Tanoak – Lithocarpus densiflorus

Tanoak is a hardwood that makes excellent firewood. Tanoak firewood burns long and hot similar to black oak. Tanoak firewood is one of the most common types of firewood available on the north coast of California.

Tanoak or Tanbark Oak is not a true oak but is more closely related to the beech family. Tanoak is a broadleaf evergreen tree and the name tanoak comes from its tannin rich bark which was used in early days for tanning hides before modern synthetic tannins. Tanoak wood is very similar to oak and the acorns it produces are also very similar to those of oaks. Tanoak sprouts back from the stump after being cut down. These sprouts rapidly grow into new trees since they already have a well established root system from the parent tree. Tanoak can also make fine hardwood lumber but the lumber industry has yet to tap into this resource on a very large scale.

Tanoak Firewood BTU Rating

Green Tanoak Firewood
Green Tanoak Firewood

Tanoak Foliage
Tanoak Foliage

New tanoak trees sprouting from the stump.

New tanoak trees sprouting from the stump.

Post your comments below about your experience with tanoak firewood.

4 thoughts on “Tanoak”

  1. I live at the 2000 foot elevation on a mountainside. I have my tanoak cut in the mid spring. I allow it to season for at least 15 months before burning. I can load my woodstove on hot kindling and be comfortable for the night. Outdoor temps below 30 degrees require reloading the stove 4 to 5 hours later.

  2. We moved into a place this last winter and were not able to start getting our firewood collection going till this spring.

    We’ve been told by my dad and a tree guy that tanoak can be burned while only partially cured (6 to 9 months) due to the oils in it. I get that it would be better to let it cure, but does anyone here have experience with burning it green?

    I don’t really want to buy woods when I have so much on our property…

  3. My experience with tan oak is pretty poor. Unless the guy that brought the wood and told me it was tan oak and it wasn’t I would never buy tan oak again on a bet. The wood I got was very heavy when fresh cut and has very thin bark. When it cures, 2+ years, my tan oak got fairly light-on the order of cured pine. The grain is straight and for me it’s hard to get a fire going with it unless a person uses another wood such as pine, manzanita or another type of wood that is easier to get going. Got this 2 cord of wood from Craigslist and would never think of using again.

  4. Tanoak usually has thick bark, unless it is young small diameter pieces. It is quite heavy when fresh cut green but for a hardwood it is relatively fast drying. When dry it has a density similar to true oaks and burns very similar. What you are describing doesn’t sound like tanoak. Alder bark looks a little like tanoak so could be easily mistaken. It is light weight when it dries and can be straight grained like you describe. Although I have always found it easy to light. If you want to send me a picture you can use the contact info for this site. I may be able to help identify it.

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