Thursday, 16 October 2008

Caucasian Wingnut Tree - Beech Road Park

Here's a note from FoCM Committee Member, Dan King on an unusual tree in Beech Road Park.

The Caucasian Wingnut tree in Beech Road Park is a particularly fine example of this specimen tree. It is sometimes characteristic of the trunk of this species (Pterocarya fraxinifolia) to divide into two main branches not far off the ground. It belongs to the walnut family (Juglandaceae) and is native to the eastern Caucasus, northern Iran and eastern Turkey. In its native habitat it can reach nearly 100 feet in height, but in northern climates it reaches about 80 feet, with a branch spread of 70 feet. Because of these nearly square proportions and because it is relatively fast-growing, it is prized as a shade tree. In a good year, the tree in late summer or early autumn is a strikingly decorative sight, festooned with its long, pale-green strings of seeds - the fruiting catkins can be from 12 to 20 inches long. Unfortunately, our spring and summer of 2008 weren't conducive to catkin and fruit formation, so this year the strings are fairly few on our Beech Road Park tree. It is also unfortunate that the tree is now overshadowed by having been planted too close to the surrounding horse-chestnuts. If you're planting a tree, make sure you give it plenty of room - think 20 or 30 years ahead! (Caucasian Wingnuts aren't thought to be suitable for most gardens - they get too big.) The species was first brought to Europe by André Michaux, a French botanist and statesman, in 1782, and can be found in many parks and botanic gardens.
Dan King, October 2008

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