Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘nut trees

Pinnate Leaves

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Back when our regional DNR Forester paid us a visit, he pointed out how many ash trees we have. I had been mistaking many of them for butternut trees, but closer inspection, and a noticeable lack of nuts, changed my perspective.

As a result, now my first impression of our trees with pinnate leaves is that they are likely ash.

While we were sitting with the chickens on the edge of our driveway the other day, I gazed skyward and became aware of a large umbrella of the pinnate leaves looming over us. Mentioning it out loud to Cyndie, I assessed it as a big ash that we didn’t even know was in that spot.

Until I saw the nuts.

Oh! So, it’s back to a butternut again.

From the class we look last winter, I was quickly able to detect one of the simplest identifying differences: the petioles or leaflets of the compound leaf.

The ash tree has about 7 leaflets arranged in opposing orientation along the stem.

On this butternut, I counted repeated occasions of 13 leaflets, and they are arranged in alternate orientation along the stem. Combined with the obvious groupings of nuts, there was little question about what kind of tree this was.

I’m a bit surprised by the significance of the canopy of leaves on this tree because the butternut canker disease is stunting the progress, or outright killing most of the butternut trees in the area. It is possible this tree has an inherent resistance to the fungus.

That would be great luck. Offspring from this tree could lead to additional trees with resistance. Invert the pyramid, I say!

On another note, I received a reply from our Forester about my findings on root girdling on the red pines. He found the report interesting and surmised the trees weren’t planted properly. He still concluded with, “Your trees may have still actually been killed by Diplodia.”

Another fungus. What’s up around here?

I blame climate change.

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Written by johnwhays

August 2, 2018 at 6:00 am

Bitter Discovery

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There is a tree beside the shop garage with a canopy that overhangs a significant portion of the roof. There is no mistaking that it is a nut-tree, because this time of year it starts dropping its fruit with a bang. If they hit just right, it can make a sound like a shot from a rifle. Even if they don’t hit just right, the clank is unpleasantly startling if you are close, and surprisingly loud if you are further away.

That initial report is followed by an amusing rattle as the seed pod rolls down the slant of the metal roof. You can hear them gaining speed as they approach the edge, where they then drop down to another metal roof that covers the entry door, before rolling off that surface to the ground.

The driveway in front of the garage is getting littered with nuts, so I decided to collect a few of them. I was under the impression that this tree was just like the many other nut trees on our property, butternut trees. Since the nuts of the butternut tree are known for having a good flavor, every fall I feel like we should be collecting them for use somehow.

We did take a crack at it the first year we were here, but while waiting for them to dry out, they got all funky and we threw them away. I wanted to try again. I encouraged Cyndie to start collecting them and look up ways to prepare them for consumption.dscn5203e

A day later she was asking me to look into it, because these didn’t look like the pictures she was finding for butternuts.

Sure enough, I quickly discovered these were not butternuts. This tree is a bitternut hickory, providing just the opposite of good flavor. I think it is funny that it took me this many years to figure out it was a different nut.

While researching a comparison of the two types of trees I stumbled upon an alarming detail about the butternut tree. It produces a toxin that can stunt growth or even kill certain susceptible plants in the vicinity of its roots.

Included in the list of susceptible plants: white pine and red pine.

Could that be what has been taking out our pines?

Plenty of the details match what we have witnessed in the last few years.

If I find out cedar trees can tolerate the toxin, that’s what I’d like to plant in place of those lost pines.

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Written by johnwhays

September 23, 2016 at 6:00 am