In 2006, my sons and I planted 10 English walnut trees, now 5 seasons later we have our first nut. (See photos.) Coming from a large family, I realized I could track the progress of the trees best by naming them after my siblings & parents. (And who doesn't think their family is at least a tad nutty and yet somehow majestic?) So the first nut came from the Sharon (older sister) tree.
Sharon hung back the first 3 seasons, but lunged ahead last year doubling her vertical growth in one year. Then, lo and behold, she produced a nut. I never saw her blossom, but I understand that English Walnuts are self-pollinating, producing a unisex catkins with both the female & male components. In the composite drawing below from Botanical.com, you can see the various parts of an English walnut (click on the image to enlarge).
So how are the English walnuts different from Black walnuts? Well, the first thing I noticed was that they have this fine fuzz growing on the outside of the green outer coating. I was actually able to capture the fuzz on the close-up shot of the nut while it was still on the tree. It seemed that the fuzz disappeared as the nut got closer to maturity.
Another difference, and a most welcome one, is that the green covering is more like a chestnut's (minus the chestnut spines), than it is like a black walnut's. It's only about a quarter of an inch thick and peels away from the shell easily. Yeah!
Last week on the equinox, the outer green coating ruptured on its own, while the nut continued hanging on its branch. So I picked it.
You're supposed to cure walnuts for a couple of weeks before breaking them open, which is great because I don't have the heart to crack it at this point. My plan is to bring the nut & my cracker to a family gathering in a few weeks. Older sister Sharon, who lives in Bangor, Maine, will be present and (assuming all is well inside the nut) we can share it. Will let you know how the next step goes...