Wingnut trees (pterocarya)

huggormMay 24, 2013

What is your experience of wingnut trees? Around here the Caucasian wingnut pterocarya fraxinifolia is by far most common and has good hardiness. But there are also a few asian species and now I have come by p. stenoptera and p. hupehensis and can also buy p. rhoifolia. What hardiness can be expected for these? And over all, what differences is there between these four species?

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I have the Chinese wingnut, p. stenoptera. In place now maybe fifteen years. Hardiness not an issue, has survived temp extremes from teens to over a hundred and not missed a lick. No disease or pest issues. Impression? The descriptions of it on the web don't jive with the reality of it. Mine is still no taller than perhaps fifteen feet, and that's giving it the benefit of the doubt, but its branching is extraordinarily open and wide and it looks more like a large shrub than a tree. It's interesting, and rather unique looking but nothing I'd have run out and bought for a specimen. I can't speak to the other ones.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 9:04AM
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I've tried growing some of them, and hardiness is an issue for my area. Last winter was mild, yet had a lot of dieback, thinking drought probably had something to do with that. All mine are young specimens, and they typically do well down to -15F, but colder than that, only the ones I got from Oikos do well. Oikos mentioned they had tried various ones and sell the hardiest one they've tried, rhoifolia-korean seed source.

They seem very easy to propagate from seedlings, cuttings, or divisions.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 10:26AM
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-15F is almost exactly the coldest I have experienced here, so I guess that would be ok at least. Most winters are not colder that -5F.

My p. hupehensis is actually a seedling from a tree growing not very far from here, but it is quite a lot warmer there than on the hills where I live.

Calliope: Strange that your tree grow so slowly, fifteen feet in fifteen years is nothing like the reputation of this tree. Is it very dry where it grows?

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 11:03AM
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nick_b79(4/5 Southeast MN)

I came upon your post while also researching wingnut trees, and thought I'd chime in. There is a small specimen (20 ft or so) of Pterocarya stenoptera here at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, a solid zone 4. According to the ID tag on it, it was planted about 12 years ago, so it seems our colder climate might be slowing it's growth rate. It appears to have some tip dieback here and there, but not really noticeable.

I have no idea where they got this specimen, but we normally hit -25F most winters here, so apparently this is one tough SOB of a wingnut!

I have a question for you: do you notice any animals feeding upon the seed clusters of the trees in your area? The wingnut I saw had a LOT of seeds this year, and since it's related to walnuts I was wondering if it has wildlife value? If it does, I might plant one on my property.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2013 at 9:35PM
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I don't think I have ever seen any wildlife feed on a wingnut tree. Those long chains of seed use to hang on to the tree well into the winter. But that is propably because no animal yet recognice the species as edible. Like some of the asian rowans grown here, their berries are eaten only by some birds that has been hungry enough to try that unfamiliar fruit

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 5:43AM
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I must have missed this post back in May, sorry I didn't respond. No, dry soil hasn't been a factor, unless it's particularly susceptible.......we have had our periods of below normal rainfall, but we have also had more periods of above average. I'd say it's been in a good situation both in placement and in environment. We do have lots of deer browse, however, although I don't remember having seen this a victim but then again, I'm not the one who does the routine maintenance on most of the trees and shrubs or rides by them daily on a tractor. I have never personally seen any wildlife feed on mine. You've got my curiousity piqued now since I normally only take particular notice of this tree a few times a year, in spring to see how it fared the winter and in fall, to make mental notes.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 4:13PM
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Just went out and had a look at it. It was identified and sold by an arboretum as Chinese Wingnut. The picture does not give a good reference to judge size, but I am reasonably sure it does not exceed twenty feet. I stopped keeping records long ago since we have traditionally planted so many each year, and often dont even tag them either. I pitch the original tags in a bucket. LOL. I have never seen bloom on mine yet, so it may not be mature or I have just not noticed, but think I would. I do not know the exact year of planting but stopped acquiring from this source around five years ago, and this was not one of my last acquisitions from them. I'm still saying planted about ten years. It was only about four to five foot tall when purchased, and multibranched and pretended it was a shrub for many years. This is the first year I'd even say it resembles a tree. Very open canopy, branches low on the trunk. Hope it grows up to its potential.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 4:39PM
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