Buartnut - Zone 4
Characteristics of the tree
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The name ‘buartnut’ originally indicated a walnut tree that was a cross between the butternut and the heartnut. The name ‘buartnut’ has now come to designate all crosses between butternut and any other walnut species. We source our buartnut seedlings from several different mother trees, which may be hybrids of butternut and heartnut, or of butternut and any other walnut species (Juglans cinerea x Juglans spp.) The nuts vary somewhat in taste from tree to tree, some closely resembling the butternut, others more like the Japanese walnut.
The size and weight of the nut of the buartnut will vary between trees, but generally measures about 4-5cm in length (shell included). The nuts are ready to harvest between mid-September and early October. Buartnut, like butternut, tastes similar to the common English walnut (also known as Persian walnut) but is sweeter, and in our opinion, better-tasting. It can be used in all the same types of recipes. We like to eat the walnuts just as they are.
The buartnut grows and starts producing nuts much more quickly than a butternut tree. Unlike the butternut, it also shows some resistance to the butternut canker. Our seedlings are all from sources that are free from disease, but this does not guarantee that they will be completely immune to the canker disease. Buartnut is cold-resistant up to zone 3, but in order to have time to fully mature its nuts, it will need a zone 4 climate. It is also self-fertile, but productivity will be much improved with the help of a pollinator, which can be another buartnut, or a butternut, heartnut, Japanese walnut or any other Juglans species.
The black walnut is a member of the Juglans family. It is infamous for producing juglones, said to be allelopathic to various plants inclusive of apple trees, tomato, potato, cabbage, eggplant, blueberry, azalea, rhododendron, lilac, red pine and the like. For a more complete list of plants intolerant to juglone click here. However, evidence on the precise effect of juglones on plants is mixed, with some studies even suggesting that it may be the density of the roots, rather than any particular substance, that prevents plants from growing well beside them. See this article for more details. There seems a good amount of general evidence to suggest that other plants have difficulty competing with black walnuts, so this should be considered when choosing where to plant them.
It is important to know how to crack them open efficiently, however, as their shell is hard, and the flesh can be more difficult to access than that of most nuts. Aside from a specialised nut-cracker, the best tools we have found for accomplishing this task efficiently and easily are (in order of preference):
- An arbor press
- A bench vice
- A hammer, having wrapped the nuts in a towel (this is more messy and harder to control than the previous two, but also works in the absence of another method.)
Once cracked, a metal toothpick or a knife with a narrow blade are helpful tools for extracting the flesh. We have also made a tutorial article with detailed instructions and photos of each step, you can see it here. We can promise you that it is well worth the effort! The nuts can be stored in a cool, dry place (in their shells, but with the husk removed) for about two years. It is important to store them in the shells, as without the shells they will go rancid much more quickly.