I’m stealing this one completely from P. Z. Myers’ Pharyngula. It’s just too good.
The daffodils are lovely — I recall when they’d bloom just about Easter in Utah, and Washington, D.C. Here in Dallas, our daffies depart before March 15, often not bothering to stick around until Easter.
But the real treat is the tree in the background. It’s just another tree early in the spring, not yet leafed out. But this one is special.
Pterocarya fraxinifolia (tree in the background) – common name, “caucasian wingnut” – in the Warley Place Nature Preserve, in Essex, England. Photo by Glyn Baker.
Its common name is “caucasian wingnut.” You can’t make this stuff up. Reality is always much more entertaining than fiction.
There are six species of wingnut.
- Pterocarya fraxinifolia – Caucasian Wingnut. Caucasus and Elburz mountains in southwest Asia.
- Pterocarya hupehensis – Hubei Wingnut. Central China.
- Pterocarya macroptera – Large-winged Wingnut. West and southwest China.
- Pterocarya rhoifolia – Japanese Wingnut. Japan, eastern China (Shandong).
- Pterocarya stenoptera – Chinese Wingnut. China, widespread.
- Pterocarya tonkinensis – Tonkin Wingnut. Southernmost China (Yunnan), Indo-China.
Another species from China, the Wheel Wingnut with similar foliage but an unusual circular wing right round the nut (instead of two wings at the sides), previously listed as Pterocarya paliurus, has now been transferred to a new genus, as Cyclocarya paliurus.
Wingnuts are very attractive, large and fast-growing trees, occasionally planted in parks and large gardens. The most common in general cultivation outside Asia is P. fraxinifolia, but the most attractive is probably P. rhoifolia. The hybrid P. x rehderiana, a cross between P. fraxinifolia and P. stenoptera, is even faster-growing and has occasionally been planted for timber production. The wood is of good quality, similar to walnut, though not quite so dense and strong.
Japanese wingnuts? Chinese wingnuts? Tonkin wingnuts (for all you Vietnam war historians out there)?
Wow. Just wow.
More, if you care:
- Photos from Warley Place, “An Essex Wildlife Preserve”
- Tree details at the Dutch Tree Guide (it’s a European tree)
- Listing at the Keele University Arboretum
- New distribution of the tree found in Turkey, where it’s native — proposal to preserve the stand, from The Journal of Environmental Biology via Pub-Med
- There’s at least one specimen on the campus of Reed College, in Portland, Oregon. Where else in the U.S.?
- Dave’s Garden lists USDA Hardiness Zone information on the tree — and reports there are specimens in Georgetown and Louisville, Kentucky, and in Framingham, Massachusetts