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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 walnut was chosen to differentiate Juglans hindsii from its eastern Black walnut cousin Juglans nigra. The word claro is a Spanish term meaning clear, light or bright. Claro walnut is the most colorful of all species of 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 walnut trees 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 thought that the first English walnut trees planted in California were brought by the Franciscan missionaries from Spain. Juglans regia is known by many common names: English; French; Circassian; European; Turkish along with others all describing the same species. Highly prized for the marbled appearance found in rare specimen logs; only one in several thousand english walnut trees will yield what is known in the gunstock industry as "Marblecake".
In order to develop claro walnut 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 graftings strange looking young trees appeared. Old timers referred to these peculiar looking trees as Paradox walnut. The renowned botanist Luther Burbank determined that paradox walnut was a hybrid result of a cross pollination between english walnut and California claro walnut. The name bastogne walnut was first used by the gunstock industry and is a favorite for use in large bore guns due to the woods ability to withstand heavy recoil without fracturing. Bastogne walnut is a fast growing tree that produces very hard wood. Bastogne walnut is somewhat heavier and more dense than either parent and the colors are a mix of both english walnut and claro walnut.
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