Figuring out Juglandaceae: Black walnuts

Black walnuts, with and without husks

This single leaf has 13 leaflets. It is as long as a smallish adult forearm.

Juglandaceae is the family of trees composed of the walnuts, hickories, and pecans. They are large trees with especially leafy leaves (bipinnate leaves if you wanna be all sciency sounding), and have nuts of varying tastiness. The nuts have a fleshy coating covering, a hard shell, in some cases VERY hard, and the nutmeat looks like a pair of facing brains.

Let’s start with the black walnuts, Juglans nigra. The rest of the local relatives are in genus Carya.

You can decipher these trees by looking at the nuts and looking at the leaves.  Hickories and pecans have dehiscent nuts, meaning there is a crack somewhere along the husk. Walnuts do not. They have smooth husks, slightly bigger than golf balls or apricots. They also have the leafiest of the leaves, up to 23 leaflets per leaf. The ones seem to be more in the 11-15 leaflet range.

So, black walnut=golfballs and lotsa leaflets.

And yes, this is a stupid time of year to be doing this, what with the leaves all coming off the trees,  But the damn things are everywhere, and it is tiring to not know which tree is which. So a writing a guide will help solidify the differences.

Next week, pecans!

And one more final note, getting ANY program to stop autocorrecting “juglans” and “juglandacea” to “jugular” is really annoying. Apologies if any were missed.

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