View Full Version : Walnut Understory Plants?

04-17-2003, 12:11 PM
I have an ancient walnut tree near my back lawn. I`m converting this garden inch by inch to a native community and I have two questions: 1 what on earth do I plant under it? I was wondering why all my new plants were dying there until I learned that juglans secretes chemicals that harm some other plants. It`s a very shady area and gets a fair amount of water from the nearby lawn, clayish soil. When I moved in the understory was an enormous clusterberry, which was sprouting weeds everywhere so I cut it down. I planted a blue elderberry which has struggled mostly because squirrels kept digging it up to plant walnuts under it, but maybe there are other problems too, there`s only an itty bitty leaf left. The strawberries all died within weeks. A small patch of brodeia elegans did better, though it seems too shady and wet for them to flower there. I don`t know of a forest near here Redwood City, San Francisco Bay Area with natives growing so I don`t know where to look for inspiration. Ideas please? 2 What plant characteristics should I look for to determine whether this is a native juglans? </p>

04-23-2003, 06:37 PM
Diane - If you haven`t already done so, check out Edgewood Preserve, located off the 280 freeway, sort of where Redwood City, Woodside & San Carlos converge. It is famous for its wildflowers great right now, but also has some wooded areas. I recall that the creeping snowberry, Symphoricarpos mollis, grows in the understory. Not clear how much watering it could take - I think of it as a plant for dry shade. With all the water your area is getting, you might want to look at the streamside vegetation at Edgewood. You might also consider some scheme to funnel lawn water away from the walnut tree. There are not too many native walnuts left in California English walnuts are grafted onto native black walnut rootstock, so I`m not sure what natives grew under them. It would think Ithuriel`s spear and some of the Fritillarias might do. Judith Lowry`s Larner Seeds might have some info about what grows under native walnuts, since she used to sell native Juglans seeds and maybe still does. I`m thinking the soils around native Juglans may have been a bit drier than your situation, though. You may have to do some research. The main CNPS website has a link to the Manual of California Vegetation. There you can search and see if there is a native plant community with Juglans as the dominant overstory. If so, then maybe it will list some understory plants. Good luck, Lori Hubbart </p>