Butternut Fact Sheet
Family: Juglandaceae - Walnut family
Latin name: Juglans cinerea
Common name: Butternut, White walnut
Karren Wcisel © copyright
- Photograph showing trunk and bark of Butternut. Other common names for the Juglans cinerea tree are white walnut, demon walnut and oilnut.
- Butternut trees are native to the United States. They are slow growing and seldom live more than 75 years.
- Butternut trees are being killed off by Butternut canker. In addition, the Butternut is very susceptible to fire damage and intolerant to shade. It is considered to be "threatened" in Tennessee; "exploitably vulnerable" in New York and of "special concern" in Kentucky. April 13, 2005.
- Branch of Butternut with leaves and catkins. Flowering occurs from April to June. The Butternut tree is monoecious with female (pistillate) and male (staminate) flowers appearing on the same tree, but not usually opening at the same time. The flowers are borne on pendulous catkins - with male and female flowers on separate catkins. Notice the hairy "moustache like" pad above the leaf scar. Some people call it eyebrows for the "monkey face" shaped leaf scar. April 13, 2005
- Photo showing branch of Juglans cinerea L. with leaf scars, bundle scars, lenticels and buds. April 13, 2005
- Male flowers (catkins) of Butternut tree. May 15, 2008
- The Butternut tree has compound leaves that are 15 - 30 inches long. Generally 11-17 leaflets with terminal leaflet is present. The leaflets are nearly sessile (don't have stalks) and are attached to a stout, hairy rachis. The leaves are hairy above and below and have fine sharp teeth. June 04, 2006
- The terminal bud is irregularly oblong and somewhat flattened. Lateral buds are ovoid and much smaller. Lateral buds are generally superposed. The young twigs, stems, leaflets and fruit have hairs Photo taken July 23, 2006
- The fruit of the Butternut is nearly twice as long as it is wide. It is covered with hairs that are sticky and oily to the touch. Fruits are single or in clusters of 2-5, with a hard, thick, deeply furrowed shell enclosed by a thick husk. The fruit of the Butternut ripens in September or October and may stay on the tree until after the leaves fall.
- Butternut fruit provides food for squirrels and other rodents and the leaves are palatable to white-tailed deer. The nuts are used in baking and, in New England, for maple-butternut candy..
- Seed production for the Butternut begins at about 20 years of age and is at optimum from about age 30-60.
- In the summer of 2008, when the photo was taken this tree had a large crop of nuts but there was a lot less fruit in the summer of 2009.
- Juglans cinerea has a slow growth rate and a short life span. Maximum height at 20 years is 20 feet, and maximum height at maturity is 80 feet.
- USDA Hardiness Zone: 3
- Native to U.S.
- Primary use: nursery stock product and pulp wood product
- Medium use as a fuel wood product.
- The Juglans cinerea trees on this page are located in the "Midwest and Illinois areas" of Morton Arboretum near Parking 2. There are two Butternut trees on the north side of the road and two more on the south side.
- Slight toxicity: Like Juglans nigra (black walnut), Juglans cinerea produce a substance called juglone in roots, fruit husks and leaves that is toxic to some plant species. This substance inhibits the growth of seedlings, including their own.
- Buds, twigs and fruit are very sticky.
USDA, NRCS. (http://plants.usda.gov). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA
Coladonato, Milo 1991. Juglans cinerea. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online] http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/tree/jugcin/all.html.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service,
Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer).
Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ [2008, August 22].
Send email to Karrenw@aol.com
Please ask for permission before using my photographs. Larger sizes and additional photographs
of the tree are often available.
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