Butternut (Juglans cinerea )
Known as White Walnut in the South, this relative of Black Walnut is slower growing and much less frequently encountered than its well-known cousin. It is a native of the midwestern and northeastern United States. Although similar to Black Walnut in superficial appearance, its elongated nuts, hairy stems, and flattened, shiny ridges on mature trees make it recognizable as a different species. As compared to the Black Walnut, the leaves of Butternut are generally longer but have fewer leaflets (from 9 to19 leaflets), and the terminal leaflet is usually present (left side of image at left, with a leaf of Black Walnut on the right side). The bark of Butternut is light gray, while the Black Walnut is a larger tree with dark bark. The Butternut is an important mast tree for wildlife especially in the northern part of its range where black walnut does not grow. IN the past, Butternut has been valued for paneling, furniture and carving.
Butternuts are still used in New England to make maple-Butternut candy, which is sold at roadside stands on a very limited scale. It is a treat worth seeking out. The nuts have a very thick shell and the kernels are small and tend to shatter when cracked making them undesirable for commercial nut production. . Its kernel within the fruit gives it the common name of Butternut, as it is sweet and very oily. The Native Americans reportedly boiled the kernels to extract the oil, which was then used like butter. The kernels were also pickled in vinegar by the early settlers.