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Mr. Smarty Plants - Why will my Butternut trees not produce nuts in Tennessee?

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Wednesday - May 06, 2009

From: Chattnooga, TN
Region: Southeast
Topic: General Botany, Trees
Title: Why will my Butternut trees not produce nuts in Tennessee?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I have 2 butternut trees planted about 20 ft from each other. I see the long blossoms on each tree but I have not gotten any nuts from either tree. I do not know if I have a male and female or if they are both male or both female. What do I need to do the get nuts from these trees? Thank you for your time and answer.

ANSWER:

The butternut Juglans cinerea (butternut)  is also known as the white walnut, and grows in well drained soils of hillsides and stream banks from Tennessee in the south, west to Missouri, and across the northern tier of states to Maine.

The plant is monoecious which means that both male and female flowers occur on the same plant, although they may not open at he same time. Since you have two trees, the absence of a pollinator should not be a problem. The article from the Western North Carolina Nature Center says the the commercial seed bearing age is 20 years. You didn't tell me the age of your trees, so this may be the root of the problem.

There are other factors involved in fruit production including availability of water and nutritirients, and the Hamilton County Extension Office should be able to help you with these.

Here's website about a problem that is killing Butternut trees throughout their range, Butternut canker.

 

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