What Does A Black Walnut Tree Look Like?

The Black Walnut Tree

What does a black walnut tree look like? The enormous black walnut tree has scented lance-shaped leaves, hanging clusters of greenish-yellow blossoms, dark gray bark, and delicious walnuts. 

A black walnut tree, prized for its ornamental qualities, has a lovely oval crown with upward-spreading limbs and lush foliage. In addition to being an attractive tree, black walnuts are typically grown for their profusion of edible nuts.

walnut tree

The Appearance of Black Walnut Tree Leaves

The walnut tree leaves can grow as long as 24 inches (60.9 centimeters). The parts of the plant that look like individual leaves are leaflets. The black walnut tree is one of the species that is one of the last to leaf out in the spring and one of the first to shed its leaves in the autumn. 

The colors of fall range from yellow to brown. Pinnately complex leaves can have anything from 15 to 23 individual leaflets each.  You will find these leaves on black walnut trees. 

The shape of each slender leaflet is like a lance and measures between 2 and 4 inches (5.08 and 10.16 centimeters). The margins are finely serrated. The total length of the compound leaf can range anywhere from 12 to 24 inches (30 to 60 cm).

The fact that the leaves only remain on the tree for a brief period is one of the distinguishing features of the growth of black walnuts. Typically, the leaves do not show until late in the season, and they begin to fall off the trees very early in the fall. Golden yellow is the color that the leaves of a black walnut take on in the fall.

Characteristics of Black Walnut Tree Bark

The thick, dark gray-black bark that forms deep furrows and thin ridges on a black walnut tree is one of the characteristics that help to identify the tree. When you look closely at the bark of a black walnut tree, you’ll notice a peculiar pattern that resembles a diamond and runs up the trunk. 

The stems, branches, and twigs on a black walnut tree range from a coppery brown to a nearly black hue. The bark of the black walnut tree is deeply furrowed and dark in color while it is dormant (it is lighter in butternut).

The Different Types of Walnut Trees

The Black Walnut Trees

The wild black walnut tree is the tallest of the walnut trees, reaching heights of over 100 feet (254 centimeters). Its name comes from the black nut that it produces. It has low branches that form a spherical, open canopy, and the canopy itself is open. 

The fruit consists of three distinct layers: a spherical outer layer; a thin, green husk; and a thick, rigid, black shell that measures around 1.5 inches (3.81 centimeters) across. You can find the black walnut tree in zones 4 to 9 in deep, nutrient-dense soil with good drainage. 

It can withstand temperatures as low as -25 degrees Fahrenheit (-31.7 degrees Celsius) and the chilly winters they bring. When the nuts drop to the ground in the autumn, they are difficult to open and require more force than a typical household nutcracker has.

The English Walnut Tree

You can recognize the English walnut tree by its fruit, which develops in clusters of three to nine and has a green, fleshy husk that sits atop nuts with a thin shell that is simple to crack open. The tree, which grows in zones 5 through 9, prefers dry, deep, and loamy soil. It can endure temperatures as low as -15 degrees Fahrenheit (-26.1 degrees Celsius). 

The flavor of English walnuts is more subdued than that of black walnuts, which have a robust and earthy flavor. The trunk of an English walnut tree is a shade of brown similar to olive, and the bark of a young English walnut is smooth. It develops fissures that are both deeper and broader as it ages. 

After removing the bark, it reveals a base with a chocolate brown color, similar to the color of the base of the black walnut. The walnut tree leaves are pinnate, which means that the blade has several smaller leaves that are separate from one another. 

According to the information provided in Leafy Place, they appear like a feather and can have as many as nine leaflets, with a single leaf located at the very tip.

What Does Black Walnut Wood Look Like?

Even in environments where decay is more likely to occur, the heartwood of this tree is among the most decay-resistant of all woods, with chestnut, cedar, and black locust, among others. 

Walnut wood has been highly in demand for furniture, cabinets, millwork, flooring, and other decorative interior uses and for gunstocks because of the wood’s distinctive color and grain qualities. 

You can widely use black walnut in constructing various furniture components, including bookcases, desks, dining room tables, bedroom furniture, office furniture, and many other items. Walnut is an excellent choice for gunstocks because it exhibits minimal movement after seasoning. 

Figured black walnut stocks are in demand because of their use in high-end shotguns, sports rifles, bowls, and carvings for the arts.

Identifying Dormant Black Walnut Trees

When the walnut tree is dormant, you may identify the black walnut by looking at the bark; you can see the black walnut leaf scars when you take the leaves away from the branches and examine the nuts that have fallen around the tree. The bark of black walnut is deeply wrinkled and has a dark coloration (it is lighter in butternut). 

The leaf scars that run along the twigs appear like an inverted shamrock of five or seven-bundle scars. You can frequently discover whole walnuts or the husks of walnuts beneath the tree. The black walnut’s nut is globose, meaning that it is roughly round or spherical. In contrast, the nuts of the butternut tree are more egg-shaped and tend to be smaller.

Interesting Facts on Black Walnut Trees

The black walnut, also known as Juglans nigra, is a tree species belonging to the family Juglandaceae. You can recognize the gigantic tree by its pinnately compound leaves, drooping catkins, and clusters of delicious nuts. 

Additionally, its crown is uneven and oval. Black walnut trees can reach heights of up to 130 feet (40 meters) in height and widths of up to 826.8 inches (21 meters) at their widest point. Spicy and woodsy aromas are one of the most recognizable characteristics of a black walnut tree. 

It will release a pungent stench if you crush any part of the tree, including the leaves, stems, or nut husks. However, in contrast to the rest of the tree, the wonderful walnuts have none of the intense characteristics.

The tree, which you can also refer to as the eastern American black walnut, is successful in USDA zones 4 through 9. Planting a black walnut in a location that receives full sunlight and has organically rich, well-drained, and wet soil is ideal for the tree’s growth and yield. Walnut trees can withstand drought once established and can survive brief floods. 

Black walnut trees have a growth rate that falls in the middle when given perfect conditions. The tree will grow between 2 and 3 feet (0.6 and 1 m) annually in full light and moist, loamy soil conditions. The presence of a chemical substance known as juglone is a problem that frequently arises during the cultivation of black walnut trees. 

This chemical prevents other plants from growing within the tree’s drip line because it acts as a growth inhibitor. Even after removing the tree, there is a possibility that juglone will remain in the soil and inhibit the growth of other plants. You can use the tree nuts from black walnuts in baked goods such as ice cream, pies, and cakes. 

Black walnut trees have various use in the landscape. In addition to high-end furniture and flooring, paddles, and gun stocks, the wood from black walnut trees is frequently used for these products. Additionally, black walnuts emit a syrupy sap similar to maple trees.

Can You Eat Black Walnuts?

Nuts from a black walnut tree are famous for their exceptional flavor. The edible walnuts have a robust, earthy, distinct, intense flavor. In addition to imparting a one-of-a-kind taste and texture to baked goods because of their abundant flavor, black walnuts are a tasty addition to both main courses and side dishes. 

The flavor of black walnuts, described as having a smokey aftertaste, sets them apart from other species of walnut trees.

Walnut tree with walnuts

Black Walnut Tree Fruits, Seeds, and Flowers

Black Walnut Flowers

Clusters of catkins, which can be golden yellow or green, constitute the flowers produced by black walnut trees. Late in May is when the walnut tree begins to blossom, and a single tree can have both male and female flowers. 

Catkins that are three to four inches long and have a bluish-green color droop downward on male black walnut trees. The female blooms are together and have a greenish color.

Black Walnut Fruit

Drupes, which resemble clusters of spherical, green plums growing on branches, are the fruit of the black walnut. Each globular walnut fruit has a nut that ranges in color from brown to black and measures between 1 and 3 inches across (2.5 and 7.5 cm). The yellowish-green husk of black walnut fruit is a characteristic that stains garments.

How to Harvest Black Walnuts

Confirm Your Find

The husk of black walnut is initially yellow-green but eventually turns dark brown. When they are ready for harvesting, which for the majority of the United States is from September to October, they have a diameter of about two inches and drop to the ground.

Gather Your Walnuts

Wear work gloves before you begin because black walnuts contain tannins, a juicy material that will leave stains on your hands for days. Then, gather up all the black walnuts lying about and put them in baskets or bags so you can get them back home for processing.

Remove the Husks

After you have gathered all your black walnuts, the next step is to strip them of their husks. Put on some old shoes that you don’t mind getting stained, and roll the first walnut under your foot to crack it open. It ought to be relatively easy to remove the husk. After that, carry on in the same manner as the rest of the walnuts. 

If you have a lot of walnuts to work with, you can also lay them out on the driveway and drive your car over them several times to remove all of the husks at once. This works best if you have a lot of walnuts to work with. 

Wash the Walnut Shells

After removing the husks, the walnuts are still inside their shells, and the black muck is stuck. Put the nuts in a bucket, then use a hose to give them a good soaking, scrubbing, and rinsing to eliminate as much of the filth as possible. Throw away any nuts that float because this indicates that the nutmeat didn’t develop correctly. 

Then spread the walnuts out to dry. If you choose to dry them outside, ensure you shield them from the rain, the bright sunlight, and any squirrels that might be about. A porch enclosed by screens or an outbuilding would be great.

Drying and Curing

Before you store the black walnuts or break them, you should allow them to dry and cure for around two to three weeks. This will help prevent mold from growing on your produce and cause you to lose money.


You can keep your walnuts in a cold, dark place for up to a year after giving them enough time to cure (though they may turn rancid before then). However, shelling the nuts and freezing them is your best option. You can make them last forever if you do this.

Cracking Tips

If you want to crack your walnuts, either put them in a vise-grip or tighten it until they give, or place them on the ground, point them end up, and pound them with a hammer until they break. Next, carefully remove the nut fragments. Because walnut shells are so tough, this procedure takes time.

During cracking, the nutmeat breaks into fragments. Before cracking walnuts, soak them for several hours. The nuts absorb small amounts of water, making them less likely to crack. If you choose to do this, ensure the nuts are at room temperature for a day before freezing them.

How to Plant Black Walnut Trees

Collecting Nuts

There are three ways to gather walnuts: picking them up from the ground in the fall, using a telescoping branch holder to shake nuts loose from a tree, or climbing the tree and shaking individual branches by hand. The best and safest way to gather walnuts is to pick them up after they fall to the ground in the fall. A reasonably mature tree should yield 1,000 or more walnuts.

Separating the Husk from the Nut

Removing the husk from a walnut takes time and is nasty. One method involves soaking roughly 50 husked nuts in a five-gallon container for two days. The husks of the nuts will become softer and more readily separated from their nuts by hand as a result. The second method involves adding about 200 walnuts to a 20-gallon (75.7 liter) drum halfway full of water to separate the husks. 

Give the nuts 48 hours to soak. The water containing the nuts should then be stirred for about 5 minutes using a power cord drill (a cordless drill won’t have enough power for the job) and an agitator attachment (this is the same attachment they use to mix paint or drywall plaster, which you can purchase at most hardware stores, Home Depot, Lowes, Tractor Supply, etc.). 

Scoop part of the mixture out of the barrel using a tiny 1-gallon (3.79 liter) kids’ beach pail, and then pour it into an upside-down milk crate on top of another upside-down milk crate. You can use the milk crates as a sieve and as an elevated work surface to reduce bending over and back strain. 

The husks will come off the moistened nuts when vigorously showered with a garden hose. If you aren’t breaking the nuts to eat, set them aside in a cool location and don’t allow them to dry out.


Temperate black walnut trees need stratification to bud in the spring. Stratification is intentionally inducing dormancy for a long enough time to trigger germination. Before planting the seed, black walnut requires three to four months of inactivity. Clean the nuts and soak them for 24 hours to begin the procedure. 

After that, strain them and let them air dry for about 10 minutes at room temperature on a towel. You should pack nuts, peat, and potting soil into many sizeable self-sealing plastic bags, allowing only a little space at the top. Once the dirt and nuts are fully combined, seal the bag and give it a gentle shake. 

To ensure that the soil is well separated from the nuts, it’s crucial to put only a few walnuts. The nuts in a tightly packed nut bag will decay in weeks. Put the nut-filled bags in a second refrigerator face down and stack one on top of the other (perhaps you can buy a second-hand fridge and put it in the garage). 

You should keep nut bags in the refrigerator where you keep food. You can sow the nuts after a few months. Black walnuts should be ready to sow in the spring if you stratify them in December.

How to Stratify Tree Seed

Take the bags of stratification out of the refrigerator and bring them to where you will plant the seeds. If you want to grow black walnut trees using the traditional method, then stringing a line between two stakes that you drive into the ground will serve as a guide for you to follow so that you may plant the black walnut seeds in a straight line. 

Along the line, dig shallow holes with a shovel to a depth of approximately 5 inches (12.7 centimeters) roughly every 15 to 20 feet (4.6 to 6.1 meters). Cover the hole after you have planted the seed. You can use the string and plant method to build rows of trees, and the recommended distance between each tree in each row is 25 feet (7.6 meters).

How To Transplant Black Walnut Tree Seedlings

To successfully transplant seedlings of black walnut trees, you will need to auger deep spherical holes in the soil. The holes should be more extensive in breadth and depth than the tree seedling’s roots. 

The drill can either be hand-held or driven by a PTO. The number of tree seedlings you need to plant determines the drill. It is also possible to utilize the string and plant approach to align and space rows of tree seedlings transplanted.

How to Grow Black Walnut Trees

How to Grow Black Walnut Tree From Seed

Growing black walnut trees from seed is simple. To germinate, you must expose a black walnut seed to cold temperatures and damp environments. Alternatively, you can stratify them indoors to aid in germinating the walnut seeds. In the fall, you can sow black walnut seeds straight in the ground. 

Insert one seed into the ground about 2 inches (5 cm) deep in a favorable spot. The following spring, they ought to sprout. However, you must keep squirrels and other animals away from the buried seeds. 

Put the dried seeds in a sack with wet sand and peat moss to stratify them indoors. You then store the seeds in the fridge for three to four months. You can sow seeds in a pot or your garden in the spring after the stratification process.

How to Grow Black Walnut Tree in a Container

Choose a pot that is 20 inches (50.8 centimeters) wide and 18 inches (45.7 centimeters) deep if you want to grow a black walnut tree. It ought to have holes for drainage. Place peat moss and potting soil mixed with perlite for drainage inside the pot. With the nut on its side, plant the walnut seed approximately 2 inches (5 centimeters) deep and give it plenty of water. 

You must keep the animals away from the seed and sapling. So use wire mesh to cover the pot. You should only water the container when the soil’s top 2 inches (5 centimeters) is dry. You can plant the walnut seedling in the ground in the early spring when it is about 1 ft (30 centimeters) tall.

Black Walnut Tree Diseases and Pests

Pests Affecting Black Walnut Tree Growth

Caterpillars shoot borers, beetles, and aphids are just some of the pests that can stunt the growth of black walnut trees, despite the tree’s moderate resistance to pests. Cankers, damaged leaves, and a deficiency in healthy nuts are all potential outcomes of an infestation of pests. The following is a brief overview of the various pests that can affect black walnut trees:

Walnut caterpillar (Datana integerrima)

You can strip the leaves of hickory and walnut trees bare by the caterpillar, which can be dark brown or black. The caterpillars hatch somewhere between the end of spring and the beginning of summer. Bacillus thuringiensis is an effective tool for managing larvae, and its use is advisable.

Walnut shoot moth (Acrobasis demotella)

It is a harmful borer that can you can see laying eggs beneath the leaves of walnut trees. The newly emerged larvae eat the leaves and have the potential to induce shoot dieback.

Walnut twig beetle (Pityophthorus juglandis)

Invasive pests like this one are responsible for spreading a disease called a thousand cankers, which affects black walnut trees. This fungal infection results in the formation of cankers on the tree, which ultimately results in the tree’s demise.

Diseases Affecting Black Walnut Tree Growth

Apart from thousand canker disease, other foliar and root diseases can affect a black walnut’s growth.

Walnut anthracnose (Gnomonia leptostyla)

On the leaves of black walnut trees, brown or black spots may appear due to an infection caused by a foliar fungus. This illness can result in the premature falling of leaves and misshapen nuts with no flavor. 

To stop the infection from spreading further, you should rake up and dispose of all the diseased leaves and then use a springtime fertilizer that is strong in nitrogen.

Powdery mildew (Phyllactinia guttata)

It appears as though you have sprinkled a fine layer of flour over the leaves. Conditions of excessive dampness or insufficient ventilation bring on the fungal infection of the leaf. In addition, newly developed leaves sometimes wilt and need to mature more. 

You can protect Black walnut trees from powdery mildew by having their branches trimmed down to allow for greater air circulation.

Walnut blight (Xanthomonas campestris)

A bacterial infection is responsible for the ugly dark brown and black patches on the black walnut tree leaves. The disease has the potential to disrupt nut output.

Toxic Walnut Parts

Every component of the walnut tree is responsible for the natural production of juglone. However, the buds, nut hulls, and roots have the highest concentration. The concentration is lower in the stem, twigs, and leaves, but when the leaves and stems fall off and degrade, they release juglone into the soil. 

Juglone is the active ingredient in juglone. The roots of a black walnut tree that you have cut down can continue to produce juglone even after you remove the tree. The soil beneath the tree’s canopy contains the highest concentration of juglone, but you will find juglone throughout the whole root zone of the tree. 

The root zone of giant black walnut trees can extend up to 50 to 60 feet (15.24 to 18.3 centimeters) out from the trunk. Juglone is all over the tree. Tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, eggplants, cabbage, rhubarb, and asparagus are examples of vegetables that cannot thrive in the immediate area of a black walnut tree.

Peonies, petunias, and chrysanthemums are some examples of flowers that are sensitive to juglone. Azalea, hydrangea, lilac, and yew are some of the bushes that have the effects. Alder, apple, crabapple trees, pine, spruce, silver maple, and birch are some examples of trees that are susceptible to the effects of juglone.

Because juglone is not water-soluble, it does not move around in the soil. Because of this property, raised beds are an excellent choice for cultivating delicate plants like tomatoes. Plants susceptible to juglone will show symptoms such as wilting, yellowing of the leaves, and delayed or stunted growth. 

The afflicted plants are not treatable and will often perish within a few months. The presence of black walnut in the neighborhood is not usually recognized as the offender because these symptoms might also have other causes, such as a plant disease or a lack of nutrients. Because of this, it is essential to recognize a black walnut tree when you see one. 

Be aware that planting such a tree in your yard will have the same effect on juglone-sensitive plants as a non-grafted black walnut tree. If you decide to cultivate such a tree in your yard, you should be aware of this effect.

How to Remove a Black Walnut Tree

Simply plucking them out of the ground will eliminate the seedlings and saplings of the black walnut tree together with their entire root systems. You may need to break the surrounding soil with a shovel to extract the taproot. You can take down a larger tree by cutting it down with a chainsaw.

Walnut tree with green walnut

Parting Words

Consuming black walnuts in moderation poses little risk, except for symptoms brought on by a tree nut allergy. However, nuts contain many calories, so eating them frequently or excessively can make you gain weight. This article provides you with all the necessary information you need to know. Consult your doctor if you’re considering using black walnut to treat a medical issue. Read our article and find out What is the Difference Between Nuts and Seeds.

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