Squirrel Tree Bears Fruit

comments (5) August 6th, 2014

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WesternGardener Jodi Torpey, contributor
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The green hulls of black walnuts look a little like limes.
The black walnut tree sprouted from a walnut that a squirrel planted in a flowerpot in 2000. Five years later it was nothing more than a tall stick.
The squirrel-planted tree is now over 25 feet tall and is bearing fruit for the second year.
The green hulls of black walnuts look a little like limes.Click To Enlarge

The green hulls of black walnuts look a little like limes.

Photo: Jodi Torpey

If you search VegetableGardeners.com for "squirrels" you'll see some of the common headaches they cause for gardeners. Squirrels dig up freshly-planted spring bulbs, they take bites from otherwise picture-perfect tomatoes and they eat the birdseed meant for our feathered friends.

But in the spring of 2000, one squirrel gave me a wonderful gift. He planted a walnut in a flowerpot that's grown into a beautiful black walnut tree.

Studies show that squirrels forget about 25% of the nuts they bury every season. That's what happened to my future walnut tree.

After the nut sprouted in the flowerpot, I planted it in my yard. It was just a stick about 6 inches tall then, and I protected it by surrounding it with a little fence. Over the years, that little black walnut stick grew slowly and every few years it would grow another branch.

Now, 14 years later, the tree is over 25 feet tall and its leafy branches provide shade for about half of the backyard. I even planted under the tree despite the warnings they contain a chemical called jugalone which can be harmful to other plants. However, my plantings of privet, juniper, serviceberry, yarrow and other perennials seem to grow well there.

This year the tree has produced an exceptionally good crop of walnuts. The nuts start out looking like bright green limes scattered throughout the branches. After the nuts fall from the tree, I'll collect them, don heavy rubber gloves to prevent finger staining, remove the green hulls and then let the shells dry. I'm looking forward to opening that first walnut and eating the delicious nut meat inside.

That is, if there are any walnuts left to be harvested. It seems only fitting that squirrels should have the first crack at them. Another beautiful tree is just waiting to be planted.

posted in: walnut tree, squirrels

Comments (5)

jorgepalmer7 writes: Impressive!!!
Posted: 5:08 am on March 2nd
benjamin_brown writes: You are Awesome
Posted: 2:04 am on February 23rd
lelandray writes: very useful.
Posted: 5:18 am on December 8th
WesternGardener writes: Hi Lynne:

Thanks for taking time to read about my walnut tree--and for posting your comment. I appreciate it very much.

Just yesterday I found a half-eaten green walnut hull sitting on one of the branches. It looked like the squirrel that was eating it had to run in mid-bite.

Posted: 10:51 am on August 11th
Lynne__MoldersMosaic writes: What a great story! Thanks for sharing it!
Posted: 1:24 am on August 9th
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