Black Walnut named varieties


Found this link from U of Missouri. Pretty good amount of info regarding pollination of several of the Black Walnut names varieties discussed here.


20 years… even if you had ideal conditions, and BWs would do well on your N.FL spot… not enough time. Walnut Council says closer to 60-80 yrs to marketability.
Dr. David Griffith at Dadeville AL had been collecting superior timber-type BWs from around the Deep Southeast for 40 years or more… somebody, IDK who, took possession of his collection and the progeny-test seedling orchard he’d planted, nearly 15 years or more ago. Those trees, if still in existence, are probably a treasure trove for Southern growers.
Somebody had selected and developed a series of particularly fast-growing BWs that were noted for superior veneer-quality lumber production, and were selling graftlings (and seedlings, I think), but I’ve not seen any ads or references to them in recent memory.
I suppose that if I were gonna plant a batch of seednuts or seedlings for timber production as a long-term investment, I might try planting seednuts from some of the ‘figured-grained’ clones, like Lamb’s Curly, the Christofersen series, or Pfeister #1. I’m not sure how many, if any, will inherit the figured-grain trait, but I’ve seen claims that as many as 15-25% of Claro walnut seedlings exhibit it.


I knew Dr. David Griffith well and grafted a few of his trees at Dadeville nearly 20 years ago. He was still actively collecting seed nuts until at least 2003 when he was @95 years old. He and I went to the Walnut Council meeting in Columbia MO that year. Many of his trees were growing on lower potential soil. Some were on alluvial soil near a stream and were growing vigorously. The location is roughly 5 miles southwest of Dadeville. He also had about 300 grafted pear trees. I ate several delicious pears while there. His trees are located roughly 5 miles southwest of Dadeville.

Some of the Purdue material was available from a company in Indiana until a few years ago. I know of one plantation in NorthEast Alabama that had a few acres of trees. I purchased about 30 of the grafted seedlings in 1998 and set them out near Rainsville Alabama. I had very poor survival. The trees were small first year grafts less than 2 feet tall. The company was Advanced Forestry Technology, West Lafayette, IN. They sold trees through a few dealers. I got them from WalnutOnTheWeb. I don’t know what happened to either business since then. For reference, Purdue #1 is a relatively slow growing tree compared with local selections here in North Alabama. It is a high quality timber tree with excellent form and structure making it an excellent veneer tree.

Zaz, be careful with the Missouri info about dichotomy. SeveraL of their statements re protandrous vs protogynous have changed over the years.

I was thinking last night about what is needed to turn Black Walnut into a commercially viable nut crop. The highest quality most productive and most consistent varieties I have make about half as many nuts as would be needed for commercial use. The traits that need to be improved are:

  1. Number of nuts per cluster
  2. Number of times a limb branches which increases the number of female flower buds
  3. Lateral bud fruitfulness which is a trait found in Persian walnut but that I have not seen in Juglans Nigra

A cross of Thomas X Redneck would combine multi branching with increased number of nuts per cluster.


Sure would seem to make a lot of sense and would at least be worth a shot. When you getting started on that? :wink:


I’ve just started doing research on trees that might be doable in Florida since I will be looking for 10 acres in the next year but I’ve read that veneer BW in good soil conditions could be reached in 30 years +/-? is this not true for North Florida or middle Georgia/Alabama, this will be my retirement homestead so I figure it would be smart to plant a timber crop to be harvested just before social security kicks in, I’ve got a lot of research to do before picking an area. I’ve seen were they plant them about 10’ apart from one another I guess so they grow straight up quicker rather than growing out wide to produce more nuts?


I’ve tried black walnut spaced too close. Don’t bother, the cost is many years more to maturity. You can achieve tall straight veneer quality trees by proper pruning. My suggestion would be to plant on 20 foot triangle spacing.

Soil type is far more important than anything else for black walnut. Do some due diligence to find out what would work instead of purchasing land that is unsuitable. Sandy loam is preferred at neutral PH. High organic content helps. Water availability is also important.


Thanks, I have lots to research, but I guess the 1st thing to figure out is if i’m going to build my homestead around the trees and orchard or find my homestead and plant what grows the best.


Heads up that I shipped 2 more boxes of walnuts today. I sent emails with USPS tracking numbers.


Thank you so very much Darrel! Email received. :+1: Paypal payment sent.

What do you recommend on how to grow them out from seed?
Peat moss slightly damp with baggys/small holes in them and place in refrigerator?

I plan to place some in ground in spring and some in pots. Your thought?


Recieved all four varieties today Darrel. Thank you so much. You sent a lot of nuts!! I am very much obliged. Thank you Thank you!! First time trying names varieties and wow what a difference in crack ability and size. I tried a couple of each one. All very impressive. Thomas was my early favorite. I have all 4 of them now stratifying. Can’t wait till Spring.


I found this Black Walnut range map and was wondering how this range map is determined? Is it where they have found native BW trees growing wild or where the climate mean they can grow?

It its where they grow wild I can look for a homestead that might have some signs of trees already to know that the soil is good for more plantings?

Home range area

Would each of the areas in the squares below be just as good for the growth if both areas have the same soil?

Home range area2


fig, that is the native range of black walnut. I have seen old black walnut trees all the way down in South Western Georgia. One of those weird synergies in the natural world is that black walnut is almost always accompanied by native bluegrass. This is so much of an association that about 30 or 40 years ago, two nut researchers were driving back from Florida and made a bet whether or not the first walnut tree they saw would have bluegrass under it. They found the tree in a pasture just across the Florida/Georgia state line and they found bluegrass growing under it. There was no bluegrass elsewhere in the pasture, just under that walnut tree.


Informational pruning video for BW.


I was searching for information about Dr. David Nicholas Griffith Sr. and think I found his obituary published August 5th 2009 in the Auburn-Opelika news. It said he died in Camp Hill, Alabama which would be consistent with his last address in Dadeville. He took me to two locations in Camp Hill to pick up walnuts about 2002 or 2003. One was in town and the other a very old house out in the country. Both walnut trees were loaded and had dropped thousands of nuts.

Lucky, if you have any other info about who is caring for his trees now, I would appreciate a heads up. I’d like to go back to his trees and see what they look like now. I’m going to have to make a trip through that area in about 10 days so it would be convenient to take a break and look at some trees.

Fyi, he was a dentist with an office in Dadeville on the main street through town. He owned several properties in and around Dadeville.


I’m not sure who got Dr. Griffith’s trees. He’d sent me scions from a bunch of his best timber-type BWs… probably 15+ years ago…I had them stored in a walk-in cooler at my office, and they were discarded without my knowledge, so I didn’t get to graft any of them. He contacted me later that year to ask me not to distribute, as he’d reached an agreement with someone. I’m wondering if someone at the Walnut Council or AL Forestry Commission might have an idea who might have entered into an agreement to manage his collection and progeny-test seedling orchard.
I have cousins in Dadeville who would be about the same age as Dr. Griffith’s son… I know he was their dentist, and he knew my aunt & uncle… I can inquire.

I do have a few of the Southern pear varieties that he selected/collected there in the East Alabama area, like Ledbetter, Galloway, etc.


This might be of interest to others since it will add some perspective of a walnut grower from the past. I was introduced to David Griffith by Tucker Hill who sent me an email on July 11th 1997 with this:

"Dear Darrel,

A person in your area who is keenly interested in black walnut is David Griffith, Tel. (205) 825-6617. He can talk about both nut production and timber.

For nut production, I encourage you to graft from known cultivars. Virtually all black walnut trees will produce a log eventually.

Some sources of either or both grafted black walnut trees and black walnut scion wood are:

Cascade Walnut Nursery, Tel. (509) 223-3131
John Gordon Nursery, Tel. (716) 691-9371
Grimo Nut Tree Nursery, Tel. (905) 935-6887
Saginaw Valley Nut Nursery, Tel. (517) 652-8552
St Lawrence Nursries, Tel. (315) 265-6739
George Wells, Tel. (717) 652-1829
Whitman Farms, Tel. (503) 585-8728

One of our Northern Nut Grower Association members has a list of over 500 black walnut cultivars so the list of available trees is quite extensive. In reality, a much smaller number is being actively cultivated\maybe 50 or so. However that is still a large number. Most people grow what has proven to be successful in their local.

To the best of my knowledge a definitive list of black walnut cultivars with specific characteristics does not exist. The best source of that sort of information is fragmented and is in our Annual Reports. I suggest you contact our librarian Jim Quaintance, NNGA Library, 5008 110th Street NE, Solon, IA 52333-9138. Tel. (319) 644-2758. Jim will be able to point you to the best sources of information.

The December 1996 Nutshell, Vol. 50, No. 4, contains an extensive list of the nurseries that handle nut trees. Again, Jim Quaintance would be the source.

E-mail is great, but it does not give one a clue as to where the sender lives. If I knew your state, I could reference you to sources near at hand. Both grafted trees and scion wood should travel the shortest distance possible to avoid drying out.

If you have additional questions, send them.

Sincerely, Tucker
Subject: Re: black walnut scionwood
Date: Thu, 10 Jul 1997 12:19:49 -0500"

I contacted David Griffith and long story short, went to visit him several times that fall and over the next 7 or 8 years. He showed me 6 of his prize trees which were all within 30 miles of Dadeville. I could still find at least 3 of them because they were in public areas. One was in Camp Hill behind a house. It was an excellent timber type tree with heavy nut production. One was in Camp Hill at the park in an out of the way location. It also was very good timber form though only about 30 years old. One was east of Dadeville in an area on the side of hwy 280. It was not as good for form, but had a heavy nut crop. One he referred to as the “Davidson tree” which was out in the country in the front yard of a very old house. I also carried some scionwood and grafted half a dozen of his trees. The parents were good timber type trees I had found growing in the area. One of them is a tall straight walnut less than 200 yards away from the house I grew up in. I grafted one of his trees with Neel #1 and another with Thomas. To my knowledge, those were the only nut producing walnuts he had grafted.

He also took me to an old homeplace up Horseshoe Bend road where Henry David Haggerty had lived. He had planted several muscadines and a bunch of kiwis as well as a Thomas walnut tree that was about 40 years old. We picked up the walnuts getting 25 five gallon buckets. I remember going about 2 miles further up the road and visiting relatives who still owned the property to get permission to collect the walnuts. I returned a few months later and got scionwood to graft some of my trees. That was arguably the best find from my perspective because I got a bunch of walnuts to eat and I got trees grafted that are now bearing as heavy as that original tree.

My last major memory of David Griffith is going to the Walnut Council meeting in Columbia Missouri. David was unable to drive himself so I agreed to drive if he would provide the vehicle. I think he was 97 years old at that time. He was still getting around better than most 50 year old men. I drove about 180 miles the wrong direction to get to his house, swapped to his vehicle, then we drove right back northwest passing by my home and on to the hotel we had reserved in Columbia. We went to the walnut council meeting and we visited Bill Reid at the pecan experiment station. Here are a few pictures I took at the pecan farm.

I got scionwood from Fred Blankenship in 1998 and used it to make several grafts that spring. I planted a total of 165 trees on 1 1/4 acres of land and started grafting them to nut producing varieties as soon as they were transplanted. The last varieties I grafted were in 2005 when I got scionwood of Pounds #2 from Fred. These trees are now 20 years old.


Lucky, I dug out contact info for David Griffith’s son who lives in California. He gave me the name of the man who bought the land with David’s trees and all of his books. He did not have long to talk, but I got email and phone number information for David’s son and for the man who purchased the land and trees.

David was buried in Mississippi which was not where I expected to find him. You can see his findagrave at


Sent you a PM.
Spoke with my cousin HB this morning and got name/phone number for the fellow who bought the Manoy Creek property.

On another topic, cousin HB navigated, by canoe, the entirety of the Tallapoosa River, from its origin in the GA mountains to its junction with the Alabama River; then, a few years later, he canoed the Alabama River from that point all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.
If any are interested in reading… here are links…
His travel journals have been published.

Thank you, Darryl -  One especially valuable thing about the goodies you sent is that they give me a better idea of the qualities that make a superior black walnut variety.  Size is certainly a factor, nutmeat% another,and crackability.  Other traits like tree form, disease resistance, productivity, ease of husk removal can't be determined by a sample, but now at least I've got a place to start when I assess local trees.  One tree I gathered from has nuts roughly the size of the Cranz you sent, and I decided to compare the interior structure to a couple of your examples...I see that 'Bridgton' has larger voids than nuts you sent, besides size what are other features should I pay attention to?


Good report Jesse. With regarding taste I think the “Thomas” was really something special. Each time I have sampled the collected 4 nuts Darrel sent the "Thomas wins every time with my palate. Farrington would be second. As we all know tastes are subjective.