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Carya cordiformis (Wangenh.) K. Koch
Bitternut hickory, Swamp hickory
USDA Symbol: CACO15
USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.
A slender shade tree, bitter-nut hickory is one of the largest hickories, growing 50-100 ft. tall. Bitter-nut hickory typically develops several primary ascending limbs, forming an arched shape. The deciduous tree produces long, graceful catkins and large, hard-shelled nuts. The pinnately-compound leaves attain a bright, clear yellow early in the fall. It holds its fall foliage longer than other hickories.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Tree Leaf:
Green Autumn Foliage:
Green, Brown Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Apr
AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , NE , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VA , VT , WI , WV Canada: ON
, QC Native Distribution:
S.w. NH, s. Que., c. MI & s.e. MN, s. to n.w. FL, e. TX, c. OK & e. NE. Native Habitat:
Woodlands; rich bottomlands; rocky hillsides; stream banks USDA Native Status: L48(N), CAN(N)
Growing ConditionsWater Use:
Medium Light Requirement:
Sun , Part Shade , Shade Soil Moisture:
Moist Soil pH:
Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2) CaCO3 Tolerance:
High Soil Description:
Rich soils. Conditions Comments:
This is the most rapid growing of all hickory trees. It is difficult to transplant because of a large taproot,
but perhaps less so than other hickories. Suffers from soil compaction and is sometimes weakened by its branching structure. In manicured areas, the small nuts can be a nuisance. Unlike other hickories, this species casts an open shade, allowing turf or ornamentals to thrive underneath.
BenefitUse Wildlife: Nuts are bitter and squirrels tend to avoid them. Serves as a primary host for some magnificent moths.
Use Food: Bitternut hickory is favoured for smoking ham, bacon and other meats because it imparts a distinctive flavour. (Kershaw)
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies
Larval Host: Luna, funeral dagger, and giant regal
PropagationDescription: Most easily grown from fresh seed sown immediately after collection or stratified and sown in spring. Increase by hardwood cuttings is usually successful.
Seed Collection: Collect nuts from September to November. Husks usually dry and split open by themselves when the nuts are mature. Persistent husks can be removed with a corn sheller.
Seed Treatment: Embyro dormancy can be overcome by moist stratification at 33-40 degrees for 30-150 days. Older seeds require less stratification.
Commercially Avail: yes
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Record Modified: 2009-02-18
Research By: TWC Staff