SALEM, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Jennifger Beugli has lived in her Salem home for 25 years. She’s fallen in love with her towering walnut tree. But about two years ago, the same fungus suspected of killing off other black walnuts in the neighborhood began killing her tree.
She said the leaves started falling “about a month after they came on in the spring. And that’s about it.”
There is not a huge commercial market for black walnuts in Oregon, but the trees that are here were planted by Oregon’s original settlers.
They are often huge, sprawling shade makers with both historical and sentimental value to the people who own them.
And the black walnut trees are quickly dying off by a fungus called Thousand Cankers Disease.
Alan Kanaskie with the Oregon Department of Forestry said the fungus killing the tree is carried by twig beetles. The Eastern Black Walnut is particularly vulnerable to this fungus, and despite research, no pesticide has been developed to stop it.
The black walnuts, he said, have historic value. “In some cities, the biggest trees in the cities are walnuts because they are the oldest, so I think it’s a very important tree especially in urban forestry.”
The home Ed Chastagner has lived in for the past 15 years was actually moved to be in the shadow a black walnut. He and Beugli live relatively close to each other, and both are near the Salem Hospital.
But his tree is also showing signs of the fungus.
“I’ve noticed this last year especially we’re getting more branches up top that are dead,” Chastagner said. “Big enough that I’ve been concerned about them coming down on the roof.”
Those brittle, leafless branches hang high above Beugli’s property as well. She’s resigned to losing the tree and said she’ll have it taken down in the fall.
“I hate it. I want my tree,” she told KOIN 6 News. “I don’t want it to die and it is dying, and it’s going to have to come down.”