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Using the Hollow Trunk of a Blackgum Tree

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Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. George Ellison in his column “Why the blackgum tree has a hollow trunk," Asheville Citizen Times, lists how people used these pipe-like tree parts after heart rot fungus had rendered them hollow.  Ellison describes how they were fashioned into rabbit traps (mostly caught possums), lined the upper reaches of wells, became containers when given a bottom, and were made into bee houses, called bee gums, in the days before prefabricated hives were popular. Also, the flowers of blackgum trees were important sources of nectar and pollen for those bee colonies. Imagine how important honey was in the lives of frontier and self-sufficient farmers. Honey doesn’t go bad; a good supply of honey could add important calories to a family’s diet and certainly was welcomed as a way to make foods tastier. And to light the darkness, beeswax candles were invaluable. 

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.