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The walnuts (genus Juglans) are plants in the walnut family Juglandaceae. They are deciduous trees, 10-40m tall, with pinnate leaves 20-90cm long, with 5-25 leaflets; the shoots have chambered pith, a character shared with the wingnuts (Pterocarya) but not the hickories (Carya) in the same family.
The nuts of all the species are edible, but the walnuts commonly available in stores are from the Persian Walnut, the only species which has a large nut and thin shell. A horticultural form selected for thin nut shells and hardiness in temperate zones is sometimes known as the 'Carpathian' walnut. The nuts are rich in oil, and are widely eaten both fresh and in cookery. Walnuts are also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, and have been shown as helpful in lowering cholesterol. They need to be kept dry and refrigerated to store well; in warm conditions they become rancid in a few weeks, particularly after shelling.
Walnut nut husks are often used to create a rich yellow-brown to dark brown dye that is used for dyeing fabric and for other purposes. When picking walnuts, the husks should be handled wearing rubber gloves, to avoid dyeing one's fingers.
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