The Walnut tree or Juglans is a plant genus of the family Juglandaceae, the seeds of which are known as walnuts. They are deciduous trees, 10–40 meters tall (about 33–132 ft). The 21 species in the genus range across the north temperate Old World from southeast Europe east to Japan, and more widely in the New World from southeast Canada west to California and south to Argentina.
The two most commercially important species are J. regia for timber and nuts, and J. nigra for timber. Both species have similar cultivation requirements and are widely grown in temperate zones.
Walnuts are light-demanding species that benefit from protection from wind. Walnuts are also very hardy against drought.
Walnut burls (or ‘burrs’ in Europe) are commonly used to create bowls and other turned pieces. Veneer sliced from walnut burl is one of the most valuable and highly prized by cabinet makers and prestige car manufacturers. Walnut wood has been the timber of choice for gun makers for centuries, including the Gewehr 98 and Lee Enfield rifles of the First World War. It remains one of the most popular choices for rifle and shotgun stocks, and is generally considered to be the premium – as well as the most traditional – wood for gun stocks, due to its resilience to compression along the grain. Walnut is also used in lutherie.
Walnut – Technical Info
The common walnut and the black walnut and its allies, are important for their attractive timber, which is hard, dense, tight-grained and polishes to a very smooth finish. The color ranges from creamy white in the sapwood to a dark chocolate color in the heartwood. Some specimens even incorporate a reddish hue. When kiln-dried, walnut wood tends toward a dull brown color, but when air-dried can become a rich purplish-brown. Because of its color, hardness and grain, it is prized furniture and carving wood.
It is mainly used for custom furniture in a natural finish, butcher blocks and veneers. Though common, Walnut is very expensive.