THE BLACK WALNUT.
J. nigra, Linn.
The black walnut (see illustrations, pages 31, 70) is the second species east of the Rocky Mountains, and the tree chiefly depended upon, during the century just closed, by the makers of furniture of the more expensive grades. Black walnut wood is brown, with purplish tones in it, and a silvery lustre, when polished. Its hardness and strength commend it to the boat and ship builder. Gunstock factories use quantities of this wood. In furniture and in terior woodwork, the curly walnut, found in the old stumps of trees cut long before, is especially sought for veneering panels. Old furniture, of designs that have passed out, are often sold to the factories, and their seasoned wood cut thin for veneering.
Walnut trees one hundred and fifty feet high were not uncommon in the forests primeval, in the basin of the Ohio and Wabash rivers. These giants held up their majestic heads far over the tops of oaks and maples in the woods. They were slaughtered, rolled together, and burned by the pioneers, clearing the land for agriculture. These men had a special grudge against walnut trees, they were so stub born—so hard to make away with. How unfortunate it is that our ancestors had the patience to go forward and con quer the unconquerable ones. Had they weakly sur rendered, and let these trees stand, we should have had them for the various uses to which we put the finest lumber trees to-day.
Unhappily, the growing of young trees has not been ex tensively undertaken to replace those destroyed. The newer forestry is awake to the need, and the loss may be made good, from this time forward.
The black walnut is nearly globular, deeply sculptured, with a sweet nut rich in oil, very good if one eats but a few at a time. Locally, they find their way to market, but they soon become rancid in the grocer's barrel. At home, boys spread them, in their smooth, yellow-pitted husks, on the roof of the woodshed, for instance, so the husks can dry while the nuts are seasoning. No walnut opens its
husk in regular segments, as the hickories all do. But the husking is not hard. The thick shells require careful man agement of the hammer or nut-cracker, to avoid breaking the meats.
Dark as is its wood and bark, no walnut tree in full leaf is sombre. The foliage is bright, lustrous, yellow-green, graceful, dancing. A majestic tree, with a luxuriant crown from May till September, this walnut needs room to display its notable contour and size. It deserves more popularity than it enjoys as a tree for parks. No tree is more interesting to watch as it grows.
The bitter spongy husk deters the squirrels from gnaw ing into the nut until the husk is dry and brittle. Hidden in the ground, the shell absorbs moisture, and winter frost cracks it, by the gentle but irresistible force of expanding particles of water as they turn to ice. So the plantlet has no hindrance to its growth when spring opens.
Imitating nature, the nurseryman lays his walnuts and butternuts in a bed of sand or gravel, one layer above an other, and lets the rain and the cold do the rest. In spring the " stratified " nuts are ready for planting. Some times careful cracking of the shell prepares the nut to sprout when planted.
The Japanese walnuts (J. Sieboldiana and J. cordiformis) are grown to a limited extent in states where the English walnut is not hardy. They are butternuts, and very much superior to our native species. A Manchurian wal nut has been successfully introduced, but few people but the pioneers in nut culture know anything about these exotic species. South America and the West Indies have native species. So we shall not be surprised, in our travels, to find walnuts in the woods of many continents.