Also known as Eastern Black Walnut and Juglans nigra, the American Black Walnut belongs to the Juglandaceae family of trees, and can normally be found lining the rivers and streams throughout the various states of North American. In fact because of its popularity, approximately 400 years ago the American Black Walnut was brought from its native home in the Midwest regions of the US and planted in various areas throughout Europe; where it can now be found in abundance.
As the name would suggest, the American Black Walnut tree produces walnuts which contain its seeds, making the Juglans nigra an angiosperm. The fact that this tree encases its seeds in a protective shell, which will eventually drop off and fall to the ground, also means that this tree is deciduous and therefore a hardwood tree.
The American Black Walnut tree can reach up to 131 feet, which roughly equates to 1 foot per year of its 130 year life span, and will typically produce its seeds during the autumnal months from its fifth year of life onwards. In addition to the large seeds that it grows, the Juglans nigra can also be identified by its bark, which can be dark-grey or light-black and is usually furrowed deeply.
The wood that the American Black Walnut provides is well renowned for its deep, dark colour, and is amazingly popular as a result of it. Its colour is not the only thing take makes this wood so popular, in fact if anything it's aesthetic colouring is little more than the cherry on the cake!
Thanks to a naturally occurring chemical process that takes place within the wood, the American Black Walnut is highly resistant to rot and decay, giving any furniture, flooring or fixtures that are made from it an impressively long lifespan. Another quality that makes this wood so formidable is its inherent strength and hardness, which whilst impressive, do not hinder the workability of the wood.
The wood of the American Black Walnut is – understandably – very highly sought after, and can be used to create some of the most exquisite pieces you are ever likely to see. A popular material for both DIY practitioners and professional woodworkers, this wood is probably not as suitable as some for those who are just testing the woodworking waters, as it can be slightly challenging to work with if you are unpractised.
If you are looking for a wood that is more easy to work with but is still attractive and hardy, we'd recommend trying out Western Red Cedar or American Ash; both of which you can learn more about on our blog page.