Black walnut is a treasure of a tree

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Native to the Midwest, the black walnut is one of North America's most treasured trees.

The wood is excellent for many uses, from durable, beautiful gun stocks to fine veneer on pianos.

Long prized for its edible seed meat, the black walnut is a common yard tree throughout rural Missouri. Missouri produces more than half of the world's harvest of wild black walnuts.

This tree will thrive in a forest setting but will grow biggest -- more than 70 feet tall -- when isolated in a country setting.

In this photo you can see the long green male flowers called catkins. The pollen from these catkins will look like a yellow dust in the air if a limb in bloom is shaken. The female flowers are also green and small at the ends of some of the limbs where the leaves are growing out. If pollinated, the female flower will produce the nut.

The black walnut tree is one of the last trees in Southeast Missouri to grow leaves in spring and one of the first to drop its leaves in autumn. Even so, it makes a wonderful shade tree during the middle of summer.

Through the Woods is a weekly nature photo column by Aaron Horrell. Find this column at semissourian.com to order a reprint of the photo. Find more work by him at The Painted Wren Art Gallery, 5H N. Main St.

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