Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Black Walnut - Juglans nigra   L.
Members of Juglandaceae:
Members of Juglans with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Juglandales » Family Juglandaceae
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DistributionThroughout the Mountains, Piedmont, and the western and central Coastal Plain; spotty in distribution in the coastal (eastern) region. It might be present in all 100 counties, though as this species is widely planted and can escape, some records from the immediate coastal areas could potentially be non-native occurrences. Likely absent in a few extreme northeastern counties.

This is a wide-ranging Eastern species, from NY to MN, and south to the FL Panhandle and central TX. Over much of its range, especially from OH and TN westward, it has been recorded in all counties in some states.
AbundanceGenerally common in the Mountains, fairly common to frequent in the Piedmont (though seldom in large numbers), and fairly common in much of the Coastal Plain, but more so in brownwater floodplains. Absent or scarce in the Sandhills or in eastern counties where brownwater rivers are scarce or absent.
HabitatAs with the similar Butternut (J. cinerea), the Black Walnut is characteristic of rich soil, especially in brownwater or other rich floodplains (typically brownwater). It is less often found on rich forested slopes, and then mainly near the base of the slope and typically over circumneutral or only weakly acidic soil.
PhenologyFlowers in April, and fruits in October.
IdentificationThis is a very well-known and quite large deciduous tree, growing to 90-100 feet tall, on average. As the name implies, when somewhat mature the bark is nearly black, generally darker than for any other native tree in our range. In fall and winter, the trees or ground are littered with the familiar large and round fruit, making the tree impossible to overlook or misidentify. When fruit are lacking, identify the tree by its alternate leaves with 15-23 leaflets, usually more than on the similar (but essentially montane) Butternut. The main identification issue with the species is determining the nativity or provenance of individual trees where you see them – are they of natural occurrence or not? If you are in a “natural area” seemingly not impacted in recent decades by man, the occurrence is likely native. If there are nearby remnants of old houses or homesites, or a recent clearing, individuals may well have been planted.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Walnut, Eastern Black Walnut
State RankS4 [S5]
Global RankG5
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US Status
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B.A. SorrieRascob Road, Slate Creek, Oct 2021. MoorePhoto_natural
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