According to my very useful book on the subject, published in 1980 by Sunset, you can choose a best firewood based on the available heat BTU's per cord.
Top rated are Apple, Shagbark Hickory, Ironwood (hardhack), Black Locust, and Live Oak, with 24 million BTU's per cord.
Second best are Dogwood, Rock Elm, and White Oak with 23 million BTU's per cord.
Next come Yellow Birch, Sugar Maple and Red Oak with 21 million BTU's per cord.
From there you keep going down until you get to woods like Ponderosa Pine, Balsam Fir and Redwood with only 12 million BTU's per cord.
*These figures assume "seasoned wood at 20% moisture content, burned in 60% efficient wood stove". They should stack up similarly in a traditional fireplace, but with reduced effective output across the board.
Hope that helps. =D
And thanks for the inspiration, as I can see at least 4 or 5 hubs possible with some research and this book. Thanks!