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 and intense figure and coveted by gun stock manufactures and master craftsman. Its history begins with a Gentleman named John Bidwell. (August 5, 1819 – April 4, 1900)
He 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 he planted Ciecassian 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
They eventually cross pollinated with the native northwestern black walnut (Juglans Hindsii). These trees grew and flourished and were given the name Claro Walnut, meaning, clear walnut in Spanish. Being a big, beautiful, majestic tree, they were planted along road ways and in home yards. Their root stock was eventually used commercially as a graft to a French walnut, used in the early producing walnut orchards. Combining the robust root of a big tree with the smaller, more easy to harvest tree, with a taster nut.
Claro walnut trees are no longer planted and are becoming increasingly fewer and fewer. Being harvested because of old age and changing land use. What once was a beautiful back yard tree has grown to an unmanageable old giant.
Its lumber is hard obtain and hard to dry, but it’s beauty is unmatched.
Juglans Rigia: This tree is thought to be the oldest Walnut tree in the world. Khotan, Xinjiang
Juglans Hindsii in California
John Bidwell - August 5, 1819 – April 4, 1900