||This extremely valuable forest
tree only grows well on rich bottomlands, in moist, fertile coves
and on lower slopes throughout the state. Its survival, growth
and quality on less fertile sites is not good.
Black walnut leaves are alternate, pinnately compound (see foreward
for an example), 12 to 24 inches long, with 15 to 23 sharply oval,
finely toothed, long-pointed leaflets 3 to 3 1/2 inches long.
The pith of new branches is chambered, with thin, buff-colored
diaphragms (which are thin, papery crosswalls) defining the chambers,
or voids. Leaves turn a bright, clear yellow in autumn.
The fruit, attached singly or in pairs, is globular, pointed at
the apex, 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter and has a thick, yellow-green
fibrous husk. The hard, woody nut is dark brown, oval to oblong,
1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter and is deeply divided on the outer
surface into irregular ridges. The meat of the nut is sweet and
edible and is a favorite food for squirrels.
The bark is thick, dark brown to black and is divided by deep
fissures into rounded ridges. The tree reaches 50 to 90 feet in
height and 2 to 3 feet in diameter.
The heartwood is of superior quality and value. It is heavy, hard
and strong, has a rich, chocolate brown color, and it warps or
checks little when drying. Once dry, it is dimensionally stable.
These attributes, along with the wood's receptiveness to a high
polish, make it highly prized for a great variety of uses, including
furniture, cabinetwork and gun stocks. Walnut is the most valuable
of our hardwoods.