I have a young black walnut tree growing in my garden in western
Massachusetts, probably 6-9 years old (just guessing). There's the main
trunk, about 6" in diameter, and then two small 'trunks,' about 2" in
diameter, attached to the main trunk at ground level. Should I prune the
small trunks out? The tree had been attacked until recently by bittersweet,
clogging up completely its upper branches. Perhaps this is the reason for
the extra trunk growth. Again just guessing as I know nothing much about
walnut trees and articles on the internet do not deal with their early
At least. To me, the judgement would be whether to keep it at all.
Black Walnut has a lot of genetic variation in branching. Early
and low branching are usually deemed inferior traits. This may be
based partly on desirability for timber, but large crotches are also
weak points where breakage and rot happen. I'm guessing since it
has already branched so early and low, it may continue to behave
that way. But I would consider the form of the dominant trunk.
If it looks like it wants to go up straight, it may yet make a
decent tree. If it is already growing more two and three-way
crotches, what you have is a large bush, which I might whack.
To me, too. Isabel seems to have cleared my yard for now, but I'm
going to be vigilent about volunteers. In all the years I've lived
here, I've never had an edible nut. The lore for harvesting/using
includes driving over them to remove the outer skin as a first step.
Mostly the nuts just landed on the roof like bombs, and decayed on the
ground to become very unpleasant surprises when stepped on (both black
stain AND considerable discomfort). Branches die off and drop
inconveniently. The juglone produced by the roots will 'poison' soil
for certain ('though not all) plants, tomatoes among them. New trees
grow constantly from roots, seeds (nuts) and sheer cussedness, even
inside the dirt-floored garage. And roots grow *very* long and
lateral. Their only advantages are shade, and a swiftly-decaying leaf
that doesn't have to be raked in the fall. An 80' pine survived the
storm, but all the big black walnuts (in my yard -- not universally,
AFAIK) fell or became uprooted and had to be removed. Get rid of it
while you can!
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