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Butternut Seedling

Butternut Seedling

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Species: Juglans cinerea

History: Butternut is an endangered tree native to the eastern United States and southeastern Canada where they grow naturally along sunny stream banks with rich, well-draining soil. The nuts have been used as a source of food and made into a butter-like oil by indigenous peoples. The trees have also been used for making syrup, furniture, and woodcarving. 'Butternut' became a derisive term for people living in the southern US since their clothes were dyed using butternuts, and the name later applied to Confederate soldiers. Unfortunately, Butternuts are highly endangered today due to Butternut Canker which has decimated their population within two decades.

Why We Grow It: By planting endangered species, collectively we can help Mother Nature potentially find a naturally resistant variety of Butternut. The nuts are quite similar to other walnuts but with a milder flavour. They can survive in zone 2, but they must be within zone 3 to produce nuts. The sap can be boiled to make walnut syrup, which tastes very similar to maple syrup but with notes of caramel and butterscotch.

Be mindful of the juglones in the in the roots/nut husks, they are toxic to many other species. They require a buffer of about 50'/30m from the edge of the trees canopy for juglone-sensitive plants. This article from The Garden Hoe has a helpful list of plants that tolerate juglones. However there are recent (2019) studies showing healthy soil high in organic matter and mycorrhizal fungi actually reduce the toxicity of juglones suggesting many plants can grow below juglans species in a healthy ecosystem - it will be interesting to see more study done in this area!

Canadian Hardiness Zone: 3

Soil Preference: Prefers loam but adaptable to different soil types

Growth Habits and Disease Resistance: Tree generally reaches 20m but can grow up to 40m in some cases, slow growing. Very susceptible to Butternut Canker.

Sun/Shade: Full sun (approx. 8-10 hours of sun daily)

Pollination: Self-pollinating, this tree will produce nuts without a different Butternut tree present but will produce more and better nuts if one is present    

Ripens: March for syrup, October for nuts

Storage: Nuts keep up to three months in the fridge, syrup can be stored for about a year in the pantry

Recommended Use: Nuts used for fresh eating, cooking or baking, or syrup enjoyed as you would maple syrup.

Height not including roots: 30cm+

Quantity must be 1 or more

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