Walnut-Tree, or Juglans, L. a genus of exotic trees comprehending 8 species; the principal of which is the regia, or Common Walnut-tree. It is originally a native of Persia, and attains, in this country, the height of from 50 to 60 feet; having a beautiful erect trunk, that branches out into a large spreading crown, which is furnished with pinnated leaves. There are numerous varieties, generally raised for their palatable fruit, which ripens from the beginning of September till the end of October ; but the most esteemed are the Double Walnut, the Large Walnut, the French Walnut, the Thin-skinned, and the Late Walnut.
The Common Walnut-tree is propagated by drilling the ripe, dry nuts, together with their external rind, at the distance of one inch from each other, and in rows nine inches asunder; in a light garden soil, that has been well ploughed or trenched. If the autumn be dry, they may be sown in that season ; in the contrary case, the nuts must be preserved in dry sand till the month of February, or early in March, when they may be set in the manner above directed. In the succeeding winter, it will be advisable to shelter the nuts either with rotten dung, decayed leaves, or with tanner's waste, over which flat stones or slates may be placed, till they begin to shoot, when such covering will become useless. Should the ensuing summer prove dry, it will be proper to water the young plants ; and those in a prosperous condition may be removed in autumn, into beds arranged in rows one foot asunder, 3nd at the distance of four inches from each other in the row: the weaker plants must be suffered to remain in the seed-bed for another year. Thus, the Walnut-trees ought to be trained with single stems, till attaining the height of six or seven feet; when they maybe suffered to form heads ; as the branches will then be above the reach of cattle.
The trees should now be transplanted to a deep rich soil (though they also flourish on chalky lands), six feet asunder, and in rows at a similar distance, in the form of a quincunx, till they bear fruit. Such as promise to be the most productive, may then be selected, and left for bearing, while the others are to be planted out for timber : the former must be thinned as they increase in size, by removing every intermediate tree, till they stand at the distance of from 24 to 48 feet from each other, according to the richness of the soil, and the progressive growth of the trees.
In trimming the stems of Walnut-trees, Mr. Forsyth directs the shoots and small branches to be separated close to the bole, or trunk ; but, when the operation of lopping is performed, or any diseased, damaged, or cross branches, are to be pruned, he recommends the excision to be made at a fork, or eye; as part of the branch will, otherwise decay, and thus materially injure the tree: in both cases, however, it will be requisite immediately to apply the composition already described, vol. i. p. 88; and 238 of the present vol.
The Walnut is equally valuable as a timber, and as a fruit-tree. Its wood was formerly often employed both for building and in the manu-facture of household-furniture; but, being very brittle, it is at present superseded by mahogany, an ; other foreign timber. Nevertheless, it is highly prized by joiners and cabinet-makers, for tables, gun-stocks, and other light articles ; as it is beautifully veined, and admits of a fine polish. Farther, these trees are well calculated for planting them in the borders of orchards ; because their large spreading heads shelter the smaller, and more weakly fruit-trees, from the effects of boisterous winds : - an infusion of their leaves in boiling water, mixed with soap-suds, urine, and lime-water, has, according to Mr. Forsyth, been found very efficacious in destroying worms, and slugs in the ground, as likewise for exterminating insects on trees.
The fruit of the Walnut-tree is used at two different periods of its growth, namely, when green, for pickling, and in a ripe state, at the dessert. For the former purpose, nuts are fit in July or August, when they are about half, or three-fourths grown ; but those only which are free from spots, should be selected, and plucked off the carefully by the hand.
Walnuts attain to maturity in the months of September and October, when they are usually beaten down by means of long poles; for, as this fruit grows principally at the extremities of the branches, indolent or timid persons find it too troublesome to gather it by hand. The former practice, however, ought to be relinquished ; as it is detrimental to the fertility the trees, and breaks or otherwise mutilates the young shoots : besides, the nuts cannot he easily preserved, when beaten down before they are sufficiently ripe.
The best method of gathering walnuts, is that of shaking the trees only at a time, when the fruit has commenced spontaneously to drop; so that they may thus be easily obtained. If the nuts are to be kept for a considerable time, in a fresh state, they should first be well dried in an airy place, then packed in boxes, casks, jars or other convenient vessels, in alternate layers of fruit, and fine, clean sand, that has been previously deprived of all moisture by the sun, or in an oven. Thus, walnuts may be preserved in a sound state till the approach of summer; but, in case the kernels be shrivelled, Mr. Forsyth recommends such nuts to be immersed in milk and water, for the space of six or eight hours, previously to being used; by which expedient they will become so fine and plump, as to be easily divested of their internal skin.
There are two other species, namely, the alba, Hickery-nut, or White Walnut; and the nigra, or Black Walnut. Both are natives of Virginia ; but their fruit, though well flavoured, being very small, they are seldom cultivated in Bri-tain, excepting as timber-trees- ; may be raised in the same manner as the Common Walnut-tree.