Butternut (Juglans cinerea)
An early ripening nut in the walnut family. This nut is more oblong and milder tasting than the walnut.
I did not harvest this plant, but the friends that did were told what they had by a native to these mountains. That person claimed that branch lettuce was becoming rare due to over harvesting. It can be eaten raw in a salad, or cooked in bacon fat.
The walnut is a delicacy known throughout Europe. Picked before ripening in early Summer these nuts can be pickled or made into a delicious and healing black walnut liqueur. Of course, the ripe nuts later in the season are delicious as well.
The longstanding traditions and uses of these nuts in Europe must be paralleled by uses in the Appalachain region? I have not heard of many stories to that effect though... With the abundance of Black Walnut trees in the Blue Ridge, it is about time we start using these nuts in a variety of ways!