The walnut tree (Juglans regia) is a deciduous tree from the walnut family (Juglandaceae), which includes about twenty species. It reaches a height of up to 40m and has a crown with a diameter of about 20m, blooms in late April - early May, and bears fruit in September-October. It usually lives around 200 years old, but there are also specimens with a record age of 500 and even 1000 years! Because of their longevity, they were considered sacred trees in the Roman Empire.
Walnut is considered one of the oldest plants on earth - it has been growing since the Tertiary, ie. many millions of years ago. A quote from the biblical books explains how the world came into being and what role the walnut played in its creation, on which he wavered and fell asleep.
According to one of the many legends associated with the walnut, Moses' miraculous scepter had a walnut carving made from a walnut tree that grows in the Garden of Eden. St. Patrick, venerated by all Irish, also had a walnut wand.
The first written records of walnuts in Europe date back to the 6th century BC. Pliny the Elder testified that the walnut was brought to Greece from the gardens of the Persian king Cyrus II the Great.
According to legend, the daughter of the Greek king Carius was in love with the god Dionysius, but an accident occurred and the girl died. Then Dionysius turned her into a walnut tree, and Artemis brought the sad news to Carius and ordered him to build a temple in her honor. The pillars were made of wood in the shape of a young woman and were called caryatids - nymphs of the walnut.
Modern historians believe that the homeland of the walnut is Iran or India, and some point to China or Japan. A French expedition discovered roasted walnut shells that are more than 8,000 years old in what is now Iraq, Babylon. This is also proven by the writings of the people of Mesopotamia. On clay tablets, it is noted that walnut trees are planted en masse in the famous hanging gardens in Babylon.
In Europe, walnut spreads thanks to trade along the Silk Road - a route between Asia and the Middle East. In Northern Europe, the walnut was imported from Persia, where it was only grown for kings. Hence the name "Persian walnut". Due to intensive maritime trade, walnut spread around the world over the next century.
The health benefits of walnuts have always been known. The ancient healers Avicenna and Hippocrates described their amazing properties and recommended them to strengthen the activity of the brain, heart, and liver, as well as normalize digestion. According to the Greek historian Herodotus, the priests of ancient Babylon strictly forbade common people to eat walnuts because they improved brain function and did not need to think. The fruit of the tree, due to its specific shape, resembles the shape of the human brain and therefore has had a special relationship with the walnut since ancient times in mythology, in the culture of both Asians and Europeans.
Different countries have different beliefs, myths, and legends associated with walnut. In Greece, walnuts were a symbol of wealth, and in Rome, they were considered a very important accessory of every wedding. In traditional Bulgarian culture, the walnut is not only revered as a sacred tree because of its centuries-old existence, but also as a valuable food and medicine. Walnut is the guardian of the house and brings health, longevity, and fertility.