The butternut tree designated an Endangered Species in Ontario under the Endangered Species Act. A fungus, Butternut Canker, is causing this fast-paced butternut mortality. This fungus causes black marks to appear on the tree, killing patches of the living layer. This eventually girdles the tree and kills it. The Butternut Monitoring and Recovery Program aims to find healthy butternut trees despite the presence of the fungus. These trees are assessed for health and monitored for seed production. It is hoped that the healthy trees may be displaying a genetic re! sistance to the disease. Seed is collected from healthy trees for a local out-planting program to replace the dying population. The program also grafts exceptionally healthy butternut scions (branch segments) to walnut rootstock to preserve select butternut’s genetics. These grafts will be established in an orchard for seed production, as well as potentially used for genetic research on both the fungus and the tree itself. The program covers Simcoe and Dufferin Counties, as well as the Regions of Halton, Peel and York, and includes both public and private lands. Our goal is to find healthy trees that are in close proximity to trees with a high canker load. Health assessments are carried out using the “Butternut Health Assessment in Ontario” manual as prepared by the Forest Gene Conservation Association. By monitoring the health of the trees, we can examine disease progression, and ensure that seed collected for our out-planting program is from a stable, healthy tree. The testing of management procedures around butternut trees began in the fall of 2009 to try to promote and improve the health of select butterut trees. Seven trees at five sites were chosen, and will be monitored. Five butternut trees were selected for grafting in March of 2010 to preserve the genetics of these trees. The grafting of 150 scions from these select trees took place in March at the Ferguson Forest Centre in Kemptvill! e with the assistance of the Rideau Valley Conservatioin Authority, Forest Gene Conservation Association and the Ontario Forest Research Institute. These grafts will be the first in an orchard that is planned for 2012 to be used for seed production, as well as potential genetic research on the disease, and the trees themselves.
Madelaine Danby, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
Greg Bales, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources