This tree is a provider and a survivor! The California Black Walnut (Juglans californica) is a native deciduous tree that is generally found in southern California. It takes the shape of a large shrub with many trunks close to the ground or a small tree. In Los Angeles County, CA Black Walnut woodlands are limited to the Santa Clarita River riparian areas, Santa Susana Mountains, and the north slope of the Santa Monica Mountains.
CA Black Walnut trees provide invaluable habitat and source of food for many species of wildlife. Surveys have shown Walnut woodlands can provide habitat for 29 species of birds. The walnuts are eaten by different bird and rodents species, such as the CA ground squirrel and West Gray squirrel. Owls use the upper branches as roosts and nesting places. The CA ground squirrel dig burrows at the bases of the older walnut trees. Deer use the shade cover provide by the branches and leaves.
Historically, the Chumash Indians ate the walnuts and used the nutshells for dice. The bark of the walnut tree was used to make baskets.
CA Black Walnut is a very wildfire resilient tree. Even though a fire may burn the tops of the tree, it sprouts vigorously from the trunk and root crown during the first year of recovery; thus creating multiple trunks. Trees that are native to California have special “fire-adapted” characteristics that allow the tree to bounce back from periodic wildfires.
Today, the Juglans californica is an endangered tree species due to the loss of habitat from development, overgrazing, and increased recreational use of walnut woodlands. Tree planting programs promote the restoration of CA Black Walnut woodlands in Los Angeles County.
LA County Dept. of Regional Planning’s SEA Ordinance amendment project is an on-going effort to conserve genetic and physical diversity within LA County by designating biological resource areas that are capable of sustaining themselves into the future. Every Wednesday, we will profile a plant or animal “Ambassador” that makes the SEAs its home. #seawednesday #trees #lacounty #wildfire #sustainability #environment
Picture: Joe Decruyenaere & Bri Weldon