Nuts! California Walnuts

This posting is for GallopingCamel, who wanted something a bit lighter ;-)

Today I took a field trip. All the way to Palo Alto. The Stanford Shopping center.

Why?

Nuts!

I grew up in an area that grew walnuts, among other things, and as a kid pulled my Little Red Wagon all around town collecting walnuts. For a Gunnysack full, we got something like 50 cents (think $5 today) for Black Walnuts and it was several dollars for a sack of English Walnuts. ( I don’t remember the exact price for them, as there were never enough to collect a whole bag. At least not for a kid with a wagon… the adults having creamed off the expensive nuts.)

So I’ve spent a fair amount of time climbing in walnut trees and even more cracking and eating them. Oh, and cleaning all the walnut stains of fingers, hands, legs, whatever.

Eventually we moved to a house that had a walnut tree in the yard. Then we had more walnuts than we could ever want, and English Walnuts too; but by then I was washing dishes in the family restaurant and making more money faster than picking up walnuts. And my hands were cleaner at the end of a shift than at the start too ;-) (In those days dishes were all washed by hand. A 60 seat restaurant and we’d turn over each seat several times. I’ve washed a lifetime of dishes…)

California Walnut

So I thought I knew what a Walnut Tree was. Giant things.

Largest known Black Walnut tree.  In Oregon.

Largest known Black Walnut tree. In Oregon.

Original and larger image

Notice the tiny house in the lower right corner… It is 2 stories tall. The tiny vertical dark smudge just to the right of the trunk is an adult person. Click the link to get a full resolution version and expand it to see the person clearly.

I’ve hankered after one … or sometimes a Pecan Tree… there was ONE near my home as a kid and we’d sometimes get buckets of free pecans. Loved to eat them, but there was no local market for collected bags as there were not enough trees.

But my lot is small here. Some of these trees are 44 m or about 144 feet tall and can spread to 75 feet for pecans, or 144 feet for that record walnut tree. Plant one in the exact middle of my lot and it would reach to the far side of the lots on each side of me, and from front to back of my lot with more left over…

So I despaired of having a walnut tree.

Yes, I could plant a young one and let it be the problem of someone else (as I’m not going to live long enough to grow a record walnut tree – that takes generations). But that just means the tree would be cut down by someone else just as it was becoming a nice sized tree.

Then I discovered there was a native walnut in California. Actually, two of them that are slightly different. One has a full trunk and is a medium sized tree, the other is often a multistemmed shrub like tree. Looking into it, the nuts are smaller and with much harder shells. (As though the black walnut was not already hard enough to crack!). So not grown commercially and probably not all that attractive even for home use. Still, it is a walnut…

http://trees.stanford.edu/ENCYC/JUGca.htm

Encyclopedia of Stanford Trees, Shrubs, and Vines

Juglans californica hindsii. CALIFORNIA BLACK WALNUT. Central California

JUGLANDACEAE (Walnut family)

Closely related to a shrubby species which is widely distributed in Southern California, the black walnut is an erect single-trunked tree that hindsii is found in nature only on a few sites of Indian habitation (including Jasper Ridge), which makes one think that it may be a product of human selection. The numerous leaflets are quite unlike those of English walnut in general appearance, being lanceolate and 3 inches or so in length, with fine teeth. The bark is dark and rough and has a noticeable smell when abraded. The nut is smooth and hard and is embedded in a thick green husk that will stain the fingers. A large specimen grows at 541 Los Arboles Avenue, and many more are in the Sand Hill Road greenbelt, opposite the Stanford Shopping Center. In Palo Alto it can be seen at 950 Boyce Avenue.

The Juglans Californica (unadorned) is found mostly in the southern half of the State. So there is some quibble of the question of if Hindsii is a natural Northern California variation, or as noted in the article, a human selection. A paper down below sorts it out.

But noticed that phrase “shrubby species”… A “walnut shrub”!

Shrubby Californica Range

Shrubby Californica Range

Location of Original Image and more details

A fairly narrow range for the Shrubby One.

Sort of on my “to do list” is to find a stand of Juglans Californica and collect some walnuts and start a few, eventually to plant one out (somewhere) once I’ve cleared a spot in the yard for it. But might the Hindsii work? Hmmm…

So off I went to inspect the specimens in Palo Alto listed in that article.

What I noticed most was that the bark was very thick and very coarse (deep furrows). These trees have evolved to deal with fire in California. Around the very base is an even thicker ring. It looks like the bottom foot or so is especially thickened to resist grass fires. That it lives in the wild in California (even if mostly in riparian areas) means it is somewhat drought adapted. So ‘watering optional’. A nice feature.

Along the way I looked up walnuts and discovered there is a VERY large list of different walnuts. Who knew? Very much not just the two kinds I grew up with. One caveat though: The Californica will easily hybridize with the other black walnuts. That is already a threat to some of the wild stands, as some hybrids are found in the wild. So many of the “Black Walnuts” on this list ought to be seen as local varieties of a species, rather than different species. Yet the “species barrier” is really more of a “species strong suggestion”… so perhaps treating them as “different species, just ‘friendly’” is more appropriate ;-)

OK, from the wiki, a list of different walnut types, just to illustrate the point:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juglans

Taxonomy

The genus Juglans is divided into four sections.

Sections and species

Juglans sect. Cardiocaryon. Leaves are very large (40–90 cm), with 11–19 broad leaflets, softly downy, margins serrated. The wood is soft, and the fruits borne in racemes of up to 20. The nuts have thick shells. The origin is in northeast Asia.

J. ailantifolia Carr. (J. cordiformis Maxim., J. sieboldiana Maxim.)—Japanese walnut
J. ailantifolia var. cordiformis—Heartnut
J. mandshurica Maxim. (J. cathayensis Dode, J. formosana Hayata, J. hopeiensis Dode, J. stenocarpa Maxim.)—Manchurian walnut or Chinese walnut

Juglans sect. Juglans. Leaves are large (20–45 cm), with 5–9 broad leaflets, hairless, margins entire. The wood is hard. The origin is southeast Europe to central Asia.

J. regia L. (J. duclouxiana Dode, J. fallax Dode, J. orientis Dode)—common walnut, Persian, English, or Carpathian walnut
J. sigillata Dode—iron walnut (doubtfully distinct from J. regia)

Juglans sect. Rhysocaryon (black walnuts) Leaves are large (20–50 cm), with 11–23 slender leaflets, finely pubescent, margins serrated. The wood can be extremely hard (Brazilian walnut Janka hardness test of 3684). The origins are North America and South America.

J. australis Griseb. (J. brasiliensis Dode)—Argentine walnut, Brazilian walnut
J. boliviana (C. DC.) Dode—Bolivian walnut, Peruvian walnut
J. californica S.Wats.—California black walnut
J. hindsii (Jepson) R.E.Smith—Hinds’ black walnut
J. hirsuta Manning—Nuevo León walnut
J. jamaicensis C.DC. (J. insularis Griseb.)—West Indies walnut
J. major (Torrey) Heller (J. arizonica Dode, J. elaeopyron Dode, J. torreyi Dode)—Arizona black walnut
J. major var. glabrata Manning
J. microcarpa Berlandier (J. rupestris Engelm.)—Texas black walnut
J. microcarpa var. microcarpa
J. microcarpa var. stewartii (Johnston) Manning
J. mollis Engelm.—Mexican walnut
J. neotropica Diels (J. honorei Dode)—Andean walnut, cedro negro, cedro nogal, nogal, nogal Bogotano
J. nigra L.—Eastern black walnut
J. olanchana Standl. & L.O.Williams—cedro negro, nogal, walnut
J. olanchana var. olanchana
J. olanchana var. standleyi
J. peruviana Dode—Peruvian walnut
J. soratensis Manning
J. steyermarkii Manning—Guatemalan walnut
J. venezuelensis Manning—Venezuela walnut

Juglans sect. Trachycaryon. Leaves are very large (40–90 cm), with 11–19 broad leaflets, softly downy, margins serrated. The wood is soft. Fruits are borne in clusters of two to three. The nuts have a thick, rough shell bearing distinct, sharp ridges. Origin is in eastern North America.

J. cinerea L.—Butternut

Roughly Asian, European, and American walnuts. With several distinct types in Latin America and even on Caribbean Islands.

Oh, and some species x species:

J. × bixbyi Rehd.—J. ailantifolia x J. cinerea
J. × intermedia Carr.—J. nigra x J. regia
J. × notha Rehd.—J. ailantifolia x J. regia
J. × quadrangulata (Carr.) Rehd.—J. cinerea x J. regia
J. × sinensis (D. C.) Rehd.—J. mandschurica x J. regia
J. × paradox Burbank—J. hindsii x J. regia
J. × royal Burbank—J. hindsii x J. nigra

So on the one hand I’m fond of the idea of preserving some endangered California walnut type in my yard. On the other hand, some of those crosses might be both small AND have nicer easier to open nuts… Like those Hindsii x Regia crosses…

Squirrels!

We have squirrels in the neighborhood. I like watching them play and enjoy their antics.

I also like knowing there’s a nice supply “on the hoof” if “the fall happens”… BUT, I had a cherry tree for a couple of decades and got all of a few handfuls of cherries. Apples? I get some, the squirrels get more…

For ill explainable reasons, we have the Eastern squirrel.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_gray_squirrel

The eastern gray squirrel has been introduced to a variety of locations in western North America: in Canada, to the southwest corner of British Columbia and to the city of Calgary, Alberta; in the United States, to the states of Washington and Oregon and, in California, to the city of San Francisco and the peninsula area of San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, south of the city. It has become the most common squirrel in many urban and suburban habitats in western North America, from north of central California to southwest British Columbia. At the turn of the 19th to 20th century the eastern gray squirrel was introduced into South Africa, Ireland and England.

So this is what I frequently see looking at me from the trees, the fences, the rooftop, the yard (often with an apple in mouth, trying to figure out how to carry something bigger than it’s head, and get back up the fence) and occasionally from on top of the Seed Archive Freezer on the patio (no doubt plotting how to get to the seeds inside …)

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Original and larger version

Though that one is living in Kensington Gardens in the UK. (One can only wonder why the American Eastern squirrel is living in both California out west and in the UK. We have our own native ground squirrel, that makes burrows in the ground, and the UK has a native Red Squirrel. Then again, the Gray comes in colors from brown to black; so sometimes I have black ones looking at me and sometimes brown…)

My hope would be that the Eastern Squirrel is adapted to the Eastern walnuts, that have thinner shells and grooved shells that teeth can get purchase on much more readily. And maybe, just maybe, they would be thwarted by a nut that can stand up to California Ground Squirrels who can tunnel through dry near concrete like adobe soils…

Hey, a fella can dream, can’t he?

I’m quite sure that a pecan tree or even a walnut tree is going to be one heck of a
Squirrel Magnet.

But I’m not all THAT interested in being “servant to squirrels”…

So perhaps those harder shells on the Californica might be a ‘feature’ ;-)

That Stanford page has an interesting view on Squirrels:

Walnut, pecan, and oak trees benefit when squirrels eat their nuts and acorns because the squirrels do not find all of the nuts that they so assiduously bury; some of the nuts germinate, contributing to the next generation of trees. Today we are the beneficiaries of millennia of unconscious plant breeding by squirrels that have selected for tasty kernels and thin shells; but the shells of the black walnut could still use more genetic help. In the Southern Hemisphere, by contrast, macadamia nuts and Brazil nuts developed formidable armor, especially the Brazil nuts, which are not only resistant to cracking with the teeth but are also enclosed, several at a time (up to 20 or so), in a tough woody coco weighing up to 5 pounds.

So South America needs more squirrels (or less of the nut eaters with super teeth…) and perhaps the native California walnuts would be a bit less attractive to the squirrels I’ve got.

There is a commercial on TV here for Post-it Notes. It has a squirrel returning to a hole in the tree. Inside the whole thing is lined with notes on where nuts have be buried. Reading the above, I find I’m happy that squirrels have less than perfect memories and that the nut trees have benefited from the selection process.

Back At Nuts

So now I’m torn between a desire to search through ALL the different types of walnuts, looking for the optimal solution (perhaps some South American Walnut that can stand up to whatever eats Brazil Nuts?), a desire to find out if we have any non-Grey squirrels near here and see how they compare (perhaps they could be encouraged to ‘argue’ with the grays?) and a desire to just plant a “shrubby walnut” just to see what happens.

From the Juglans wiki:

The best-known member of the genus is the Persian walnut (J. regia, literally “royal walnut”), native from the Balkans in southeast Europe, southwest and central Asia to the Himalaya and southwest China. Walnuts are a traditional feature of Iranian cuisine; the nation has extensive orchards which are an important feature of regional economies. In Kyrgyzstan alone, there are 230,700 ha of walnut-fruit forest, where J. regia is the dominant overstory tree (Hemery and Popov 1998). In non-European English-speaking nations, the nut of the J. regia is often called the “English walnut”; in Great Britain, the “common walnut.”

The eastern black walnut (J. nigra) is a common species in its native eastern North America, and is also widely cultivated elsewhere. The nuts are edible, and though they are often used in expensive baked goods, the Persian walnut is preferred for everyday use because it is easier to extract the nutmeat. The wood is particularly valuable.

The Hinds’ black walnut (J. hindsii) is native to northern California, where it has been widely used commercially as a rootstock for J. regia trees. Hinds’ black walnut shells do not have the deep grooves characteristic of the eastern black walnut.

Japanese walnut foliage and nuts

The Japanese walnut (J. ailantifolia) is similar to butternut, distinguished by the larger leaves up to 90 cm long, and round (not oval) nuts. The variety cordiformis, often called the heartnut has heart-shaped nuts; the common name of this variety is the source of the sectional name Cardiocaryon.

The butternut (J. cinerea) is also native to eastern North America, where it is currently endangered by an introduced disease, butternut canker, caused by the fungus Sirococcus clavigignenti. Its leaves are 40–60 cm long, the fruits are oval, the shell has very tall, very slender ridges, and the kernel is especially high in fat.

First off, that English Walnut is really a Persian Walnut. OK… (The story is that when folks came to America, they called the local walnuts Black Walnuts, and named the “common” walnut of England, the English Walnut, even though England had picked them up from Persia some hundreds of years before).

The Japanese walnut is like a “butternut”, but the US Butternut is endangered by a foreign fungus. Oh Dear!

So should I try to get a clean American Butternut and grow it out here in the west, hopefully well away from that foreign fungus, as a butternut preserve?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butternut_tree

It is a deciduous tree growing to 20 m tall, rarely 30 m, and 40–80 cm stem diameter, with light gray bark.

60 to 90 feet. Oh Dear!

Perhaps not…

So back at the Shrubby Guys…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juglans_californica

Juglans californica, the California black walnut, also called the California walnut, or the Southern California black walnut, is a large shrub or small tree (up to 30 feet tall) of the Juglandaceae (walnut) family endemic to California.

That 30 feet tall is a whole lot more attractive on a small lot than the 30 meters tall… or 44 meters… and that’s an “up to” 30 feet. I’m liking this “walnut shrub” idea…

J. californica is generally found in the southern California Coast Ranges, Transverse Ranges, and Peninsular Ranges, and the Central Valley. It grows as part of mixed woodlands, and also on slopes and in valleys wherever conditions are favorable. It is threatened by development and overgrazing. Some native stands remain in urban Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains and Hollywood Hills. J. californica grows in riparian woodlands, either in single species stands or mixed with California’s oaks (Quercus spp.) and cottonwoods (Populus fremontii).

So I’ve got to go south a few hundred miles, climb around on some slopes with creeks in them, on dry mountains (likely on fire right now, this being the end of summer…) and work my way through stands of oaks (perhaps I can collect some acorns and try out my Indian Native American skills at making acorn porridge…) and working through Cottonwood thickets while looking for any nuts that the squirrels might have missed… whenever these things make nuts… I wonder if it is the same time as other walnuts? Sometimes California Natives run on odd schedules…

Oh, and avoiding all the poison oak at the same time.
The hills here are often full of poison oak.

For those not familiar with it, the Populus Fremontii is not tall and slender like the Italica type. It’s a large full spreading tree. It does pop up overnight and grow to large size while you are at work, so planting one before taking a long vacation is a bad idea, lest you come home to a minor forest… ;-) They also have the characteristic poplar / cottonwood smell. Sort of pleasant for the first year you have one. After a decade, not so much.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Populus_fremontii

Cottonwood - AKA Fremont Poplar

Cottonwood – AKA Fremont Poplar

Original Image

I’ve seen them larger than this, and in very dense groves with thick forest litter. They often grow along rivers. They propagate in part by having limbs that break off, float down river and root where they make landfall. I’ve seen fences made from round posts of cut up limbs that then all sprouted into new trees. Some folks do that deliberately. Others “discover” it. Pruning one of these, do not leave limbs in contact with wet ground…

But I digress…

Back at Californica:

Juglans californica can be either a large shrub with 1-5 trunks, or a small, single-trunked tree. The main trunk can fork close to the ground, making it look like two trees that have grown together, then diverged. It has thick bark, deeply channeled or furrowed at maturity. It has large, pinnately compound leaves with 11-19 lanceolate leaflets with toothed margins and no hair in the vein angles[1]. It has a small hard nut in a shallowly grooved, thick shell that is difficult to remove.

Hmmmm….

Like the size. Not so keen on the idea of very small rewards after a lot of work. Regular old black walnuts are very hard to open compared to English, er, Common, er, Persian walnuts… Making them even harder? Hmmmm….

The Hindsii, though a bit larger, are already “in the area” (though likely to take more looking to find some growing wild, as much of this ‘turf’ is now under houses or farms, but easier to find in urban preserves).

Hindsii range

Hindsii range

Location of Original Image and more details

Though there is this paper by a guy from Oregon with pictures of him standing next to a Hindsii in Oregon… so he thinks the range ought to extend that far up, seeing as the trees are there. But the consensus is that they are not there. So officially the range does not include Oregon. Maybe I'll go get an Oregon seed and plant a tree that doesn't exist? Hmmmm….

http://www.npsoregon.org/kalmiopsis/kalmiopsis15/callahan.pdf

Oddly, further down in that paper it has pictures of the nuts of Californica (unadorned) and Hindsii (which he calls Hinds not liking Latin so much I guess). The “shrubby” one (that he calls “California black”) has much smaller nuts that then Hinds. Maybe I ought to try opening and eating a few seeds when ‘collecting’ them before committing to growing a tree. Having a “shrubby” walnut is not as much fun if the nuts are dinky, hard as rocks, and have not much in them. Decisions decisions…

But wait, there’s more… it might be a ‘living fossil’. Seems they have fossilized walnuts in the area that look like the same ones.

Paleobotany—Is Hinds Walnut a Living Fossil?

As Thomsen (1963) pointed out, Jepson (1910), Griffen and Critchfield (1972) failed to consult the paleobotanical records of walnuts in western North America. The fossil record at the John Day Fossil Beds in eastern Oregon indicates the presence of silicified walnuts in the Clarno Formation of Juglans clarnensis Scott, dated in the Middle Eocene (49 to 41 million years ago). This small walnut, the earliest confirmed Juglans fruit known (Scott 1954), is nearly indistinguishable from J. hindsii. This is significant because in Juglandaceae, the most important structure for generic level determinations is the fruit: “Each modern genus is defined such that it can be recognized on the basis of its fruit, with or without information from other organs”

There’s a whole lot more in the paper. One bit that caught my eye was the relative freeze resistance of the two walnuts in question. Usually that means one is NOT just a ‘selection’ of the other and it casts doubt on the ‘Indians Selected Them’ theory. Oh, and it determines which ones grow in the UK too:

In Oregon, only two walnuts from North America survive east of the Cascades: eastern black walnut (which rarely produces nuts in the Bend area due to severe spring freezes that damage the catkins and flowers) and butternut (Juglans cinerea). Both of these walnuts also perform well west of the Cascades. The following walnuts are hardy in the major valley systems west of the Cascades: Hinds walnut, Nogal or Arizona walnut (Juglans major) and little walnut (Juglans microcarpa) which ranges as far west as New Mexico. California black walnut, a very tender species, freezes out in the Rogue Valley, but might be grown at Brookings. It is not hardy in the British Isles, although Hinds walnut thrives there (Bean 1978).

So now I’m thinking that I could get seeds of a tree that doesn’t exist from a place where it’s a living fossil and grow them. Never mind that it is identical to the local ones… just think of the story! “There’s ALWAYS a story. -E.M.SMith” ;-)

But I note in passing that there are butternuts growing up there too. So I could get one of them without needing to go all the way “back east” and they are likely fungus free too… Then again, if there is already a refuge population being grown, I don’t need to do it. Decisions decisions…

Then there is that “little walnut” the “microcarpa”. Didn’t notice that before. Hey, I’m in the market for a small walnut…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juglans_microcarpa

Juglans microcarpa, known also as the Texas Walnut, Texas Black Walnut or Little Black Walnut (as it belongs to the “black walnuts” section Juglans sect. Rhysocaryon), is a large shrub or small tree (10–30 ft tall) which grows wild along streams and ravines in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Kansas. It produces nuts with a width of 1/2—3/4 in. The pinnately compound leaves bear 7—25 untoothed to finely-toothed leaflets, each 1/4—1/2 in wide. It is found at elevations ranging from 700 ft to 6700 ft

Oh Dear! I don’t think I can bring myself to tell the Texans that they have little nuts…

How embarrassing for folks always bragging about how big things are down there…
in Texas, I mean…

But it is just 10 to 30 foot tall. It is a ‘shrub’ sized. But nuts only 1/2 inch wide? Those are mighty tiny nuts. I think I’ll stick with the Hinds instead of the tiny nuts. I’d rather say I got some Hinds at home than say I had little nuts from Texas…

OK, I think I’m settled. It’s going to be a collecting trip to Oregon. Whenever they are ripe and ready. Or if I’m lazy I’ll just stop at a sediment wash near here and collect a Hinds and say I got some in Oregon…

How About A Threesome?

But wait, there’s more!

Many “dicotyledon” plants (2 parts to the seed / leaves) will produce the occasional “tricotyledon” with seeds in thirds and three leaves per junction. It isn’t all that uncommon, and some species more than others.

http://www.homesteadingtoday.com/country-living-forums/gardening-plant-propagation/436785-tricotyledon.html

OK, it’s time that you all got an education on that subject. There are two kinds of seedlings. One is monocotyledon and the other is dicotyledon. Both words will be found in your standard dictionary. Cotyledons are the first leaves to emerge from the seed. Usually, they are very much unlike the second set of leaves which are called true leaves. Deviation from the normal is not common and in many cases is fatal. For example, a 3-lobed walnut or hickory nut is not uncommon but those seeds can never grow. It’s Nature’s way of not allowing her mistakes to continue.

But I think that’s pessimistic! I’ve grown tri-cot seeds before. Not walnuts. It was in college and I was, er, um, nevermind… but it grew and had 50% more greenery per stage, with three leaves instead of two. BTW, this same author goes on to point out his efforts growing tri-cot tomatoes:

We’ve already established that it is a fixed recessive gene in my variety. With time, I am certain that it would become a dominant gene and to the point where a normal dicotyledon seeding would be culled as being inferior. There has been only one tricotyledon study made and that was 80 years ago and with an indeterminate variety. It’s never been researched with a determinate type until now. Four generations of mine has produced tricotyledons. Seed only saved from those plants. I fully expect 1 in 12 seeds to produce a seedling with an extra cotyledon. However, all of the seed that has been sent out this year is unproven as to the percentage of tricotyledons. It would disappoint me if everyone didn’t end up with at least one or two per packet.

Also, long long ago, about 1960, I bought a bag of walnuts at a local fruit stand “back home”. They had shells in 1/3 rds and nuts with three sections. I don’t see any reason to presume these would not grow like all the other tri-cots I’ve ever planted.

So if I really really wanted something cool, I could wander the valleys of Oregon, looking for a “three-way Hinds” and then grow it out at home (heck, doing a graft if I had to) and then I could have a plant that doesn’t exist, that’s a living fossil, of a tri-cot that can’t be. Now that would be something… And boy would it be a story to tell under a tree in the fall as the “three-way Hinds” nuts were ready. And not a tiny Texas nut in sight… Even if it does sound like a Texas Tall tale. Or maybe the tails in Texas just seem tall ’cause the nuts are short? Hmmmm…. decisions decisions…

I think I’ve got some field work to do to answer some important questions. ;-)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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23 Responses to Nuts! California Walnuts

  1. p.g.sharrow says:

    When we lived in south Chico, there was a strange walnut tree on our property. Very tall (100+ feet?) with 4 foot dia. trunk. The nuts were small versions of a white wallnut and very hard shells. You needed a vice to crack them as any hammer blow strong enough to crack them resulted in totally smashing them. About 30 feet away was a black wallnut of similar size and age. We also had several Pecans that were young trees and just starting to produce, now those were worth having. pg

  2. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M.:There are two different issues on this post: Walnut trees & Squirrels. As seen on the map they seem to grow along FAULTS!!. You know vegetation and ground are related, and vegetation is currently used to detect the presence of minerals under ground. We tend to think of trees as our brain represents it: Its above the ground part, while, really they are the intermediators between the atmosphere and the ground, in both ways.
    Squirrels…what is it happening that squirrels numbers are increasing in some parts of the world, as also many species are changing their habitat. You must remember the birds you used to watch in your childhood have disappeared and other have appeared around.
    Your known deep and detailed observation powers can analyze these curious facts for us.

  3. j ferguson says:

    E.M.
    Did you ever try burning walnut logs in the fireplace? I bought a “face” cord (4X8X length of log) of walnut once and found it not so great in the fireplace – gave off pungent gases as it burned. Guys in pu trucks would show up with loads of these in near north Chicago in the late ’60s. they always had Indiana plates. I later learned that they were harvesting veneer trees from folks on vacation. Friend came home to learn that the large walnuts which had fronted his property had been worth over $7,500 each. Surprise!

  4. Verity Jones says:

    I grew up gathering walnuts each autumn as my father’s place of work was located in a large landscaped park with semi-wild forested areas that had several walnut trees, as well as sweet chestnuts, horse chestnuts (conkers) and climbable trees of interest to a young tomboy (assuming you know the expression). My mother had use of the car on Thursdays for shopping, which meant we had to pick my father up from work and inevitably arrived early, so from age seven or so I got to know every worthwhile tree.

    I googled images of Black Walnuts to see the difference from English Walnuts and found them on this site : http://rosesprodigalgarden.org/herbwalk/september.html which turns out to have useful recipes too – for using a wild harvest. Potentially useful for you – it describes the process of preparing acorns (removing the tannins) and making acorn flour which handles like cornmeal.

  5. E.M.Smith says:

    @P.G.Sharrow:

    Those small nuts sound like the Hindsii to me. Small, round, very hard, and lots of ‘shell to nutmeat’ ratio.

    BTW, some looking turned up a smaller sized pecan!

    http://www.gardenguides.com/78730-smallest-pecan-tree.html

    The Pawnee pecan tree is a dwarf that grows 30 feet in both height and width. The tree produces early and grows quickly. Its shell type nuts are large and plentiful. The tree is considered perfect for small gardens.

    @J. Ferguson:

    Never tried burning it. Probably ’cause we didn’t have a fireplace when I was a kid, and we’ve got lots of ‘scrub oak’ around so it is commonly what is sold here.

    Per tree theft: Yup. Tree Poaching has taken down many marvelous old trees. Things that lived 200 to 300 years, gone to the saw for greed. “Termite People” that called us in a movie about the Brazilian rain forest (some years back)… I think they had it right.

    Choice old growth giants can go for $20,000 to $30,000. Can be cut and gone in one day with a good crew. That’s why we are destroying that heritage and finding intact “great trees” is nearing an impossibility. As it takes 200 to 300 years to grow a replacement, it is likely that such trees will never be seen again.

    In my old home town, there was a guy who would regularly approach folks about old walnut trees. He was a legitimate buyer and would offer for the trees, or when one was taken down, offer for the stump. (Stump wood has good figure and special uses). Some old stumps went for big money… if the quality was good and the figure was special in some way. Natural growth was more “solid” than orchard growth, so they got more money. But if someone was taking out an old walnut orchard, it was a gold mine in the wood – still…

    If I had a fortune to preserve, I’d buy a large chunk of land, plant it to walnuts, NOT over fertilize them (too fast / soft growth) and wait. The $$$/ year added, just to the wood, is very large. The “kids” would inherit an orchard valued on the annual nut harvest, and a giant vault full of walnut wood…

    Have I mentioned that I like walnuts? ;-)

    @Adolfo:

    In California, the trees follow the water more than the fault lines There are some added nutrient flows where the fault lines cause the drainage paths to “do interesting things”, and some volcanic actions raise (or historically raised) needed minerals to the surface. So places ‘downstream’ from the volcanic (or historically volcanic) areas have better growth.

    Per the squirrels: I think folks transplanting the Eastern Gray to California had more to do with them showing up here than any more ‘mystical’ or ‘electrical’ changes… People deliberately picked them up back east and let them loose out here. Stanford chose to release the black color version of the Eastern Gray and it is treated as a mascot of sorts by some schools.

    Speaking of squirrels, this is one brave and lucky squirrel… That is the ‘super fast’ Lambo:


    Eastern fox squirrels (Sciurus niger) were introduced from the eastern part of the United States and are well established in most major cities of California. Some people enjoy seeing them and introduced them into new territories. In some cities eastern fox squirrels have moved outward into agricultural land, especially in the southern part of the state, where they have become a pest of commercial crops. Eastern grey squirrels (S. carolinensis) were originally introduced from the eastern United States into Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California. They are also established in areas of Calaveras and San Joaquin counties in California and may be expanding their range.

    Native western grey squirrels (Sciurus griseus) are found throughout much of California, primarily in oak woodlands of the foothills and valleys and in pine/oak forests, where they feed on a variety of seeds, fungi, and other plant materials. They also have a tendency to strip bark in order to access and feed on the cambium layer, causing injury to trees. Native Douglas squirrels (Tamiasciurus douglasii), sometimes called chickarees, are found in mostly conifer-forested regions of the north coastal area and along the Sierra Nevada Mountain region. Because of the habitat in which they thrive, these two native tree squirrels are not usually pests, except for the damage they can do in forest regeneration projects. They may, however, become garden or home pests in some of the more remote rural areas.

    Per birds:

    There’s not been any big change in what birds I’ve seen over my lifetime. There are seasonal variations (often just in arrival / departure times). Longer term, there are population changes mostly related to habitat destruction and introduction of alien species. (Most of that happened before I was born, though, so it’s more or less stabilized from my perspective).

    Pheasant was introduced long ago. Still lots of them. Mud Hens and lots of ducks. (Some introduced varieties of ducks added to the mix, though). Robins. Jays. Several finches and sparrow like things. Several hummingbirds. Blackbirds. Hawks and eagles. Owls. Oh, and we had pigeons introduced that compete with the native doves, but I’ve had ‘nesting pairs’ of native doves under the patio for decades now; so we have lots of doves in the neighborhood ;-)

    So things may be different in S. America with species changes; but in California it’s mostly been “not a lot of change” during my lifetime. What change there has been is almost universally tied to introduced alien species (both of competing animals, prey animals, and also the introduction of plants that can compete with native foods or feed alien animals).

    As Europeans arrived, they brought their favorite animals and plants with them, that then tended to escape and displace the native varieties. European rabbits, English Sparrow, Fox Squirrel, etc. etc.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sciurus_griseus

    The Western Gray Squirrel was listed as a threatened species in Washington state in 1993. Populations of the Western Gray Squirrel have not recovered from past reductions. They are threatened with habitat loss, road-kill mortality and disease. Habitat has been lost due to urbanization, catastrophic wild fires, and areas of forest degraded by fire suppression and overgrazing, allowing the invasion of Scotch Broom. Notoedric mange, a disease caused by mites, becomes epidemic in Western Gray Squirrel populations and is a major source of mortality. Other species of Eastern Gray Squirrels, fox squirrels, California ground squirrels and Wild Turkeys are expanding and compete with the Western Gray.

    Listed as extirpated in some California areas, the Western Gray Squirrel in southern California is generally found only in the mountains and surrounding foothill communities. Local rehabilitation experts recount the Eastern Fox Squirrels were released in urban regions Los Angeles throughout the 20th Century. Fox squirrels (Sciurus Niger) were introduced to the Los Angeles area in about 1904. Civil war and Spanish American war veterans residing at the Sawtelle Veteran’s Home on Sepulveda and Wilshire Boulevards brought fox squirrels as pets to this site from their homes in the areas surrounding the Mississippi Valley (possibly Tennessee). Other introductions of fox squirrels to the Los Angeles area may have taken place during more recent times but detailed records are not available. These aggressive cousins drove the more reclusive Western Grays back into the mountains, where competition was not so strong. This non-native species introduction appears to be the largest threat in the southern California area.

    That’s an example of what’s pretty typical. Doesn’t matter if it is a bird, a rodent, a tree, or a flower. An introduced species causes havoc via a variety of means, and something dies out or gets marginalized.

    People chop down, plow under, and pave over; large tracks of land, often consuming ALL of a given habitat over large areas and extirpating the species that depend on that habitat. You can see that happening in the above story of the Hinds walnut in Oregon. Folks are essentially building on top of all the alluvial land it needs to live, or channelizing the water flows in them for flood control; thus starving the trees of water. There are only a couple of fairly small valleys in southern Oregon with the favorable mix of warmth and water. Folks love that area and are killing it with pavement and lawns. (After nearly killing off all the native habitat with orchards and logging in earlier times…)

    I watched much of that change happen in So. Oregon as my Dad’s Brother lived there and we spent summers there much of my youth. Dad sold real estate, especially farms, so we drove over many of those valleys as he pointed out orchards, soils, etc. and his brother pointed out trees likely to go to the mill… Over the years I watched those old trees go, then the orchards start to become suburbs and cities, then I stopped going…

    It is a very special place, a little niche of Zone 7 that is common in California hills, located in Southern Oregon on the other side of the imposing Cascade Mountain barrier. So a refuge for Zone 7 type plants and animals away from California. A unique place where less cold tolerant things could still be grown “up north”.

    I ought to note that’s a Sunset Gardens Zone 7, not the USDA Zone 7:

    http://www.sunset.com/garden/climate-zones/sunset-climate-zone-bay-area-00418000067175/

    ZONE 7: California’s Gray Pine Belt, Oregon’s Rogue River Valley, and Southern California mountains

    Zone 7 encompasses several thousand square miles west of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges, and in the mountains that separate the Southern California coast from interior deserts. Because of the influence of latitude, this climate lies mostly at low elevations in Oregon’s Rogue Valley, middle elevations around California’s Central Valley, and at middle to higher elevations farther south. Gray pines define the heart of Zone 7 around the Central Valley, but more adaptable incense cedars replace them farther north and south.

    Hot summers and mild but pronounced winters give Zone 7 sharply defined seasons without severe winter cold or enervating humidity. The climate pleases plants that require a marked seasonal pattern to do well—flower bulbs, peonies, lilacs, and flowering cherries, for example. Deciduous fruit trees do well also; the region is noted for its pears, apples, peaches, and cherries.

  6. E.M.Smith says:

    @Verity:

    Black Walnuts have a stronger flavor, and harder shells. For cooking, they are more interesting. For eating out of hand, the English are better.

    Very interesting link, BTW.

    Ah, parks with useful trees in them! We used to have more of them. Now, lots of the parks are being planted with decorative easy maintenance (i.e. no fruit or nuts or dropped much of anything) short lived but fast growing less useful trees… Sigh…

    My old home town had a park with trees that were a few feet in diameter and very tall. Some oaks. Some conifers. Some walnuts. Behind my grammar school was a large old fig tree. MANY hours spent climbing in the tree and eating figs. (Even if we had to sneak off the playground to do it ;-) Several tomboys in the group of adventurers hiding in the fig tree.

    Eventually they added a fence (that we found ways around ;-)

    In a farm town, folks tend to plant things you can eat. There were loquat trees as ‘street trees’ in the parkway in front of several houses:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loquat

    And Mum would wonder why I wasn’t always hungry when I got home! ;-) Stuffed on figs, loquats, walnuts, pecans, oranges ( our front yard), peaches and plums (orchards on the edge of town – the whole town was all of 2 miles across so everywhere was near something), whatever…

    Of course, we often had to climb things to get to the good stuff. One friend had an apricot tree in the back yard. we spent many days sitting in the tree stuffing sun warmed apricots in our mouths, and only throwing a few at each other ;-)

  7. Verity Jones says:

    I absolutely delight in wild harvested food. It is my very great pleasure at the moment to pick a few ripe blackberries each morning/evening on a patch of overrun ground while walking between my where I’ve parked and the office. Somehow it lets me forget being in the city and for those few stolen moments I listen to the hum of bees and the birds singing, I catch the scent of the self-seeded buddleia and honeysuckle and I forget about being in the city. It seems to shorten the working day.

  8. E.M.Smith says:

    @Verity:

    As a kid, we’d swim in the local river (Feather) and irrigation canals. Often the banks were overgrown with “brambles”. We frequently didn’t bring food (being kids) and stayed most of the day. Well, we’d get hungry…

    One of the challenges was to learn to pick ripe blackberries, raspberries, brambleberries while floating in the river. Getting close enough to pick what had not already been picked, but staying far enough away not to hit the submerged stems… Kicking enough to rise and rapid grab a ripe berry, then dropping back to eat it.

    Now any time I find a berry bush by the side of the road or parking lot somewhere, I’m transported back… One semiconductor company had them all along one side of the parking lot ;-)

    Yes, it does make the day lighter and faster …

  9. Tim Clark says:

    Alright E.M, in one light hearted post you’ve insulted Texas manhood (which I approve of) and called my Kansas state tree a stinker (which I don’t). ;o)

  10. E.M.Smith says:

    @Tim Clark:

    There’s a tree in Kansas? Who knew….

    ;-)

    FWIW, I really do like cottonwoods. Planted one outside a prior home once. In a smallish plot of dirt. Didn’t appreciate how fast it would grow. Inside 4 or 5 years it was about 1 foot diameter and quite tall. (Italica Theves type) I though it ‘would fit’ being all tall and skinny ( I really wanted a Fremont but didn’t have the room). Turns out it was going so fast it was starting to lift the foundation and pavement around it. So I had to take it out.

    One of my “dream things” is to have a Poplar Orchard somewhere. If I had a few $Million, part of it would be devoted to a farm full of various Poplars, Aspens, and cottonwoods and doing research on superfast growth types. Some of them are just astounding.

    I actually do like the smell of them. But the simple fact is that if one is just 5 feet outside your window and you get the aroma strong and all the time; well, it gets old…

    Give me a dozen acres so some can be planted 50 feet from the house, and I’d have a full acre planted in no time. (About enough to power the heater… even in cold places)

    FWIW, I only mentioned the “smell” issue because of my personal experience with the tree. I planted it partly because I do like the smell. Then found out that any smell, every day, day after day, well… you want it a bit away from the window… So for anyone who read the article and wanted a fast tree, I thought they ought to know that. That, and remember that these things grow so fast they make kudzu look slow…

  11. Thanks for the light relief!

    Hurricane Fran destroyed several trees around my house. The largest one came from my neighbors property and it could easily have done serious damage. Fortunately it landed on my car port rather than my house.

    The local residents started cutting the trees into splittable pieces with the idea that there was enough fuel for several years when we noticed that this huge tree was a walnut. We backed off and my neighbor hired a professional crew to cut it up for lumber. He made a great “windfall” profit and took care of the repairs to my car port while laughing his way to the bank.

  12. E.M.Smith says:

    @GallopingCamel:

    You’re welcome!

    Glad to hear it was only the carport…

  13. Chiefio,

    Poplars are great looking trees but very treacherous. Our family lawn in Wellesbourne, warwickshire was surrounded by poplars. While mowing the lawn on a breezy day a large chunk of one of them fell without warning. Fortunately it missed me or you would not be hearing about it.

    Tornados are rare in England but we had one in Wellesbourne. It was in the 12th century, a little before my time:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wellesbourne

  14. E.M.Smith says:

    @GallopingCamel:

    I’m sorry, there can not have been a tornado in Wellesbourne in the 12th century. “The Consensus” is that the weather NOW is “weirding” and NOW it is exceptional. For that to be true, no weird or exceptional weather can have happened in the past. So you’ll just have to go back and rewrite that bit of history… ;-)

    Where I grew up, the river was lined with cottonwoods. We’d go fishing and swimming in the river a lot. There were many ‘down limbs’ in the woods. (As mentioned above, it’s part of their propagation strategy. Those that drop limbs propagate more…) Never was there when one dropped, but it was clear that they did have some let loose. From what I could tell, it mostly look like bits less than 4 inches diameter, so I figured I’d likely live ;-)

    We’ve got a fair number of them growing around here ( mostly in riparian places where it’s not a problem). Some are planted by companies as “instant trees”. As some of the business parks around here would “Pop up” overnight, but didn’t want to look too ‘new’, they had interesting planting strategies. Some mature trees would be set out in giant root balls (or preserved in the building of the site if possible). Usually olives or palms if in root balls. Oaks and ‘whatever’ if preexisting. Then they plant some cottonwoods, or redwoods. Both grow very fast. Mixed in with the cottonwoods (or the occasional willow) they put slower growing trees. In about 5 years, the cottonwoods are an OK size. In 10 to 15 years, large. About 20 years in, they are removed and the “slow” trees take over. My guess is that prevents the limb shedding problem.

    I’d not mind having a large Fremontii, but I’d certainly thin out the tree with careful pruning… Focus growth into large strong limbs. Prevent too much foliage being a wind issue. That kind of stuff. The other thing is that we don’t typically get any decent wind here. I can remember 50 MPH winds all of once in several decades. Usually it’s nearly nothing. 0 to 5 mph.

    Yeah. I’m spoilt ;-)

  15. E.M.Smith says:

    BTW, while I did say it with some humor, the reality is that various cottonwoods can grow very fast. This is from the Black Cottonwood ( or “California Poplar”) not the Fremont, but the major difference between the two is that the Black grows “up” more while the Fremont can be much wider, sometime spreading out like an oak or walnut, that is, as wide as tall.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Populus_trichocarpa

    P. trichocarpa grows very quickly; trees in plantations in Great Britain have reached 18 m (59 ft) tall in 11 years, and 34 m (112 ft) tall in 28 years (Mitchell 1996). It can reach suitable size for pulp production in 10–15 years and about 25 years for timber production.

    Notice that is over a meter a year… and close to 1 1/2 meters a year. Call it 5 feet a year.

    Vegetative reproduction

    Due to its high levels of rooting hormones, P. trichocarpa sprouts readily. After logging operations, it sometimes regenerates naturally from rooting of partially buried fragments of branches or from stumps. Sprouting from roots also occurs. The species also has the ability to abscise shoots complete with green leaves. These shoots drop to the ground and may root where they fall or may be dispersed by water transport. In some situations, abscission may be one means of colonizing exposed sandbars.

    So not only does it make a load of seeds, but broken bits can root and it will sometimes drop leaves with shoots attached that can also root on moist dirt.

    Then it shoves up a tree at 5 feet a year…

    As long as there are Poplars, we will never run out of wood or pulp.

    FWIW, some of these “Black Cottonwoods” have been developed that grow even faster than the natural / wild ones. There are hybrid types that will do about double the natural rate. As a random pick:

    http://www.gator-ventures.com/hybrid-poplar/

    “Hybrid poplar trees are among the fastest growing trees on the planet. Some hybrid poplar trees have growth rates of over 8 feet per year.”

  16. Gallopingcamel – The Met Office said a while back that the UK gets around 200 tornadoes a year. Mostly they are small and in unpopulated areas, so not much is heard about them. When I was in Swindon (around 1993?) there was a tornado the other side of town that took off a few dozen roofs of houses.

    Here in France I have a couple of walnut trees, but I haven’t identified the type yet. Cottonwood fence posts sound like a really good idea to me, though. Since they would be live, they wouldn’t rot and fall over, but merely get stronger with age. Prune them at the same time as the vines so they don’t get too big. Normally, oak trellis posts last around 30 years before they need replacing, and the idea of having permanent trellis is inviting.

  17. Pascvaks says:

    A long time ago my mother’s mother planted a Black Walnut on their place, but she died, the house burned down, my grandfather married a widow with a bunch of kids, the place was farmed by one of his stepsons for some years, they moved into town, and WWII came and went, and I came along, and gradually grew up, every so often we’d visit, we’d invaryibly take a short ride with my grandfather in his pickup truck out to a couple fensed acres he’d held onto and feed a couple pigs he always seemed to have, or take a ride in an old work wagon drawn by a couple mules owned by our uncle, time passed, everybody died, and whenever I was in the area I’d go out and take a look around. It’s still farm country, though more houses are popping up as time goes bye. Last time I was there, about 9 or 10 years ago I guess, the Old Balack Walnut tree was still there. Maybe it still is. Someday I’ll have to go back and see.

    The only thing I can add is I had always looked at that tree from a distance. About 30 years ago I went out under it, the only time I stood under its limbs, and picked up a cupple nuts in their covering, put them in the car in a paper bag, and went on to the cemetary, and then to the beach. When I got home I put that bag somewhere and occassionaly found it every so often, looked inside and shut it again and put it away again. I haven’t seen that bag in years; probably in the garage somewhere.

    I don’t ever recall trying to eat any black walnuts. I know it’s almost impossible to try to crack them and the result sure don’t seem worth the effort. I couldn’t tell anymore about them than I just have. But that tree has been a part of my life all my life. Wunder why?

  18. Steve C says:

    Although most of the trees around my place are sycamores (very eager to grow where you don’t want them, but not what you’d call edible), there are plenty of squirrels in them – yes, the omnipresent greys. (Sounds like a UFO / alien site comment :-) I remember that when I was a kid, half a century ago, the red squirrel was still very much the one you expected to see, but the greys are bigger and stronger, and have out-competed the reds in most of the UK now, though there are some parts of Scotland where the red ones still hold on to their territory. There are occasional murmurings about culling the greys, but unfortunately we don’t have the guns to do it these days.

    When I used to work at a small school in the countryside, the squirrels used to nest somewhere up in the top of the building, and those sharp little claws got them straight up the stucco wall in about the time it would take you or me to come down it (the hard way!), amazing to watch ‘em go. Don’t ever try and pick one up though … you WILL regret it, I promise, and none of the blood shed will be the squirrel’s.

    As for walnuts, I got one many Christmases ago which was in three sections, rather than the expected two. Being of sound mind, I ate the nut within, but managed to keep the shell intact – still got it somewhere. Anyone here knowledgeable enough about nuts to say whether this is unusual, or is it just a subspecies of walnut I’ve never heard of?

  19. E.M.Smith says:

    @Steve C:

    That is the “tri-cotyledon” talked about at the end of the article. It is a normal variation you can find in many plants at some time or other. (The genetics of it can be kind of complex as there can be multiple causes, including some chimera and some true mutants.)

    Next I I get one, I intent to try planting it. It’s about a 1:10,000 kind of thing IIRC.

    The Grays also carry a virus that is lethal to the Reds, and they carry more body fat so make it through the lean times better. There is also some evidence they remember where they put food caches a bit better… They really ought to be eradicated from Italy and the UK or eventually the Red will be extinct.

    @Pascvaks:

    It’s not all that hard to crack a black walnut. We did it all the time when I was a kid. First, do it outside, preferably on a cement surface (or we sometimes used an iron rail), then get a 4 lb sledge hammer…

    Interesting story about the “family tree” ;-)

    @Simon:

    If the leaves are few and large, the nuts large and easy to hull, it’s likely an English / Persian / Common walnut. If the leaves are many and small and the seed medium sized and hard to hull, it’s likely some kind of black walnut. Though it could be any of the various exotic kinds, too.

    We get “toy tornadoes” here in California too. Almost big enough to knock down an outhouse. We had one damage a couple of roofs about a decade back. First one in several decades. A world of difference from a Big Midwest Tornado, though…

    The only real problem with the cottonwood fence posts is that they grow about 5 feet / year up to 100 foot or so (hope you like LOTS of shade around the edges of your property) and add appropriate girth. You better have ownership of both sides of the fence, too, or you will need ‘agreement’ from your neighbor. The wire generally ends up passing right through the tree, but if it breaks or rusts out, it’s a bitch to replace at the same line. The trees constantly try to propagate into the field. Root runners / sprouts sometimes. Seeds sometimes. Dropped shoots and buds, always. Vigilance needed. Oh, and each fall you get a boat load of leaves to deal with…

    That said, it is a dramatic fence unlike any other that is just a spectacular effect. I’d be willing to do one on the North side of any field (provided the guy to the north of it didn’t mind having his sun stolen for 50 feet or so…)

    Oh, best is to use Italica Theves as they are not as broad. Using a Fremont or Black means a 30 or 40 foot overhang of branches over the field as well…

    Your ‘pruning’ idea might cure those ills…OTOH, you will be pruning a lot, and often…

    One thing I’ve wanted to do is plant a 10 to 15 foot circle of these things, on about 2 foot centers. When they hit about 20 feet (call it 4 years…) pull the tops together into a ‘tee-pee’ and bind them. They ought to merge into one large stem. Eventually (just a few years) the lower stems will also merge as they reach 2 foot diameter. Be sure to leave a gap in the circle for the “doorway” ;-) It ought to make an astounding object with a similar impact ;-)

  20. Steve C says:

    Thanks, EM – hell, at 1 chance in 10,000 I’m going to have to get through a fair few nuts before I see another one, but if I do I’ll happily post it over. Should have noticed ‘TRI-cotyledon, I guess … (blush) Re making ex-squirrels, bring it on. The reds are much prettier!

  21. E.M.Smith says:

    That’s 1:10,000 TREES btw… So one sack all from the same tree doesn’t do much for the finding… I suggest just walking past the “walnut bin” at a lot of natural food store and fruit / nut stands…

    FWIW, in California we’re all Schitzo… The alien Eastern Gray Squirrel is considered a “game animal” . So no matter that they are a pest, are killing / displacing the native species, carry fleas, mange, and more. Dig up gardens. Chew furniture and raid fruit trees and even eat the occasional bird eggs: IF you want to “control” them, by ANY means (traps, poison, gun, even hunting hawk or bow and arrow), you must do it in conformance with Fish and Game laws, get their permission first, and get a hunting license (that requires a gun safety course and money, even if you are not using a gun…)

    So I guess that makes them a protected alien invasive pest species?…

  22. Ric Werme says:

    I guess I don’t have a long version around, but at http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/06/17/best-fathers-day-present-evah/#comment-1011701 I noted:

    I had an old coil from a VW Rabbit and wired that to my bird feeder that fed more squirrels than birds. First a bench power supply, then with a Heathkit CD ignition kit that didn’t precharge the coil when the points closed.

    It didn’t save me any bird seed, but boy, did I have some paranoid squirrels!

    I haven’t eaten a local black walnut in ages, seems like an awful lot of work. My wife has done some fabric dying with the out hulls though.

  23. E.M.Smith says:

    @Ric Werme:

    Oh My! I think I feel a new project coming on… I think I’d put a proximity detector with mass cut off on the feeder, though. Capacitive ought to be able to discriminate 1 lb vs 4 ounces… ;-)

    It’s not all that hard to break a black walnut. Vice Grips can be set to just the size that breaks them, but doesn’t crush the meat. Also, after a bit of practice, you can ‘calibrate’ the hammer swing… ;-)

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