Leaf of the Day: Pignut Hickory Nut

As June heats up so does the frequency of the storms in Florida and we are having quite a few of them right now, the thunder is ear splitting and the rain torrential, but storms do have a good side. They wash away grime and clean the streets, nourish the plants and given the trees a good shake up. Storms are especially good for a leaf collector and especially for one of a smaller size, like myself. The day after a good storm the ground is littered with debris and leaves and pods and fallen flowers, many of which are normally too high for me to reach. This pignut hickory is a case in point. I have walked past this tree many times and not even noticed it. It stands at a junction of paths at Leu so you are always on the way to somewhere else, but after the storm the path was covered with the big greeny yellow tear shaped pods of the pignut hickory.
This tall beautiful tree Carya glabra is one of the Juglandaceae, the Walnut Family ,related to the pecan tree (Carya illinoensis) and black walnut (Juglans nigra), two of the most important native nut trees in North America.
The nuts inside these attractive green husks are bitter but very much appreciated by squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, black bears, foxes, rabbits, birds, smaller rodents, and whitetail deer and pigs I guess!
In the UK we would come across hickory in the form of hickory chips which, when the variable English summer allows us a couple of balmy days, we enthusiastically throw on the BBQ to give us that “authentic” smoked flavour …in case we don’t already have it from those delicious incinerated chicken legs and charred sausages.

The word “Hickory” is a derived from the North American Indian word ‘pawcohiccora‘ which is an oily milk-like liquor that is pressed from pounded hickory nuts. `Pohickory” was mentioned in a list of Virginia trees published in 1653 and subsequently shortened to `hickory.’

Willam Bartram here refers to the hickory milk made by the Creek Indians.
“The Creeks store the nuts in their towns. I have seen above a hundred bushels of these nuts belonging to one family. They pound them to pieces, and then cast them into boiling water, which, after passing through fine strainers, preserves the most oily part of the liquid; this they call by a name which signifies hiccory milk; it is as sweet and rich as fresh cream, and is an ingredient in most of their cookery, especially homony and corn cakes.”

The fine dense wood has exceptional shock absorbing qualities making it very useful for early wooden wheels, and like Yew, a good wood for tool handles and bows. Golf club shafts used to be made of hickory and are still referred to sometimes as ‘hickory sticks’ and in earlier days of stricter education, hickory wood, being nicely flexible, was put to, no doubt painful, use as the ‘cane’.
On a more pastoral note early settlers were able to boil the bark in vinegar to extract a black dye.

The drawings show the closed whole pod just beginning to split and two old blackened relics of split and empty husks which I found, squirrel chewed and broken, at the base of the tree… and of course… in ‘homage ‘..a pig. I haven’t yet drawn the actual nut from inside yet.


Pignut Hickory

Synchronicity in Sarasota and Fangs & Flippers

Day two in Sarasota and the course is going very well. We are learning so much about colour and the chemical constituents of paint which in the past I have never really got to grips with. Sue is an excellent teacher and sets a cracking pace. I may be able to post a couple of photographs later this week.

Back at the hotel I have my two books ( Jung and Bartram) and Internet access. I tuned into BBC Radio 4 and lo and behold Book of the Week is readings from :
The Brother Gardeners: Botany, Empire and the Birth of Obsession” By Andrea Wulf,
Her book ‘traces the history of the gardening revolution of the 18th century, led by a group of explorers, botanists, collectors, and plant dealers:
Philip Miller, head gardener of the Chelsea Physic Garden and the author of The Gardeners’ Dictionary
Peter Collinson, collector and merchant, who together with American farmer John Bartram ( father of William) brought American plants to England
Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist who classified the natural world and invented a standardized botanical nomenclature
Daniel Solander, who joined Joseph Banks on Captain Cook’s Endeavour.
Joseph Banks, who exchanged his life as a rich gentlemen for that of an explorer, becoming in turn one of the most influential men in Georgian England. ‘

All these wonderful people I have been reading about… How very nice.
Jung coined the word syncronicity to describe what he called “temporally coincident occurrences of acausal events.” ..well it’s certainly a coincidence.

William Bartram illustrated his writings with delightful drawings ..here is one, nature red in fang and flipper. A lotus pod and unfortunate frog from “Travels and other Writings” William Bartram.

Leaf of the Day: Easter Calamondin Orange

It’s Easter already and I hear from my father in the UK they are expecting snow. Dan the avuncular weather man here has promised us a fair weekend.
I am going to Sarasota this week to do some watercolour painting and to visit the Marie Selby Gardens there, so may not be posting any drawing here for a few days.

I have some reading matter to take with me…one is William Bartram’s “Travels and Other Writings”. I quote from the fly leaf;
‘Artist, writer, botanist, gardener, naturalist, intrepid wilderness explorer, and self styled philosophical pilgrim’.
Son of the renowned botanist, John Bartram, William travelled extensively in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida from 1773 to 1776 and wrote about all that he saw and heard, presenting a ” moving detailed vision of man living in harmony with nature”.
I shall be pondering this as we make the monotonous 2 hour drive to Sarasota tomorrow on highways lined with identical concrete malls and fast food outlets.. but I am looking forward to seeing the comical pelicans again in Sarasota Bay.

My other book is Jung’s “Memories Dreams and Reflections” My interest is more to do with my research into Africa in the 1920’s for my other blog My Darling Popsy than analytical psychology. He records in this book the journey to Africa during which he crystallised many of his most important ideas on psychology. My grandfather, being on the same ship to Mombassa and then, I have discovered, working in the areas that Jung travelled to, will have seen many of the same things. It will be very intereting and I may learn something about my psyche as well!
I hope to be able to add a couple of “Popsy” posts this week.

This is the tiny Calamondin orange. I added a seasonal egg and a blueberry really to show how tiny they are. They are very tart but if you eat the whole thing the sweetness of rind compensates for the bitterness of the flesh. It’s almost true..but I think that Pedro’s recipe to use the juice mixed with soy sauce as a marinade is probably a better idea.

This will be my last coloured pencil drawing for March…I say with some relief…

Calamondin Orange