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Butternut Report 2007

Butternut canker attacks and kills butternut trees of all ages and sizes and on all sites. The fungus (Sirococcus clavigignenti-juglandacearum) attacks the inner bark of the tree and causes cankers. Cankers spread around the branches and trunk from season to season, girdling the tree and eventually killing it.

Butternut canker has become a serious threat to the survival of butternut across North America. The species has all but disappeared in many parts of the U.S.A. and is under threat in Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick. Butternut is listed as an endangered species in Canada.

The Rideau Valley Conservation Authority and the Ferguson Forest Centre have partnered in a Tree Planting and Butternut Recovery Program sponsored by the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Government of Canada Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk.  One of the objectives of the program is to identify and map Butternut seed sources in Eastern Ontario and to locate individual trees that are healthy or appear to be disease-free. The following report describes the results of a survey of Butternut trees on Petrie Island in February and March 2007: 

Two Petrie Island site visits were required due to the size of the area to be covered.  All land areas were walked and the butternut trees found were visually assessed for canker and health.

Site visit 1 was conducted on February 23, 2007.  It included all areas south and west of Turtle Pond.  One hundred and nineteen (119) butternut trees were found through that area, most being concentrated in groves with a few scattered ‘loners’ found as well.  Of those 119 trees, 91 were mature (>30 cm diameter), 27 were immature (15 - 30 cm diameter) and one was juvenile (<15 cm diameter).  There were 42 dead butternut found throughout the area as well.  Butternut is classified into two different groups based on visual bark characteristics called phenotypes and both bark phenotypes were observed.

The canker disease was found throughout the area and some of the trees were in serious decline due to numerous lesions on the stem and root collar.  Most of the larger trees were still showing signs of stress from ice storm damage as well.   There were a few that continue to maintain their health in spite of canker infection and one tree was found that appeared to be canker free.  A return visit is warranted this summer to examine this individual while the canker is active.  Three healthy mature butternut trees were added to the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority geo-database as potential seed trees from this area.

Site visit 2 was conducted on March 12, 2007 and included all areas south of the Beach house Parking Lot, east and west of the main road.  Twenty-one butternut were found and assessed, mostly west of the main road.  Of those 21 trees, 5 were mature, 15 were immature and 1 was juvenile.  All of these trees had the canker disease with the majority being severely cankered and in serious decline.  There were 2 dead butternut found throughout this area.  None of these butternut met the criteria for seed source trees so none were added to the geo-database.

For more information on the Butternut Recovery Program, visit the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority and the Forest Gene Conservation Association.

Rose Fleguel

Butternut Recovery Technician

Rideau Valley Conservation Authority


613 258 3678


Page updated 2014-06-05    © Friends of Petrie Island