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(N) Nuts

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  • Factsheet N01: Monkey puzzle tree – Araucaria araucana

    £1.00

    The Chile Pine, Araucaria araucana (syns A.imbricata, Pinus araucana), is a large evergreen tree of striking appearance, originating from the coastal mountain strip in Chile and Argentina. It has been widely planted as an ornamental tree in western Europe, but few people know about the wider uses of the tree.
    The species was introduced to England by Menzies in 1795. While on a survey voyage in south America, he pocketed some raw nuts which had been put out for dessert at a dinner with the Governer of Chile. These he sowed on board ship and landed five plants back in England.


  • Factsheet N02: Nut pines

    £1.50

    Many species of pines bear edible pine nuts, although the ones you'll find in the shops are nearly always from the Stone Pine, Pinus pinea. Some edible pine seeds are very small, fiddly to shell and not really worth troubling with – this article concentrates on the species with large seeds (18 major species).


  • Factsheet N03: Gingko biloba

    £1.00

    The maidenhair tree or ginkgo (also spelt gingko) is a relic of prehistoric ages, being the only survivor of a genus which was widely distributed (including in Britain) 180 million years ago. It is now only found in the wild in the Tianmu Mountains of Zhejiang province in China. It has been widely cultivated for a very long time in China, Japan and Korea. Trees are quite hardy (to zone 4), tolerating winter temperatures of -25°C.
    The name ginkgo derives from the Chinese, 'yin-kuo', via the Japanese pronunciation, 'gink_'. The Japanese name for the species translates to 'silver apricot'. Ginkgos are long-lived trees, probably one reason why they are primarily found around temples in Japan, Korea and Manchuria, where it is regarded as a sacred tree. The tree was introduced to Europe in around 1730, from seeds collected from trees in temple gardens.


  • Factsheet N04: Oaks with edible acorns

    £1.50

    First, to dispel a myth: all oaks bear acorns which are edible. Most species of oak (of which there are many) produce acorns which are high in tannins, making them bitter and astringent when raw, hence they need processing to remove these potentially harmful substances. Removal of tannins is, however, extremely easy, taking no more time and effort than it takes to sprout seeds, and the resultant acorn meal resembles that from other nuts in oiliness and flavour.
    There is a long history of human cultures using acorns as a food source, often as a staple crop. Early Greek writers referred to the acorn as a wholesome food. The most recent peoples to use acorns as a major food source were the native North American Indians, who used them widely well into this century. They are still a regular item of commerce in a few countries, notably Korea.


  • Factsheet N05: Hickories – Carya species

    £1.50

    The hickories, Carya species, are closely related to walnuts (both are members of the family Juglandaceae), and like them are usually large deciduous trees which can live to a great age, 4-500 years, which tend to form upright cylindrical crowns when grown in the open. They have alternate pinnate leaves each with 3-17 leaflets. Male flowers are borne in catkins and female flowers in spikes, to be followed by large fruits consisting of a single nut surrounded by a leathery skin (or outer shell) which splits open at maturity. The foliage is aromatic. All species have pronounced taproots which securely anchor the trees if soil conditions allow. Hickories can easily be confused (especially by leaf) with walnuts: differences are that young shoots have non-chambered pith, and the nuts are smooth-shelled.


  • Factsheet N06: Almonds

    £2.00

    The almond (Prunus dulcis – formerly P.amygdalus, P.communis, Amygdalus communis) has been cultivated for its edible seed since ancient times. From its centre of origin in Central Asia, it was disseminated to all ancient civilisations in Asia (2000 BC), Europe (350 BC) and North Africa (700 AD). Almonds were introduced into California in the Spanish Mission period, but significant plantings made there only after the Gold rush.


  • Factsheet N07: Butternuts – Juglans cinerea

    £1.50

    The butternut (also called the oilnut or white walnut) (Juglans cinerea) is a member of the walnut family native to North America, where its large edible nuts have been long relished. It is the hardiest member of the walnut family, with a range which extends well into Canada. It is considered by some as the best of all nuts, but it remains little known in most parts of the world.


  • Factsheet N08: Heartnuts – Juglans ailantifolia cordiformis

    £1.00

    Since its introduction into North America from Japan in the 1800’s, the heartnut (Juglans ailantifolia var. cordiformis, Syn. J.cordiformis) has been largely considered a curiosity and at best a substitute for the English walnut (Juglans regia) to plant where the latter were not hardy enough. Work in recent decades has improved cracking quality (for a long time a problem) and the potential as a commercial and garden nut tree is very good. It also makes a beautiful ornamental tree, with large compound leaves giving it an almost tropical appearance.


  • Factsheet N09: Yellowhorn – Xanthoceras sorbifolium

    £1.00

    The yellowhorn (also called the shiny-leaf yellowhorn and the northern macadamia) is a large shrub (sometimes a small tree) native to Northern China, where it grows in thickets on dry hill slopes. The name comes from refers to the horn-like growths between the petals.


  • Factsheet N10: Torreya species

    £1.00

    Torreya species are evergreen trees from Asia and America, often called nutmeg trees or nutmeg yews, named for the edible large aromatic seeds they bear. They are part of the family Taxaceae and are closely related to the yews (Taxus). The main Chinese and Japanese species are cultivated for the seeds which are relished there are sold commercially.


  • Factsheet N11: Hicans

    £1.00

    So-called ‘hicans’ are hybrids of pecan (Carya illinoensis) with other hickory species. Such hybrids occur naturally in areas of the USA, and others are bred deliberately – the aim being to produce a nut tree having the hardiness of hickory with the productiveness of the pecan and good quality nuts.
    Most hicans are crosses of pecan with either shellbark hickory (Carya laciniosa) or shagbark hickory (C.ovata); also occasionally with bitternut hickory (C.cordiformis).


  • Factsheet N12: Northern pecans

    £1.00

    Pecan is native to parts of the USA as far north as Illinois, but it is cultivated further north still, into Southern Canada. Traditional pecan varieties are notorious for needing a somewhat long fruit development period, with hot sunny weather, and are very unlikely to be a viable crop in temperate climates. The so-called ‘Northern’ varieties of pecans have been selected and bred in the North of the USA and Southern Canada (Ontario) with various properties.