Thursday, September 20, 2012

Manchurian Walnut, another street tree

Large clusters of Manchurian Walnuts
Today I biked around town looking for more Heartnuts and was excited to find what I thought was a LOADED Heartnut, but it turned out to be a LOADED Manchurian Walnut (Juglans mandshurica). The resemblance is striking and I was not surprised to learn that Heartnut is sometimes classified as a variety of Manchurian Walnut (Juglans mandshurica var. sachalinensis).

Light gray bark with deep fissures
A handsome Manchurian Walnut that wasn't producing
Manchurian Walnuts grow slightly larger than Heartnuts reaching 75 feet tall. Their bark is virtually identical, with the same light grey color, but (perhaps) with slightly broader planes between the long deep fissures. Leaves are very large (16-36 inches long), with hairy petioles and 7-19 leaflets that are 3-8 inches long and 1-3 inches wide. Each leaflet has an acuminate tip and broad base. The underside of the leaflets are fuzzy haired and the upper sides are only sparsely pubescent. Nuts form in large clusters of usually 5-15 but occasionally up to 20! The husks are egg shaped and covered with a dense coat of resinous hairs. Husks are easily removed from the nuts by stepping on them or pounding them gently. Wear gloves if you don't want the husk juice to stain your hands. The nut shells are not as smooth as Heartnuts, having a texture much like Common or Persian Walnuts (Juglans regia). They are 1-1.25 inches long and not quite as wide, with a relatively spherical appearance except for an abruptly pointed tip. Manchurian Walnut shells are more difficult to crack than Heartnut shells, lacking the convenient trait of easily splitting into 2 pieces. They are harder to crack than Common Walnuts too, but still easier than Black Walnuts (Juglans nigra). Unfortunately, the nutmeats of Manchurian Walnuts are also harder to remove than Heartnuts, but they aren’t impossible and I expect that they will get easier as the nutmeats season and shrink away from the deep internal shell lobes.

Because the tree was dripping with nuts, I was able to fill my bike bucket pannier in just a few minutes. They are now squirreled away with my Heartnuts for a cold winter day when I’ll be craving some oily Walnuts.

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