The black walnut is a large deciduous tree attaining heights of 30–40 m (98–131 ft). Under forest competition, it develops a tall, clear trunk; the open-grown form has a short trunk and broad crown. The bark is grey-black and deeply furrowed. The pith of the twigs contains air spaces.
Black Walnut Tree
The black walnut is a large deciduous tree attaining heights of 30–40 m (98–131 ft). Under forest competition, it develops a tall, clear trunk; the open-grown form has a short trunk and broad crown. The bark is grey-black and deeply furrowed. The pith of the twigs contains air spaces. The leaves are alternate, 30–60 cm long, odd-pinnate with 15–23 leaflets, with the largest leaflets located in the center, 7–10 cm long and 2–3 cm broad.
The black walnut tree flowers are in drooping catkins 8–10 cm long, the female flowers are terminal, in clusters of two to five, ripening during the autumn into a fruit (nut) with a brownish-green, semi-fleshy husk and a brown, corrugated nut. The whole fruit, including the husk, falls in October; the seed is relatively small and very hard. The tree tends to crop more heavily in alternate years.
Fruiting may begin when the tree is 4–6 years old, however large crops take 20 years. Total lifespan of J. nigra is about 130 years. Black Walnut does not leaf out until late spring when the soil has warmed and all frost danger is past. Like other trees of the Fagales order (oaks, hickories, chestnuts, birches, etc.), it has monoecious wind-pollinated catkins.
The flowers comprise separate males and females, which do not appear on the same plant at once in order to prevent self-pollination and inbreeding. Thus, two trees are required to produce a seed crop and Black Walnut readily hybridizes with other members of the Juglans genus.
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