Butternut (Juglans cinerea), also known as white walnut and oil nut, grows in a northern range from southern New Brunswick in Canada to the North Carolina mountains and west to eastern Minnesota. The tree never appears in stands, but occurs sparsely in rich, moist bottomland soils. A medium-sized tree, butternut generally grows 30-50' in height and to a trunk diameter of 1-3'. But in prime forest conditions, it can reach 80-100' and diameters of 4', For instance, the largest butternut on the Na tional Register of Big Trees stands 88' tall. At a distant glance, butternut resembles black walnut in shape, although it never grows as tall and tends to spread more. And the bark has a gray color instead of the dark brown of black walnut. The alternate, frondlike leaves are 15-30" long and have as many as 17 pointed leaflets, that on the underside, are sticky to the touch. Butternut trees produce oblong nuts with thick, leathery husks and sweet, oily kernels that squirrels love. The nuts drop simultaneously with the leaves in the the fall. Butternut's coarse, straight grained wood features a light tan color and a beautiful luster. At 27 pounds per cubic foot air-dried, butternut weighs less than black walnut. It's also softer, less durable, and not as strong. In stability, the two are equal.
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