Black Walnut – A Highly Prized Timber

Black Walnut, which has the Scientific or Latin name of Juglans Nigra, is one of the most admired hardwoods in the furniture trade at the present time, especially in the United Kingdom. Prized for its dark brown color by end users and for its strength, yet high workability by woodworkers, it's no wonder that demand for this hardwood is at an all time high.

As a tree Black Walnut is native to the Eastern regions of the United States and Canada, its region of growth extending from Ontario to Texas and from Florida to Manitoba. It also grows in Europe since being introduced to Europe almost four hundred years ago (1629) however the primary source of timber in Europe is still North America. It primarily grows along lowland rivers (due preferring high water tables) in warmer regions, where it attains heights between 30 and 40 meters (100 to 130 feet). The bark is a dark gray, with deep furrows, the leaves has 15-23 leaflets, flowering into catkins or clusters depending on gender.

The hardwood that Black Walnut trees produce has a dark colored heartwood, which has long been popular in America partly due to it being the darkest of all North American hardwoods, and due to its exception qualities. Thus it was used in great numbers by the early colonists of the United States in their homes. While the expense now puts this extravagance out of reach of the majority of people, individual items of furniture or rooms produced from black walnut, as well as furniture made from veneers are still popular.

Traditionally Black Walnut hardwood was used, among other uses, to manufacture gun stocks, of which still uses a significant proportion of the lumber harvest in the USA. These are often made into profiles by timber product manufacturers to bespoke customer orders. While other timbers are also used for gunstocks, Black Walnut is popular for its various strengths including elasticity and rupture strengths which are significantly higher than Persian Walnut (Scientific or Latin Name: Juglans Regia, also known as European, Common or English Walnut).

Black Walnut is also used to create coffins, especially in America, partly because of the lure of historical figures who have been buried in Black Walnut coffins: Abraham Lincoln, for instance, was buried in a Black Walnut coffin which was covered in a woolen fabric in black and decorated with studs in the pattern of a shamrock. A replica of this coffin is seen by the thousands of visitors to the Museum of Funeral Customs in Springfield, Illinois, many of what have come for the nearby tomb of Lincoln. Lincoln was not alone to be buried in Black Walnut, the relative abundance of the trees at the time coupled with their finer woodworking qualities and dark, reflecting the sombre mood of funerals, appearance meant that they were a popular choice of coffin at the time – this is reflected in the coffins of various other historical personalities to have been buried in Black Walnut, US president Zachary Taylor, upon reburial the frontierswoman and adopted Seneca Mary Jemison, and executed abolitionist John Brown.

In addition to timber, Black Walnut trees produce Walnuts that are used both in foods such as ice cream, pies, cookies and cakes as well as in cleaning and cosmetic products produced from the shells. It is preferred by many over the nuts from Persian Walnut because of its stronger taste and high protein, unsaturated fat and low cholesterol. However due to the work that must be put in to prepare a black walnut nuts due to a staining fluid in the husk, Persian Walnuts are more widely produced.

Black Walnut is the perfect choice of timber if you are looking for a dark, fashionable and workable hardwood for furniture manufacturing, cabinet making and many other uses. While demand outstrips supply, those who are interested to produce in black walnut at even large quantities are able to get supplies for their project at market rates through most of the world, including the United Kingdom and United States.