I didn’t see what happened here until I replayed the video. A Siberian nutcracker (nøttekråke) at the top of a spruce tree must have had a hazel nut in its pouch, brings it up, juggles with it in its bill before pouching it again!
My first ripe walnut from Væres Venner Community Garden in Trondheim…the same year as I planted it! I should have removed it to allow the tree to gather strength. I didn’t notice the flowers, so was surprised to discover the walnut in the summer! It is one of the Loiko varieties developed by Dr. Loiko in Belarus…reckoned to be one of the world’s hardiest walnuts. The tree is only about 1m tall! Good to get confirmation in the first year that walnuts will ripen in our cold summers! I’ve had ripe Juglans mandschurica in my garden for almost 10 years, but previous attempts with Juglans regia have ended in failure (hardiness issues with young plants?)
The plantings at Væres Venner have been supported by KVANN (Norwegian Seed Savers), the first of a network of gardens being developed across Norway both to take care of the genetics of old varieties of Norwegian useful plants, but also, as is the case here, to show what food we could be growing locally! The possibility of growing nuts locally makes it more realistic to eat a locally grown mostly vegetarian climate-friendly diet. I have a dream of walnut and hazel plantations in my area replacing the ubiquitous grain fields.
There’s a great little American chestnut tree (Castanea dentata) just outside the office building at Ringve Botanical Garden in Trondheim where I work. This one has bloomed almost all summer.
The tree has separate male and female flowers, but there has to be at least two trees for pollination ….
I have 5 one-year-old trees from a northern provenance, Jefferson County in Washington State (via Chris Homanics in Oregon) and hope that Ringve would like to plant more eventually….I would love to see if the nuts would ripen here… and also help to preserve a tree species that is threatened with extinction by an imported fungal disease where it grows wild in eastern North America. In its homeland, this is one of the quickest to produce nuts from seed (as early as 5 years!)
Chris, one of my food diversity / preparedness heroes, wrote in 2016:
“Last month was spent collecting many distinct types of chestnuts from about 30 separate sites throughout Western Washington and Oregon. Some were even from old naturalized forests full of chestnut trees. Amassed it represents a diverse foundation stock for planting up, far and wide. In the face of growing droughts and the woes of climate change, I believe this plant will play a significant role in feeding people in the future as it has gone far back into the deep past. My hope is to help foster a revival of interest with the chestnut as a viable sustainable food source by offering a diverse collection of these nuts to the public to select and adapt to their local environment. ”
My other plants I’d like to plant in KVANN’s garden at Væres Venner Felleshage!
A couple of helpers cleared the sycamores and Norwegian maples that had grown up again along the lane at the bottom of the garden. Now you can once again see some of the other interesting trees and shrubs in this part of the garden, below the composting area:
At the opening of my garden as a Permaculture LAND centre in the spring, I was given a present of two sweet chestnut trees, a grafted Marigoule tree and a seed propagated Marigoule. Sadly, the grafted tree died but I planted the other tree yesterday next to another sweet chestnut that I think came from a woodland in Southern England in the early 2000s and was planted here in 2008. It has to my great surprise survived even a really cold winter when its roots were frozen solid for almost 4 months and temperatures below -20C:
Quercus mongolica (Mongolian oak or the Shandong silk oak)! Did you know that the Chinese not only produce silk from mulberry trees, but also from Mongolian oak trees? The Chinese oak silkworm, Antheraea pernyi, is the worker employed according to Food Plants of China! See https://academic.oup.com/
The Mongolian oak nuts were also sometimes eaten and the leaves were used for tea, boiled with the fruits of Siberian crabapple, Malus baccata!
Kurrajong is an Australian tree, Brachychiton populneus, which along with other species of the genus make interesting house plants due to their interesting leaves. Kurrajong leaves resemble poplar leaves as the epithet populneus suggests. It’s a common tree of sandy plains in Eastern Australia. The seeds are remarkably nutritious and were popular Aborigine tucker (wild gathered food). It is unlikely I will ever be able to harvest seed of this tree in the Malvaceae (mallow family), but Rowan White on the Radix Root Crops FB group reminded me that the swollen roots of young trees could also be eaten. My tree wasn’t exactly young at 9 years (seed propagated along with Brachychiton acerifolius), when I first decided to have a go in 2012, at the same time as I moved it to a bigger pot…
There were 3 young roots worth trying so I harvested them and baked them in their skins together with potatoes. They seem to need a bit longer than potatoes. The skins peeled easily off after baking and they were crispy with a good mild taste. If you have a ready supply of seed, they can be grown and harvested a bit like carrots when quite young!
This spring the tree died (at 15 years old) with no sign of life in the above ground parts, but when disposing of the plant I noticed that the young roots looked healthy, so I harvested them and repotted the remainder of the root to see if it might resprout and after several weeks in the window sill it now has fresh leaves, so not dead after all!
I didn’t get round to eat the young roots…they were left inside for a month and looked withered and inedible, but cutting in to one it looked good inside and indeed it was tasty and almost free from fibre….so we ate it in a stir-fry dish last night!
Back in the pre-Facebook days, I remember there was a forum for unusual nut trees and the Norwegian monkey puzzle trees were considered to be the most hardy and I remember receiving a lot of requests from folk wanting seed from our provenience. I had to disappoint them as they weren’t easy to come by……but I did finally get a few seed via a contact from the botanical garden in Bergen who told me that a friend of hers had actually climbed a tree and harvested nuts!!!! Was her friend a monkey? The tree was located in Os, just south of Bergen. They germinated in spring 2007 and I attempted to overwinter outside in a plastic greenhouse open at the top and with a leaf mulch around the roots. I’d heard rumours that larger trees sold from a local nursery for an exorbitant price had survived (never confirmed for my area where winter temperatures can go down to -20C). They survived until mid-March 2018, when I took the picture, but it didn’t make it through a subsequent very cold period ☹ I didn’t try again.
A minimum of about -15C seems to be about the temperature limit here and this limits the area they can be grown to a narrow strip outermost along almost the entire Norwegian coast it turns out. One of the biggest surprises in my gardening life was to discover a monkey puzzle growing in Skavberg nursery not far from the arctic city of Tromsø close to 70°N!! Owner Bjørn Thon was also growing Maori carrots (Aciphylla spp.) from New Zealand and many other plants I’d never seen before in Norway. Bjørn has been a long-term collaborator of the Tromsø Arctic-Alpine Botanical Garden and had been on collection trips to South America. His monkey puzzle had actually been from nuts bought on the market at Puerto Montt in Chile rather than Norwegian trees. The botanical garden, located in a more exposed site than the nursery, also tried but failed, the young plants dying after a few years.
I also have a Brazilian monkey puzzle (Paraná pine) overwintered in my cold cellar without lights at about 3-4C and bring it up as a Xmas tree for a couple of weeks 😊 See http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=15467
My monkey puzzle safari in Chile (old growth forest)
A visit with Andrew McMillion to Norway’s largest monkey puzzle tree: http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=16922
Discussion on monkey puzzle on a Norwegian gardening forum in 2009:
Andrew McMillion kindly picked me up early on Friday morning from the night train at Oslo airport and we drove together to the location of the KVANN / Norwegian Seed Savers annual meeting in Leikanger on the Sognefjord. As we were to arrive earlier than the other board members, I suggested going to Balestrand, about an hour further on as I’d heard that Norway’s largest Monkey Puzzle tree (apeskrekk) could be seen there! Andrew didn’t hesitate as he wanted also to go to Balestrand as he actually had family roots just a kilometer away from the tree!! There was much more than that though! It was an amazing day, first the wonderful trip over the mountains in perfect weather…to see what else we experienced, see the album!!