Where Do Trees Come From?

This very large walnut tree is in our backyard.  Ever wonder where trees like this come from?  How did it get there?  How did it start growing?

The secret is in the walnuts…

When the walnuts first fall, they are covered in a soft, green, slimy shell.  They are a LOT of fun to throw and watch them SPLAT against tree trunks.  But there are many, many walnuts that fall from the tree every year- even my two sons and I can’t throw them all.  Where do the rest of them go?

What forest creature do you know that likes to store nuts?  That’s right- squirrels!  They grab them off of the ground and bury them all over the place- click HERE to see one of the squirrels in our yard.  They bury them hoping to find them later during the winter when they don’t have anything else to eat.

As much as they may try, the squirrels don’t find all of the walnuts they buried.  After a while the ones they leave behind in the soil begin to grow.  I dug out the walnut shell in the picture above- do you see the root growing down?  What is that growing out of the top of it?

Yes- it is the baby tree.  The walnut shell has split and the tree is growing right up out of it.  Once the tree grows leaves it is able to get energy from the sun.  But, it needs something else to eat until it can grow leaves.

Have you ever eaten a walnut?  The part you eat is the white nut and that is exactly what the tree eats before it has leaves!  Who knew that both you and a tree would eat the same thing?

If the baby tree can grow leaves and get enough sun and water then it will continue to grow and, one day, it will become a giant tree that drops MORE walnuts all over the place.

Festival of the Trees

  1. Good post and photographs. I have several large established trees in my garden that were planted by animals in spots I wanted trees so I let them grow and they are doing great years later.

  2. We have a lot of black walnuts — amazing trees, the way they take forever to leaf out, put all their energy into an enormous nut crop every year, and are bare by September again. The gray squirrels love the walnuts, but according to research by one mammologist I read, they can actually expend more energy digging them out of the frozen ground in January and boring through the iron-hard shells than they get from eating the meat!

  3. Thanks for sharing these detailed photos of walnut seedlings. Black Walnuts are common around here but I normally don’t see the seedlings. Nice to see the real younsters.

  4. Awesome photos and idea!
    I love walnuts (the nuts and the trees). It’s cool to see the grown tree and the ‘procedure’.
    I didn’t know that squirrels bury the nuts though.

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