Juglans nigra

Common Names: Eastern black walnut
Category: Trees
Sub-category: Walnut

Black walnut is highly prized for its dark-colored true heartwood. It is heavy and strong, yet easily split and worked. Walnut wood has historically been used for gunstocks, furniture, flooring, paddles, coffins, and a variety of other woodworking products. Height 30 to 40 m. Under forest competition, it develops a tall and straight trunk. When grown in an open area it has a short trunk and broad crown. Most parts of the tree including leaves, stems, and fruit husks have a very characteristic pungent or spicy odor. This odor is lacking in the nut itself. The bark is typically grey-black and deeply furrowed into thin ridges which gives the bark a diamond shaped pattern. The leaves are compound and alternately arranged on the stem. They are 30 to 60 cm long, typically even-pinnate but there is heavy variation among leaves. The stems have 15 to 23 leaflets, with the largest leaflets located in the center, 7 to 10 cm long and 2 to 3 cm broad. The leaflets have a rounded base and a long pointed (acuminate) tip as well as having a serrated edge. The leaves are overall dark green in color and are typically hairy on the underside. The fruit ripens during the autumn into a fruit (nut) with a brownish-green, semifleshy husk and a brown, corrugated nut. The whole fruit, including the husk falls in October or November; the seed is relatively small and very hard.

Found in mixed and deciduous forests, sometimes used as an ornamental tree in landscaping.

Edible Notes: Black walnut nuts are shelled commercially in the United States. The nutmeats provide a robust, distinctive, natural flavor and crunch as a food ingredient. Popular uses include ice cream, bakery goods and confections. However the extraction of the kernel from the fruit of the black walnut is difficult. The thick hard shell is tightly bound by tall ridges to a thick husk. Black walnut drupes contain a yellowish dye that will stain the hands black.
Warnings: Not known to be dangerous.