In August, a wind storm split this black walnut's leader. The leader broke again higher up, and came completely off, but a large part of the main stem (lower down) is still attached, and although it's fallen and rested on a nearby tree, the cambium is still green.

This is about 22 feet above ground level. The tree is 9 years old (grown from seed), and has grown very fast. I'm guessing that's why the leader split.

What are my options? I'd prefer to have a central leader growth habit if possible, as these get quite large.


1 Answer 1


Here's what I ended up doing:


  • steel pipe
  • outdoor grade duct tape
  • 50lb UV resistant nylon zip ties
  • strips of rag

The hard part was pulling the stem back up, as it not only weighed over 100 lbs, but had put on a growth ring in that position. Here's to hoping that I didn't cause too much damage in the process.

I trimmed up the jagged edges on the split, then I used tape to hold the stem together, then used zip ties padded by rag strips to tightly fasten the stem to the steel pipe (which is copper coated).

I am aware of how the ties can affect the future ring growth, so I placed the pipe on the more sensitive side. I may go up again with a pole pruner and relieve some of that weight which is causing high tension.

  • I should have known this was you, J. What can it possibly hurt to try to save this leader? I would have done the same dang thing. What bothers me is that the break wasn't fresh. If it were fresh you'd have more chance to save it but it looked pretty hardened. If you were to cut that leader out you might discover a new branch growing upward that could be coaxed into the new leader. This is kind of pollarding. Not a deal breaker for this large tree at all. I'd take off any branches that have an obtuse angle such as the one at the very bottom of your branches.
    – stormy
    Dec 22, 2016 at 22:31
  • I'd be heading back the larger branches to put more energy into possibly growing a new leader candidate and to take the weight off until you get the branching you want. Seriously, duck tape and soft cotton I've used before. The problem is even if you had a canopy of leaves there will be moisture between the duct tape and cotton, held to the bark which might make things worse. I like your loose taping...keep an eye on this guy and rethink in the spring. I love this, I used to get in big trouble for trying to save important branches just like this. And some made it...
    – stormy
    Dec 22, 2016 at 22:37
  • @stormy aye you think a lot like me sometimes. I will probably head back the whole thing, leader included, when the buds swell, so that I know what I'm looking at in dieback. Probably back to previous season's growth
    – J. Musser
    Dec 22, 2016 at 22:43
  • Cool, this should work until spring. Doesn't look like more damage could be done with your...doctoring, grins! At least you'll have buds in your face that tell you what is alive and what direction you want to enhance. Your 'doctoring' just made my day!!
    – stormy
    Dec 22, 2016 at 22:46
  • How DID you get that branch pulled up? A comealong? What kind of hutch is that in the background? Is this YOUR place?
    – stormy
    Dec 22, 2016 at 22:49

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