Butternut - Juglans Cinerea
- stands out as a superior wood for intricate carving. Unlike
basswood it shows a beautiful color and grain pattern.
Native Indians were more interested in the
food value of the tree rather than the wood. They ground the nuts
for breads, cakes, soup, relish, and mush for baby food. They saved
the buttery fat left from boiling the nuts. From the sap they made
syrup and beverages.
The root and bark of the butternut tree
have also been used as a laxative. An iodine-yellow dye can be made
from the fruit husks and bark. Some Confederate soldiers colored
their uniforms with this dye. Today the nuts are popular in New
England for making maple-butternut candy.
Butternut is a soft, lightweight hardwood
that is odorless and not known to be toxic. Its heartwood is a light
chestnut brown with red or pinkish tinges. Its narrow sapwood is
white to light brown. Butternut is prone to insect attacks.
The wood has a straight grain and a coarse texture. Because of its
course texture, tools must be sharp. It is easy to work and takes a
lustrous shine when finished.
The tree is not abundant. It is slow
growing, rarely lives longer than 75 years, and is declining because of a
Juglans is the Latin name for walnut
- meaning the nut of Jupiter. Cinerea refers to its ash
colored bark. Closely related to black walnut, it is sometimes
called white walnut. Another name is oil-nut.