Juglans regia

Juglans regia, the Persian walnut, English walnut, Carpathian walnut, Madeira walnut,[2] or especially in Great Britain, common walnut,[1] is an Old World walnut tree species native to the region stretching from the Balkans eastward to the Himalayas and southwest China. It is widely cultivated across Europe.

Juglans regia
Noyer centenaire en automne.JPG
Mature walnut tree
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Fagales
Family: Juglandaceae
Genus: Juglans
Section: Juglans sect. Juglans
J. regia
Binomial name
Juglans regia
Juglans regia range.svg
Distribution map
Synonyms[citation needed]

Juglans duclouxiana Dode
J. fallax Dode
J. kamaonica (C. de Candolle) Dode
J. orientis Dode
J. regia subsp. fallax (Dode) Popov
J. regia subsp. kamaonica (C. de Candolle) Mansf.
J. regia subsp. turcomanica Popov
J. regia var. orientis (Dode) Kitam.
J. regia var. sinensis C. de Candolle
J. sinensis (C. de Candolle) Dode

In August, Czech Republic
In winter, France


Juglans regia is a large, deciduous tree attaining heights of 25–35 m (80 to 120 ft), and a trunk up to 2 m (6 ft) diameter, commonly with a short trunk and broad crown, though taller and narrower in dense forest competition. It is a light-demanding species, requiring full sun to grow well.

The bark is smooth, olive-brown when young and silvery-grey on older branches, and features scattered broad fissures with a rougher texture. Like all walnuts, the pith of the twigs contains air spaces; this chambered pith is brownish in color. The leaves are alternately arranged, 25–40 cm (10 to 16 in) long, odd-pinnate with 5–9 leaflets, paired alternately with one terminal leaflet. The largest leaflets are the three at the apex, 10–18 cm (4 to 7 in) long and 6–8 cm (2 to 3 in) broad; the basal pair of leaflets are much smaller, 5–8 cm (2 to 3 in) long, with the margins of the leaflets entire. The male flowers are in drooping catkins 5–10 cm (2 to 4 in) long, and the female flowers are terminal, in clusters of two to five, ripening in the autumn into a fruit with a green, semifleshy husk and a brown, corrugated nut. The whole fruit, including the husk, falls in autumn; the seed is large, with a relatively thin shell, and edible, with a rich flavour.


The Latin name for the walnut was nux Gallica, "Gallic nut";[3] the Gaulish region of Galatia in Anatolia lies in highlands at the western end of the tree's presumed natural distribution.

For the etymology and meaning of the word in English and other Germanic languages, see "walnut".

"Walnut" does not distinguish the tree from other species of Juglans. Other names include common walnut in Britain; Persian walnut in South Africa[4] and Australia;[5] and English walnut in North America and Great Britain,[6] New Zealand,[7] and Australia,[5] the latter name possibly because English sailors were prominent in Juglans regia nut distribution at one time.[8] Alternatively, Walter Fox Allen stated in his 1912 treatise What You Need to Know About Planting, Cultivating and Harvesting this Most Delicious of Nuts:[9] "In America, it has commonly been known as English walnut to distinguish it from our native species."

In the Chinese language, the edible, cultivated walnut is called 胡桃 (hú táo in Mandarin), which means literally "Hu peach", suggesting the ancient Chinese associated the introduction of the tree into East Asia with the Hu barbarians of the regions north and northwest of China. In Mexico, it is called nogal de Castilla,[10] suggesting the Mexicans associated the introduction of the tree into Mexico with Spaniards from Castile (as opposed to the black walnuts native of America).

The Old English term wealhhnutu is a late book-name (Old English Vocabularies, Wright & Wulker), so the remark that the Anglo-Saxons inherited the walnut tree from the Romans does not follow from this name. Old English: walhhnutu is wealh (foreign) + hnutu (nut). Etymologically it "meant the nut of the Roman lands (Gaul and Italy) as distinguished from the native hazel" according to the Oxford English Dictionary.

Distribution and habitatEdit

Walnut tree - Juglans regia L. Claimed to be the oldest walnut tree in the world. Near Khotan, Xinjiang, China, in 2011

Original habitatEdit

As with other old and widespread cultivated plants it is not easy to reconstruct the original distribution and determine the borders of the past natural ranges. There are many reports concerning the earliest fossil pollen and nuts of J. regia, and the conclusions that various authors draw are somewhat contradictory. Taken together these finds suggest that J. regia possibly survived the last glaciations in several refugia, as the compilation of the data shows most likely southern Europe, the Near East, China, and the Himalaya.[11]

The largest forests are in Kyrgyzstan, where trees occur in extensive forests at 1,000–2,0000 m (3000 to 7000 ft) altitude,[12] notably at Arslanbob in Jalal-Abad Province.

Introduction around the worldEdit

In the fourth century BC, Alexander the Great introduced this "Persian nut" (Theophrastus' καρυα ή Περσική[13]) in Macedonian and Greek ancestral forms with lateral fruiting from Iran and Central Asia. They hybridized with terminal-bearing forms to give lateral-bearing trees with larger fruit.[clarification needed] These lateral-bearers were spread in southern Europe and northern Africa by Romans. Recent prospections in walnut populations of the Mediterrean Basin allowed to select interesting trees of this type. In the Middle Ages, the lateral-bearing character was introduced again in southern Turkey by merchants travelling along the Silk Road. J. regia germplasm in China is thought to have been introduced from Central Asia about 2000 years ago, and in some areas has become naturalized. Cultivated J. regia was introduced into western and northern Europe very early, in Roman times or earlier, and to the Americas in the 17th century, by English colonists. Important nut-growing regions include California, France, Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary in Europe; China in Asia; Baja California and Coahuila in Mexico, and Chile in Latin America. Lately, cultivation has spread to other regions, such as New Zealand and the southeast of Australia.[14] It is cultivated extensively from 30° to 50° of latitude in the Northern Hemisphere and from 30° to 40° in the Southern Hemisphere. Its high-quality fruits are eaten both fresh or pressed for their richly flavored oil; numerous cultivars have been selected for larger nuts with thinner shells.

It is also cultivated as a handsome ornamental specimen tree in parks and large gardens. As such, it has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[15]

Life cycleEdit

Nutritional valueEdit

A study of ten cultivars of J. regia in Turkey showed significant variations in fatty acid content of the nuts:[16]

Potential biological effectsEdit

Walnuts and other tree nuts are important food-allergen sources that have the potential to be associated with life-threatening, IgE-mediated allergic reactions in some individuals.[17][18]

Juglans regia is used to treat Diabetes mellitus symptoms in Austrian traditional medicine, whereby air-dried leaves are used as aqueous decoction or liquor preparation and are consumed on a daily basis.[19]


In Skopelos, a Greek island in the Aegean Sea, local legend suggests whoever plants a walnut tree will die as soon as the tree can "see" the sea.[citation needed] Most planting is done by field rats (subfamily Murinae). In Flanders, a folk saying states: "By the time the tree is big, the planter surely will be dead." (Dutch: Boompje groot, plantertje dood). These sayings refer to the relatively slow growth rate and late fruiting of the tree.

Benevento in southern Italy is the home of an ancient tradition of stregoneria. The witches of Benevento were reputed to come from all over Italy to gather for their sabbats under the sacred walnut tree of Benevento. This legend inspired many cultural works, including the 1812 ballet Il Noce di Benevento (the walnut tree of Benevento) by Salvatore Viganò and Franz Xaver Süssmayr, a theme from which was adapted into a violin piece called Le Streghe by Niccolò Paganini. The Beneventan liqueur Strega depicts on its label the famous walnut tree with the witches dancing under it.


Walnut trees grow best in rich, deep soil with full sun and long summers, such as the California central valley. Juglans hindsii and J. hindsii x J. regia are often used as grafting stock for J. regia.[20] Other plants often will not grow under walnut trees because the fallen leaves and husks contain juglone, a chemical which acts as a natural herbicide. Horses that eat walnut leaves may develop laminitis, a hoof ailment. Mature trees may reach 50 feet (15 m) in height and width, and live more than 200 years, developing massive trunks more than 8 feet (2.4 m) thick.


See list of most planted cultivars in article walnut

Juglans regia 'Buccaneer' produces an abundant crop of seeds. A self-fertile cultivar, it produces pollen over a long period and is thus a valuable pollinator for other cultivars. The tree is about the same size as an open-pollinated walnut, it comes into leaf very late and so usually avoids damage by late frosts.


Juglans regia is infested by Rhagoletis juglandis, commonly known as the walnut husk fly, which lays its eggs in the husks of walnut fruit. Particular cultivars of J. regia may be more infested than others because of varying walnut husk softness or thickness. 'Eureka', 'Klondike', 'Payne', 'Franquette' and 'Ehrhardt' cultivars are among the most susceptible to infestation.[22]

Other usesEdit

Walnut heartwood is a heavy, hard, open-grained hardwood. Freshly cut live wood may be Dijon-mustard colour, darkening to brown over a few days. The dried lumber is a rich chocolate-brown to black, with cream to tan sapwood, and may feature unusual figures, such as "curly", "bee's wing", "bird's eye", and "rat tail", among others. It is prized by fine woodworkers for its durability, lustre and chatoyance, and is used for high-end flooring, guitars, furniture, veneers, knobs and handles as well as gunstocks. The Native American Navajo tribe has been documented using the hulls of the nut to create a brown dye.[23]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Rivers, M.C.; Allen, D.J. (2017). "Juglans regia". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2017: T63495A61526700. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-3.RLTS.T63495A61526700.en.
  2. ^ "Juglans regia". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 2019-07-06.
  3. ^ "walnut - Search Online Etymology Dictionary". www.etymonline.com.
  4. ^ L.C. van Zyl "Grafting of Walnut (Juglans regia L.) with Hot Callusing Techniques Under South African Conditions", University of the Free State, 2009 http://etd.uovs.ac.za/ETD-db//theses/available/etd-09172009-160603/unrestricted/VanZylLC.pdf Archived 2012-09-07 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ a b "Walnuts Australia - Nuts". Austnuts.com.au. Archived from the original on 2010-11-29. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
  6. ^ D.S. Hill, Skegness, Lincs, United Kingdom: Pests of Crops in Warmer Climates and Their Control p.651, Springer Science+Business Media, 2008
  7. ^ "Ornamental Tree Photography - NZ Plant Pics Photography ornamental garden trees". Nzplantpics.com. Archived from the original on 2013-03-02. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
  8. ^ "?". Archived from the original on September 28, 2006.
  9. ^ "?". Archived from the original on April 25, 2009.
  10. ^ Juglans Regia (in Spanish)
  11. ^ Beer, Ruth; Kaiser, Franziska; Schmidt, Kaspar; Ammann, Brigitta; Carraro, Gabriele; Grisa, Ennio; Tinner, Willy (2008-03-01). "Vegetation history of the walnut forests in Kyrgyzstan (Central Asia): natural or anthropogenic origin?". Quaternary Science Reviews. 27 (5): 621–632. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2007.11.012. ISSN 0277-3791.
  12. ^ Hemery 1998
  13. ^ Theophrastus, Enquiry into Plants III.6.2, III.14.4
  14. ^ "FAO corporate document repository: Walnut".
  15. ^ http://apps.rhs.org.uk/plantselector/plant?plantid=1067
  16. ^ Ozkhan, Gulcan; Koyuncu, M. Ali (2005). "Physical and chemical composition of some walnut ( Juglans regia L) genotypes grown in Turkey". Grasas y Aceites (free)|format= requires |url= (help). 56 (2): 141–146. doi:10.3989/gya.2005.v56.i2.122.
  17. ^ Teuber, Suzanne S.; Jarvis, Koren C.; Dandekar, Abhaya M.; Peterson, W. Rich; Ansari, Aftab A. (1999). "Identification and cloning of a complementary DNA encoding a vicilin-like proprotein, Jug r 2, from English walnut kernel (Juglans regia), a major food allergen". Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 104 (6): 1311–1320. doi:10.1016/S0091-6749(99)70029-1. PMID 10589017.
  18. ^ http://foodallergens.ifr.ac.uk/food.lasso?selected_food=53
  19. ^ Pitschmann, A; Zehl, M; Atanasov, AG; Dirsch, VM; Heiss, E; Glasl, S (Mar 2014). "Walnut leaf extract inhibits PTP1B and enhances glucose-uptake in vitro". J Ethnopharmacol. 152 (3): 599–602. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2014.02.017. PMID 24548753.
  20. ^ “Walnuts in California.” Fruit & Nut Research & Information Center, http://fruitandnuteducation.ucdavis.edu/fruitnutproduction/Walnut. Accessed 28 Nov. 2018.
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x "Plants Database". The National Gardening Association. 2018. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  22. ^ Boyce, A.M. (December 1929). "The Walnut Husk Fly (Rhagoletis juglandis Cresson)". Journal of Economic Entomology. 22: 861–866.
  23. ^ Elmore, Francis H., 1944, Ethnobotany of the Navajo, Sante Fe, NM. School of American Research, page 39


External linksEdit