Spotlight on the Caucasian Wingnut Tree

I love my family. I’m sure you love yours too, but is the feeling mutual? I’m not so sure when it comes to my sister. Case in point, this recent email from her;

You will NEVER guess what made me think of you last evening!! 
An arborist/forester speaking at my Garden Club meeting, showed a slide of a Caucasian Wingnut tree. Didn’t know that was a tree — always thought it was you.
Love, Sis

What do you think? Does that say love or what? She was thinking of me anyway, and that is enough to inspire today’s post. Can you guess what I am going to expound upon today? That’s right;


English: Pterocarya fraxinifolia tree growing ...

English: Pterocarya fraxinifolia tree growing at the Salinenhof of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Despite my sister’s apparent disbelief, Pterocarya fraxinifolia does in fact exist and belongs to the Juglandaceae family. Related to the walnut tree, the caucasian wingnut grows approximately 10-20 metres (50-60 feet) high, and often just as wide. It is a fast-growing deciduous tree that prefers moist soil, but can tolerate drought and even hard, compacted ground. It’s green leaves are compound pinnate structures, with anywhere from 11-25 ovate leaflets per 20-40 cm leaf system. The caucasian wingnut also has pendulous, monoecious flowers in the Spring that form light green male and female catkins, which can be 15-45 cm long. The female flowers then develop into green, winged nutlets, that turn brown later into the Fall.

Now unlike myself, this wingnut originated far from my hometown of London, Ontario. Originally, the tree was found in the Caucasus regions, including Armenia, Iran, Turkey and the Ukraine. By 1784, it found its way to France, then later to Great Britain, around 1800. As it tolerates USDA hardiness 5-8, you can even find this wingnut here in Canada nowadays! Just watch where you plant it though, as it has an extensive root system and a propensity to develop lots of suckers. Keep it at least 5 metres away from any concrete, like sidewalks or curbs, and be aware that it might take over your lawn if you let it. In the grand scheme of things, it is best planted in parks or large gardens.

Pterocarya fraxinifolia / Kaukasische Flügelnu...

Pterocarya fraxinifolia (Photo credit: dietmut)

A few last points on this strangely named, but attractive tree. It has a broad, rounded shape with deeply-furrowed, dark gray bark. In the Autumn, the leaves change colour to  yellow, but the nutlets can remain on the tree into the winter months. This lucky tree has no serious insect or disease problems, unlike many other shade trees in these parts. If you are interested in the wood quality, it is similar to its walnut cousin, although not quite as strong or dense, but still good. Alas, I think that the best quality of this tree for my family will always be in the name though. A Caucasian Wingnut; who wanted want one?!

Apparently, my sister…


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Published by
September 19, 2012 5:22 pm