Are tree roots good for anything?

Other than anchoring trees, I mean.

I just finished digging out the stump and tap root of a small elm tree and was wondering if the thing has any use, maybe as wood used for inlays of some sort or perhaps as part of some sort of folk-art piece or something.

They’re good to keep dirt in place, which is good to prevent erosion. People do sell art made with them on Etsy, though. Tree Roots - Etsy

I would have left the stump and roots with the hope of it growing some mushrooms. The large maple we cut down years agoI used as a centerpiece of a flowerbed (had some gnomes standing on it).2 years ago Mistermage cut it down to ground level and now we get reishi (medicinal fungus) and pholiota (poisonous but pretty) on it.

I thought about leaving it mistymage, but the tree was a sucker from the neighbors fighting-to-survive elm tree, and not really doing all that well, more of an elm bush than a tree really. I plan on replacing it with a silver maple if I can find one, red maple if I can’t get the silver.

Sizable tree roots would be valuable to anyone who turns wood on a lathe. Elm wood makes fine treenware. As an aside, may I ask why you were uprooting said roots? Did you cut down the tree yourself? Did it die a natural death from Dutch elm disease? There’s so few elms around, it’s a shame to lose any.

You can make sassafras tea from sassafras roots.

Thick enough, you can work them like any other sort of wood.

Dried out, they can serve as fuel for a fire.

Other than that I got nuthin’

Briar roots are used for pipes.

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Either split them or dry them for a full year before using them as firewood though. Water at the center can heat up and make them pop apart, sometimes dramatically enough to break the glass door of a stove, or scatter coals all through a room.

A lot of people like to dry them well and use them as night wood, as they are very dense, but I think it’s too dangerous.

Yeah I know what you mean about losing elm trees. Where I live we used to have a lot of them and now there are very few left because of dutch elm disease, I still remember the summer the local urban forestry division of the city removed so many of them.

So the back story of my tree, about 10 years ago, when I was still renting my house from my dad, instead of owning it, the tree started growing up in exactly the perfect spot to shade one half of the back of the house. Being a free tree I decided to leave it. fast foreward a few years, life happens, we move to the next county over for about 5 years. Dad has tenants during that time. Eventually life happens again, the reason for moving goes away, the tenants lease ended and they all moved on. We purchase the house from dad and move back in.

The tenant, without asking permission, had cut down the tree but not dug out the stump resulting in an “elm bush” along with general neglect of the yard and landscaping over all.

I let it stay a few years longer and tried to bring it back to its former potential glory, but, alas, it just didn’t seem to be possible.
what would be considered large enough for turning on a lathe?

Root beer!

How do you think it got that name?

The terms ‘Briar’ and ‘Rosewood’ are fertile grounds for conflation, particularly in the context of tobacco pipes, leading people to the incorrect conclusion that smoking pipes are made from the roots of briar rose bushes.
(I don’t know if that’s what happened here, as you are correct that briar roots are used for pipes, but I don’t know what you mean by ‘briar’)

‘Briar’ is the root of an Africal tree-heather.
‘Rosewood’ is the timber of large tropical trees in the bean(not rose) family.

Having said that, the roots of any large woody plant can in theory be used to make interesting turnery.

It’s called rosewood because of its pinkish color (rosé, rosa).

When camping, we throw a stump on the fire towards the end of the night. It burns slowly, making the fire easier to get going in the morning.