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The fruit production tends to occur irregularly with some years producing larger crops than others (see mast year). Black walnut does not leaf out until late spring when the soil has warmed and all frost danger is past.
Fruiting may begin when the tree is 4–6 years old, however large crops take 20 years. Like other trees of the order Fagales, such as oaks, hickories, chestnuts, and birches, it is monoecious, with wind-pollinated catkins.
Male and female flowers are in separate spikes, and the female flowers typically appear before the male on a single tree (dichogamy). However, individual trees usually are not self-sterile; if they are not pollinated by neighboring trees, they may set self-fertilized seeds.
Black walnut has a strong taproot which makes the seedlings resilient, but difficult to transplant.
Black walnut is currently under pressure from the thousand cankers disease which is causing decline of walnuts in some areas.
Black walnut is also allelopathic which means that it releases chemicals from roots and other tissues which harm other organisms and give the tree a competitive advantage, this is often undesirable as it can harm garden plants and grasses.