Landowner Fact Sheets

black walnut Juglans nigra play

Black walnut is one of the most prized and valuable of North American hardwoods. The wood is famous for its rich, dark beauty and is coveted by wood dealers and woodworkers internationally. The nuts are enjoyed by squirrels, as well as people.

range map Click to see more images. fall color wood grain

Black walnut is intolerant of shade at all stages of maturity and must be dominant or codominant to thrive. Regeneration systems offering abundant light, such as clearcuts, patch clearcuts, and group selections are acceptable. Black walnut responds quickly to release from competition for light, water, and nutrients.

Black walnut is commonly found on well-drained alluvial soils in bottomlands. It frequently invades disturbed soils and is common in the urban landscape.


A medium to large tree up to 100 feet in height that developes a straight, clear bole with a narrow crown under competition, twigs and branches quite stout.

Timber Value
Black walnut is used for veneer, fine furniture, gunstocks, interior paneling, and specialty products.

Wildlife Value
Squirrels eat walnuts when they are green or bury them for future consumption. Deer browse the buds; mice and rabbits nibble young tree stems. Squirrels and birds eat black walnuts. Eastern screech owl often roosts in black walnut.
Attracts squirrels, deer, mice, rabbits, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, eastern screech owls

Insects and Diseases

Fun Facts
The wood of black walnut is dark brown in color and is easily worked. The nuts are said to be superior in flavor to other walnuts and are used primarily for baked goods and ice cream. The shells of black walnut have many uses including an abrasive cleaning agent for jet engines, filler for dynamite, a filter agent in smokestacks, and a flour-like carrying agent for insecticides. Black walnut is known to exude from its roots an allelopathic chemical called juglone which is highly toxic to other plants. Black walnut is currently being threatened by a newly recognized fungal disease known as “thousand cankers black walnut disease".

Latin Meaning
Juglans: Latin name for Juglans regia Latin "jovis" (Jupiter) and "glans" (nut) / nigra: black (bark)

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Landowner Factsheets © 2004 Virginia Tech Forestry Department, all rights reserved. Text, images, and programming by: Dr. Jeff Kirwan, Dr. John R. Seiler, John A. Peterson, Edward C. Jensen, Guy Phillips, or Andrew S. Meeks.