Black walnut (Juglans nigra) – young fruit close up – July 2018

Other common names
black walnut
American walnut

It is a large tree which can reach 30 or 40 metres in height. The tree gets its name from its dark, heavily ridged bark which occurs even when it is still young.

The leaves are pinnate and larger than that of the common walnut (Juglans regia) with more leaflets. Individual leaflets are oval, pointed, irregularly toothed and hairy underneath.

Both male and female flowers appear from late May-early June. The male flowers are on 8-10cm long catkins that droop from the branches. Female flowers appear in clusters.

During autumn, flowers turn to a brownish-green plum-like fruit. The brown nut is held inside this large semi-fleshy husk which is rougher than that of common walnut. The shells are notoriously hard to break, drying them out makes it easier to crush and open the shells.

Inside the twig the pith, or spongy tissue, is segmented. Buds have horseshoe shaped leaf scars, or marks, left by fallen leaves, at their base.

Black Walnut is native to eastern north America and was introduced to Europe in 1629.

The roots contain a growth-inhibiting chemical which prevents many other trees and plants growing near it, this is said to affect tomatoes and apples in particular.

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