Black Walnuts are a very rare tree found only in North America. They have been valued for their wood since ancient times. Today they are known as one of the most valuable trees worldwide. Black walnuts are grown mainly in North Carolina, but there are other states with black walnut forests such as Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia. There is also a small population of black walnut trees growing in California’s Central Valley.
The name “black” refers to the dark color of the wood. Black walnuts are not actually black; rather they are reddish brown or blackish brown.
The bark is hard and dense, which makes it difficult to split open without damaging the tree.
Walnuts are nuts, but unlike other trees that produce fruit (apples being one example), walnuts don’t drop seeds when ripe. Instead, they develop into small seed pods called acorns after maturity.
These acorn pods contain a single kernel of walnut meat. When these acorn pods mature, they fall off the tree and become part of the forest floor.
Walnuts are considered to be one of the best nut varieties because they provide excellent quality food at low cost. The high fat content helps keep us healthy and strong during lean times while the protein provides energy during times when we need it most.
Walnuts are also rich in minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc.
Black walnuts have a very unusual life cycle. They are the only tree in North America that produces a five-sided nut.
Black walnuts grow on large trees that can live for nearly 500 years. The nuts grow in a thick green shell that is covered with rows of sharp spikes. Each shell has up to five sides and looks like an alligator head. As the nut matures, it drops to the ground and begins to grow into a new black walnut tree.
Black walnuts grow wild in North America and can be found primarily in the Eastern part of the US and Eastern Canada. The trees are large and can grow to more than 100 feet tall.
Black walnut trees have a thick, sturdy trunk that can spread out more than 12 feet wide. The leaves are egg shaped and there are between 20 and 30 on each tree. Each leaf is more than 4 inches across. They are dark green on the top and lighter green on the bottom.
Black walnut trees produce a large amount of nuts, but each nut is small (about 1 inch in diameter). A typical tree might produce around 500 nuts.
It takes a while for the trees to mature and begin producing nuts. In fact, it can take up to 20 years before the trees bear any nuts at all. In addition, the nut harvest does not occur every year. Because of this, most black walnut trees are grown commercially for their wood rather than their nuts.
The wood of black walnut trees is very popular for use in furniture and flooring. It is also used for firearm stock making.
The oil of the nut is used to flavor things like ice cream, cakes and other desserts. Drugs and medicines sometimes use parts of the tree in their formulas.
The black walnut is the state tree of Illinois, which is the largest producer of black walnuts in the United States. In fact, more than half of the world’s supply of black walnuts comes from Illinois.
Many towns in the state have an annual black walnut festival to celebrate this important crop.
Sources & references used in this article:
Black walnut toxicity by MN Dana, BR Lerner – 2001 – mygardengeek.com
Growing black walnut for nut production by W Reid, M Coggeshall, HE Garrett… – … -2009. Agroforestry in …, 2009 – fs.usda.gov
Attack on Black Walnut Trees by the Ambrosia Beetle Xylosandrus germanus (Coleoptera: Scolytidae) by BC Weber, JE McPherson – Forest Science, 1984 – academic.oup.com
Impacts of Intensive Management on Black Walnut (Juglans nigra L.) Growth and Bole Quality at Mid-Rotation by JR Bohanek, JW Groninger – Forest science, 2003 – academic.oup.com
Crown release promotes faster diameter growth of pole-size black walnut by RE Phares, RD Williams – Research Note NC-124. St. Paul, MN: US …, 1971 – fs.usda.gov
Pole-sized black walnut respond quickly to crown release by FB Clark – Journal of Forestry, 1967 – academic.oup.com