water hickory
Carya aquatica (Michx. f.) Nutt.
  • ALTERNATE COMMON NAME: bitter pecan
  • LEAVES: deciduous, alternate, odd-pinnately compound commonly with 9 or 11 (range 7-17) falcate (sickle-shaped), lanceolate leaflets
  • FLOWER: imperfect (unisexual), plants monoecious; male flowers in green pendant catkins born at the summit of the previous year’s twig or base of current year’s growth; female flowers in few-flowered stalks terminal on developing shoots of the season; flowering in early spring
  • FRUIT: nut 1-1.5” long, distinctly flattened, with thin husks; kernel bitter
  • TWIGS: slender, ranging in color from brown to black, surface tomentose, glabrous with age; leaf scars heart-shaped with many vascular bundle scars
  • BARK: light gray to brownish-gray, loose shaggy plates on older trees
  • FORM: medium-sized tree, grows faster than Carya illinoinensis (sweet pecan)
  • HABITAT: wetter sites in bottomland hardwood forests
  • WETLAND DESIGNATION: Obligate Wetland (OBL): Almost always occurs in wetlands of the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Plain Region
  • RANGE: Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains  [USGS Range MAP]
  • USES: limited commercial uses for wood, including tool handles, flooring, wheel spokes, ladder rungs
  • WILDLIFE: wood ducks and possibly squirrels eat fruit
  • Best Recognition Features:
    1. restricted to wetter sites in floodplain forests
    2. gray shaggy-platy bark
    3. pinnately compound leaf with sickle-shaped lanceolate leaflets
    4. distinctly flattened nut