Green Black Walnut Fruit in the Tree – Photo by Steve Troletti
Black Walnuts grow in a tree just like many other fruits (Oranges, Apples, etc…) and are fairly large. They have a thick green husk that protects the nut inside and some say that’s the best time to pick them, when they are green, before they dry up. In order to get to the nut, the husk must be removed and that’s not all that easy. Various instruments are used in the commercial world to remove the husk in a productive way. A large tire rotating against a metal plate being one of the most popular methods. Rolling the nut under your foot on a cement sidewalk should do the trick for the occasional amateur. I for one use a small, sharp, quality pocket knife to slowly peel away at the husk.
The difficulty in removing the husk has made the Persian Walnut more readily available on market shelves but the taste and texture of the Black Walnut is by far one of the best. The nut provides natural flavoring and crunch as an ingredient in such foods as ice cream, baked goods, chocolate and candy. It’s also used in many salads and various food recipes. The nutritional information is similar to that of its milder tasting cousin, the English Walnut. In addition to the eatable nutmeat from the drupe, the sap of the tree is also used to make a sugary syrup much like maple syrup.
The Black Walnut Drupe also secretes a dark brownish dye traditionally used as hair coloring, still being used today as a natural dye for wood and hand crafted projects. You can notice this dye secreting from the husk on the cut-off section in the picture above.
The wood of the Black Walnut tree is hard and strong yet can be easily worked. The wood also has a natural rich heartwood color. These properties make the Black Walnut Tree wood a sought after commodity.
A record breaking Black Walnut Tree was reported in Oregon measuring over 112 feet tall and spanned at the top over 144 feet wide. The base of the tree at chest height measured over 8 1/2 feet in diameter.
While visiting Montreal you can currently view the Black Walnut Tree and its fruit (Drupe) in the Arboretum of the Montreal Botanical Garden. Visit the Tree House by the Rosemont Boulevard entrance of the Montreal Botanical Garden located between the 28th and 29th Avenue, East of Pie-IX. The friendly staff at the tree house will give you precise instructions and a map to find the Black Walnut Trees and other interesting trees around the Arboretum.
- Diseased walnut in Bucks Co. prompts quarantine (philly.com)
- Talking About Trees (europeantrees.wordpress.com)