Virginia black walnuts have a rich history

Cheryl E Preston
Eastern black walnut treePhoto byWikepedia screenshot

Black walnuts are plentiful in Virginia

I was a little girl during the 1960s my grandmother would take the neighborhood children to collect walnuts from trees in a specific location in Blue Ridge Virginia. Black walnut trees were located in a wooded area less than a mile from route 460 East, near the end of Blue Ridge Springs Road close to the railroad, the sulfur spring, and the mountain. We filled up several bags from the nuts that and fallen to the ground and when we got home the fun began. We would remove the green casing to get the walnut shell and our hands would be darkened from touching those that were not fully ripe.

The black walnuts in the shell had to sit for a period of time before we could eat them and we had nutcrackers to crack open the shell and a nut picker to pull out the actual nut. My grandma also purchased walnuts in the shell from stores during Christmas and set them in a specific decorated holiday tray. I'm thankful today that I can buy shelled walnuts and allow someone else to do all the work.

The ground filled with walnuts waiting to be foundPhoto byWkipedia

Are black walnuts worth jail time?

These memories came back to me today as I read the WFXR news report that a man and two accomplices were attempting to cut down walnut trees from federally protected land at Bluestone Project and sell them in West Virginia. The perpetrator was given 4 months in jail and I wonder if his effort was worth it.

The Bluestone Project is a United States Army Corps of Engineers Flood Damage Reduction project intended to inhibit flood-level water flow along the New and Bluestone Rivers in Giles County. The 21,000-acre project area is a federally-protected habitat for flora and fauna including the highly-valuable black walnut trees, which are some of the largest and oldest living hardwood trees in the United States.
Shelled walnutsPhoto byWikipedia screenshot

A dark side to the walnut tree

Black Walnut trees are native to Virginia and are tall and can grow as high as 90 feet. You can still find these stately trees in the backyards of some Roanoke homes and see walnuts on the ground and in yards in Northwest neighborhoods. Walnuts are loaded with nutrition with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids. Early settlers in the Virginia colony easily harvested walnuts through the winter because they were encased in the hard shell.

Walnut trees are also native to West Virginia so I wonder why the three individuals were trying to transplant a tree from one state to another other than the money. There is a dark side to the black walnut tree which is that it emits a chemical called juglone which can prohibit the growth of other plants near the tree and allows walnuts to reign supreme.

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I write, about breaking news, and current events. I wrote a newspaper column from 1997 to 2007 and have written for various online platforms since 2012 including Yahoo Contributor Network, Hubpages, and Vocal Media.

Roanoke, VA

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