Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Black Walnut
Juglans nigra

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Family: Juglandaceae (joo-glan-DAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Juglans (JOO-glanz) (Info)
Species: nigra (NY-gruh) (Info)

9 vendors have this plant for sale.

25 members have or want this plant for trade.

Category:
Edible Fruits and Nuts
Trees

Height:
over 40 ft. (12 m)

Spacing:
over 40 ft. (12 m)

Hardiness:
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Danger:
Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:
Chartreuse (Yellow-Green)

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer

Foliage:
Deciduous
Aromatic

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:
Non-patented

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

Seed Collecting:
Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing
Wear gloves to protect hands when handling seeds

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Profile:

15 positives
6 neutrals
4 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

RatingAuthorContent
Neutral coriaceous On Mar 12, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

As a gardener, my feelings about this tree are mixed.

It's a very valuable timber tree. A single tree may be worth tens of thousands of dollars. People considering having a mature tree removed should be aware of the harvest value of their tree. The people you hire to remove it certainly are.

I find the squirrel-sown seedlings to be a weedy pain. They grow very quickly, and once well established regrow from the roots again and again, like ailanthus.

Negative MulchingMan On Sep 22, 2012, MulchingMan from Eugene, OR wrote:

I have a mature black walnut in my front yard (about 40' tall, canopy is roughly 40' wide, and the trunk is about 2.5' thick). To be fair, it's a beautiful tree that provides our home with great morning and early afternoon shade. And its roots appear to be far down enough that the secreted juglone is not harming the two mature rhododendrons and three azaleas that have been growing under its canopy for years.

My problem with this tree is that it's very aggressively invasive. Because squirrels are constantly burying the walnuts in the late summer and fall, they're sprouting up all over the neighborhood. And they grow VERY quickly. If you have neighbors who aren't conscientious about what's growing in their yards, black walnuts will eventually become a problem. One sprouted just on the other side of our back fence. The base of the trunk has widened to the point where it pushed up against the bottom of our fence and severed it from the fence post. It's also crowding out our magnolia. This is going to lead to an uncomfortable conversation with our neighbors soon.

In the right environment, black walnuts can provide a number of positives. But if you live in an urban or suburban area, I strongly suggest finding another option.

Positive plant_it On Apr 26, 2012, plant_it from Valparaiso, IN wrote:

Good wildlife tree. A mature black walnut can tower to 100 feet, offering large limbs that serve as ideal roosting sites for wild turkeys and screech owls. Many species of woodpeckers, swallows, wrens, nuthatches and owls use black walnut cavities, and deer browse its leaves, twigs and buds. The nuts are a favorite of squirrels, rabbits and other rodents as it takes strong teeth and persistence to knaw through the hard shells. Woodpeckers also consume the nuts as do some ravens, who fly high in the air with walnuts in their beak then drop them to the ground to crack the shells. Wild turkeys will eat any pieces that remain after the squirrels have cracked them open.

Native to eastern North America. It grows mostly in riparian zones, from southern Ontario, west to southeast South Dakota, south to Georgia, northern Florida and southwest to central Texas.

Black walnuts grow quickly and are good for filling empty spaces. These trees grow tall often 70 to 100 feet and must be planted in areas where they do not compete with overhead utility lines. The minimum seed-bearing age for the black walnut is 12 years.

To confirm you have a black walnut tree, cut through a twig at an angle and check the pith. This pith is chambered--somewhat like a honeycomb. Only black walnut and butternut--a close relative--have pith like this. Walnut pith is brown and butternut is buff colored.

Positive texasflora_com On Oct 15, 2010, texasflora_com from De Leon, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

I'm not going to give a negative feedback to this tree because there is plenty of information available as to what plants can be grown under it and I'm not stuck with an unwanted tree to deal with anyway. It's not for everyone and before planting, just educate yourself on it. Because of the falling twigs, limbs and nuts, the tree needs plenty of space and generally shouldn't be planted around a house. It pretty much has the same characteristics of a pecan tree, which is also messy in a home landscape. We have many old eastern black walnuts growing on the river banks and this year was a bumper crop. The trees make heavy crops in alternate years. If the prices of black wanuts were as good as pecan prices, it would be a different story but the most I've seen walnuts bring is about 9 cents a pound. It's not worth the backaches involved in picking them up.
I was surprised to learn that you can tap black walnut trees for syrup just like you do maple trees.

Negative genshiro On Jun 19, 2010, genshiro from Whitby
Canada wrote:

There is a 150 yr old black walnut tree overlooking my yard. It is indeed a majestic and beautiful tree. The first few years I lived here, I loved it. However, I love fruit trees too, especially cherry blossoms, and had plans for a vegetable garden when I moved here. That was not to be, as I found out the hard way.
I planted and lost a lot of plants and trees before I realized that the walnut tree was the culprit. Most vegetable crops, fruit trees, and berry bushes will not tolerate being near a walnut tree. The poison that the black walnut tree exudes also kills rhododendrons and azaleas; magnolias; conifers such as yews, white cedars, and spruce; and many other plants (some quickly and some very slowly). I have learned, both from my own experience and from information gleaned from the internet, that I have to be very careful of which plants I plant near the walnut tree when I am planning my gardens. Apparently, you have to be even more careful if your soil is water retentive.
In addition, the tree is messy and any heavy wind scatters twigs and leaves and even branches throughout my yard. When the walnuts come down in the fall I risk a concussion when I go under or near the tree. In the fall, not only do I have the leaves to dispose of (and according to various sources, it is highly recommended not to compost them since all parts of the tree are poisonous to many plants), there are also the twigs to clean up, which blow everywhere and stick into the ground.
The squirrel population here is out of control partially because of the food supply. The squirrels dig up gardens and lawns to bury the walnuts and leave partially eaten and mashed up walnut husks scattered around the lawn and gardens. I have on occasion even found walnuts stashed in the engine compartment of my car. Because of the overabundance of squirrels, they terrorize the song birds and tear apart their nests, eat the flower buds off my red chestnut tree and magnolias, dig up gardens and planters, replant tulips for me where I least expect them to be, and tear bark from trees of every kind building and rebuilding their nests. In the last two years I have had to remove every walnut from my yard in the fall to try to get the squirrel situation under control.
In summary, I think the black walnut tree is a beautiful and useful tree but I also think it belongs in the wide-open spaces of the country and not on a city lot.

Neutral escambiaguy On Aug 25, 2005, escambiaguy from Atmore, AL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have read at one website that black walnut(juglone) is lethal to privet. If that is true it would be a very good tree to plant in areas infested with chinese privet. I might give it a try.

Positive tnhtni On Mar 4, 2005, tnhtni from Toano, VA wrote:

Had this tree when I was growing up in Tidewater Va,I've never noticed squirrels taking many of the nuts until after the husks have turned brown and dried up most of the way.Also I have read that very young immature nuts that are blown off by the wind(ones that a stout needle can be pushed through),are good pickled or stored in vinager.

A hint for harvesting the mature nuts is to dehusk them as soon as possible after they have fallen.Wear old shoes,find a hard flat surface that you are not concerned about staining,and step on the hulls.If the husks are still rather green it is easy to get the nuts out of the husk,plus there are few if any husk worms in them at that stage...the worms are of no harm to the nuts,but are unsightly.I heard that chickens renjoy eating the worms but I do not know that for a fact.Yes, both green and brown husks will stain hands and clothes.Also I feel that the nuts taste better if dehusked before the husks have turned brown.Let the dehusked nuts dry for a few weeks before cracking.

In the wild,I noticed that Pawpaw trees(Asimina tribola) would grow near them.Grass grows very well under the trees as well.I've heard that many established plants will continue to grow near newly planted walnuts, while newly planted members of the same species are unable to grow near established black walnut trees.If you have the land,(I don't now),plant 2 or more trees.Thomas is still a good variety,good harvests each year,and rather true to seed,but there are newer strains now available from specialists.

Positive dankearth On Jan 13, 2005, dankearth from Mineral, VA wrote:

People planting a large number of black walnuts should consider interplanting them with conifers. The author of Common Sense Forestry, Hans Morsbach, has planted thousands of black walnuts and found that they do better when they share space with conifers.

No one has mentioned the importance of eradicating weeds from the area where you plant a black walnut and controlling them for the first few years. I recommend (for small plantings) just breaking up the turf mechanically and then covering the area around the seedling with a 3' x 3' square of fabric mulch. Very effective in getting the tree off to a good start.

Pruning is another essential if you're raising black walnuts for future timber.

Positive jcangemi On Nov 11, 2004, jcangemi from Clovis, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

When my family moved to the San Joaquin Valley in 1951, these stately trees were growing all over the countryside, but were gradually removed as more and more land was leveled and cultivated. . .what a shame. One of my earliest memories is accompanying my Grandfather to pick up the nuts under trees within a 1/4 mile of our ranch and then helping him crack them. . a job in itself. . .he put them in a vise on my Dad's workbench, but we still had to pick the nut out of all those little crevises . . .has a distinct flavor I still love today.

Positive henryr10 On Nov 8, 2004, henryr10 from Cincinnati, OH (Zone 6b) wrote:

When I was 3 we moved into a new plat house w/ a large mature, we thought then, Black Walnut.

Now 50 years, two tree houses, tens of thousands of walnuts, hundreds of squirrels, bird nests, possums and even bats later, it is even more beautiful.

The last to get leaves and the first to loose them it is the ideal shade tree for those hot Midwest late Summer afternoons.

Course we didn't know then that you couldn't grow certain plants under them so we grew everything.
Prize winning roses to veggies we never had a problem.
We still have the largest Bleeding Hearts I've ever seen nestled up to the trunk.

My favorite memories are watching the nuts fall on the roof, roll down into the gutters and out the downspouts to the waiting albinos squirrels.
AND
Wearing a hard hat to rake leaves in the Fall. lol

Neutral Dyson On Nov 7, 2004, Dyson from Rocky Mount, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

Not sure yet, weather to remove the 2 Black Walnut trees from the front yard - on one hand I need more sunlight in that area for the garden - on the other hand the shade is nice during the summer afternoons - The earth in the front yard is very poor and is under construction at the moment. Plan on raised beds & will probably only remove the tree that is closest to their planned location. The trees were here when we moved in & I should note that the number of nuts were much less than normal this year. We had a fairly "wet" summer this year (no drought) and I am woundering if this could explain the lack of set?

Positive WUVIE On Sep 23, 2004, WUVIE from Hulbert, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

While not advised growing close to the roof of your bedroom
(chuckle) this tree is a most welcome addittion to our property.

Stated as toxic on many websites, I find it odd that we have many plants growing quite well directly by, under and near the black walnuts. We have many things growing within a fifty foot radius of the tree including Spirea, Hollyhocks, Four O'Clocks, Daylilies, Lavender, Bergamot, Silver Lace Vine, rosebushes, Canna, Morning Glories, Salvia, Purple Hyacinth Bean vine, Love in a Puff, oh my, I could type on and on and on.

Easy to grow from seed and quite durable.
A plus plant if you have the acreage to allow it to
grow to it's grand maturity.

Positive gonedutch On Feb 11, 2004, gonedutch from Fairport, NY wrote:

If you like black walnuts you had best love squirels too! For, as the song goes, they 'go together like a horse and carriage'. My eight large walnuts are systematically harvested by a small army of squirels, red and grey. At first they start to pick away at the unripe nuts on the tree but after the nuts are mature they drop by the bushell baskets all over my lawns and landscape. Unless you want them yourself for baking cookies do not be too hasty to pick them up. The squirels will do the whole job for you within a day or two. Such providence!

The common wisdom is that tree roots extend roughly to the outer drip-line of the tree. Not so for black walnut, or its cousin the butternut. Their roots reach a radius three to four times the radius to the drip-line. Since their roots leach juglone it will stunt or kill many plant species planted over them. This includes many of the traditional orchard trees such as apple, pear, and cherry.

Positive orchid_lady On Feb 10, 2004, orchid_lady wrote:

I live in Southern Indiana and Black Walnut trees grow like weeds. I have a tin roof and on windy nights it sounds like machine guns going off on top of me.
I love the tree but as has been pointed out numerous times, you can't grow companion plants with them. I have a container garden around mine which works out great.
They are extremely easy to propogate. A couple years ago I dumped the nuts against the fence after picking them up - I now have a line of walnut trees bordering the road. Better there than on top of me!

Negative PaisleyPat On Sep 25, 2003, PaisleyPat from Minneapolis, MN wrote:

The Black Walnut tree has recently been added to poisonous plant lists in many states. Reference: Poisonous Plants Homepage of Pennsylvania....Also, recent research has shown that juglone is not the toxin that causes laminitis and breathing problems in horses exposed to bedding made of black walnut shavings...It was caused by yet another toxin that has not been clearly identified..Other state's web pages include warnings to people who have allergies or breathing problems to stay away from these trees..and to keep pets away for fear of them ingesting the hulls...The black walnut is also lethal to earthworms.. Shade? At what price to other living things?

Negative Booty On Sep 19, 2003, Booty from Grand Rapids, MI wrote:

The roots of the Black Walnut have toxins that tend to suppress the growth of other plants and shrubs near by.

Positive Phaltyme On Sep 19, 2003, Phaltyme from Garden City, MI (Zone 6b) wrote:

When I was growing up in Lansing, Michigan, we had two black walnut trees - both started by squirrels. They produced millions of walnuts over the years. My parents sold some (uncracked) and one of our friends had the most delicious recipe for IceBox Cookies using black walnuts. It wasn't a holiday for us unless Mom made a lot. We also had a picnic table and chairs under one of the trees and many happy big family times were spent there.

Mom always claimed the squirrels threw the nuts at her. One son and his wife are developing a black walnut grove and are getting the first nuts this year.

Positive IslandJim On Sep 18, 2003, IslandJim from Keizer, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

I really like this tree, but it's not for me in zone 10. I wish it was. When I lived in the central valley of California, where black walnuts grow more-or-less wild, we would organize "nut gathering" parties in the fall to glean along the roadways and byways of the valley.

Positive leffler On Sep 18, 2003, leffler wrote:

In my neighborhood here in Garland, Texas (a suburb of Dallas), there are many fine examples of this wonderful tree. Here in the Dallas area it is used as a landscape tree. This tree is also found all over East Texas where it is found in the Pine and Hickory/Pecan woods.

Neutral HpyKampers On Sep 6, 2003, HpyKampers from Saint Louis, MO wrote:

I have an approximately 15-year-old Black Walnut that isn't producing nuts this year for some reason. All other aspects of the tree seem to be fine. There are plenty of leaves, water and the conditions haven't changed any this year from years past.

Positive davecwik On Aug 16, 2003, davecwik from Smiths Creek, MI wrote:

I love the tase of these nuts but be careful taking off the husk - the black dye will NOT wash off your hands or clothes. Eventually it will wear off your hands but your clothes will be permanently staind.

Neutral muffnbill On Aug 10, 2003, muffnbill wrote:

All parts of this plant contain the juglone toxin. Do not use the leaves for mulch or grind the limbs for mulch. There are approximately 80 plants that can be grown successfully within the rootzone of this tree. The NC agricultural extension service has a very compressive list.

Positive lupinloon On May 22, 2003, lupinloon from Verndale, MN wrote:

The common thought is that Black Walnut will not grow in this region but my mother had them for over 50 years and now I have a few. It survived a snowless winter and a late icestorm with no problems yet visible. A couple handsful of these in Chocolate Chip Cookies wins you many prizes at County Fairs. They can become pesty if you have a lot of squirrels - the long roots make for difficulty in digging them out. I decided to live with that because the leaves are very beautiful and a stand-alone tree is stunning.

Positive yeshe On May 22, 2003, yeshe from Ridgeland, WI wrote:

It is a beautiful tree which is easy to propagate by putting the nuts 1 to 2" in the ground. Squirels are natural propagators. One and two year old seedlings can be dug up and transplanted. A deep tap root makes it difficult after that. The wood is very desirable for woodworking, easy to work with power tools and hand tools. The grain is beautiful. In my 1/2 acre garden of 75' high trees there are trilium, jack in the pulpit, wild phlox and domestic phlox gone wild. The trilium and jack in the pulpit bloom in May, wild phlox bloom in June and the domestic phlox bloom July into September. All reseed themselves. They make a good companion planting and the toxicity of the black walnut keeps many competitors out.

Neutral Terry On Sep 1, 2002, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

I love the nuts (but they're an acquired taste); difficult plant to work into most suburban landscapes because it's not a very good neighbor to many plants (it releases a toxin through its roots that cuts way down on competition from nearby plants.)

Regional...

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Morrilton, Arkansas
Peel, Arkansas
Clovis, California
Keystone Heights, Florida
Burr Ridge, Illinois
Cary, Illinois
Glen Ellyn, Illinois
Jacksonville, Illinois
Homecroft, Indiana
South Haven, Indiana
Arkansas City, Kansas
Barbourville, Kentucky
Benton, Kentucky
Hi Hat, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Mc Dowell, Kentucky
Prestonsburg, Kentucky
Smiths Grove, Kentucky
Taylorsville, Kentucky
Pollock, Louisiana
Valley Lee, Maryland
Roslindale, Massachusetts
Calumet, Michigan
Grand Rapids, Michigan
New Baltimore, Michigan
Owosso, Michigan
Fridley, Minnesota
Verndale, Minnesota
Mathiston, Mississippi
Bates City, Missouri
Cole Camp, Missouri
Elsberry, Missouri
Kansas City, Missouri
Piedmont, Missouri
St Louis, Missouri
Bridgeport, New York
Croton-on-hudson, New York
Elba, New York
Fairport, New York
King, North Carolina
Wilsons Mills, North Carolina
Dickinson, North Dakota
Fruit Hill, Ohio
Glouster, Ohio
Granville, Ohio
Greenville, Ohio
Jamestown, Ohio
Vinton, Ohio
Hulbert, Oklahoma
Spencer, Oklahoma
Eugene, Oregon
Bell Acres, Pennsylvania
Downingtown, Pennsylvania
East Norriton, Pennsylvania
West Newton, Pennsylvania
Westerly, Rhode Island
India Hook, South Carolina
Clarksville, Tennessee
Lebanon, Tennessee
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
De Leon, Texas
North Shore, Virginia



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