Burning a Tree

I just finished watching WB’s show Supernatural.
Towards the end of this episode, a tree integral to the worship of a minor Norse diety was set on fire with the intention of harming the tree in such a fashion as to prevent further manifestations of said diety.
Fair enough, since I’m not an expert in Norse mythology, I’ll let killing the tree get rid of the diety in question.
The method of burning appeared to be pouring a 2-gallon gasoline container on the tree and then lighting the tree from the bottom with an improvised torch.
Assuming a 12 foot apple tree, would that work?
I’m assuming that the surface area/volume equation is such that there’s no way that would burn the tree down.
Would burns like that be lethal at all, even over a long term?

Disclaimer: This was a TV show. I have no current gripes with any minor Norse dieties. I don’t have any intention of burning down any real-life trees, and if I need to dispose of a tree on my property I’ll let a licensed professional do it. If I need to wage war on any minor Norse dieties in the future, I’ll hire that out to professionals as well.

I have done this experiment many times. If it is truly gasoline, all you are going to get is dead, injured, or a big scare. Gasoline flashes like a Mo-Fo and you don’t want to be in stick range lighting that. It won’t stay lit all that long either and would probably just piss the tree off. Now diesel fuel, that will get you a nice hot fire very quickly. I have set over 100 large and small fires since we bought this wooded property and diesel fuel is what you want. It doesn’t explode. It just catches and grows rather rapidly to a roar. Two gallons is a lot of fuel for something like that. I know it won’t just topple the tree right there. If you do it right, it will burn through the outer bark and the tree will get sick and probably die much later. I have killed trees larger than that with this method. I have also failed to kill trees smaller than that. It is feasible but not guaranteed and the tree is going to stick around for a while no matter what. An ax would have been easier.

Good advice. I belong to our local VFD and every spring there are at least 1 or 2 fools who pour a five gallon can of gas on a brush pile, walk away to put the can down in a nice safe place, saunter back and the strike a match. The gasoline, having had time to turn into a nice vapor cloud proceeds to demonstrate its explosive power by spreading burning brush over 2 or 3 acres and removing all trace of hair from the unfortunate fool. The detonation is usually reported by 10 or 100 neighbors as a plane crash. Generally speaking the flash is so fast that the damage is limited to all exposed hair and the top layer of exposed skin. We did have one serious burn but he was leaning into the pile when he lit the match. :smack:

Good times!

Gasoline notwithstanding, most of the tissues crucial to a tree’s survival (esp. something like an apple tree) are on or near the outside surfaces; the wood may not burn and the tree may not burn down, but if the cambium layer in the bark is sufficiently cooked, the tree will suffer serious injury and may die; if it recovers, it will be by sprouting/regrowing from a point below the damaged tissues.

Hmmmm. Looks like a kero/diesel attack would be 100% lethal, the gasoline attack would be 100% lethal, but only for the poor guy with the zippo and not neccesarily for the tree/Norse deity.

I second the warnings about starting fires with gasoline. I saw it happen once. A guy I knew pruned his trees, and he had a brush pile nearly as tall as himself. The pile was in a low spot, and it was a calm day. He poured lots of gasoline on the pile, then he walked back to the house to roll up a newspaper to light the fire with. He walked back, and by then, he was standing in a big pond of vapor. I was up in the yard, and I heard a “whump.” I looked around to see a fireball rising to the sky. He walked back to the house before he realized he was hurt.

Second degree (blister) burns over large areas of his legs and forearms; it could have been much worse.

You need one of those guns like they had at that party in Rollerball, burned up that tree real good. Yeah, that’s it in the trailer, at the 1:05 point.

Apple tree… with something other than gasoline, probably enough damage. Apples are pretty thin barked.

Fire just makes any Buckthorn bigger than a toothpick meaner, I’m afraid…

I agree whole heartedly with Shagnasty

That is one reason most military vehicles burn diesel. Diesel will burn like all get out, but does not explode like gasoline will. Back in the 80’s a lot of Armored Personnel Carriers (APC’s) were still running gasoline V-8 engines, all the newer ones were diesel six cylinders. It was a good sign that were not on the good side of the commander if you got assigned to a “Gasser” Even in training excercizes they were inherently more dangerous than the diesel tracks, just do to spills during refueling usually done under cover of darkness. Spilled diesel was smelly, spilled gasoline could be deadly.