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Protecting a Little-Known Tree From an Insidious Disease

[ Vermont ] In the 29 years since a fungal disease known as butternut canker was first observed in southwest Wisconsin , it has infected over 90 percent of butternut trees throughout their native range from New Brunswick , Canada , to Georgia to Minnesota . Dr. Bergdahl was the first to find the canker in Vermont , near Snake Mountain , in the fall of 1983. Since then, it has killed half the butternuts in the state. Though many people have never heard of the butternut, the tree has a long and history of usefulness. Indians tapped it for syrup, used the bark for medicine and dye, and ate the hard-to-crack but tasty nuts raw or boiled them to produce a buttery vegetable oil. The rot-resistant wood, often called white walnut, is favored by some woodworkers. Butternuts are also important to wildlife: many mammals eat the nuts. There is no known treatment for the butternut fungus, so conservation efforts are focused on finding and protecting resistant trees.

News notes are courtesy of Southern Forests Network News Notes





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