[NAFEX] Butternuts -- Extant sites wanted by USFS

Robert Stanton robert.l.stanton at gmail.com
Sat Aug 9 13:59:55 EDT 2008


Forwarding this as it may be of concern/use to those who have butternut trees.


----- Original Message -----
From: Woeste, Keith E
Sent: 8/7/2008 10:02:48 PM
Subject: butternuts

I am a Forest Service tree breeder andconservation geneticist working
at the USDA Forest Service Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration
Center in West Lafayette, IN.  The Forest Service has become
increasingly concerned>that butternut canker has led to a serious
population decline for butternut.  Regeneration for this species has
been extremely poor.   As a consequence, a program to collect and
preserve a sample of the butternut germplasm has been started.  This
year we hope to obtain seeds from
>as many butternuts as possible.  We (myself and a small group of Forest Service scientists) are looking for any and all trees, not just trees that look healthy or have good form because the goal is to sample the genetic diversity of the species as broadly as possible. The first step in our project is to simply identify living trees.  That part has been a
challenge in the eastern U.S. for two reasons; first, there are simply
not a lot of butternuts left.  The second challenge is that the most
commonly encountered ěbutternutsî are actually hybrids between
butternut and heartnut (a.k.a. Japanese walnut, Juglans ailantifolia),
a species introduced in the 1860s.  Hybrids were widely planted as
yard trees on farms and in small towns across the species' range.  We
also find the hybrids in church yards and cemeteries. Hybrids  are
starting to invade the forest because seed collectors pick them up as
ěbutternutî seeds.  We have a DNA-based test that allows us to
separate hybrids from true butternuts. There are morphological traits
that can be used to separate butternuts from hybrids, but they are
tricky.  I can send more information on this if you want to see it.

Our long-term goals are
            1. Conservation of as much of the genetic diversity of the
species as we can obtain.
            2. Production of seed orchards of disease resistant
butternut that would be locally adapted (one per state) and
genetically diverse.  We have some excellent candidate
resistant butternuts that we will use as a source of genes for this
phase. We need local germplasm to carry out these objectives. So here
is what we are am asking people to do.
If you know the location of butternut trees in your area, please send
me a note of where the tree or trees are, if possible with gps
coordinates, otherwise with section, range,
township, etc.  If the tree is on private property, identify the
landowner if possible. If the trees are in the forest, they are
probably butternuts rather than hybrids.  If the trees were planted or
in a heavily human-impacted area such as a reclamation site or a park,
they are probably hybrids, which we canít use.  If you are interested,
we have a testing lab here and I can send a protocol for submitting
samples.  The testing is done under a program funded by us and the
Nature Conservancy. Next; a second goal is to propagate the trees.
Again, we are interested in any and all trees, not just healthy ones
or trees with nice form. Most of the trees people find now will be
sick and on their way out.  The easiest way for us to preserve their
genetics is to obtain seeds this fall (if any). Having the tree
locations will give us a shot at seeds over the next few years. If you
or the landowner might be able to pick some seeds up, that is great.
The amount of staff time I can dedicate to travel for harvesting seeds
is limited,  and I have to cover the entire range of the species.
if there are no seeds or the seeds canít be easily obtained, the hard
way is to propagate them with grafts.  We graft trees every winter. If
you can find butternuts, and we can arrange
to get the scion wood, we will graft them for long-term maintenance.
Thatís the story.  If there are ways you think you can help, please
let us know.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this long letter.
Yours sincerely,
Keith Woeste
USDA Forest Service
Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center
Department of Forestry and Natural Resources
Pfendler Hall
Purdue University
715 West State Street
West Lafayette IN 47907-2061
web: http://www.agriculture.purdue.edu/fnr/HTIRC/woeste.html
phone: 765-496-6808
email: woeste at purdue.edu or kwoeste at fs.fed.us
fax: 765-494-9461

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