Black Walnuts, Kitty, Iris

My parents have several Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) trees around their property, and today I started picking up the nuts to dry and eventually eat, mmmm.


These are on their way up to the attic – just a few of many more to come – to dry out on some newspaper. These particular ones have a sticky husk, others on my parents’ property aren’t sticky. When I go to husk them, I’ll wear rubber gloves to keep my hands from being stained black.

The genus name Juglans is derived from Jupiter’s glans, from the shape of the, ahem, nuts. Black Walnut trees are allelopathic, which means they put out a chemical so nothing can grow around the trees except other Black Walnut trees, which gives the tree itself and baby Black Walnut trees a good opportunity to grow. According to the Doctrine of Signatures, since walnut shells are shaped like a human brain, nuts are good for our brains.

In other news, my parents’ cat actually jumped up on my lap as I was putting on my shoes and curled into a ball for a nice nap. As a reminder, this cat is not a lap cat, and will scratch anyone who tries to pick her up. So I was in a pickle – I scratched her for a while which she loves, but then I had to figure out how to get her down without getting scratched to death. I ended up gently nudging her off so I could get back outside. Mom and I planted her new German Bearded Iris, which bloom not only from May-June, but from August-October, which is great!


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lynne
    Sep 11, 2006 @ 08:55:31

    Hi Pam!
    My first house had clotheslines hanging under a black walnut. I had no idea of the staining power of the husks until squirrels started chewing them over my clean clothes! DUH!!!

    BTW- what is the Doctrine of Signatures?


  2. Pam
    Sep 11, 2006 @ 11:18:18

    Hi Lynne! Argh – were you able to get the black stains out of your clothes?
    The Doctrine of Signatures was used by herbalists of old and is the idea that plants were ‘signed’ with visible clues as to their usefulness for the human body.


  3. Laura
    Sep 12, 2006 @ 00:59:27

    I’d never heard of the doctrine of signatures – interesting! Would love to know more!

    We have black walnuts that grow somewhere around here – I’m always findind them planted by the squirells in my flower pots!


  4. Pam
    Sep 12, 2006 @ 08:26:20

    I’ll create a blog entry about The Doctrine of Signatures.
    Do you find the little trees from them in your pots, or just the nuts? When I help my Mom in her gardens in the spring, I end up pulling up many little walnut trees.


  5. Laura
    Sep 12, 2006 @ 22:22:12

    Usually we yank them out in the spring when planting, so they’ve *sprouted* but not grown much.

    Dumb question, but are these the same type of walnut as you buy in the store? Must be an awful lot of work to get at them! I hear the squirrels rasping away at them!


  6. Pam
    Sep 13, 2006 @ 08:43:27

    I love looking at the root system with the nut still attached!
    The walnut we get in the store is the English Walnut. Yes, it is quite a bit of work, but worth it to me. I’m watching for the Chinese Chestnuts, too.


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