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Butternut Health Assessments

Butternut trees are referred to as shade intolerant species meaning they typically propagates in open fields, along fence lines, or in small groups mixed in with hardwood stands.  Butternut was added to Ontario's Endangered Species Act, 2007 due to the spread of the Butternut Canker Fungus (Sirococcus clavigignenti-juglandacearum) which kills the cambium in elongated patches called cankers.  As the canker spreads and encircles the branches and stems, it cuts off the flow of nutrients and water causing branch and crown die-back.   The protection of this species means that any harm or kill to individual trees as well as impacts to its habitat is prohibited by legislation.  

Endangered Species Act, 2007 and Butternut Do’s and Don’ts:

  • A person can cut down a Butternut tree that was planted/cultivated or is confirmed to be a Butternut hybrid. 

  • A person can prune a Butternut tree i.e., remove a hazard branch, if an expert determines it will not harm the tree.

  • An unhealthy or dead Butternut tree can only be cut down if it is assessed as “non-retainable” by a Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) - designated Butternut Health Assessor (BHA).

  • Butternut wood from ‘assessed non-retainable’ trees may be bought or sold or used in any manner.

  • If a person wishes to cut down a healthy or “retainable” Butternut tree of any size (as assessed by a BHA), then a permit under the Endangered Species Act is required, and activities such as planting replacement butternut trees must occur.

Visit for more information on works around Butternut trees. 

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