Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 34

The Peril of a Species
One man's efforts to save the rare butternut
by Heather Berry | hberry@ruralmissouri.coop

By the 1950s, butternut trees were beginning to be hit
by a canker disease determined to wipe them out. The
blight is caused by a fungus which infects the butternuts
or Tom Wekenborg, checking on the tree saplings on
through small cracks or wounds in the bark, causing a
his hundreds of acres in southwest Callaway County
canker - dead tissue beneath the bark. If the canker does
can take the better part of a day. It's a humid morning and the dark sky is about to open
enough damage to the tree, the tree will likely die.
up with a deluge. Tom jumps in his covered
The wood of butternuts was once used by furniture
ATV and starts heading up rugged paths only
makers and woodcarvers. In the 1800s, people often
a backpacker or mule might tackle. For many,
dyed their cloth a golden-brown by using butternut
Holts
it would seem a bit remote, but to Tom, it's nahulls and bark. It's said Confederate soldiers were
Summit
ture at its best - and a home for a tree species
often called "butternuts" due to the fact their
uniforms would fade over time and resemble the
he's trying to save.
homemade dye.
"My dad moved his dairy from Jefferson City
For this Callaway Electric Cooperative memto this area when I was about 11," Tom says,
ber, doing his part to stop the butternut from
pausing to view the open expanse of the fields beextinction has become a grassroots effort all his
low. "The ladies along our milk route paid me good money
own. Each year Tom gathers any nuts he finds, hoping to
to pick butternuts for them. I think I made a dollar a pint."
salvage seed for planting.
Butternut is the common name for the white walnut, a
"There's the butternut I found when I was renovating a
relative of the better-known black walnut tree. Black walglade in the '70s," he says, pointing to the black-and-white
nuts are round, where butternuts are more oval in shape.
barked tree. Its limbs are gnarled and weathered, some
While a black walnut has deep, dark-brown grooves in the
broken by storms, others trimmed as needed to hopefully
bark, butternuts have a smoother, whitish-gray bark.

F

Tom Wekenborg checks
on one of more than
80 butternut trees he's
planted as saplings on his
Callaway County farm.



Rural Missouri - September 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - September 2020

Contents
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - Contents
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 4
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 5
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 6
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 7
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 8
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 9
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 10
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 11
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 12
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 13
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 14
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 15
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 16
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 17
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 18
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 19
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 20
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 21
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 22
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 23
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 24
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 25
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 26
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 27
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 28
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 29
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 30
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 31
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 32
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 33
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 34
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 35
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 36
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 37
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 38
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 39
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 40
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 41
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 42
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 43
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 44
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 45
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 46
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - Cover4
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