth is extinct, there is no very large wildlife to
eat these seeds, thereby starting new populations.
The lumber of this tree is reddish brown like Cherry, with grain similar to Red Oak.
While the lumber is sturdy, easy to work, and rot resistant, due to lack of supply,
the normal market for this lumber is for craft and hobby wood.
Although it may seem to be only good entertainment, the national television shows that portray logging hit close to home for those at Pike. Our Ax-Men in particular can attest to the grueling nature of the job of being a full-time logger. Most of Pike’s timber cutters enjoy recreating in the outdoors; they also happen to make a living working in the outdoors.
The timber cutters face long, physically demanding days working through varying extremes of weather, along with numerous safety hazards. Our Ax-Men also play a vital role in Pike’s long-term sustainable management of forestland. The goal is to safely fell trees while minimizing adverse impacts and protecting soil, water, wildlife, recreational, and scenic values. The quality of our work is greatly credited to our loggers.
Through the Indiana Forest Industry Council, Pike loggers are trained in Best Management Practices for Water Quality. Pike’s Ax-Men are also trained in directional felling, product utilization, chainsaw and skidder operation/maintenance, proper safety precautions, and first aid. With extensive training and experience behind them, our Ax-Men take great pride in their work.
Woodland owners have the privilege of discovering the many fascinating animals that live here in the Midwest. One such species is the Eastern Box Turtle. Box turtles are categorized as the “Land Turtles.” They are commonly found throughout deciduous forests. The forest floors offer perfect moisture and provide good drainage in bottomland and foot-slope areas offering the best habitat. Box turtles are known to take baths in streams, ponds, and lakes. During the hot summer months, they often submerge in mud for days at a time in order to stay cool.
As opposed to the many neutral-colored animals, box turtles are known for their unique and colorful designs. The shell has a black background with random yellow-colored lines, spots, and blotches. The shells are made up of plates which continuously grow throughout the turtle’s life. Each year the plates grow a new layer or growth ring. It is common for a box turtle to live to be 25 to 30 years old, and can sometimes reach 40 to 50 years old.
A box turtle’s diet consist of earthworms, grubs, snails, fallen fruit, berries, and mushrooms. Because they are known to eat poisonous mushrooms, box turtles are not edible to humans. Box turtles live amongst down debris on the forest floor where food and cover is plentiful.
During spring, the silent flowering Basswood tree commonly goes unnoticed to us, but not to the bees. Basswoods produce fragrant, yellow flowers that dangle precariously underneath the heart shaped leaves. Basswoods that bloom during May and July, produce prolific amounts of nectar that is favored by wandering bees. Bees also help pollinate favored crops such as apples, squash, and pumpkins. When bees are abundant, the beekeepers are busy tending hives and harvesting the light, delicious honey.
Basswood’s fall seed crop feeds wildlife such as mice, squirrels, and chipmunks as they prepare for winter. During winter, deer and rabbits rely heavily on its tender seedlings and stump sprouts for food and cover. In the latter part of its life, Basswoods often hollow out, creating new spaces for bee hives and bird nests.
It is advised to selectively open gaps in the dense canopy to allow seedlings and saplings underneath to retrieve light and grow into healthy Basswoods. With this light, the next generation of your forest can vigorously grow into the strong flowering trees of tomorrow.
June 20, 1937 – November 26, 2015
Pike Lumber Company mourns the passing of Jack Triplett, a retiree who dedicated over 31 years of service to the company. Jack studied at the National Hardwood Lumber Association in Memphis, TN and worked as an inspector for Pike. Jack served in the US Navy and he was a loyal member of the Riverview Community Church. He and his wife, Phyllis shared over 54 years of life’s adventures and had two children and many grandchildren.
Had Pike Lumber Company not stepped up to sponsor me at the 2015 Indiana Forestry Teacher Institute, I would not have experienced a life-changing week as I did. While the discussions among colleagues are always enlightening, the explanations of how the state of Indiana manages its forests went beyond interesting and beyond important to the overall health of the ecological and economical infrastructure of the state. The facilitators, Donna and Lenny, inspired a group of diverse educators from all over the state of Indiana to help change the preeminent mind set of a negative perception regarding the DNR’s management practices, and the intentions of forestry product industries such as Pike Lumber Company.
The guests, who spoke of selective cutting, patch cutting, and clear cutting, spoke not just of economical benefits, but also of species health and diversity. The speakers relayed interests of promoting regeneration of tree species that might otherwise disappear. They spoke of increasing health of remaining tree stands through reducing over crowding. The HEE project is a scientific data collection method that is openly available for class discussions and analysis. As a high school environmental science teacher, I hear many misperceptions about how the state and forest product industries see forestry management. I now have a wealth of knowledge that fuels my intellect to create lessons and discussions to promote balance among students’ and their parents’ forestry management perceptions. I cannot thank you and Pike Lumber Company enough for providing me with this opportunity. Please continue your support for future institutes.
Daniel K McGill