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ButternutJuglans cinerea

  • Butternut - Juglans cinerea
  • Butternut - Juglans cinerea

A North American native, the butternut (also known as white walnut) is one of the hardiest nut trees. The late October harvest of rich, buttery-flavored nuts are popular for baking, confections and fresh eating.

If you’re interested in planting this tree for its nuts, be sure to plant more than one. While the butternut is self-fertile, you can ensure a better crop with multiple trees.

Hardiness Zones

The butternut can be expected to grow in Hardiness Zones 3–7. View Map

Tree Type

This is a nut-producing tree, yielding nuts for human and wildlife consumption.

Mature Size

The butternut grows to a height of 40–60' and a spread of 35–50' at maturity.

Growth Speed Slow Growth Rate

This tree grows at a slow rate, with height increases of less than 12" per year.

Sun Preference

Full sun is the ideal condition for this tree, meaning it should get at least 6 hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

Soil Preference

The butternut grows in in acidic, alkaline, loamy, moist, rich, sandy, well-drained, wet and clay soils.


This tree:
  • Yields a ripened nut crop in late October. The nuts are oblong and tapered, 1½–2½" in diameter, covered with sticky hairs. A thick, brown, corrugated inner shell holds the nut kernel, which has a sweet, buttery flavor that makes it great for baking, confections and fresh eating.
  • Begins to bear nuts 7–10 years after planting.
  • Is an alternate bearer, meaning it will bear abundantly one year and then less the next. Sometimes it will take a few years off before bearing again.
  • Grows in a rounded shape.
  • Features pinnately compound, alternate leaves that consist of 11–19 stalkless leaflets.
  • Is self-fertile but requires wind for pollination. Planting more than one tree will ensure a better crop.
  • Develops a short, usually forked trunk with a wide, spreading, open canopy.

Wildlife Value

The nuts are valuable food for deer, squirrels and birds.


The inner bark was once used as an orange or yellow dye.