Hardiness Zone

White Walnut (Butternut)

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White Walnut (Butternut)


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The White Walnut (Butternut) (Juglans Cinerea) is native to moist bottomlands, lowland forests and some drier limestone soils in eastern and midwestern North America, from New Brunswick to Minnesota, south to Georgia and Arkansas. It is a deciduous tree that typically grows 40-60’ tall with an open broadly-rounded crown. Features odd-pinnate compound leaves (to 20” long), each with 11-17 oblong to lanceolate leaflets. Foliage turns an undistinguished yellow in fall. Yellowish green monoecious flowers appear in late spring (May-June), the male flowers in drooping catkins and the female flowers in short terminal spikes. Female flowers give way to clusters of edible oval nuts encased in hairy indehiscent husks. Nuts mature in fall. Nut shells can be hard to crack and the kernels are often small. But the kernels are sweet, oily and tasty, having a buttery flavor as per the common name. Native Americans used the nuts for food and boiled the tree sap for syrup. Butternut wood, though softer than black walnut, was once valued for a variety of uses including paneling, cabinets and furniture. Overharvesting of trees for commercial use plus losses from the canker disease have reduced native tree populations to the point where the butternut is now endangered in most parts of its range. This species is sometimes commonly called white walnut because of the light color of the wood. Prefers moist, organically rich, well-drained soils in full sun. Intolerant of shade. Difficult to transplant because of deep taproot.


Zones 3-7

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