Friday, February 20, 2015

6th in a Series - Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)

A deciduous tree from the Walnut Family (Juglandaceae)
Black Walnut, a rapidly growing tree common in all of Ohio, is most common in moist bottomlands and open fields, but is found everywhere due to squirrels burying its nuts. Its beautiful, fine-grained, chocolate-brown, relatively lightweight heartwood is the ultimate choice for making solid wood furniture, interior trim, gunstocks, and high-quality veneer. The large nut contained beneath the husks of Black Walnut is round and can be cracked open to expose the bittersweet, oily, and highly nutritious kernel.

A native of the Eastern, Midwestern, and Great Plains regions of the United States, Black Walnut is a pioneer invader tree in open fields or cut-over woodlots, and grows rapidly in youth. It displays an irregular and open growth habit when young, dividing into several spreading branches that give it an upright rounded shape as it matures. Its bold winter texture makes it an outstanding tree to observe during the dormant season. This tree may easily grow to 70 feet tall by 70 feet wide when it is found in the open. As a member of the Walnut Family, it is related to other Walnuts and to the Hickories.
Planting Requirements - Black Walnut prefers deep, moist, rich, well-drained soils under sunny conditions, especially the bottomlands of rivers and streams. It also tolerates relatively dry, poor soils, but with a significantly reduced growth rate. Seedlings and saplings are notorious for having a single, very deep taproot that makes transplanting difficult. Black Walnut grows in full sun to partial sun, and is found in zones 4 to 9.

Potential Problems - Aside from leaf spot, Black Walnut is virtually disease and pest free. However, it is famous for the production by its roots of juglone, a chemical that is toxic to some nearby competitor plants. In a woodland setting, very few plants grow under the canopy of this species. When summer drought occurs, the response of this tree is to begin dropping leaves, in spite of its deep taproot system. In an urban setting, a constant rain of leaflets, rachises, dead twigs, stain-laden whole fruits, and debris from squirrel feeding occurs from mid-summer until late autumn, presenting a constant clean-up chore and mowing hazard.

 The Black Walnut  is one of 6 tree seedlings which will be offered in the 2015 Tree Sale held by the Guernsey Soil & Water Conservation District.  Other seedlings include White Pine, Chinquapin Oak, Hazelnut, Red Bud, and Flowering Dogwood. Also available this year are 2 varieties of standard pear trees; Potomac and Crispie. The sale will include Sierra Blueberries and Triple Crown thornless Blackberries.  We will offer two cover crop seed mixes for gardeners; a Fall Cover mix, and new this year, a mix that can be interseeded into a producing vegetable garden in late summer.  And as usual, the district has high quality all cedar birdfeeders and houses for sale.  For more information and to receive an order blank, please call 740-435-0408.

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