bitternut hickory
Carya cordiformis (Wangenh.) K. Koch
  • LEAVES:  deciduous, alternate, odd-pinnately compound, with 7-9 (-11) sessile usually lanceolate leaflets, terminal leaflet about the same size as the upper laterals (maybe a little larger), lowermost lateral leaflets smallest, sometimes ovate
  • FLOWER: unisexual, plants monoecious, male flowers in cakins (as in other Carya)
  • FRUIT: nut, more or less globular, not or slightly compressed, 0.75 - 1” broad; husks thin, dehiscing to middle or slightly below, sutures winged; kernel whitish and tasting bitter
  • TWIGS: twigs of the season greenish brown to dark brown, pubescent early then becoming glabrous, dotted with oblong buff-colored lenticels; bud scales valvate, covered yellow to copper-colored resinous scales
  • BARK: light gray to whitish and smooth on young trees, becoming gray, with interlacing ridges forming a diamond pattern on older trees
  • FORM: medium-large tree, to ca. 100’ tall and 50” dbh
  • HABITAT: rich well-drained soils, including alluvial ridges and loess uplands
  • WETLAND DESIGNATION: In the Western Gulf Coast Subregion of the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Plain Region, this species is Facultative Upland (FACU): usually occurs in non-wetlands, but may occur in wetlands. In the remainder of the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Plain Region, this species is Facultative (FAC): occurs in wetlands or non-wetlands
  • RANGE: eastern US, barely extending into Ontario and Quebec [USGS Range Map]
  • WILDLIFE: fruit eaten by squirrels
  • USES: wood used for tool handles, ladder rungs, wheel spokes, flooring, fuel
  • Best Recognition Features:
    1. on rich mesic soils (alluvial ridges, loessal soils)
    2. bark gray, lighter and smooth on younger trees, diamond-furrowed on older
    3. nut globose, ca. 1” broad; husks thin, kernel whitish
    4. yellow-copperish buds with valvate scales