The Nuttery : Volume 23 Number 2 (2004)

In this Issue...

Help Wanted!

Every week or so, ECSONG gets feedback from our website along the lines of, "Where can I buy nut trees?"

Well, Ed Patchell in Kemptville has an answer: he has offered to grow 25,000 black walnuts, 12,000 butternuts, and as many Lavant shagbarks as can be sustainably harvested. All we have to do is to collect the seed!

We know where the trees are, thanks to the ECSONG Inventree. We have trucks, courtesy of George Truscott and Mark Morris. What we need is a coordinator who would telephone or visit the owners of the trees listed, to ask that they keep the fruit as it falls for us to pick up rather than putting it in the garbage. It might help to collect cardboard boxes or feed bags to distribute to the homeowners for this purpose.

Call Hank if you can help: 231-4224

Dolman Ridge Keeps Busy
John Sankey

The Dolman Ridge nursery has been busy supplying seedlings this year. The Fletcher Wildlife Garden now has 3 super-tasty white oak (the local blue jays were the judges!) and 3 American chestnut in their final locations. The Dominion Arboretum got 5 American chestnut and 10 bear oak; they will grow them in their nursery for a few more years before setting them out. The FRP got 3 American chestnut, while Oak Valley got two dozen of our black oak for sale to assist the grove.

On 24 April, Murray Inch, Roman Popadiouk, George Truscott and Larry Wade joined me in setting out pin oak and black oak seedlings in new plantations on the Dolman Ridge. Timing was perfect: a beautiful cool sunny day; the frost was not quite out of the ground on the ridge so the ground was soggy, easy to dig, and no watering in was required. A week later, the water was gone and the buds were starting to swell.

For the first time, the lowland white oak plantation showed winter kill -17 of the smallest trees. Prior to this winter, the sole fatalities had been caused by voles. Fortunately, we have a response: 100 offspring of the hardiest oak on the site, 3 years old and ready to transplant next spring. Their performance will be compared with the existing trees over the coming years.

On June 12, the newly-rejuvenated Ottawa Stewardship Council visited the Ridge, and were invited to consider bur oak and our super-hardy white oaks for naturalization.

Experience on the site has shown that small seedlings survive there in as good shape with the long grass trampled well down around them before winter as with tar paper covers over winter. So, that will be the procedure for small seedlings this fall. We will use plastic wrap only for trees large enough to take it.

Oak Valley News

The Oak Valley Committee will be holding its annual review meeting with South Nation Conservation in October (date to be announced). SNC wants to discuss a communications plan for the site covering PR, signage, heritage memorial plaques, and public education efforts etc; also SNC support for ECSONG efforts. We want to discuss volunteer recruitment, tree survey and data base, other activities, property maintenance, and growth of the trust fund for maintenance. ECSONG members are welcome to attend and/or suggest additional topics for discussion. Anyone interested, please contact Murray at, 731-7830.

On 25 April, Murray Inch and George Truscott dug up hazel clumps from the nursery - enough to fill both Murray's and George's trucks. John Sankey, his back still shaky from the day before, stuck to wrapping roots in wet paper towels and grocery bags. The end result, including donations of trees from George Truscott and seedlings from the Dolman nursery: $450 for the Oak Valley Endowment Fund.

A successful field day was held on 12 June. Attending were: Peter and Sheila Carr, Myrtle McKendry, Bob and Catherine McKendry, George Truscott, Roman Popadiouk, Sergei Ponomarenko and family, Kim and Lester Mclnnis, Angela Coleman of South Nation Conservation with volunteer Christine McBain, and Lorraine Inch. General maintenance was carried out, including weeding the nursery, and gardens, trimming deadwood (mainly catalpa, oak and chestnut). The chestnuts survived the winter but something infected them and killed tips and leaders. But, there was new sprouting coming from the trunk. Trimming also opened light to small underplantings such as Siberian pines. Grass was also trimmed around small trees.

Roman collected updates on growth, condition and health of over 100 of the tagged trees in the computerized data base. Signage for public access was installed. The cool wet weather over the summer meant another year of rapid tree growth, also of grass and weeds. There is light fruiting of the nut trees: hazels and walnuts have some nut development. Most of the aggressive weeds, parsnip, milk weed etc. have been cut back over the summer, so they do not interfere with small tree growth and public access. Lawn cutting has lagged but is acceptable to permit public access.

There has been a small but regular number of visitors over the summer. We have been identified on a number of commercial and tourist maps and web sites and this is increasing public awareness and visits.

Lavant Shagbark Results

Murray Spearman writes, "I have had some success with my Lavant shagbark seedlings collected fall 2003.1 planted only those that sank after removal of husks and separated the larger and smaller seeds into 2 different plots. I planted 16 large nuts together and got 90 percent germination. However, only 14 of the 44 smaller sized nuts germinated."

Ed Patchell notes, "We had fairly good germination from the 2003 Lavant seed, but haven't done inventory yet."

Len Collett reports a 50% germination of the 2003 seeds that he planted in his nursery, about 100 seedlings.

For the Dolman nursery, I planted about 100 seeds collected fall 2002 in my back yard. All the seeds came from one tree, and were of similar size. Half were put in a box with slightly acid soil, the other half in neutral soil. The germination in the acid soil (22) was three times that in the neutral (7). But, once sprouted the seedlings grew much better in the neutral soil, 35 cm high vs. 15 cm (August, 2nd year) and with far more leaflets per branch. Three seedlings died over the 2003-4 winter, all in the acid soil. The boxes were adjacent to each other, and had the same sun exposure, so this might be worth checking further.

The beds were left untouched in closed growboxes, except for careful weeding during 2003-4, but no second-year sprouting was observed in either box. The fall of 2004, I explored the ground and found all remaining seeds obviously rotten.

One neutral-grown tree from my back yard was transplanted to my front yard this spring, given a dose of fertiliser, and is now a healthy 1 m high.

The Lavant shagbark population is unique in the world! It's essential that we enable it to survive. If you have protected space to grow seed from this fall, please let us know. We need to do everything we can to preserve its genetic heritage.

Navan Fair 2004 Recollections
Hank Jones

I staffed the ECSONG booth at the Navan Fair on Friday 6 August. A long day! The renovated ECSONG 'Nut Case1 was on display at kid's level (Thanks Genice and Len!). Many inspected and touched the wood. I showed Cobjon's 'Nut Box' with its 24 nut samples, and the Cobjon scale model of 'The Nut Huller'. These proved to be the focus of interest for the display. I handed out a new brochure which combines our regular brochure and the nut grove maps into one handout. It is on legal size paper, fan folded into ten panels. Roman and I tried to put a Black Walnut offered by Joe Page into a pot, but the plant wilted so it was not used in the exhibit.

Vera and I staffed the booth on Saturday. We talked to many nice folks. Had a really good conversation with member Pryce Apedaile's sister who told about the origins of the land the FRP Nut Grove is on! Met Cobjon's friends from the Aboriginal Center behind Andy and Jane Molino's office downtown. Promised again to deliver them a black walnut cake made from nuts gathered from their tree behind their building. Also, Murray Inch and his better half stopped by during a break in the heavy horses competitions - says it cost upwards of $18,000 a year to feed a big horse! That's sure not peanuts.

On Sunday, the last day of the Fair, Roman Popadiouk and Bernard Centre staffed the booth. Alex Mucha offered Korean Nut Pines for the display if we could sell them - maybe next time.

Most people are still fascinated to leam that we can grow excellent nuts in the region and want to know when they will be in the stores. Lets get marketing! ECSONG needs to get back into the exhibit business in a serious way. Exhibits are one of our best recruiters. It is proving difficult for us to do this now because membership has fallen below critical mass (temporarily, I hope). We need about a hundred members in order to achieve the logistics of exhibits.

Many thanks to Pierre Boileau and staff of Bog2Bog who organized the Conservation Tent that housed our display.

The NRC Memorial Grove
John Sankey

The five trees donated by Kurt Wasner in memory of Ferrers Clark are now well established. The buartnuts in particular are growing vigorously. The two black walnuts still seem to be concentrating on growing roots. Due to the exposed location, all the trees lost their leaders the first winter, but one of the buartnuts has clearly selected a new one, which will soon be encouraged by a bit of pruning.

This spring, a ginkgo was added to these five in memory of Sheri Campbell, who worked at CISTI for many years on a server known as ginkgo.cisti within the NRC system. It has unbalanced the C (for Clark, but also for CISTI) a bit, so maybe I'll add a Lavant shagbark to balance it up again, in memory of the many years I spent chasing references at CISTI.

Oak Diseases Update
John Sankey

The short-homed oakworm (Anisota finlaysoni), a striped hairless mostly reddish-brown caterpillar with short spines, has invaded several of the Thousand Islands. While it is currently limited to Gordon Island and a few islands nearby, it could soon spread to other regions, as it is now established in southeastern Ontario and causing considerable defoliation there. The presence of predators seem to have so far kept the oakworm from gaining a foothold on the St. Lawrence mainland. However, birds which feed on the worms either aren't present at all on the islands or don't stay long enough to make a serious dent in the population. The oakworm's adult stage is a 3-cm dull yellow moth with a white dot on each forewing. The oakworm emerges in summer from eggs laid on the underside of oak leaves.

Sudden oak death (SOD, the fungus Phytophthora ramorum) has been spreading rapidly. During 2003, nursery plants contaminated with it were shipped from Monrovia Nurseries, a large wholesale nursery in California, to hundreds of US retail nurseries. Confirmed positive eastern recipients are in Florida (5), Georgia (13), Louisiana (5), North Carolina (8), Tennessee (2), and Virginia (1). Also, 46 nurseries west of the Mississippi River received contaminated plants from Monrovia. The fungus has had some time to escape from or to be sold from these contaminated nurseries before SOD was discovered there. Rhododendrons, viburnums and camellias are the principal horticultural carriers of the fungus.

Oak wilt (the fungus Ceratocystis fagacearum) has still not been detected in Canada, but is close to the southeast corner of Ontario. It is reducing total oak forest growth by 10% or more throughout much of the US Midwest. The fungus overwinters as mycelium in still-living, infested trees and as fungus pads on dead trees. The fungus can be spread more than a mile by at least two groups of insects: sap and bark-feeding beetles.

Fungi such as SOD and oak wilt can be particularly devastating to oak plantations such as on the Dolman Ridge, since oak roots graft together, offering an instant infection path between adjacent trees. We should probably rethink our philosophy of planting there.

For further information, use Google on the Web.

Black Walnut Growth Results
John Sankey

The black walnut plantation on the Borthwick Ridge was planted at 3 m spacing in 1978. The original plan was to remove half the trees after 10 years (1988), and half of the remainder at 20 (1998), leaving the trees spaced at 6 m. Due to the cancellation of the Central Research Forest project in 1979, none of this was done.

In 2000, I began to thin the plantation - better late than never. Of the 208 trees that survived of the original 281, 32 of those most damaged by the ice storm were removed in 2000. In 2001, a calculation was done based on the results of black walnut growth at the US Forestry Service: using their criteria, 19 trees were removed in 2001 and 10 more in 2002.

The USFS data indicates that crown area is related to diameter of the trunk, so as thinning is done both trunk diameter and crown coverage should increase. It didn't happen. The only trees that put on good growth over 2000-3 were those at the edges of the plantation. And, even they didn't increase their crown coverage enough to fill the gaps. So, no thinning was done in 2003, although DBH measurements were taken as in previous years.

In 2004, with four years of growth measurements in hand, the trees on the edges of the plantation had put on up to 18 mm/yr DBH, while 10 of the trees had put on less than 0.2 mm/yr. So, on 21 August, Mark Morris joined me in a further thinning, of those 10 trees.

I doubt that thinning will be appropriate in 2005 - there are now large gaps in the canopy. Once black walnuts have adjusted to 3 m spacing and a height of 10 m, it obviously takes a lot more than a few years to come to grip with more growing space. The plantation remains an all-too-good example of how not to grow black walnuts.

Oaks Are Slow Growing - Right?
John Sankey

Wrong! I planted some English oak seed in the fall of 2000. One was transplanted to my front yard the spring of 2003.10 cm was nibbled off by a rabbit during winter 2003-4. But, with the superb tree-growing weather this year, it has put on 1.2 m new growth. Its total height is now 2.2 m - 4 years from seed.

Joffre Cote, Ottawa Stewardship Coordinator, writes of red oak trees his father has in his backyard: They were about the size of a dime when they were planted. The largest one, was planted about 20 years ago then transplanted 3 times within my father's backyard which must have set it back a bit. It is now 18" in diameter (DBH). It came from close to Algonquin Park. The other one is from Belleville, planted only once and is now about 16" DBH, and was planted less than 20 years ago. 18" DBH in 20 years is great growth!

You too can grow the finest of all urban trees! Oaks shrug off ice storms, urban pollution, and everything else we humans throw at them (except chainsaws, of course). Call me - 748-0317. I've a hundred super-hardy white oak seedlings waiting for a good home.

Our Chinese Correspondent

John Adams writes: The fascinating food here just keeps on coming, including silk worms with walnuts.

My work area is full of young grafted fruit trees. They do not use grafting wax. All they do is bind the union tightly with that ancient Chinese material we know as plastic. They cut ordinary plastic grocery bags into strips and tie the union very tightly. They know when they have a successful graft when they notice condensation on the inside of the plastic. They have hundreds of grafted trees within a few feet of where I do most of my work. Every day I take time to examine their handiwork. They also train apple tree branches to grow horizontally by tying them down (to the trunk) with long strips of bark. I intend to find out if they graft nut trees.

Walnuts (I presume Juglans regia) grow all over the place. I was told they are mostly wild trees from the mountains that have been planted in this area. The local people know I am interested in nuts so they brought me about a kilo of them. They are small and the meat is hard to extract. This is the only type of walnut grown in this area. I have seen walnut trees up to 15 metres tall so far. But the majority are small and have taken bush form like our Juglans regia specimens at the Arboretum. I am not sure of the reason for this. Climate? or human intervention?

They also brought me a bag of hazel nuts. They too are quite small. I have asked our staff, most of whom come from other areas of China if they know how I can get fertile cold hardy seeds. Ideally I would like to get some Korean nut pine seed but they grow further north. We are in apple-pear-apricot country here.

One of our geos is from up north near Harbin and says they have two kinds of nut pine there. I presume they are Siberian and Korean nut pines

Butternut News
John Sankey

Several of us have found that local butternuts growing freestanding tend to be free of canker even while nearby trees in forests are fatally infected. Now, at Purdue University, Dr. Keith Woeste, a molecular geneticist at Purdue's Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center is rinding that a lot of resistant butternuts there are hybrids with the Japanese walnut, J. alantifolia.

Enter the world's largest butternut, right here in Hull. Experts believe it germinated about 1750 and was cut down about 1850. The root sprouts have now combined to form a tree of DBH 2.1 m, spread 28.4 m and height 25.8 m. (see http://

These dates are estimates by experts based upon the tree's size. No cores have been taken as the tree is too large for any known corer. Although European explorers passed close by as early as 1610, there was no settlement in this area prior to 1800, so this tree's genetics have a high likelihood of being free of any foreign influence.

So, with the permission of the Royal Ottawa Golf Club, a package of leaflets has been sent by ECSONG to Purdue for DNA characterisation. Our tree will help the world to define the true native butternut!

In another attempt to save the butternut, researchers at the Canadian Forest Service have discovered how to preserve its genome, by freezing. Nuts themselves become infertile after six to nine months - that's one reason why they keep so well in the shell. But, if the embryo material is removed and preserved in liquid nitrogen, it seems to remain viable. We'll collect some nuts of our big tree for them this fall.

Nut trees of the Botanical Garden of Montreal
Bernard Contré

Established in 1931 by Brother Marie-Victorin, the Botanical Garden of Montreal is considered as the 3rd most important botanical garden of the world. It features 30 thematic gardens containing an important collection of walnuts, hazelnuts and oaks. Other nut trees such as hickories and chestnuts are also present.

I visited maybe 50 times the garden especially to observe these trees and in July, 1998 made a list of nut species and their quantity. Many were planted in the first years after the foundation, such as black walnuts and pecans, and are now old. In all, I identified 46 walnuts, 37 hickories, 11 chestnuts, 35 hazelnuts and 4 nut pines. (Fagus and Quercus genus are not listed.)

Walnut (Juglans)
J. nigra 18 (1 or 2 'Thomas')
J. cinerea 4
J. manshurica 5
J. regia 6 (1 'Metcalf)
J. sielboldiana (ailantifolia) 4 (1-2 are 'Calendar')
J. stenoptera 1
J. cathayensis 1
J. microcarpa 1
J. x hybrid 6

Hickory (Carya) C. ovata 26 (some with red petioles)
C. cordiformis 4
C. laciniosa 1
C. ovalis var. odorata 1
C. glabra or ovata 1
C. illinoensis 2
C. x hybrid Hican 2 ('McAllister' and 'Pleas')

Chestnut (Castanea)
C. dentata 7
C. mollissima 2
C. x hybrid ('Douglass') 2

Nut Pine (Pinus)
P. koraensis 3
P. cembra 1

Hazelnut (Corylus)
C. maxima 'Purpurea' 4
C. columa 8
C. americana 5 (1 'Winkler')
C. Seilboldiana var. manshurica 3
C. hetrophylla 1
C. heterophylla var. sutchuensis 2
C. avellana 'aurea' 1
C. avellana x cornuta 2
C. avellana x americana (NY Hybrid) 2
C. avellana var. heterophylla 1
C. x hybrid 'Mildredensis' 1084 1
C. x hybrid 'Mildredensis' 1094 1
C. x hybrid 'Bixby1 1
C. x hybrid 1 C. x Vilmorinii 2

(As always, Bernard's articles are on the ECSONG website in their original French.)

DNA and the Lavant Shagbarks
John Sankey

These days, DNA testing is so much in the news that several of us have wondered if it could help us to determine the uniqueness of the Lavant shagbarks, and thus aid in their preservation.

So, I asked a tree DNA expert, Dr. Keith Woeste of the USDA Forest Service. He writes:

"First, there is already clear evidence that the isolated group of hickories is distinct because it can grow where hickories don't usually grow. DNA evidence could be used as one measure of the genetic differentiation of these trees. One would need to use DNA markers specifically designed for Carya. These markers exist (the USDA Pecan research group at Texas A&M, L.J. Grauke is the scientist). The tests themselves are not expensive if you have the hardware and the technical staff already on board. So any lab that is using DNA microsatellites to understand population genetics of wildlife or fish could use the same tools for trees.

"What you propose would not be trivial, however, because it would involve both research and development. There is not a lot of data out there for Carya. Probably if a lab was already equipped to run micro-satellites (there must be many such labs in Canada) then the study you suggest would make a nice Masters level research project. So it would cost whatever it costs to fund a Masters level graduate student for a couple of years. If we were to do it here, for example, that cost would be on the order of $35,000 (US) a year (you have to pay tuition, full stipend, overhead, etc). So its not cheap, and the most likely outcome would be that your highly cold-tolerant hickories are somewhat similar to other Canadian hickories but distinctive in other respects, which you already know.

"Certainly these very cold tolerant trees are a valuable genetic resource that should be conserved."

Wow. When I did my postgrad work, I got a grant of barely $1000 a year, paid all my fees, overhead etc. out of it, and thought I was rich!

Natural Dyes and Home Dying
Rita J.Adrosko (1971)
A Review by Irene Broad

Dyestuffs used in America during the 18th and 19th centuries: Brown' dyes - Butternut or White Walnut Quglans cinerea); Black Walnut (J. nigra) These have common dyeing properties - some colour differences. Methods of extracting the dyes are similar.

1669 - Governor Winthrop of Connecticut sent the following report with samples of butternut dyeing to the Royal Society of London:

"Shreds of stuff made by the English planters of cotton and wool, put up to shew the colour, which was only dyed with the bark of a kind of walnut-tree, called by the planters the butter-nut-tree, the kernel of that sort of walnut being very oily, whence they are called butter-nuts. They dyed it only with the decoction of that bark, without alum or copperas, as they said."

"The bark, root, leaf and hull of the butternut tree, found in the woods of the Eastern and Central States, are all used for dyeing. The mature nuts are gathered when still green and allowed to ripen partially. The hulls are then ready to use; they may be dried and stored for future use. Butternut produced the warm brown hue found in many overshot coverlets woven in the Northeastern States during the 18th and 19th centuries."

"Both the hulls and shells of the Black Walnut are used for dyes. The hulls must be collected green, and can be used fresh or dried for future use. Many dyers believe that the dye prepared from dried hulls is more potent than that from fresh ones. The dye can also be prepared from green hulls covered with water and stored away from light. The colour seems to darken when the hulls are stored in this way."

The most beautiful and solid colour is from fresh walnut peel. Puce browns, from the fresh bark of the black walnut, Juglans nigra.

Method: Dark brown wool, colour fastness good
1 pound of wool
3/4 peck (6.6 litres) green hulls from black walnuts
Cover hulls with water and soak 30 minutes. Boil for 15 minutes, strain out hulls and add cold water to make a dye bath of 4-41/2 gallons. Before immersing wool in the dye bath, thoroughly wet it and squeeze out excess moisture. Immerse the wool; heat to boiling, boil for 20 minutes, rinse and dry. Overboiling the wool will make its texture harsh.

Many natural dyes will fade or 'bleed' unless the yarn or fabric is first treated with a mordant, a metallic salt that helps to fix the colour to the fabric. The most common were:
alum (aluminum-potassium sulphate)
chrome-potassium dichromate
copperas-ferrous sulphate
tannic acid
oak galls
sumac leaves

The book also contains many notes on plant dyes from other than nut trees.

A New Recruit to Nut Growing

Wendy Wobeser is setting up a nut and timber farm near Inverary Ont. on 50 acres of what used to be a dairy, 15 km north of Kingston on the south side of Loughborough Lake. It has been in hay for the last 15 or so years. The land is high, there is a run off through the farm which goes to a cliff down about 100 feet to the lake. She planted about 10 black walnut a few years ago, has just added 20 Korean nut pines, and is looking for shagbark, more black walnut and some butternut.

Our Past is Prologue
Ken Farr

ECSONG at age 26 has a long history of accomplishments. Our past is prologue to our future. We need an historian. Could that be you? Our ECSONG historian would have boxes and boxes of past correspondence and reports, our technical library, our photo collection, the website, interviews with our veterans and our tyros - and write about it regularly in the Nuttery. Interested? Call me at 828-5721 and lets talk about it!

Onward and Upward
Hank Jones

Our membership is down to just over 50. This is not enough people to enable us to maintain our nut groves and pull together good local nutculture knowledge and information. We need a hundred.

People will be attracted if we can offer good technical information to enable them to grow nuts successfully. Many people appear to be interested, but are not sure ECSONG is the group that can help them. I believe this would change if our newsletter and website always had a stream of basic how'to nutculture information for the newcomers. A Regional Cookbook, Growers Manual, and Members Handbook - available to new members and to the public at the right price - would display the benefits of ECSONG membership. So would an ECSONG display at three or more popular local exhibitions or conferences each year. Furthermore, if each Nut Grove held at least one public education day each year that involved as well the grove owner and at least one other civic organization, this would go a long way to attracting new members to ECSONG and to greater participation in nutculture regionally.

The ECSONG 25th Anniversaire needs a leader to take the compilation work in hand.. The book will be a snapshot of ECSONG at age 25. Every member in the 25th year needs to put a few words into the Anniversaire. Many have already done so in the 25th anniversary issue of The Nuttery which will be rolled over into the Anniversaire. Those that missed this opportunity can get their word in edgewise in the Anniversaire. Stand up and be counted!

Provided by ECSONG. Feel free to copy with a credit.