The Black Walnut takeover

April 11, 2016

Yesterday afternoon I noticed that a black cherry seedling transplanted to the front yard last year had not wintered well, so I casually looked around for a finger-sized hard maple to replace it.  Maples of this age seem to hide in places where they are hard to dig out, but I persisted in a casual search until a hen turkey meandered past me through the pine-walnut stand as I sat quietly in the cab of the UTV.  The large bird worked her way west and was on the verge of entering the woodlot when she suddenly spotted food at the edge of the mowed area and frantically pecked her way around for a couple of minutes before continuing on.

With renewed resolve I searched two fence rows between the house and the woodlot. Every transplantable tree smaller than my thumb was a black walnut. In 2006 when we began the walnut project there were no volunteers in these areas.

Young black walnuts are now even growing in what I would have considered inhospitable terrain a half-mile north of the seed trees, across a stretch of open field.  Gray squirrels are amazing seed propagators, and the local climate has changed enough that black walnuts can now grow in exposed areas of the drumlin where they had no chance of survival before.

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