Protecting Eastern Black Walnut Trees

Location: 30+ American states

Coordinating Agency: Adventure Scientists

Contact Name: Emily

Contact Email:


Eastern black walnut (Juglans nigra) is well known for its edible nuts and beautiful dark, tight-grained wood used for flooring, instruments, and cabinetry. These trees are in high demand, making them a prime target to timber poachers. But you can help protect them!

Join our team of volunteer Timber Trackers to explore hardwood forests throughout central and eastern US and collect leaf, twig, and tree core samples from eastern black walnut trees. Collection is happening now!

Samples are sent to our partners at the US Forest Service who use genetic analysis and DART (Direct Analysis in Real Time), a tool that vaporizes tiny pieces of the sample and catalogs its unique chemical makeup. This information is creating a library of black walnut's chemical and genetic diversity across the entire species range. Land managers will be able to use the library to pinpoint the origin of suspected illegal lumber and prosecute the timber thieves responsible.

The natural species range of eastern black walnut spans more than 30 states in the US! We're aiming to get a diverse collection of samples from trees on public land throughout the entire range. Plan your next outdoor excursion with us and contribute to conservation at the same time. 

Once accepted, all volunteers will complete online training modules prior to getting out in the field. We offer a variety of web events, discussions, and readings to supplement the training. 

The training will include information on how to ID black walnut using a tool called a dichotomous key, which we will also provide.

Data collection will include taking samples of leaves, twigs, and in some cases, tree cores. You'll also record data using a smartphone app.

You'll have access to register for the public land parcels where you plan to collect samples as part of the online training process.

We will ship your equipment once you have completed the training. You will have one month to collect samples from 10 trees located at least 100 meters (330 feet) apart.

Website: Join Our Timber Team