Eastern black walnut
Juglans nigra, Hardiness : Zone 3b
Other names
Black walnut
Native plant, Nut tree or shrub, Ornamental tree
1.5 years old, naked roots 12.00$
2 years old, naked roots 16.00$
Height X Width
20.0m X 16.0m
big tropical-like leaves
Edible parts description
Like a european walnut
Sun exposure
Full sun
Soil type
Edible parts
Needs another plant nearby to bear fruits
Click to see full size
Description, from Wikipedia
  • Odor Most parts of the tree including leaves, stems, and fruit husks have a very characteristic pungent or spicy odor. This odor is lacking in the nut itself.
  • Trunk Height 30–40 m (100–130 ft). Under forest competition, it develops a tall and straight trunk. When grown in an open area it has a short trunk and broad crown.
  • Bark The bark is typically grey-black and deeply furrowed into thin ridges that gives the bark a diamond shaped pattern.
  • Pith The pith of the twigs is chambered and light brown.
  • Buds The buds are pale silky and covered in downy hairs. The terminal buds are ovate, and 8 mm (516 in) long, and slightly longer than broad, the lateral buds are smaller and superposed.
  • Leaves The leaves are pinnately compound and alternately arranged on the stem. They are 30–60 cm (1–2 ft) long, typically even-pinnate but there is heavy variation among leaves. The stems have 15–23 leaflets, when terminal leaf is included, with the largest leaflets located in the center, 7–10 cm (2 34–4 in) long and 2–3 cm (341 14 in) broad. The leaflets have a rounded base and a long pointed (acuminate) tip as well as having a serrated edge. The leaves are overall dark green in color and are typically hairy on the underside.
  • Leaf scar The leaf scar has 3 prominent bundle scars and has a notch on the side that points toward the tip of the branch (distal side)
  • Flowers Black walnut is monoecious. The male (staminate) flowers are in drooping catkins 8–10 cm (3 14–4 in) long. These are borne from axilary buds on the previous year's growth. The female (pistillate) flowers are terminal, in clusters of two to five on the current year's growth.
  • Fruit Ripens during the summer/autumn into a spherical fruit (nut) with a brownish-green, semifleshy husk and a brown, corrugated nut. The whole fruit, including the husk falls in October; the seed is relatively small and very hard.

The fruit production tends to occur irregularly with some years producing larger crops than others (see mast year). Fruiting may begin when the tree is 4–6 years old, but large crops take 20 years. Total lifespan of J. nigra is about 130 years. Like other trees of the order Fagales, such as oaks, hickories, chestnuts, and birches, it is monoecious, with wind-pollinated catkins. Male and female flowers are in separate spikes, and the female flowers typically appear before the male on a single tree (dichogamy). As a consequence, self-pollination is unlikely. However, individual trees are commonly self-compatible; if they are not pollinated by neighboring trees, they may set self-fertilized seeds. For maximum seed germination, the seeds should be cold-moist stratified for 3–4 months, although the exact time depends on the seed source. The seedlings emerge in April or May. While most trees with taproots have a reputation for slow growth, black walnut is an exception and can achieve very rapid growth in the seedling stage, typically 90 cm (35 in) their first year and even more in the 2nd year. Black walnut will not leaf out until temperatures have warmed sufficiently. Leafout in spring is initiated when daytime highs reach approximately 70°F (21°C) and leaf drop in fall when daytime highs fall below 65°F (15°C). As such, the exact timing will vary in different regions of the US and depending on the weather conditions from year to year, leafout is typically early April in the southern part of its range and sometimes not until the end of May or beginning of June in cooler areas. Leaf drop in fall may begin in late September in cooler regions and not until November in southern areas.

Black walnut has a strong taproot, which makes the seedlings resilient, but difficult to transplant.

Black walnut is more resistant to frost than the English or Persian walnut, but thrives best in the warmer regions of fertile, lowland soils with high water tables, although it will also grow in drier soils, but much more slowly. Some soils preferred by black walnut include Alfisol and Entisol soil types. Black walnut grows best on sandy loam, loam, or silt loam type soils but will also grow well on silty clay loam soils. It prefers these soils because they hold large quantities of water, which the tree draws from during rainless periods.

Visually, black walnut is similar to the butternut (Juglans cinerea) in leaf shape, and the range also overlaps significantly. The fruits are quite different, and their presence makes an identification easy, as black walnut fruits are round (spherical) and butternuts are more oval-oblong shaped. When a fruit is not available, two species can be differentiated based on the leaf scars, or the place where the leaf meets the stem: butternut has a leaf scar with a flat upper edge and with a velvety ridge above that flat part, but black walnut has an indented leaf scar with no hairy ridge.