Herbs & Plants

Butternut (Juglans Cinerea)

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Botanical Name: Juglans cinerea
Family: Juglandaceae
Genus: Juglans
Section: Trachycaryon
Species: J. cinerea
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fagales

Synonyms  : Wallia cinerea. Nux cinerea

Other Names: Butternut, White Walnut, Oilnut.

Rich soil in deciduous woods. Southeastern Minnesota, southern Ontario, and western New Brunswick, south to northern Arkansas, northern Mississippi, western Georgia, and western South Carolina.

Parts Used: Inner bark and nut oil.

Description:The Butternut (Juglans cinerea), also occasionally known as the White Walnut, is a species of walnut native to the eastern United States and southeast Canada, from southern Quebec west to Minnesota, south to northern Alabama and southwest to northern Arkansas. It is a deciduous tree growing to 20 m tall, rarely 30 m, and 40-80 cm stem diameter, with light gray bark. The leaves are pinnate, 40-70 cm long, with 11-17 leaflets, each leaflet 5-10 cm long and 3-5 cm broad. The whole leaf is downy-pubescent, and a somewhat brighter, yellower green than many other tree leaves. The flowers are inconspicuous yellow-green catkins produced in spring at the same time as the new leaves appear. The fruit is a nut, produced in bunches of 2-6 together; the nut is oblong-ovoid, 3-6 cm long and 2-4 cm broad, surrounded by a green husk before maturity in mid autumn. Butternut grows quickly, but is rather short-lived for a tree, rarely living longer than 75 years.

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It has gray, relatively smooth bark. The leaves are large and pinnate, divided into 11 to 19 pointed and toothed leaflets; there are drooping racemes or catkins of separate male and female flowers.

he Butternut is seriously threatened by an introduced canker disease, caused by the fungus Sirococcus clavigigenti-juglandacearum. In some areas, 90% of the Butternut trees have been killed. Completely free-standing trees seem better able to withstand the fungus than those growing in dense stands or forest. The fungus is spread by a wide-ranging vector, so isolation of a tree offers no protection.

Inner bark tea or extract was a popular early American laxative, thought to be effective in small doses, without causing griping (cramps). American Indians used bark in tea for rheumatism, headaches, toothaches; strong warm tea for wounds to stop bleeding, promote healing. Oil from nuts used for tapeworms, fungal infections. Juglone, a component, is antiseptic and herbicidal; some antitumor activity has also been reported.

Bitter principle, essential oils, fixed oil, juglandic acid, juglone, tannin.

General Uses:
The nuts are usually used in baking and making candies, having an oily texture and pleasant flavor. The husks are also used to make a yellowish dye.

Butternut wood is light in weight and takes polish well, is highly rot resistant, but is much softer than Black Walnut wood. Oiled, the grain of the wood usually shows much light. It is often used to make furniture, and is a favorite of woodcarvers.

Medicinal Properties  &   Uses: 
Alterative, anthelmintic, astringent, bitter tonic, cholagogue, hepatic, and rubefacient.

The inner bark is the medical portion and that of the root is considered the best.  It has a feeble odor and a peculiarly bitter, somewhat acrid taste.  Its medicinal virtues are extracted by boiling water, except its astringency, which it yields to alcohol. Butternut is a mild cathartic, operating without pain or irritation and resembling rhubarb in evacuating without debilitating, the alimentary canal. It was highly esteemed and much employed as a laxative by the Army during the Revolutionary War.  The liquid extract is very valuable in chronic constipation, especially combined with a carminative herb such as ginger or angelica.  It will tone the entire alvine membrane, being particularly tonic to the lower bowels, influencing peristalsis.  It is moderately slow, operating in 4-8 hours, but very reliable.  It relieves the portal circulation, especially where the liver is engorged.  It will bring about the ejection of bile and the cleansing of the hepatic and alvine accumulations, but it will not bring about water evacuations.  It is considered excellent for other bowel affections, particularly dysentery, in which it has acquired considerable reputation.  A simple syrup of butternut can be made as follows: Fl X butternut ? oz, 4 oz sugar, and 10 oz boiling water.  Mix and bottle.  Dose is 1 Tbsp twice daily, children in proportion.  This syrup is excellent for hemorrhoids and rectal hemorrhage, FE stone root may be added.  For tapeworm, it is considered a reliable remedy, especially for children.  The oil may be applied to irritated sores.  Butternut also lowers cholesterol levels and promotes the clearance of waste products by the liver. It has a positive reputation in treating intestinal worms. An infusion of the dried outer bark is used in the treatment of toothache.

Uses: Stimulates liver in sluggish or congestive digestive disorders.
Chronic or acute skin disease associated with bowel and/or liver topor.
Chronic constipation with dyspepsia.

Combinations: Works well with Barberry and Dandelion for mild constipation.

Works well with Yellow Dock and Burdock for skin disorders.

Preparations and Dosages:

Weak decoction: 2 to 4 ounces, up to 3 times a day.

Butternut is also a wild food.

Known Hazards : The naphthoquinone constituents may cause gastric (stomach) irritation. Avoid in patients with gallstones.

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