I don’t know about you, but I spent my weekend murdering a tree. And it felt good! The specimen in question was a black walnut. I think they call them black walnuts because calling them evil walnuts, death walnuts or walnuts of doom just doesn’t roll off the tongue as well (you know, it’s kindaÂ like the Black Plague). But any of those names would work for them. I hate, hate, hate, hate them (which is only one less hate than I have for deer).
When we bought this house many, many years ago, our teeny, tiny yard had 7 black walnuts on it. As of this weekend, we are down to 2 and I wish it was 0. But A) taking out a 30+ foot tree close to buildings is no small task and B)Â 0 black walnuts would equal almost 0 shade in the yard, so the 2 left and I have an uneasy truce. They may escape with their lives if we do move, but to be honest, I hate those trees so damn much I may pay the new owners a bonus to take them out.
If you are not familiar with nefarious botanical monsters (and be thankful you are not), let me tell you about all about this evil tree.
First of all, they are plant murders. In the selfish pursuit of self preservation, they secrete a substance called juglone. This vile chemical poisons the soil around the tree and few plants can survive it. Juglone is found in all parts of the tree including the leaves, so you can’t use the leaves for useful things like composting or covering beds. All of the leaves have to be removed and destroyed, else you end up with a lawn in need of the grass equivalent of Rogaine.
Then there are the nuts. Oh my god, it is like Mother Nature said to the plants of the world “grow a pair”, the black walnut figured why stop with 2 and why not show the world what you are really packing. These things are as big as tennis balls and as heavy as lead and in the Fall when you walk through your yard you feel like you are the ball boy for the squash courts where the Wall Street elite meet to hone their asshole skills. I swear, even though I could not find it, there has to be a statistic out there about how many people a year are killed or maimed after being beaned in the head by a black walnut nut falling out of the seemingly clear blue. I honestly thinkÂ the trees in the Wizard of Oz were black walnuts, not apples.
And that does not even cover the secondary side effects of those nuts. Can you say Squirrelzilla? Because I can. Squirrels feast on these oversize nuts and turn into a gardener’s worst nightmare. ROUS that love to eat your plants and bulbs. We have squirrels so big that the squirrels in our neighborhood chase the dogs. I am seriously considering asking my local extension service to check to see if juglone might also be a kind of squirrel steroid.
And that is not the worst of it. You know when you go to the store and buy “black walnut” colored stain? That is the color produced if you seep the walnuts in some kind of solvent and then wash something in it. The stains are black as night and worse than oil to get out of a concrete driveway.
And one cannot forget all of the weed saplings one of these despicable trees can produce. Did you know that a mature oak can produce 10,000 acorns in a year and only 1 will become a tree? Not so with black walnuts. I am beginning to think that one black walnut nutÂ can generate a dozen seedlings. It’s like they fall in the night, open up like some bizarrely green alien egg sac and spew their spawn everywhere.
And once they start growing, you CAN’T KILL THEM. Even the seedlings. Hack them off, dig them out, burn them even and they come back. They are like zombies, except they don’t wander around, moan or try to eat your brains. They just don’t die. I am not a big fan of wholesale use of herbicide, but for this tree, I dumped half a pint of undiluted Round-Up on the freshly cut stump and even then I am not sure it won’t start to regrow in the next few weeks.
I may be a tree killer, but I know one thing. Black walnuts are a tree that if you were to try to hug, it would likely crush the back of your skull before you let go. They are just that evil.