Black Walnut Juglans nigra
Family: Juglandaceae (Walnut)
Branching: Alternate


Together, Butternut and Black Walnut have very distinctive twigs.  Both are very stout (Butternut usually more so) with naked, hairy buds, and large leaf scars.  Also, they both have a very obviously chambered pith.  Differentiating the two, however can be a bit more difficult.  I find bark to be the best key, as young Butternut bark is smooth and somewhat striped and Black Walnut becomes rough and starts to peel very early.  Even when mature, Butternut bark always looks more "worn" with its flat-topped furrows.  Black Walnut is a very common tree in the Southern part of Ontario where it is often found on floodplains.  


Winter twig of Black Walnut


Black Walnut end bud and winter twig


Another view of the winter twig


Lateral bud and leaf scar.  They are pretty distinctive but can resemble those of Hickories


The chambered pith of Black Walnut


Young bark, looks very different from Butternut


Young bark just as it begins to split


Bark as it begins to age.  Mature trees can have very deep furrows.


A comparison of Black Walnut (left) and Butternut (right) twigs


A Black Walnut (left) and Butternut (right) growing side by side.  Notice the difference in bark at a similar size and age.


Mature Black Walnut bark




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copyright 2008 Josh Sayers
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