Caucasian Wingnut

Pterocarya fraxinifolia
Juglandaceae (Walnut family)
The stand of Caucasian Wingnut that straddles the stream feeding the Lake is one of the most outstanding features of the Garden. Originally it consisted of two trees but it is now an immense thicket of huge suckers.
Curator, Richard Lynch, notes in his 1915 tree survey that one of the original trees had blown down in 1886 but that ‘from its roots there sprang up a thicket of growth which consists now of quite respectable trees equalling the original remaining one in height.’ There is no record of when the second tree was lost, but neither now remains. The vigour of the clump is probably due to the stream which runs through it.

One of the best times to admire the trees is in July when the pendant, plaited green catkins elongate before developing their winged fruits. Like the nearby Platycarya strobilacea, the Caucasian Wingnut is a reminder that the Juglandaceae family used to be much more diverse. At the present, species such as walnuts and hickories, with edible fruits dispersed by animals, are predominant, while the wind-dispersed species like the Caucasian Wingnut are more unusual.