pignut hickory
Carya glabra (Mill.) Sweet
  • LEAVES:  deciduous, alternate, once odd-pinnately compound, 6-15” long, with (3-) 5-7 leaflets of highly variable shape, the upper lateral and terminal leaflets usually about equal in size; upper leaflet surface green and glabrous, lower surface paler green and sometimes with tufts of hairs in vein axils; rachis glabrous
  • FLOWER: unisexual, plants monoecious, male flowers in cakins (as in other Carya)
  • FRUIT: nut, variable in size and shape; from 1” to ca. 2.3” long; shapes (including husk) range from obpyriform/obovoid to globose; in the South, fruits are not compressed, while fruits of northern trees may be compressed; husks can be smooth or rough, are relatively thin, and can dehisce partly or wholly; kernel sweet to bitter
  • TWIGS:stout, dark brown, glabrous with pale lenticels; leaf scars lighter brown, shield-shaped or obcordate; terminal buds large, to 0.5” long, ovoid, scales imbricate, brown, surfaces with dense compact pubescence
  • BARK: smooth and tight, diamond shaped fissures formed by the interlacing ridges (bark of trees at northern latitudes typically exfoliates in strips)
  • FORM: medium to large tree, to ca. 130’ and 50” dbh
  • HABITAT: variable, moist to dry forests; in our area, occurs in mesic forests on alluvial and non-alluvial landscapes
  • WETLAND DESIGNATION: Facultative Upland (FACU): Usually occurs in non-wetlands, but may occur in wetlands of the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Plain Region
  • RANGE: eastern US  [USGS Range Map]
  • USES: wood used for ladder rungs, tool handles, wheel spokes, flooring, fuel
  • WILDLIFE: fruit eaten by squirrels, chipmunks, black bear, gray fox, raccoon, and other mammals, as well as birds; stump sprouts browsed by whitetail deer
  • Best Recognition Features:
    1. true hickory (as opposed to pecan hickory) with tight diamond-furrowed bark
    2. leaves and twigs generally glabrous
    3. nuts (including husks) variable, often pear-shaped (obpyriform), to globose; husks relatively thin (i.e. relative to Carya tomentosa)