Juglans regia (walnut)

Botanical Name : Juglans regia
Family: Juglandaceae
Genus: Juglans
Species: J. regia
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fagales

Common Names:Black Walnut,Persian walnut, English walnut, common walnut or California walnut

Habitat : Juglans regia is native to the mountain ranges of Central Asia, extending from Xinjiang province of western China, parts of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and southern Kirghizia and from lower ranges of mountains in Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, northern India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, through Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and Iran to portions of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia and eastern Turkey. In these countries, there is a great genetic diversity, in particular ancestral forms with lateral fruiting. During its migration to western Europe, the common walnut lost this character and became large trees with terminal fruiting. A small remnant population of these J. regia trees have survived the last glacial period in Southern Europe, but the bulk of the wild germplasm found in the Balkan peninsula and much of Turkey was most likely introduced from eastern Turkey by commerce and settlement several thousand years ago

Description:
Juglans regia is a large, deciduous tree attaining heights of 25–35 m, and a trunk up to 2 m diameter, commonly with a short trunk and broad crown, though taller and narrower in dense forest competition. It is a light-demanding species, requiring full sun to grow well.

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The bark is smooth, olive-brown when young and silvery-grey on older branches, and features scattered broad fissures with a rougher texture. Like all walnuts, the pith of the twigs contains air spaces; this chambered pith is brownish in color. The leaves are alternately arranged, 25–40 cm long, odd-pinnate with 5–9 leaflets, paired alternately with one terminal leaflet. The largest leaflets are the three at the apex, 10–18 cm long and 6–8 cm broad; the basal pair of leaflets are much smaller, 5–8 cm long, with the margins of the leaflets entire. The male flowers are in drooping catkins 5–10 cm long, and the female flowers are terminal, in clusters of two to five, ripening in the autumn into a fruit with a green, semifleshy husk and a brown, corrugated nut. The whole fruit, including the husk, falls in autumn; the seed is large, with a relatively thin shell, and edible, with a rich flavour.

Cultivation:
Walnut trees grow best in rich, deep soil with full sun and long summers, such as the California central valley. In the U.S., J. regia is often grafted onto a rootstock of a native black walnut, Juglans hindsii to provide disease resistance. Other plants often will not grow under walnut trees because the fallen leaves and husks contain juglone, a chemical which acts as a natural herbicide. Horses that eat walnut leaves may develop laminitis, a hoof ailment. Mature trees may reach 50 feet in height and width, and live more than 200 years, developing massive trunks more than eight feet thick.

Edible Uses: Like all other nuts walnuts are eaten and are used in making various  sweet dishes.

Chemical Constituents:
Seven phenolic compounds (ferulic acid, vanillic acid, coumaric acid, syringic acid, myricetin, juglone and regiolone) have been identified in walnut husks by using reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography or crystallography.

Walnuts also contain the ellagitannin pedunculagin.

-Regiolone has been isolated with juglone, betulinic acid and sitosterol from the stem-bark of . regia

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Medicinal Uses:
Scientists are not yet certain whether walnuts act as a cancer chemopreventive agent, an effect which may be a result of the fruit’s high phenolic content, antioxidant activity, and potent in vitro antiproliferative activity.

Compared to certain other nuts, such as almonds, peanuts and hazelnuts, walnuts (especially in their raw form) contain the highest total level of antioxidants, including both free antioxidants and antioxidants bound to fiber.

Walnuts are a good source dietary source of serotonin, which is important in maintaining a healthy emotional balance. A lack of serotonin in the brain is thought to be a cause of depression. Walnuts are also one of the best plant based sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Both research and population studies have shown that having the right balance of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet reduces inflammation and may help lower risk such as heart disease, cancer, and auto-immune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis.1

Herbalists are most interested in the bark, leaves and nut husks of black walnut. Black walnut hulls contain juglone, a chemical that is antibacterial, antiviral, antiparasitic, and a fungicide. As a skin wash, black walnut is used to treat ringworm and yeast infections of the skin. Black walnut hull extract is unquestionably one of the best and safest worming agents offered by the plant world. But it can be toxic if not used with proper care, caution, and training. It is an herb best reserved for use by experienced practitioners.

Other uses:
Walnut heartwood is a heavy, hard, open-grained hardwood. Freshly cut live wood may be Dijon-mustard colour, darkening to brown over a few days. The dried lumber is a rich chocolate-brown to black, with cream to tan sapwood, and may feature unusual figures, such as “curly”, “bee’s wing”, “bird’s eye”, and “rat tail”, among others. It is prized by fine woodworkers for its durability, lustre and chatoyance, and is used for high-end flooring, guitars, furniture, veneers, knobs and handles as well as Gunstocks.

Methyl palmitate, which has been extracted from green husks of J. regia has insecticidal properties: at a concentration of 10 mg/ml, it killed 98% of Tetranychus cinnabarinus (carmine spider mites) in one study.

Known Hazards:To remove the husk from kernel can lead to hand staining. Walnut hulls contain phenolics that stain hands and can cause skin irritation.

Black Walnut Side Effects:  Not for long term or chronic use, the juglone in black walnut has carcinogenic effects. Can be toxic if not used with proper care and respect. Remember anything that can kill a tapeworm has the potential of being harmful to the host.

Disclaimer:
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.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juglans_regia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walnut
http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail221.php

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