Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!


Plant Database

Search for native plants by scientific name, common name or family. If you are not sure what you are looking for, try the Combination Search or our Recommended Species lists.

Enter a Plant Name:
Or you can choose a plant family:
Juglans cinerea (Butternut)
Smith, R.W.

Juglans cinerea

Juglans cinerea L.

Butternut, White Walnut

Juglandaceae (Walnut Family)

Synonym(s): Wallia cinerea


USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

White walnut or butternut reaches 40-60 ft. in height with a spread of 30-50 ft. It can grow to 100 ft. The tree is usually short-trunked with stiff branches forming a wide-spreading crown. Tree with short straight trunk, stout branches, broad open crown, and butternut fruit with sticky husk. Long-stemmed, pinnately-compound leaves turn yellow in fall. Fruit is tan in color and football-shaped.

The edible butternuts soon become rancid, and so must be harvested quickly after maturing. Indians made them into oil for many uses, including ceremonial anointing of the head. They are also eaten by wildlife. The husks of the nuts, which contain a brown stain that colors the fingers, yield a yellow or orange dye. The lumber serves as a cabinet wood.


From the Image Gallery

3 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Complexity: Pinnate
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Fruit Type: Nut
Size Notes: Usually up to about 60 feet tall. Can be up to about 100 feet tall.
Leaf: Green
Autumn Foliage: yes
Fruit: Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun


USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , GA , IA , IL , IN , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , SC , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: MB , NB , NS , ON , PE , QC
Native Distribution: GA to AR, n.e. to s.w. N.B. & in river valleys to c. MN
Native Habitat: Mesic woods; river banks

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: None
Soil Description: Rich, moist soils.
Conditions Comments: Butternut is fairly fast-growing if in its favored moist, rich, sunny habitat. It rarely survives longer than 75 years. The name "butternut" comes from the mellow flavor of the nut meat. Susceptible to butternut blight, a fungus which forms cankers that are later invaded by another fungus. These organisms eventually kill the tree.


Use Medicinal: The outer bark was once used in medicinal teas for treating toothaches and dysentery, and dried inner bark was taken to purge the system. (Kershaw)
Fragrant Foliage: yes


Description: Plant nuts in fall or spring. If nuts are sown in spring, they must be stratified.
Seed Treatment: Stratify for 60-120 days at 34-41 degrees.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

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

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 Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Juglans cinerea in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Juglans cinerea in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Juglans cinerea


Record Modified: 2023-04-06
Research By: TWC Staff

Go back