Posted on

Coppiced Nitrogen-Fixing Firewood Species of the World

This article is an excerpt from my recently published book The Carbon Farming Solution, and was part of a series promoting my kickstarter campaign to raise funds with which I completed the book.

These firewood species grow rapidly, fix nitrogen, and re-sprout (coppice) quickly after cutting. All have high-quality firewood. They are thus a productive, self-fertilizing and perennial firewood source. Intensive blocks of these species can produce a tropical family’s cooking fuel needs on 0.15ha (0.37 acres; according to interviews with staff at both Las Cañadas and ECHO). Use of rocket stoves and other conservation technologies can reduce the area even further.

Coppiced firewood trial at ECHO.
Coppiced firewood species trial at ECHO.

Coppicing woody plants sequester carbon in their roots, and in soil organic matter. When compared with pine plantations and other destructively-harvested wood sources they are more climate-friendly. They also have much higher fuel production per acre than natural forest, and can substantially lighten the firewood harvest load on natural forest around them.

This is just a sampling of the great diversity of candidate species. Like many nitrogen fixers, many of these are weedy outside of their native range. In addition there are a great, great number of coppicing firewood species that do not fix nitrogen which could be intercropped with these or similar species. Always start by investigating your native species first.

To learn more check out Firewood Crops Volume One and Two, and keep your eyes open for the new coppice agroforestry book from Mark Krawczyk and Dave Jacke.

Latin Name

Tropics & Subtropics

Cold Climates

     Lowlands  Arid &Semi-Arid     Highlands        Humid          Dry
Acacia angustissima                 X    
Acacia saligna               X      
Acacia senegal               X      
Acacia tortolis               X      
Albizia julibrussin                  X  
Albizia lebbek             X             X      
Alnus acuminata             X               X    
Alnus glutinosa                  X  
Calliandra calothyrsus             X        
Caragana arborescens                  X            X
Eleagnus angustifolia                    X
Eleagnus umbellata                  X  
Gliricidia sepium             X        
Hippophae rhamnoides                  X            X
Inga vera                 X    
Leucaena leucocephala             X        
Pithecellobium dulce             X             X      
Pongamia pinnata             X        
Prosopis juliflora               X      
Robinia neomexicana                    X
Robinia pseudoacacia                 X            X            X
Sesbania grandiflora             X        
Sesbania sesban               X      
Sophora japonica               X             X            X            X
Trema spp.             X        
Acacia angustissima contour coppice firewood planting at Las Canadas.
Albizia lebbek is suited to semi-arid to humid tropics and subtropics.
Alnus acuminata on contour at Las Canadas.
Alnus glutinosa, very cold-hardy.


Coppiced pea shrub, Caragana arborescens at CRMPI.
Coppiced pea shrub, Caragana arborescens at CRMPI in Colorado USA.
New planting of coppiced Gliricidia sepium for firewood, Guatemala.
New planting of coppiced Gliricidia sepium for firewood, El Matasano Guatemala.


Robinia neomexicana at Woodbine Ecology Center, Colorado USA.
Robinia neomexicana at Woodbine Ecology Center, Colorado USA.