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The English Botanist Richard B. Hinds while on a voyage around the world that lasted from 1836 to 1842, discovered a new species of walnut growing in California in the Sacramento Valley. In honor of his discovery this new species of walnut was named Juglans hindsii. The name Claro was first introduced by the gunstock industry in the mid 1960's and refers to the species of walnut discovered by Mr. Hinds. The name Claro was chosen to differentiate California walnut (Juglans hindsii), from its eastern Black walnut cousin (Juglans nigra). The word claro is a Spanish term meaning clear, light or bright. Claro is the most colorful of all walnut no doubt due to the mineral rich soils found in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valley as well as southern Oregon. The first substantial stands of Claro were found growing in the following three locations:
The valley of Walnut Creek in Contra Costa County
The banks of the Sacramento River, particularly at Walnut Grove
The Wooden Valley east of Napa.
It was from these original groves that John Bidwell began propagating California Claro walnut at his Rancho Chico Nursery, located in Chico California in the late 1800's. The Bidwell family donated the property for the building of Chico State University. The Bidwell mansion now serves as a museum located on the grounds of the university.
It is not known precisely when or where the first English walnut trees were planted in California, but they were no doubt brought from Spain during the development of the Franciscan missions in the 1700's. Juglans regia is known by many common names: English; French; Circassian; European; Turkish, and more, all describing the same species, "regia". Highly prized for the marbled appearance found in rare specimen logs. Only one in 2 to 3 thousand trees will yield what is known in the industry as, "Marblecake".
In order to develop Claro root stock, nuts of a Claro Walnut tree are planted and raised to proper size for grafting to English walnut. Early on it was discovered that once in several hundred times, strange looking rootlings appeared. Old timers referred to these peculiar looking strangers as Paradox Trees. The renowned botanist Luther Burbank determined that Paradox was a hybrid result of a cross-pollination between English walnut and California Claro walnut. The name Bastogne walnut was bestowed on this hybrid walnut tree by the gun stock industry. Bastogne is a low umbrella shaped tree of healthy vigorous growth. The wood is somewhat heavier and more dense than either parent, the colors are a mix of both English and Claro. Bastogne walnut is without a doubt one of the most rare of all hardwoods.
Generally called western maple is fairly common throughout the west. However, the figured variety is like the proverbial "needle in a haystack" as only one tree in many thousands develops enough figure to yield a quality log.
Also known as California Bay Laurel, Baywood and Pepperwood. This tree grows nowhere else in the world except a narrow band along the coast of Southern Oregon, in the Sierra Nevada and along the coast of California. It is a member of the Laurel family. The early settlers of Oregon and California looked with amazement at this strange aromatic forest giant. Myrtle is a dense hardwood sometimes varied in colors of red, yellow, brown, silver gray and black. The figure, if present, is of burl, fiddleback, curl and wavy grain.
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