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Hackberry and Black Walnut: A Love Story

July 31, 2018

I have a love story of two trees that I would like to share. Although my tree story is not from the Chicago area, but from Reading, Pennsylvania, I still think it has relevance to Tree-mendous Tree Stories.

My wife and I often walk the arboretum of the Reading Public Museum in West Reading, PA. There are many beautiful trees, and over the years they have become close friends of ours. Two of these trees are quite unique because they have grown into an eternal lover’s embrace. One is a black walnut, and the other is a hackberry. But there is a problem with this. 

An article on The Morton Arboretum website, Plants Tolerant of Black Walnut Toxicity (see states that hackberry is one of several trees and plants sensitive to the black walnut, which is basically the same information I have found in other sources.

If the two species are generally incompatible, these two trees certainly overcame their barriers.  The two trees are quite mature, and one main limb of the hackberry has grown into the truck of the black walnut. I have included a picture of this embrace.  And still in opposition to the incompatibility of these two trees, there are three other hackberry trees growing about 30 feet from the black walnut.


Black walnut and hackberry

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