While at Montpelier earlier this week, our first order of business was to visit a huge old Black Walnut Tree that is part of our Remarkable Trees of Virginia adventure (I see a definite “huge, old” theme going on in my tree posts.)
I walked into the visitor’s center along with my gang to pay for our membership and also to ask about the former state champion black walnut tree on the property. Obviously all employees should be aware of it and be able to direct guests to it’s location, right? Montpelier is a really big place. Well, I was met with a confused look as the woman handling my membership called another employee to inquire about the tree.
In all my dorky tree loving glory, I reiterated, “Yoooouuuu knooooow the black walnut tree that was the state champion for size until 2007, and was featured in the Remarkable Trees of Virginia book?”
As I looked at the employees in astonishment that they had no idea what tree I was talking about, they looked right back at me, the lady searching for a big tree with five children in tow. They probably thought I was weird. I guess I am. I thought it was weird they didn’t know exactly what tree I was talking about. The second employee mentioned that he really should learn more about trees. I should have offered to homeschool him.
Luckily we were able to find the big old walnut ourselves using the picture from the book as a guide. There is only one body of water on the property and we knew that the black walnut was on a ridge above the water, surrounded by other black walnut (Juglans nigra) trees.
We have a love for black walnut trees ourselves because there are many of them on our own property. The nuts make great ammunition for little boys playing games, and they have a distinctive smell that I have grown to love.
All parts of the tree contain a compound called juglone which can inhibit the growth of some plant species. You wouldn’t want to situate you garden right next to a black walnut tree, nor would you want to mulch with any part of this tree.
But, they have beautiful strong wood, sought after by carpenters.
We were at the end of a long day by the time we did find the tree and it was sooooo hot outside. The excitement of the hunt and the race up the hill to the tree (and back down and back up several times for fun) wore everyone out. We were all thirsty and ready to go home.
That didn’t stop us all from being happy to meet another tree on our journey.