Snowshoes / ash trees

Trying to make snowshoes… says to use elm/ash, so I went out and found what I thought looked like ash saplings, peeled the bark and cut them to 4’ when I noticed something peculiar… the core of the sapling has this soft, spongy orange core… anyone know anything about this, been looking it up but haven’t found anything. Maybe I didn’t actually find ash saplings? Anyone know of saplings with soft spongy orange cores… at first I thought maybe it had a disease/rotted out… ?

Is your question about snowshoes or ash trees?

ash trees

have you made snowshoes before?

Any advice/experiences to share?

Does it smell kinda funky? Not sweet, or “earthy” but just kind of… weird? Tree-of-Heaven (Alianthus altissima) has leaves that look like ash, and grows fast, straight, and somewhat slender, but it’s got that spongey core you mentioned, and it also has an almost off-peanutbutter (some people say they smell like reeces pieces - I just think they’re unique).

Tree of Heaven is also often confused for Sumac because it tends to grow in clumps like Sumac.

Tree of Heaven is the subject of the book: “A Tree Grows In Brooklyn”

If you take a picture of it, and mention whereabouts it was growing (bioregion, as well as micro-climate) I could have some more guesses for you.


PS: Have you tried making snowshoes out of it anyway?

I’m in the Pacific Northwest, South of Seattle, we did find it growing in clumps… it smelled like, sweet peas, sugar snaps?? Or hmm… I thought it peeled and felt like celery at first… but yes, very unique…

Tried… but that spongey core foiled us, trying to split the one down small enough… since the core is essentially hollow… it just split

I don’t think you are going to find any ash in your area unless it has been planted by someone. I don’t believe ash is a native species there, It’s native east of the Rockies. There is mountain ash but that is not the same.
Hazel bends pretty good and so does birch. Vine maple might work.

So you tried just bending it to shape, Fenris? Ai’d highly recommend heating it over a fire first, like you would straiten an arrow, only that you heat it more than heating an arrow - to the point where the bark is blackened. Let me start that explanation over.
Make a fire. Let it burn down, either almost to coals or all the way to coals. Place the limb on the coals, turning every 30 seconds or more (adjust to fire heat) so that it will not burn, just blacken. Once it is black all over and possibly smoking slightly, take out (carefully!) and bend to shape. This was done by the natives in mai area, even to hardwoods like oak. Hope this helps! :stuck_out_tongue:

Heyvictor and Chase, thanks for the input, I didn’t just try bending it to shape, I simply just tried bending it, but the lack of a core made it snap pretty easy (I had also cut it down so that the spongy core was showing… ) but yeah, perhaps I’ll try that.

(Sorry for the late post)

I’m afraid I’m stumped on that one, then… unless it’s boxelder (acer negundo)? To my knowledge, it doesn’t have a spongy core though…

I was thinking it could be an invasive tree of heaven?

Ahh. Cant help there… :-\