The Story of Claro Walnut

Claro Walnut is an American exotic tree, native to the upper Sacramento River basin. The lumber it produces is known for its deep rich colors, intense figure and is coveted by gun stock manufactures and master craftsman.  Its history begins with a Gentleman named John Bidwell (August 5, 1819 – April 4, 1900). Bidwell was known throughout California and across the nation as an important pioneer, farmer, soldier, gold miner, statesman, politician, prohibitionist, and philanthropist. He is famous for leading one of the first emigrant parties, known as the Bartleson–Bidwell Party, along the California Trail, and for founding Chico, California. He was a Major in the Mexican American War, Brigadier General in the California Malita and a Republican congressman. (1849-1851)

After settling in Chico and taking up his farming career, Bidwell planted Circassian walnut trees (Juglans Rigia). His family was of English heritage, so the seed stock came from Eastern Europe and the Old Russian Muslim Republics. These trees grew and flourished in the deep fertile soils along the Sacramento River in Chico, California.

These trees eventually cross pollinated with the native northwestern black walnut (Juglans Hindsii).  The new cross grew and flourished and the new trees were given the name Claro Walnut, meaning, clear walnut in Spanish.  Being a big, beautiful, majestic tree, they were cultivated and planted along roadways and in home yards. Claro root stock was eventually used commercially as a root graft for French and English walnut trees in walnut orchards around California. The graft combined the robust root of a big tree with the smaller, easier to harvest tree, with a taster nut.


Claro walnut trees are no longer planted and are becoming increasingly fewer and fewer.  They are usually only harvested because of old age and changing land use. What once was a beautiful back yard tree grows into an unmanageable old giant. This is the point at which CS Woods steps in to provide an avenue for those incredibly special trees to continue to bring joy and beauty (and carbon sequestration). Working with teams that are familiar careful removal and milling, we can create some of the most beautiful slabs in the world from these trees, which in turn become some of the most spectacular and special heirloom furniture.

Claro walnut trees are hard to obtain and hard to dry, but its beauty is unmatched.

Juglans Rigia:  This tree is thought to be the oldest Walnut tree in the world. Khotan, Xinjiang

Juglans Hindsii in California

Juglans Hindsii, Walnut tree in California

John Bidwell - August 5, 1819 – April 4, 1900

John Bidwell: August 5, 1819 – April 4, 1900

April 08, 2019 — Alana Mace