As our understanding of genetics improves and we gain experience modifying or even creating genes, could it be possible to make trees that, instead of bearing apples or pears, produce blocks of firewood? What I’m thinking is that the “fruit” would have a hardwood center with a softer outer layer with a rind that’s easy to light. The reason for doing this, is the idea that over thirty or forty years – or however long the tree lives – you would get more “fruit wood” than you’d get by chopping down and cutting up the tree. One tree wouldn’t heat a home for winter, but a grove of a hundred might.
The biggest problem – other than figuring out the genetic engineering part – would be the ten pound blocks of wood falling from heights every autumn. One way around this would be to make sure that the fruits blocks don’t fall. Someone would have to go up a ladder and cut the stems, which would give some control over where they fell. Or the tree could be designed so that only the lowest branches produce fruit, while all the higher ones would have leaves. Or instead of a tree, you could have a bush. Although I don’t know if a bush would be able to draw enough nutrients and all to make a big enough block of wood to make it worth it.
Regardless of it all, I think it’s an interesting idea.
An earlier version of this post appeared on Persona Paper in December 2014.