Getting to the heart (of the Heartnut)


Japanese walnuts or heartnuts, Juglans ailanthifolia var. cordiformis

Today I was following up on an enquiry about some of the old varieties of walnuts growing at Wimpole*, when I accidently discovered that the heartnuts (Juglans ailanthifolia var. cordiformis) growing in the courtyard are falling to the ground. I can’t remember this ever happening before, because the squirrels usually strip them too quickly. So, making the most of this good fortune, I collected a few to clean up.


In fact when fresh like this they are easy to separate from the outer fleshy husks simply by lighting stepping on them and rolling them under a shoe. The nuts pop out, with the flesh rapidly oxidising to black (staining everything in reach), so it is best to be wearing gloves to handle the husks and nuts at this stage to avoid skin turning brown from the tannins.


But once the nuts are scrubbed up and clean, they are perfectly fine to handle

and admire …


And sample (even if they are tiny) …


And possibly even create rustic jewellery …


*Wimpole Estate holds one of the National Collections of Juglans

About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
This entry was posted in autumn, Food, Nature, Trees, Wimpole Hall and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Getting to the heart (of the Heartnut)

  1. Haven’t seen these; thanks for sharing.

  2. Gillian says:

    Amazing! I have never seen these before either. How beautiful those little nuts are!

  3. nexi says:

    Well I never…! How big are they when out of the skin?

  4. Chloris says:

    New to me. How amazing.
    I have a huge walnut tree but I never get a single walnut. Those beastly rats with fluffy tails get there first.

    • Yeah, for me too. My walnut on the hill was loaded for the first time (it’s about 12years old), but they are all gone now. This is the first year I’ve seen the heartnuts survive to fall at Wimpole too.

  5. Tina says:

    Huge nuts–they’re beautiful!

  6. susurrus says:

    I love these – it’s funny how often nature leaves hearts for us to find.

    • OK, you’ve got me curious now. What are you thinking of?

      • susurrus says:

        If you start looking for hearts, you’ll find them everywhere in nature – tiny, green heart shaped markings on some forms of snowdrops, many leaves etc. I brought some heart shaped rocks back from my last visit to the seaside. I must be subconsciously looking for them, because I see a lot.

  7. So, how do they taste? Just like regular walnuts?

  8. inesephoto says:

    Cute nuts, I have never seen them before.

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