Beaumont: A New Dual Purpose Macadamia Variet

Beaumont:A New Dual Purpose Macadamia Variety

W. B. Storey

Reprint from CMS 1965

The two species of Macadamia, (M. tetraphylla and M. integrifolia) that are renowned as being among world’s tastiest nuts are also beautiful, ornamental, evergreen trees. Taking advantage of this fact, many Australian homeowners in thc northeastern coastal region of New South Wales and much of the length of the eastern coastal region of Queensland plant trees of the species around their homes, primarily to have their own source of nuts, it is true, but also to enhance the beauty of their properties and for shade. An officer of the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Stock estimated that there probably are 20,000, or more, Macadamia trees in the city of Brisbane. Many are to be seen around homes in the smaller towns and cities, which dot the subtropical and tropical regions of Australia east of the Great Dividing Range of mountains between Sydney on the south and Cams on the north. In New South Wales it is the tetraphylla type, which is the more common, while in Queensland the integrifolia type is the more common.

The integrifolia type of Macadamia was introduced into Hawaii in 1885 by W. H. Purvis of Honokaa, Island of Hawaii, and again in 1892 by the brothers E. W. and R. A. Jordon of Honolulu, Island of Oahu. The Board of Agriculture and Forestry of the Government of Hawaii introduced the tetraphylla type in 1892. These three introductions served as sources, not only of trees for the planting of orchards when the commercial possibilities of the nuts became apparent, but also for use in landscaping the grounds around homes and in public parks. At no time, however, did the number ever get very large, the total probably not exceeding 1000.

The University of California College of Agriculture at Berkeley introduced Macadamia integrifolia into California in 1879. One of the original seedlings from this introduction is still growing on the bank of Strawberry Creek, just inside the Center Street gate. Just when M. tetraphylla was introduced, and by whom, is uncertain. Possibly, however, it was Lyon and Cobbe, a Los Angeles nursery firm, which had trees for sale in the early 1900’s. By 1946, when interest was awakened to the possibility that the Macadamia might develop into a new nut crop for California, both types had become pretty well distributed in the coastal region of California from Berkeley and Benicia on San Francisco Bay to Chula Vista, near the border with Mexico in San Diego County. A thorough survey brought to light about 300 bearing specimen trees, which had been planted prior to 1946.

Exploitation of the Macadamia as a commercial nut began as early as 1890 with the planting of a 250-tree orchard on the Fredrickson property at Rous Mill New South Wales. This was followed by a number of small semi-commercial plantings in New South Wales and Queensland, which, at this writing, are estimated to total about 150 acres with 20,000 trees. Interest in the nut as a new crop for Hawaii was generated in 1918 by Mr. J. E. Higgins, Horticulturist at the Hawaii Agricultural Experiment Station, fostered by his successor, Dr. Willis T. Pope, Horticulturist from 1920 to 1936, and given great impetus by Dr. J.H. Beaumont, who succeeded Pope upon his retirement in 1936.

Soon after Dr. Beaumont’s arrival in Hawaii, he set up a program for the selection of superior varieties for commercial use, for he knew that Macadamia growing as an industry could hardly hope to grow and prosper if it had to depend upon nothing but seedling trees which are notoriously variable in size and quality of nut and productivity of tree. The stage had been set for the new development: first by R. H. Moltzau’s demonstration in 1927 that the Macadamia could be grafted; second by Dr. W. W. Jones’ refinement of propagation methods in 1936 which resulted in 90-100 percent successful grafts; and, third, in the fact that by now there were at least 60,000 bearing seedling trees in the Territory for evaluation and selection. The selection program culminated in 1948 with the introduction of five selections as named varieties, which were recommended, for commercial orchard planting. All of these were of the integrifolia type.

With superior varieties now available, a person who wanted a good Macadamia for home planting usually obtained one of them in order to have a tree which not only added to the beauty of the surroundings but also provided the family with good nuts.

In 1953, Dr. Beaumont was the recipient of a Fullbright Research Grant, which enabled him to go to Australia for eight months to study the Macadamia in the region to which it is indigenous. In the course of his study, he collected scion material of everything he thought might have some future value in Hawaii. By the time he had returned to Hawaii in May, 1954, he had sent back propagation material of 34 selections, and had arranged for the importation of an additional 24, for a total of 58. Forty-nine of these were propagated successfully and established in Hawaii.

Among the latter importations was one, which had been selected as NSW-44, and entered by the Hawaii Agricultural Experiment Station as Macadamia accession HAES No. 695. The Department of Horticultural Science, University of California, Riverside, obtained scions of this accession in 1959. These were topworked to a stock tree in the Macadamia variety introduction orchard on the campus. A number of trees were propagated and planted at Vista, Carlsbad, Rancho Santa Fe, and elsewhere in southern California. As it developed it began to attract a good deal of attention because of its vigorous growth and attractive foliage, which made it especially desirable for ornamental purposes. In recent years it has fruited in several locations in California, and the nuts have turned out to be very good. After two or three fruiting seasons, the California Macadamia Society Committee on Varieties deemed it worthy of introducing as a new variety, not for growing commercially, but for the purpose of planting as an ornamental tree which will supply its owner with good crops of fine nuts.

The California Macadamia Society deems it an honor and a privilege to introduce this outstanding Australian selection as a new dual purpose variety with the name Beaumont, to commemorate Dr. and Mrs. Beaumont’s sojourn in Australia ten years ago and to express our appreciation for his invaluable contributions toward the development of the Macadamia as a new tropical crop for the world. This action has the wholehearted concordance of Mrs. Beaumont, the Division of Horticultural of the New South Wales Department of Agriculture, and the Hawaii Agricultural Experiment Station, University of Hawaii.

In a recent letter Mrs. Beaumont stated "I shall be most delighted if the California Macadamia Society decides to name a nice selection for Herb. Wish he could have known it, too. All that research into the hills around Murwillumbah came to something, after all! Thank the Society for wanting to name the variety for Herb. I am most pleased."

In what may be construed as presumptive action by the Society, it wishes, nevertheless, to dedicate this variety, not only to "Herb" but also to "Thelma," for her significant part as his constant companion, in encouraging and helping her husband in his researches, as well as for her role as goodwill ambassador and her own great love for plants.

Mr. B. Owen French, Chief, Division of Horticulture, New South Wales Department of Agriculture, writes "We appreciate your courtesy in contacting us regarding the naming of this selection, and, with you, we feel it most appropriate that the name "Beaumont" is to be chosen. Our assent in this action is given with much pleasure, and we trust the variety proves a most useful addition to your collection."

In a communication from Hawaii, Professor R. A. Hamilton, who is responsible for a major part of the progress that has been made with the Macadamia at the University of Hawaii, stated that they had thought they would name a variety for Dr. Beaumont at some time. Their own interest, however, has been more or less restricted to consideration of varieties for growing commercially, with little thought to ornamental applications, and, to date, no selection or introduction had developed in Hawaii which they consider deserving of the name. In view of the fact that they named a superior guava variety Beaumont a few years ago and had nothing worthy among presently unnamed clones of Macadamia, they gladly deferred to our desire to name a new introduction Beaumont.

The name Beaumont is especially appropriate for a new variety which was discovered in Australia, and came to California by way of Hawaii, for it connotes a bond of common interest and many years of close cooperation in domestication and development of the Macadamia.

 

HISTORICAL NOTE

The Macadamia tree which became clone NSW-44 was discovered by Mr. R. G. Kebby of the Division of Horticulture, New South Wales Department of Agriculture on February 3, 1954 on the Goswell property at High-fields. At the time, Mr. Kebby was closely associated with Dr. Beaumont in the search for superior trees in northeastern New South Wales.

Mr. Kebby described the tree as follows: "FRUIT: Size, medium; Shape, spherical; Smoothness, medium rough; Number per raceme, 34; Pericarp, thin.

NUT: Size, medium, Shape, spherical with very slight point; Smoothness, slightly pebbled. SHELL: Thickness, side medium, base, twice the side; Texture, brittle; TREE: Macadamia hybrid, young, fruitful, medium vigorous, upright. LEAVES: 3 and 4, mostly large, long spiny, with short petioles."

Figure 1. Five year old Beaumont Macadamia tree on Tanner property at Rancho Santa Fe., CA Figure 2. Clusters of nuts on Beaumont Macadamia tree.

Scionwood was taken from the tree and sent to Hawaii on July 20, 1954. The Department of Horticultural Science, University of California, Riverside, introduced the clone into California on April 28, 1959.

Although the selection is recorded by R. E. Leverington in his Bulletin on "Evaluation of Macadamia Nut Varieties for Processing’’ (Queensland Department of Agriculture and Stock, Division of Plant Industry Bulletin No. 204, published July 18, 1962), presumably his sample was inadequate for full appraisal, for he reports only: kernel recovery of 33.3 per cent; insect and mould damage, 29.0 per cent; first grade kernel recovery, 282 per cent.

In a recent letter, Mr. French quotes Mr. Jim Cann, another of Dr. Beaumont’s Macadamia hunting "cobbers" in New South Wales to the effect that "The tree referred to in your letter of the 17th August and in Dr. Storey’s letter to you of 7th August, and known as New South Wales 44, is no longer in existence. I visited the property on which it was growing, but this tree and most of the others have been bulldozed out to enable the owner to grow gladioli for market."

Figure 2. Nodal whorl of leaves of Beaumont Macadamia tree.

The scions sent to Hawaii in 1954 were propagated as H.A.ES. Macadamia Accession No. 695. Trees of this accession fruited for the first time in Hawaii in 1960. Apparently, it did not make a favorable impression as a potential commercial variety, for two years later it was eliminated from further consideration. This is noted in an article by Dr. R. A. Hamilton on "Testing Australian Macadamia Nut Varieties in Hawaii" in the Proceedings of the Hawaii Macadamia Producers Association Second Annual Meeting, May 11, 1962. Its characteristics are given in Table 1 of the article, as follows: HAES No. 695; Australian key number NSW 44; Species: hybrid; Nuts per pound, 81; Per cent kernels, 41; Per cent No. 1 kernel, 91; Disposition, discarded; Remarks, nuts arc small and variable in size.

Trees of this introduction in California produced a few nuts in 1962, more in 1963, and good crops in 1964. It was its precocity and productivity, coupled with beauty of foliage and vigor of growth that made it stand out among other varieties and clones, and led to the decision that it deserves perpetuation as a named variety.

Fig. 4. Whole nuts (left), and split-open nuts (right) from Beaumont Macadamia tree.

DESCRIPTION OF THE BEAUMONT MACADAMIA

Species:Natural hybrid of Macadamia tetraphylla and M. integrifolia.

TREE: Handsome; upright in growth habit with rather long straight, somewhat spreading branches, making the head slightly open. Growth habit vigorous. Foliage on new shoots reddish bronze in color, becoming dark dull green at maturity.

PHYLLOTAXY:3 or 4 leaves in nodal whorls, mostly the latter.

 

LEAVES: New leaves with reddish-bronze blades, and bright red mid-ribs and veins; upper surface of mature leaves dull dark green, lower surface lighter green; petiolate, with the petioles about ¼ inch long; shape of blade oblanceolate, acute at the apex, obtuse, rounded, or truncated at the base; margins of the blades entire for the most part, with 16 to 40 irregularly distributed short, broad dentations, each ending in a sharp, fine, soft spine; fifth leaf below terminal on a mature growth flush usually the largest, ranging from 7-10 inches in length and 2 to 3 inches in width.

FLOWERS: Numerous, 300-500, on racemes borne on growth of one or two seasons previous; racemes long, up to 14 inches; flowers bright pink.

FRUIT: Mature fruit with thin, dull green, slightly rough, round pericarp (husk) coming to a sharp apical point; styles sometimes persistent; pericarp tends to split on tree at maturity before fruit drops.

NUTS: Medium to large, ranging 80 to 65 to the pound; dark brown, with a few lighter, inconspicuous speckles; spherical in shape, ranging 7/8 to 1-1/8 inch in diameter; shell, thin on side, 1/32 - 1/16 inch, thicker toward base, 3 32 - 1 8 inch. Average weight of whole nut, 4.7 gms., average weight of kernel, 1.9; percentage of nut as kernel, 40; shape of kernel, round, slightly flattened; color of kernel, white; flavor of kernel, very good; texture of kernel, very good; percentage of oil at 3.0 per cent moisture of kernel, 70-75; per centage grade A kernels, 85; percentage grade B kernels, 15; percentage culls, none.

SEASON OF FRUITING: January to March in California.

Trees of this variety are being propagated by nurserymen in southern California and should soon be available for purchase.