NTFPs from Trees

This series of factsheets covers uses, management, markets, and threats of tree species that provide nontimber forest products.

White oak (Quercus alba)

Being high in carbohydrates, white oak acorns were an important traditional food source.

Tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera)

Native Americans called tulip poplar ‘canoe wood’ because of its wide use for dugout canoes.

Paper birch (Betula papyrifera)

Native peoples used paper birch bark for construction, containers, medicine, tools, and trinkets.

Slippery elm (Ulmas rubra)

Traditional healers valued slippery elm for its many medicinal uses as an eye wash and for treating abrasions, inflammation, gastrointestinal issues, burns, and more. Modern uses are based on this traditional knowledge.

Black cherry (Prunus serotina)

Native Americans used the inner bark, roots, stems, and fruits to treat a variety of ailments, including colds, coughs, cholera, and skin sores.

Eastern black walnut (Juglans nigra)

The fruits and hulls of Eastern black walnut are used as food, antifungal herbal medicine, and industrial abrasives. Once black walnut begins producing nuts at around 25 years old, it may continue for a century.

Fraser fir (Abies fraseri)

Fraser firs provide Christmas trees and other decorations. In nature, the species lives in high elevation forests along the Tennessee-North Carolina border. Every year, 35 million Fraser firs are grown on farms.

Noble fir (Abies procera)

Noble fir is used as a Christmas ornamental, and mainly grows in Oregon and Washington. Christmas tree and bough production usually occurs on plantations

Pawpaw (Asimina triloba)

Pawpaw fruits have been described as a mix between banana and mango. Pawpaw has potential as a forest farming crop that could restore habitats while providing food and income.

Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana)

Ripe persimmon fruits are very sweet. Persimmon is declining in the wild, but efforts are underway to develop it as a specialty crop. Japanese persimmons are the primary species in commerce.

Pinyon pine (Pinus edulis)

Pinyon pine is valued for its seeds which are called pine nuts. Pinyon pine is the major pine species on 40 million acres in the U.S. West. The U.S. is a net importer of pine nuts.

Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)

Sassafras is a small tree whose leaves and root bark are used as a flavoring and fragrance. Sassafras is susceptible to laurel wilt disease, which is spreading through the South.

Sugar maple (Acer saccharum)

Sugar maple sap is crafted into maple syrup, an iconic forest food. Sugar maple grows in New England and the mid-Atlantic. As the climate changes, habitat in the southern part of its range may decline.