Growing near walnuts

My wife and I recently purchased a nearby rental property. Most of the yard has large trees and too much shade, but there is a thin (90’x10’) strip which extends behind the neighbors property. That strip has good SE exposure, as the back of the neighbor’s yard is pretty clear. It can also be kept separate from the rest of the property, so as not to be bothered by renters of the 4 units. So (of course) I’m planning to fill it with fruits.

I was out there this morning, clearing a bit of brush from the strip and found a bunch of nut husks on the ground. I’m guessing that they are black walnuts (shudder), though I would be happy if someone disagrees. They were most concentrated around the middle of the strip, so the whole thing is probably within 50’ of the tree.

Since most of the strip is shaded on the West (mid-afternoon on is probably shaded), I’m planning to plant:
Black Currants

Those are also no-spray fruit, so I shouldn’t need to worry the tenants and neighbors by showing up in a hazmat suit :smile: . If I can find (or make) a near full sun area, I’ll also put in a few jujube and maybe a Juliet bush cherry.

In checking online, I found currant, elderberry, cherries, and honeysuckle all listed as resistant to black walnut. But I’m not sure if that applies to the particular varieties I’m planning (black currants like Consort and Minaj, several Sambucus Nigra, and haskap/honeyberry isn’t exactly honeysuckle…). Anyone have experience growing fruit in such a situation?

Looks like Black Walnut to me!

Persimmons and pawpaws are both reported to do well with Black Walnuts.

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Black rasps are reputed to be the poster child of successful fruits despite the alleopathy of nearby black walnuts. By the way-- yes, those are black walnuts you’re holding.

After extensive research, here are the lists I’ve compiled:

Tolerant of Black Walnut
-black raspberry
-American chestnut
-red/sugar maple
-yellow poplar
-red mulberry
-American plum
-pin or black cherry
-white/red/black oak
-white/black ash
-American/slippery elm

Sensitive to juglone:
-mountain laurel

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By the way- In my opinion, black walnut is among the most beautiful of native trees. The timber is among the most expensive in the world. You can manicure the most beautiful lawns under a grove of black walnuts (the alleopathy helps tamp down weeds). And you can eat them/ they’re delicious when baked into brownies!

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There are pros and con’s to black walnuts but that is what they are.

Thanks all. I don’t see any mention of currants, elderberries, or honeyberry on the list.

But it does remind me that I’ve got a couple suckers from a persimmon tree which I could move there and graft over with scions I have coming. Maybe near the end of the strip where there is more sun…

I would do plum or peach, but that would probably involve more spraying than I want to do at that property.

Maybe, but given land prices around here and the resulting small yards, it can really impact a large percent of a yard’s usable space. I’d love to make it disappear, but I’m sure my wife won’t be happy to have me “waste” money removing trees, even assuming it is in the yard and not just over the border into the neighbors. I still need to figure out which one is the walnut. I did find the following picture online- evidently, Black Walnuts make a “smiling monkey” shape where the leaf used to be attached.

Just look for the one where everything is dead at the bottom. If you want I will take a picture of a dormant walnut here in a few days.

That does look like a walnut branch, they have a pretty distinctive bark. I have a huge tree in my yard just north of my house. I wish it was gone but the butt cut is too short to make a log and they won’t hardly buy yard trees here because of the chance they have metal in them.

This is a photo of the bark

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Walnuts here harbor codling moth and bag worms.

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Really, coddling moth, great.

Ugh. Another reason to not grow apples on this property for me.

That is a big one. It must throw quite a shadow in addition to the natural herbicide it produces.

I googled this and (after first learning about an unfortunately named hairstyle) found: “BUTT CUT: The first and largest diameter cut, directly above the stump” (from a glossary of logging terms). It still leaves me wondering how a butt cut can be too short to make a log. Do you mean that your tree branches out very low and the main trunk thus isn’t very useful?

Yes, sorry about that, the first log cut at the base of the tree is a butt cut. To make a good log the buyers want it to be about 8 feet before you reach the bottom of the first limb. My tree is 6’6" to the first limb.

Bob you may plant English walnut and chestnuts and enjoy sprayless nuts in addition to your fruit orchard. May be a mulberry too.

Bob, is planting 50’ from the tree still within the danger zone? It seems like it might be a safe distance, especially if you have good drainage in the area.

When I was reading about this, the danger zone ranged from 50-80’. If the tree is near the middle of the strip, as I suspect based on the placement of the nuts (I also think I remember a trunk similar to the one from Derby, though smaller, on the North edge of the strip), then everything is within 40-50 feet of it.

I think the timeframes on those nuts are a bit long for me and they have a pretty large canopy(too much shade on everything else). Mulberry is a possibility though. I don’t think I have any extra mulberries in pots though. I should look around for small saplings to transplant and graft.

Speaking of stuff growing in pots, maybe I can plant a couple pears I have sitting around. I know pears are susceptible to juglone, but mine are on Quince rootstocks. Quince is supposed to be tolerant, so I wonder if it is the roots or the top which matters?

Derby is right. In the country and in the city-- many black walnuts have had metal stakes driven through them. This was to deter would-be timber poachers. These trees have been highly valued for a long time… early on as sources of food… and later on as “investment trees” that families could sell for timber if desperate for money in tough times/ or eventually “bank” the proceeds. The old farm homesteads in southeastern PA and central Md are dotted with black walnuts-- especially the old Amish and German-American haunts. I find these old-values places charming and timelessly beautiful.


In our area black walnuts tend to grow in near marshland while shagbark hickory grows where there is better drainage. In the photo the nuts could be either but the bark looks more like black walnut. Usually there is not a single BW tree as they send up suckers from the roots while shagbarks generally only grow from seed (based on my observation).

Both attract a lot of squirrels who should enjoy any small fruits you plant as salad.

Many areas around here that didn’t have much squirrel presence last year will likely see a major rebound this one- as you can see, it was not only a great year for fruit- nuts finally had a bumper crop as well. Rodents reproduce with astounding alacrity.

There are lots of walnut trees in MO and eastern KS. It’s my opinion most of the issues w/ walnuts are the same w/ other trees (shade, water, and nutrient competition). Certainly, juglone is a herbicide, but I think it’s pretty weak by itself.

I’ve used pure walnut mulch w/ no effect on peach trees. I’ve only seen a problem w/ juglone twice. Once when I tried to grow tomatoes in an area mulched w/ walnut mulch (tomatoes are one of the most sensitive plants to just about any herbicide). The other time was when I cut a lot of walnut in an area w/ a chainsaw, then tried to grow something there that year. The large amount of fine sawdust had the maximum amount of leaching potential, so some of the stuff I grew there didn’t do that well.

Here is a photo of some pecans out competing beans for water. Pecans also contain juglone (although at lower concentrations than walnuts) but normally beans can be intercropped w/ pecans with no problem, as long as the trees aren’t too big. 2012 was such a dry year here, the pecans out competed the beans for water.