Butternut Recovery

Butternut Recovery Program

The program:

    butternut tree
  • informs landowners about endangered Butternuts and encourage them to maintain their healthy trees
  • finds, assesses, maps and stores locations of tolerant Butternut trees in a seed source database
  • collects nuts from tolerant Butternuts in various locations across Eastern Ontario
  • grows seedlings from these nuts every fall at the Ferguson Forest Centre in Kemptville
  • distributes 2,000 seedlings in small batches to hundreds of landowners across Eastern Ontario to put healthy Butternut on the landscape
  • checks survival and health of planted Butternuts via landowner reporting
  • re-assesses tolerant trees in the database and forecast seed crops from healthy trees each year
  • collects leaves or buds from tolerant trees to test DNA for hybridization — to grow healthy seedlings for research and to start a long-term grafting program to save genetic material for future production of healthy seedlings
  • supports the long-term grafting program to save genetic material for future production of healthy seedlings
  • makes Butternut trees available that meet the requirements for Zone 35 and 36 OMNR compensation permits

Why Are Butternut Endangered?

Butternut trees in Eastern Ontario and across their entire natural range in North America are under attack by the Butternut Canker Disease. This is a deadly fungal disease that has attacked almost all Butternut trees found in Eastern Ontario regardless of their age or size. There is no known cure for the disease but some trees appear to be more tolerant than others, just as some people seem to be more resistant to human illness than others. Butternut is classified as an endangered species under the Ontario Endangered Species Act (ESA 2007). It is illegal to harm or kill a Butternut tree without a permit.

Why are Butternut Important?

The Butternut (Juglans cinerea) is a native tree species that has co-existed as part of the Eastern Ontario forests for thousands of years. It grows across southern Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. The presence of Butternut is important for several historical, ecological, economic and medicinal reasons:butternut leaves

  • Butternut wood is cherished for fine furnishings, paneling, carving and turning
  • Butternut bark, roots, nut oil and husks all have medicinal qualities ranging from arthritis and headache relief to lowering human cholesterol (please seek medical advice before trying)
  • Butternut is an important food source for small mammals, birds and humans
  • Edible nuts were used by First Nations and settlers for their high oil content and concentration of omega-3 fatty acids; the dried nuts can be stored for years

Get Involved!

There are three ways to get involved

  • If you have healthy butternut, please tell us!
  • If you want to plant butternut, let’s talk.
  • If you want to volunteer and help report on butternut health or collect nuts, let us know.


Rose Fleguel, Butternut Recovery Technician


Contact Us

Rideau Valley Conservation Authority
3889 Rideau Valley Drive
Manotick, Ontario K4M 1A5

613-692-3571, 1-800-267-3504



Regular Hours: Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Member of: conservation ontario