Walnut trees are large trees that produce edible nuts and a highly prized hardwood. Walnut trees can grow to between 40 and 60 feet tall and wide. Under ideal conditions, very old trees can reach 100 to 150 feet tall. Because of its popularity of a hardwood, walnut trees are very valuable. The wood from the walnut tree has many different uses.
Types of Walnut Wood
There are several types of walnut. American black walnut grows in the United States and Canada. European walnut, sometimes called English walnut, is similar to American black walnut. Brazilian and Peruvian walnut are not, in fact, related to walnut trees. However, because of their similar color and grain, they're commonly called "walnut."
Walnut is a dark hardwood that ranges in color from purple-black to red-brown, depending on the tree that supplied the lumber. Walnut has a dark grain, with individual lines that are often black. Some walnut can have intricate figured grain. Wood of this type is unique to the west coast of the United States and Canada. Walnut is coarse-grained, absorbs shocks well and doesn't shrink much during drying.
Because of its hardness and durability, walnut wood is commonly used to make furniture. Walnut is often used for making gun stocks and gun handles, according to the University of Minnesota Extension. High-quality wood is often cut into veneers that are glued over lower-quality woods. Walnut is also used to make specialty and novelty items like boxes, pipes or other small wooden items.
The walnut tree has a long history of use by people. Because of a familiarity with European walnut, according to Union County College, American settlers found the American variety to be hard, yet easily worked. Early American walnut furniture pieces were made of solid wood. Its cost and rarity, however, have lead to furniture containing walnut veneers.
Walnut is a highly sought-after wood. The trees mature very slowly. The minimum age to get a lumber-grade tree trunk is 60 years. At present, more black walnut trees are cut for lumber than are planted, according to Union County College. This results in an increase in the value of walnut wood and veneers.