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Wasowski, Sally and Andy
Juglans nigra L.
Black walnut, Eastern black walnut
Synonym(s): Wallia nigra
USDA Symbol: juni
USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)
Black walnut is a large, rugged, deciduous tree, 50-75 ft. in height and width, sometimes reaching 150 ft. tall. Dark, furrowed bark on the trunk. Wide-spreading branches form an upright, umbrella-like crown in the woods or a round-topped crown in the open. The well-formed trunk is usually devoid of branches a considerable distance from the ground. Leaves up to 2 feet long with 5 to 11 pairs of leaflets along a central axis and a single leaflet at the tip; midrib of the lateral leaflets off-center with the wider part of the blade toward the leaf tip. Leaflets emerge very late in spring and are yellow-green. Fall color is clear yellow, unless the tree has been troubled with insects or leaf blight. Flowers inconspicuous, in elongate, green clusters. Fruit 1 1/2 to 2 1/4 inches in diameter, consisting of a hard-shelled, furrowed nut enclosed in a green husk, darker when ripe.
One of the scarcest and most coveted native hardwoods, Black Walnut is used especially for furniture, gunstocks, and veneer. Individual trees fetch attractive prices and a few prized trees have even been stolen. Since colonial days and before, Black Walnut has provided edible nuts and a blackish dye made from the husks. Tomatoes and apples do not survive near mature trees. The delicious nuts must be gathered early, before squirrels and other wildlife can consume them. Of all the native nut trees of North America, the Black Walnut is the most valuable save only the Pecan (Carya illinoinensis), and in the traditions of pioneer life and rustic childhood it is even more famous.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Apr , May
, WY Canada: ON Native Distribution:
to n.w. FL,
w. to s. MN,
& c. TX Native Habitat:
Rich, moist woods; bottomlands
Growing ConditionsWater Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Moist, rich soils. Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Acid-based, Calcareous
Conditions Comments: Black walnut is slow-growing especially if not in its preferred moist, fertile, sunny site. The deep tap-root makes transplanting difficult. Nuts may become a nuisance as they litter and stain. Foliage is often attacked by caterpillars, and the species is susceptible to anthracnose which defoliates trees for the season.
Fall conspicuous, Shade tree Use Wildlife:
Squirrels are among the few creatures with strong enough teeth and the determination to gnaw through the extremely hard shells. Use Other:
Certain plants will not grow under Black Walnut trees because of the juglones that the tree
puts in the soil. Walnut husks are rich in tannins and toxins. Ground husks have provided insecticides, fish poison and black dye. Fragrant Foliage:
Birds , Butterflies Larval Host:
Black walnut is the preferred host of the luna and regal moth.
PropagationPropagation Material: Seeds
Description: Plant nuts in fall or spring. If nuts are sown in spring, they must be stratified. Protection from squirrels is necessary.
Seed Collection: Collect nuts in fall or winter when husks begin to turn black and split open. Remove husks. It is not necessary to remove shell. Sow immediately or keep in moist sand over winter. Nuts lose viability if allowed to dry out.
Seed Treatment: Stratify for 60-120 days at 34-41 degrees.
Commercially Avail: yes
Mr. Smarty Plants says
Edible Plants for North Georgia
January 10, 2010
We are planning a forest food garden in the hollers of the N GA Mountains.
Which edible fruit, nut, berry, herb and creepers would be best for this reddish, clay-like soil? The food garden is in...
view the full question and answer
Are black walnut and sugar maple poisonous to alpacas
June 09, 2008
I have alpacas and wonder if black walnut or sugar maple are poisonous to them.
view the full question and answer
National Wetland Indicator Status
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1
(Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here
for map of regions.
From the National Suppliers Directory
According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:
American Native Nursery
- Quakertown, PA
Record Last Modified: 2013-06-27
Research By: TWC Staff