As the species name (fraxinifolia) makes apparent, this tree has large, healthy, mid-green foliage that looks rather like that of Ash (Fraxinus): pinnate with a distinctive mid-rib and well spaced leaflets which provide a good, strong leaf shape.
However, after flowering this tree produces distinctive long, pendulous seedpods that hang from tree. In a good year, the tree will be dripping with these yellow-green tassels that cut a striking vertical accent through the spreading, leafy canopy. The seedpods contain winged seeds or small nuts – from which we derive the name of the genus (Ptero means winged) and also our common name, The Wingnut Tree.
Pterocarya fraxinifolia is native to Eastern Turkey, northern Iran and the across the Caucasus and is in the Walnut Family (Juglandaceae). We have an enormous specimen down by the edge of the Lower Lake whose limbs stretch out to form a vast canopy, whilst underneath suckers colonise the ground – the whole thing is quite a spectacle.
Back within the garden proper we have a large specimen occupying a position at the end of the Croquet Lawn offering shade for the stone bench beneath. We are mindful of its suckering habit here but find much pleasure from its strong and graceful presence.
Words by Robert, photographs by Hannah