Black Walnuts (Juglans nigra)

Botanical Name : Juglans nigra
Family: Juglandaceae
Subfamily: Juglandoideae
Tribe: Juglandeae
Subtribe: Juglandinae
Genus: Juglans
Species: J. nigra
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fagales

Common Names : Black Wallnut, Eastern black walnut

Parts Used: Inner bark, fruits and leaves.
Habitat: Rich woods. Western Massachusetts to Florida; Texas to Minnesota.

The Black Walnut or American Walnut (Juglans nigra L.) is a native of eastern North America, where it grows, mostly alongside rivers, from southern Ontario, Canada west to southeast South Dakota, south to Georgia, northern Florida and southwest to central Texas.

Description:It is a large deciduous tree attaining heights of 30â- 40 metres (100-130 feet). Under forest competition it develops a tall, clear bole; the open-grown form has a short bole and broad crown. The bark is grey-black and deeply furrowed. The pith of the twigs contains air spaces. The leaves are alternate, 30-60 cm long, odd-pinnate with 1-23 leaflets, the largest leaflets located in the centre, 7-10 cm long and 2-3 cm broad. The male flowers are in drooping catkins 8–10 cm long, the female flowers terminal, in clusters of two to five, ripening in the autumn into a fruit with a brownish-green, semi-fleshy husk and a brown corrugated nut. The whole fruit, including the husk, falls in October; the seed is relatively small and very hard.
Mature tree..………. Leaves and fruit….Leaves

The stem pith is light brown. The leaves are pinnate, with 12 to 23 leaflets; the leaflets are slightly alternate, heart-shaped or uneven at base. Leaf stalks and
leaf undersides are slightly hairy; the hairs being solitary or in pairs, not in clusters. Male and female flowers grow in separate catkins. The fruits are rounded, reaching maturity during October and November. The bark is dark brown to grayish black, divided by deep, narrow furrows into thin ridges, forming aroughly diamond-shaped pattern.

History: The American Indians inner bark tea as an emetic and laxative. They chewed the bark for toothaches; used fruit husk juice on ringworm; chewed the husk for colic and poulticed for inflammation. They uses a leaf tea as an astringent and an insecticidal against bedbugs.

The Black Walnut was introduced into Europe in 1629. It is cultivated there as a forest tree for its high quality wood. It is more resistant to frost than the Persian Walnut, but thrives best in the warmer regions of Europe of fertile, lowland soils with a high water table. It is a light-demanding species. The wood is used to make furniture and rifle stocks, and oil is pressed from the seeds.

The Black Walnut produces a substance that is toxic or “allelopathic” to other plants called juglone. It interferes with the healthy development of other plants, especially plants in the Nightshade family (e.g. tomatoes), causing wilting and yellowing of the foliage. This has caused some to believe that nothing grows under a Black Walnut, but there are many varieties of plants that can. Fescue grass is a type of grass that is allelopathic to the Black Walnut.

Constituents: The active principle of the whole Walnut tree, as well as of the nuts, is Nucin or Juglon. The nuts contain oil, mucilage, albumin, mineral matter, cellulose and water.

Use as food:
The extraction of the kernel from the fruit of the Black Walnut is difficult. The shell is covered by a thick husk that exudes a dark, staining, strong-smelling juice. The juice will often be a yellow brown at first, then rapidly assume a deep black-green color upon exposure to the air. The shell often protrudes into the meat, so that whole kernels often cannot be obtained.

click for the picture
Nut with the outer husk removed

The husk is best removed when green, as the nuts taste better if it is removed then. Rolling the nut underfoot on a hard surface such as a driveway is a common method; commercial huskers use a car tire rotating against a metal mesh. Some take a thick plywood board and drill a nut sized hole in it (from one to two inches in diameter) and smash the nut through using a hammer. The nut goes through and the husk remains behind. To keep the husk juices from splattering, a board or canvas scrap may be used to cover the nut before hammering. The black walnut’s husks are known to leave durable, hard to remove stains on hands and clothing.

Before eating or storage, the nuts should be cured in a dry place for at least two weeks. Before cracking, the unshelled nuts may be soaked in hot water for 24 hours in order to soften the shells, but with a proper cracker this is not necessary. While the flavor is prized, the difficulty in preparing the Black Walnut may account for the wider popularity and availability of the Persian Walnut.

Wood: click for the picture
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. It is so valuable that so-called “walnut rustlers” have been known to harvest it illegally by posing as forestry officials, cutting trees during the night, and even using helicopters to take them away quickly; such overharvesting has greatly reduced its numbers and range since colonial times

Medicinal Properties:
Properties: Alterative, astringent, detergent, tonic, vermifuge.

Main Uses:
The bark and leaves are used in the treatment of skin troubles. They are of the highest value for curing scrofulous diseases, herpes, eczema, etc., and for healing indolent ulcers. The bark, dried and powdered, and made into a strong infusion, is a useful purgative. The husk, shell and peel are sudorific, especially if used when the walnuts are green. While unripe, the nut has worm destroying properties.

Preparation And Dosages:
Tincture: (Fresh Leaves [1:2] Dry Leaves [1:5] 50% alcohol), 30-90 drops up to 3 times a day.
Infusion: 2-4 ounces

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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