I had someone ask me today about a tree in his neighborhood. It’s a beautiful fully-grown Black Walnut. He was concerned about the tree dropping its leaves so early in the season; the tree has almost no leaves left on it.
I explained to him that there was nothing to worry about. Black Walnut trees are the first trees to drop their leaves in the fall and the last to leaf out in the spring.
Black walnuts are the most valuable forest trees we have in the Great Lakes area. They are so valuable that criminals look for walnut trees to steal.
These tree rustlers fly in helicopters above forests this time of year looking for large trees with no leaves. They record the position of the tree. Later they come back to that spot with chain saws to cut the tree and haul away the log.
Rustlers are on the lookout for walnuts growing in the woods with other trees growing nearby. Trees growing under those conditions develop long straight trunks with no lower branches. Those are used for making thin sheets of veneer.
Fortunately, most of us don’t have to be concerned about tree rustlers. Walnut trees in back yards and parks grow out in the open and develop an appealing shape with lots of branches. Because of all those branches, they rarely make good lumber or veneer logs.