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It’s considered a national treasure to many of American black walnut’s fans. Long considered a premier domestic cabinet wood as well as a favorite for gunstocks, black walnut is also used in high-end furniture, musical instruments, paneling and fine veneer.
Prized for its variations in color, walnut also offers a wealth of figures, from butts and burls to fiddleback, crotch, leaf, stripe, curly and more, and has a rich range of colors. The heartwood of black walnut ranges from chocolate brown to purplish black.
Its popularity continues to grow, particularly in the United States where dark tones are trending. According to last year’s Annual Wood Species and Design Survey, administered by the Appalachian Hardwood Manufacturers Inc., walnut was the top choice for bedroom and home office furniture, second in entertainment centers, and third in dining room furniture.
Not all is bright, however. Black walnut has made news in recent years because of the damage done by 1000 Cankers Disease. First detected in Colorado in 2003, it typically kills walnut trees within three years of infection. Caused by the Geosmithia morbida fungus, the disease is transmitted by the walnut twig beetle (Pityophthorous juglandis). And as it moves eastward, there is a potential for the disease to have devastating effects on the entire species. One of the latest developments this year was a quarantine by the Maryland Department of Agriculture on the species, making it illegal for anyone to move walnut material or wood out of the state’s Cecil County.
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