Black Walnut

Botanical Name: Juglans nigra | Family: Juglandaceae | Similar: Junglans cinerea

Common name(s): Black Walnut (nigra), Eastern Black Walnut, Butternut (cinerea)

GROWING (profiling black walnut, not butternut)

  • Deciduous tree | Zones 4-9 | 50 – 100+’ tall, when in the open it will grow wider with its branches closer to the ground | Alternate, pinnately compound leaves (groups of 9 – 21) with finely-toothed edges | Rough, light gray to brown bark | Trees have both male (yellow-green catkins) and female (spiked) flowers from May-June, followed by tangerine-sized green fruit.
  • Full sun | Moist, well-drained soil | Releases juglone from its roots to decrease competition from plants sensitive to that chemical.


Inner bark (harvest in early summer), leaves (throughout the growing season), and nuts in hulls (easiest to wait until they fall from the tree in late summer). Both fresh green or dried hulls can be used. The nuts are nutritious and heart-healthy. The leaves are more astringent and carminative than the hulls (and less antimicrobial).


Decoction: Weak decoction of the bark, 2-4 ounces. Drink up to 3x/day.

Tincture: Fresh hulls (1:2, 95% alcohol): dried hulls (1:5, 50% alcohol), 5 drops – 3 ml, 3x daily. The recommendation from M. Wood is to use small doses of 1-3 drops, 1-3x/day. He also says to start small, increase the dosage drop by drop until the condition starts to purge/resolve, then cut back.

Nasal rinse: boil 1/4 tsp in 1 cup water, add 30 drops of tincture, let sit for 25 minutes, then run it through the sinuses using a neti pot.

External: a compress can be made from the decoction and applied to skin issues.

Cautions: The inner bark should be dried for a year before internal use, to avoid potential cramping. If using fresh bark, take a smaller dose.

Use gloves when removing the hulls and husks from the nut or your fingers will turn black.

Not recommended during pregnancy.


Constituents: beta-carotene, ellagic acid, juglone, myricetin, tannin.

Nutrients: calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, silicon, zinc, vitamins B1, B2, B3, and C.

Actions: alterative, anthelmintic, antifungal, antimicrobial, antiseptic, astringent, insecticide, laxative, parasiticide

Uses: aids digestion, bruising, cancer, candida overgrowth, fungal infections, gut bacteria regulation, herpes, hypothyroidism, internal parasites, laxative, poison ivy, warts, mouth and throat sores, ringworm, sinusitis, skin conditions

Boiled hulls produce a dye to color wool.


  • Fruit: sweet, warm, Leaves, bark, outer hull: bitter and cool


  • The Book of Herbal Wisdom, Matthew Wood
  • The Earthwise Herbal, Volume II, Matthew Wood
  • The Modern Herbal Dispensory, Thomas Easely, Steven Horne
  • Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Phyllis A. Balch, CNC
  • The Way of Herbs, Michael Tierra, L.Ac., O.M.D.
  • The Complete Medicinal Herbal, Penelope Ody
  • Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Matthew Wood uses the dried hulls of black walnut. But using the green hulls is popular these days. He uses Butternut in place of Black Walnut because he lives just north of Black Walnut’s range (which is extensive throughout the United States).

My son and daughter-in-law have black walnut trees in their large yard. The photo I included above is of three freshly-fallen nuts I picked up just today.

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