mockernut hickory
Carya tomentosa (Lam.) Nutt.
  • ALTERNATE COMMON NAME: white hickory, bullnut, hognut, whiteheart hickory
  • LEAVES: deciduous, alternate, odd-pinnately compound usually with 7 leaflets (range 5-9); lowermost leaflets ovate and much smaller than the other laterals and terminal leaflet, with a general increase in leaflet size toward the leaf tip; leaves noticeably droop, a trait apparent in viewing a crown from a distance; mature leaves can be up to ca. 16” long; leaflet blades pubescent beneath with tufted hairs; leaves fragrant when crushed
  • FLOWER: flowers unisexual, plants monoecious; male flowers in catkins 4-5’, emerging before female flowers; female flowers in short spikes; both are present April-May
  • FRUIT: nut; four-angled; 1-4 inches long w/short, necklike base; solitary or paired and globose; extremely hard shell, thick 4-ribbed husk, contains a small edible kernel; reddish brown; ripens in September-October
  • TWIGS: moderately stout, young twigs moderately to densely pubescent with tufted hairs; pale amber glands can be present as well; buds relatively large compared to other hickories, to ca. 0.6” long and 0.4” wide at base; bud scales imbricate
  • BARK: on young trees bark is gray and relatively smooth with only a faint diamond pattern evident; bark on older trees gray, tight, ridged and furrowed into a diamond pattern
  • FORM: medium to large tree, 65-100’ tall and to ca. 5’ dbh; crown narrow and rounded at the top
  • HABITAT: mesic to dry pine and mixed pine hardwood woodland and forests, often on sandy loam soil; also a component of salt dome hardwoods forests (e.g. Avery Island)
  • RANGE: eastern US  [USGS Range Map]
  • USES: hard and strong wood used for tool handles, ladder rungs, wheel spokes, flooring, furniture, pulpwood, fuel/charcoal
  • WILDLIFE: WILDLIFE: leaves browsed by deer, especially stump sprouts following logging; black bear have been documented eating nuts on Avery Island, other mammals eating fruits include fox, beaver, and white-footed mice; preferred mast for squirrels, minor food source for ducks, quail, turkey. Provides cavity nesting sites
  • Best Recognition Features:
    1. long droopy leaves to 16”
    2. fragrant leaves and twigs
    3. large terminal buds
    4. leaflets and rachis pubescent with tufted hairs
    5. nuts with thick husks