American Walnut – Juglans nigra

American/Black Walnut

American/Black Walnut

This walnut is native to central and eastern North America, but was introduced to Europe in 1629. It was imported and grown there for its wood, not so much for the nuts. The wood is used to make furniture, flooring and rifle stocks.

The black (or American) walnut is used as food. The nutmeat has a robust, distinctive flavor which some people find overpowering after eating English Walnuts). The nuts are used in ice cream, cookies, cakes, fudge, and pies. The nut is high in saturated fat and protein. If the tree is tapped in early spring, like a maple, it yields a sweet sap that can be cooked down to syrup.

The drupes of the nuts are used to obtain a brown black dye. Early settlers used it as a hair dye. The dye is still used as a dye in handicrafts, and the tannin present is used as a mordant (color fixative) aiding in the dying process. The dark color is also used as a dark ink or wood stain.

Many plants find it difficult to grow around or near a black walnut tree. The tree puts out juglone, which is a respiratory inhibitor to some plants. I have seen walnuts with nothing other than grass growing beneath them due to this! If white birch should be introduced to the area it will promptly die.

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