Heartseed Walnut (Juglans ailanthifolia cordiformis)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Heartseed Walnut
Juglans ailanthifolia cordiformis

A brown dye is obtained from the seed husks and the bark[61]. Rich in tannin, it does not require a mordant.

The bark is rich in tannin. It is used as a dye and also medicinally[178].

Plants produce chemicals which can inhibit the growth of other plants. These chemicals are dissolved out of the leaves when it rains and are washed down to the ground below, reducing the growth of plants under the tree[18, 20, 159]. The roots of many members of this genus produce substances that are toxic to many plant species, especially apples (Malus species), members of the Ericaceae, Potentilla spp and the white pines (certain Pinus spp.)[200].

Wood – soft, light, not easily cracked, of good quality. Used for cabinet making etc[46, 61].

  • Medicinal Use

    The bark is anthelmintic, astringent, diuretic, lithontripic, pectoral, skin, tonic (kidneys)[178].

  • Edible Use

    Seed – raw or cooked[183]. They are also used in sweets, pies etc[183]. A mild and pleasant flavour, they can be eaten in quantity for dessert[183]. The shell is thin and easily cracked[117]. It is considered to be superior in taste to C. ailanthifolia.

    An edible oil is obtained from the seed[183], though it tends to go rancid quickly.

    Young buds (leaf?) and peduncles – cooked[105, 177].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

The seed is best sown as soon as it is ripe in individual deep pots in a cold frame[80]. You need to protect it from mice, birds, squirrels etc. The seed usually germinates in late winter or the spring. Plant out the seedlings into their permanent positions in early summer and give some protection from the cold for their first winter or two. The seed can also be stored in cool moist conditions (such s the salad compartment of a fridge) over the winter and sown in early spring but it may then require a period of cold stratification before it will germinate[78, 80].
Requires a deep well-drained loam and a sunny position sheltered from strong winds[1, 11]. Prefers a slightly alkaline soil[200]. This is the hardiest member of the genus[63], it should succeed outdoors in most parts of the country. It is also resistant to most insects[160]. The young growth in spring, however, can be damaged by late frosts. This is a form of C. ailanthifolia with a thinner shell and a better tasting nut. It is cultivated for its edible seed in Japan and has the potential for producing very superior nuts, especially if hybridized with J. cinerea[117, 160]. There are some named varieties[183]. Plants can come into bearing in 3 – 4 years from seed[63]. Even when grown on a very windy site in Cornwall, the plants flowered in their eighth year from seed (by which time they were more sheltered from the wind)[K] Plants produce a deep taproot and they are intolerant of root disturbance[1, 11]. Seedlings should be planted out into their permanent positions as soon as possible and then given some protection since they are somewhat tender when young[1, 11]. Flower initiation depends upon suitable conditions in the previous summer[200]. The flowers and young growths can be destroyed by even short periods down to -2¡c, but fortunately plants are usually late coming into leaf[200]. Any pruning should only be carried out in late summer to early autumn or when the plant is fully dormant otherwise wounds will bleed profusely and this will severely weaken the tree[200]. Trees have a dense canopy which tends to reduce plant growth below them[K]. We have no specific information for this species, but the roots of several members of this genus produce substances that are toxic to many plant species, especially apples (Malus species), members of the Ericaceae, Potentilla spp and the white pines (certain Pinus spp.)[200]. The leaves of many species also secrete substances that have an inhibitory affect on plants growing underneath them. All in all this is not a very good companion plant[K].
E. Asia – Japan.

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*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.