Why Walnut is called a Walnut?

“Why Walnut is called a Walnut?”

One Sunday evening, while I was busy watching some random television show on cable TV, my friend offered me a walnut snack. Being a nut lover, I immediately grabbed the container and munched on some and offered some of it to her preggy friend.  While we were chatting around, she suddenly asked “Why walnut is called a walnut?”. I admit I laughed at first when I heard it but then again realized it was actually a very clever question. I was left wondering about that and promised to google it out, for humanity’s sake (Hahahaha!).

So, here’s what I’ve found out.

WALNUT derives from Old English wealhhnutu, literally ‘foreign nut’ (from wealh ‘foreign’ + hnutu‘nut’), because it was introduced from Gaul and Italy. The Latin name for the walnut was nux Gallica, “Gallicnut”.

A walnut is the nut of any tree of the genus Juglans (Family Juglandaceae), particularly the Persian or English walnut, Juglans regia. Technically a walnut is the seed of a drupe or drupaceous nut, and thus not a true botanical nut. It is used for food after being processed while green for pickled walnuts or after full ripening for its nutmeat. Nutmeat of the eastern black walnut from the Juglans nigra is less commercially available, as are butternut nutmeats from Juglans cinerea. The walnut is nutrient-dense with protein and essential fatty acids. 

Walnuts are rounded, single-seeded stone fruits of the walnut tree commonly used for the meat after fully ripening. Following full ripening, the removal of the husk reveals the wrinkly walnut shell, which is usually commercially found in two segments (three-segment shells can also form). During the ripening process, the husk will become brittle and the shell hard. The shell encloses the kernel or meat, which is usually made up of two halves separated by a partition. The seed kernels – commonly available as shelled walnuts – are enclosed in a brown seed coat which contains antioxidants. The antioxidants protect the oil-rich seed from atmospheric oxygen, thereby preventing rancidity.

Walnuts are late to grow leaves, typically not until more than halfway through the spring. They secrete chemicals into the soil to prevent competing vegetation from growing. Because of this, flowers or vegetable gardens should not be planted close to them.

Tradition has it that a walnut tree should be beaten. The old saying runs, “A woman, a dog and a walnut tree; the harder they’re beaten, the better they be.” The saying is believed to originate from the mainland European practice of harvesting by beating with long poles. This would have the added benefits of removing dead wood and stimulating shoot formation.

There are 2 major types of a walnut:

  1. Persian or English Walnut
English Walnut c. google images

Native to the region stretching from the Balkans eastward to the Himalayas and southwest China. It is a large, deciduous tree attaining heights of 25–35 m, and a trunk up to 2 m 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.

It 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.


2. Black Walnut

Black Walnut Variations c. google images

Native to eastern North America. It grows mostly in riparian zones, from southern Ontario, west to southeast South Dakota, south to Georgia, northern Florida and southwest to central Texas. Wild trees in the upper Ottawa Valley may be an isolated native population or may have derived from planted trees. It is a large deciduous tree attaining heights of 30–40 m (98–131 ft).

It is more resistant to frost than the English or Persian walnut, but thrives best in the warmer regions of fertile, lowland soils with high water tables.  It will grow in closed forests, but needs full sun for optimal growth and nut production.

Black walnut has been promoted as a potential cancer cure by alternative medicine practitioners, on the basis it kills a “parasite” responsible for the disease. According to the American Cancer Society, “available scientific evidence does not support claims that that hulls from black walnuts remove parasites from the intestinal tract or that they are effective in treating cancer or any other disease”.

To sum it up, there are 21 species in the genus range across the north temperate Old World from southeast Europe east to Japan, and more widely in the New World from southeast Canada west to California and south to Argentina. Most of this are exported internationally.


-All contents excerpted from Wikipedia.






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