Black Walnut, Jenkins Alley

Black walnut, Jenkins Alley
Looking up into the black walnut at Jenkins Alley.

Now here’s a memorable tree living among us: the towering black walnut of Jenkins Alley, which shades the rear side of the almost equally towering Brown Memorial Church. It has BGE wires strung across it like guitar strings.

In its lifetime it’s sung many a song, like the ballad of Judge Tom Ward wrestling a burglar to the ground under its boughs.Its trunk measures a whopping 161 inches around, which may be a record here in Bolton Hill.

Juglans nigra is desirable both for its tasty nut and for its easily worked, deep brown wood. Its leaves are deciduous, alternate and “compound”—that is, each stem has many, rather than single, leaves, which alternate from left to right as you go down the stem rather than being arranged opposite each other in pairs. These leaves yellow and fall as the weather turns cold.The Eastern black walnut is monoecious, meaning that in spring it displays both male and female flowers, taking the form of inconspicuous green catkins. They arrive on separate spikes, typically the females first. However, the tree does not self-pollinate, relying instead on wind and the presence of other walnut trees for propagation.

Even for the mightiest among us, it takes a village.