Peruvian Walnut

Geographic Distribution:

The wood commonly known as Peruvian Walnut is known to botanists and other scientists as several Juglans species, including J. australis, J. neotropica, and J. olanchana.  Note that these are true Juglans species, the same genus as the more familiar Black Walnut (J. nigra), English Walnut (J. regia), and Claro Walnut (J. hindsii).  This makes Peruvian Walnut different from some other geographically monikered “walnuts” such as Queensland Walnut (Endiandra palmerstonii), New Guinea Walnut (Dracontomelon mangiferum), or African Walnut (Lovoa trichilioides), none of which are actually in the Juglans genus.

For the sake of simplicity and common understanding, I will refer to Peruvian Walnut from here forward.

General Characteristics:

The heartwood of Peruvian Walnut tends to be darker than temperate walnut species, often a deep chocolate brown color, sometimes with a purplish hue.

Peruvian Walnut may also contain streaks of lighter-colored wood mixed throughout the heartwood, which can sometimes be extensive and result in a high degree of waste.

Grain figuring, such as curl, seems to be much less common in Peruvian Walnut than in other walnut species.

The grain of Peruvian Walnut is usually straight, but it can be irregular.

Peruvian Walnut has a medium to coarse texture and good natural luster.

Peruvian Walnut is rated as moderately durable in terms of decay resistance, though it is susceptible to insect attack.

Working Characteristics:

Peruvian Walnut is typically easy to work with provided the grain is straight and regular.

As is the case with any species, planer tearout can sometimes be a problem when surfacing pieces of Peruvian Walnut with irregular or figured grain.

Peruvian Walnut glues, stains, and finishes well.

Peruvian Walnut has a faint, mild odor when being worked that is similar to Black Walnut.

Pricing and Availability:

Peruvian Walnut is more expensive than domestic species of Walnut, though it still tends to be moderately priced for an imported lumber.  One should expect prices to be similar to other mid-range South American imports.

In this blog, I almost always recommend several vendors with whom I have done considerable business and in whom I have great confidence.  These vendors are: West Penn Hardwoods, Bell Forest Products, NC Wood, WoodTurningz, Amazon Exotic Hardwoods, Griffin Exotic Wood, Exotic Woods USA, Got Wood?, and Wood Turning Blanks 4U.

Of my favored vendors, only West Penn Hardwoods and Bell Forest Products are offering Peruvian Walnut at this time.  West Penn Hardwoods offers only veneers and Bell Forest Products offers only dimensional lumber as well as pen blank spindles.

Woodfinder is an excellent website that is dedicated to advertising wood dealers.  In your search for Peruvian Walnut this can be an invaluable resource provided you use multiple search terms to capture all the possible listings.  I can’t speak to the quality of any of the listed dealers, but Woodfinder does have the advantage of allowing searches to be performed based on location which might allow an interested buyer to visit a listed wood dealer in person to hand pick pieces at a comfortable price.

A significant problem with using Woodfinder is that many vendors are listed for woods that, upon further investigation, they do not offer.  I don’t know if perhaps once they did and they didn’t update their listings or if some vendors use a standardized list of woods that include most everything conceivable with the idea that once you land on their page you will find something you want to buy even if you didn’t know it beforehand.  It happens to me all the time!

Common Uses:

Peruvian Walnut is commonly used to make furniture, cabinetry, veneers, flooring, musical instruments, and interior trim.

Sustainability:

Peruvian Walnut is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but a number of tropical species in the Juglans genus are on the IUCN Red List. The most notable species, Juglans neotropica, is listed as endangered due to a population reduction of over 50% in the past three generations, caused by a decline in its natural range, and exploitation.

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