Culture of the Black Walnut Tree
American Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) is one of the most valuable and unique species of hardwoods. The black walnut wood that we store has a rich brown lustrous heartwood with a grain pattern that categorizes itself in between grainy woods like oak and uniform textured woods such maple and poplar. Because of black walnut wood’s uniqueness it became prized for furniture, interior finish, gunstocks, paneling, novelties and many other items. One of the more assuring qualities of the black walnut wood we store is it has a natural resistance to decay and insects. Black walnut wood typically demands a higher price point because of its increasing demand and decreasing supply of black walnut trees.
Black walnut trees range from the East Coast to the Great Plains and from Texas and Georgia north to central Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and southern Ontario, Canada. But the best quality walnut trees are found primarily in the central states regions from Ohio to Iowa. The walnut species prefer deep, rich, moist soils. We pride ourselves in knowing we are located in the ideal place to grow and harvest black walnut lumber. The best trees are frequently found on flood free ledges just above stream banks. Black walnut typically grows as scattered individual trees or in small groups in mixture with a wide variety of other hardwoods. Black walnut is usually not found in pure walnut stands, it frequently appears with yellow poplar, white ash, black cherry, basswood, beech, sugar maple, red oak, and hickory trees. Other common associates include elm, hackberry, green ash and boxelder.
Mature black walnut trees can grow to 100 to 120 feet in height and up to 30-40 inches in diameter. Forest grown trees are generally straight and limbless, whereas open-grown or city/urban trees are frequently forked and limby.
Black walnut has one bad trait, it can poison neighboring trees, shrubs and other plants with a substance called juglone in its roots, leaves, seed husks and bark. Juglone is a substance that is selectively toxic to many plants, including tree species as well as agricultural crops. Some plants that are sensitive to juglone are: White, Scotch, and Red Pines, Paper Birch, Apple Trees and Tomato Vines. In other words, the black walnut tree’s don’t play very nicely with other trees!
Black Walnut Uses
The heartwood of black walnut ranks with the most durable woods, including cedars, chestnut, and black locust, even under conditions favorable to decay. Because of the unique color and grain characteristics walnut has been a prized wood for furniture, cabinets, millwork, flooring and other decorative interior applications, as well as gunstocks. Bookcases, desks, dining room tables, bedroom furniture, office furniture and many other pieces are frequently made of walnut. Because of its low movement after seasoning, walnut is particularly suitable for gunstocks. Figured black walnut stocks are prized for expensive shotguns and sporting rifles.
Walnut is rated intermediate in planning, but it is a good wood for shaping and the best of any commercial hardwood species for turning. At 12 percent moisture content, walnut weighs about 38 pounds per cubic foot. For its weight, it is a relatively strong wood. Walnut can be dried relatively easily with a moderate kiln schedule, and holds its shape well after seasoning. Black Walnut is normally straight grained, is worked easily with power or hand tools and has excellent machining properties. With figured crotch wood it is necessary to watch the direction of feed, in both thickness planers and jointers. Walnut wood finishes gorgeously, can be stained and satisfactorily glued.
Now that you are an expert on black walnut wood check out our shop of black walnut live edge slabs and pieces of wood!