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FutureStarrThe Black Walnut
Our namesake and first tenant was John, who was born in 1765, and lived on a farm six miles from the town of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. His farm grew and produced abundantly, so one day a wealthy gentleman came to him and offered him 50 acres if he would plant a single walnut on that land. It was a challenge, but John accepted. The walnut tree was a deep, rich, and fruitful pioneer.Juglans nigra, the eastern American black walnut, is a species of deciduous tree in the walnut family, Juglandaceae, native to North America. It grows mostly in riparian zones, from southern Ontario, west to southeast South Dakota, south to Georgia, northern Florida and southwest to central Texas. Wild trees in the upper Ottawa Valley may be an isolated native population or may have derived from planted trees.
Black walnut will not leaf out until temperatures have warmed sufficiently. Leafout in spring is initiated when daytime highs reach approximately 70 °F (21 °C) and leaf drop in fall when daytime highs fall below 65 °F (15 °C). As such, the exact timing will vary in different regions of the US and depending on the weather conditions from year to year, leafout is typically early April in the southern part of its range and sometimes not until the end of May or beginning of June in cooler areas. Leaf drop in fall may begin in late September in cooler regions and not until November in southern areas.Visually, black walnut is similar to the butternut (Juglans cinerea) in leaf shape, and the range also overlaps significantly. The fruits are quite different, and their presence makes an identification easy, as black walnut fruits are round (spherical) and butternuts are more oval-oblong shaped. When a fruit is not available, two species can be differentiated based on the leaf scars, or the place where the leaf meets the stem: butternut has a leaf scar with a flat upper edge and with a velvety ridge above that flat part, but black walnut has an indented leaf scar with no hairy ridge.
Black walnut is one of the most abundant trees in the eastern US, particularly the Northeast, and its numbers are increasing due to epidemics that have affected other tree species, including emerald ash borer, chestnut blight, butternut canker, wooly hemlock adelgid, dogwood anthracnose, Dutch elm disease, and Gypsy moth infestations. Widespread clear-cutting of oaks due to Gypsy moth damage in the 1970s-80s particularly aided in the tree's spread. The aggressive competitive strategy of black walnut such as its fast growth, alleopathic chemicals, and rodent-dispersed seeds, have also contributed.It is cultivated there and in North America as a forest tree for its high-quality wood. Black walnut plantings can be made to produce timber, nuts, or both timber and nuts. Patented timber-type trees were selected and released from Purdue University in the early 1990s. These trees have been sporadically available from nurseries. Varieties include Purdue #1, which can be used for both timber and nut production, though nut quality is poor compared to varieties selected specifically as nut producers. (Source: en.wikipedia.org)