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Wednesday - May 07, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Healthy black walnut trees from volunteer saplings
Answered by: Barbara Medford


We just purchased a piece of property in the Texas Hill Country. There is a stump of a large black walnut tree that has four healthy looking samplings shooting up. Each is about 10 feet high. The original tree looks to have been cut down for its wood - - no rot apparent. Having originated from an old walnut tree base, can we expect the saplings to mature into healthy trees? Or should they all be removed?


Assuming that this is Juglans nigra (black walnut) we could find no indication that volunteer suckers growing from the root of an old tree would NOT be able to grow into a healthy mature tree. Whether you would want to or not is really up to you. See this additional information on the black walnut from the USDA Forest Service on the practicality of growing it as a yard tree. Apparently, this tree is susceptible to one or more pests or diseases that might affect the trees appearance. The litter from the tree is a nuisance to clean up, and black walnut roots contain juglone which inhibits the growth of some plants beneath the tree. In the wild, the tree often will form a thicket from several suckers coming up from the roots. They would probably crowd each other and not develop individually as well as they would with open space, so you might elect to cut off the three least vigorous saplings and cultivate the fourth. If you are not considering it as a yard tree, but have it out on acreage, you should be warned of the problems if you have horses or dogs sharing the acreage. See this article from the Purdue University Cooperative Extension services on toxicity of the black walnut.

Juglans nigra

Juglans nigra

Juglans nigra

Juglans nigra



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