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Walnuts

Walnut

Walnut is the common name for about 20 species of deciduous trees of the genus Juglans in the walnut family, Juglandaceae. About six species are native to the United States; others occur in South America, the West Indies, southern Europe and Asia. The leaves of walnuts are spaced alternately along the branches, and each is divided into an odd number -- usually from 7 to 23 -- of small leaflets. Walnuts are monoecious, meaning the male flowers are in long, unbranched, drooping catkins; the female flowers are borne singly or in short spikes. The fruit is a drupelike nut, with an outer leathery husk and an inner hard and furrowed stone, or nut.

Walnuts provide fine wood for furniture and veneers, produce edible nuts, and serve as ornamental shade plantings. The so-called English (or Persian) walnut, Juglans regia, actually is native to southeastern Europe and western Asia and does not thrive in Englan. It grows to more than 21 m (70 ft) high and is relatively hardy. It requires a long, warm growing season to properly mature the nut. The term Carpathian designates trees grown from nuts brought from the European Carpathian mountains, that have proved hardy in northern U.S. climates. English walnuts are produced commercially primarily in California and Oregon.

The black walnut, J. nigra, is a handsome hardwood greatly valued for its fruit and fine-grained wood, the common dark-hued "walnut" of the furniture industry. Black walnut grows from Vermont and Maine west to southern Michigan and south to Texas and Georgia. The tree, the tallest of the walnuts, may reach 45 m (150 ft) in height. The butternut, J. cinerea, also a valuable lumber tree, has wood much lighter in color than that of the black walnut. This tree grows to a height of 18 m (60 ft) and is found from New Brunswick, Canada, west to Minnesota and south to Arkansas.

Grollier's Multimedia Encyclopedia

Click here to see this month's recipe: Granny Gilbertson's Wonderful Walnut Pound Cake

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