Butternut is called "white walnut" because of its light-colored wood, which has a natural golden luster that becomes satin-like when polished. The wood is only moderately hard and saws and carves easily. It has been used for furniture, cabinetry, instrument cases, interior woodwork, including hand-carved wall panels and trim, and church decoration and altars. It is stocked in specialty lumberyards because little is cut annually.
Butternuts were often planted close to the house on farmsteads for their use as food. Kernels were used in baking and cultivars have been selected for nut size and for ease of cracking and extracting kernels.
They have been popular in New England for making maple-butternut candy. Early settlers used the fruit husks and inner bark to make orange or yellow dye and the root bark provided a laxative.
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