En EspaŅol

NPIN: Native Plant Database

Search for native plants by scientific name, common name or family. If you are not sure what you are looking for, try the Combination Search or our Recommended Species lists.

Search native plant database:
See a list of all Plants

Carya alba (Mockernut hickory)
Flaigg, Norman G.

Carya alba

Carya alba (L.) Nutt.

Mockernut hickory, Big bud hickory

Juglandaceae (Walnut Family)

Synonym(s): Carya tomentosa, Carya tomentosa var. subcoriacea, Hicoria tomentosa, Juglans alba

USDA Symbol: caal27

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Mockernut hickory is a 50-60 ft. tree which can reach 100 ft. in height on good soil. Its dark bark is rough and thin with shallow furrows and narrow ridges forming a net-like pattern. It does not peel like Shagbark hickory (Carya ovata). Pinnately compound, deciduous leaves turn bright, golden-yellow if the tree has not suffered drought. Small, barely edible nuts are enclosed in a large, thick shell.

The wood of this common hickory and related species is prized for furniture, flooring, tool handles, baseball bats, skis, and veneer. Hickory wood has a very high fuel value, both as firewood and as charcoal, and is the preferred wood for smoking hams. People must arrive early to gather hickory nuts before they are consumed by squirrels and other wildlife. The former Latin species name, tomentosa, meaning densely covered with soft hairs, describes the undersurfaces of leaflets, a characteristic that makes this tree easily identifiable.


Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf: Green
Autumn Foliage: yes
Fruit: Light reddish brown
Size Class: 72-100 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr


USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , MO , MS , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VA , WV
Native Distribution: MA & NY to c. IL, s.e. IA, MO & e. KS, s. to e. TX & n. FL
Native Habitat: Dry, upland forests & ridges

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Dry, sandy to mesic, rich soils.
Conditions Comments: Carya tomentosa is slow-growing and long-lived. Nearly impossible to transplant because of a large taproot. Difficult to find in commerce. Responds best in sunny, fertile sites. Nuts present a problem in manicured landscapes. Stressed trees are subject to hickory bark beetle.


Use Wildlife: Serves as a primary host for some magnificent moths.
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies
Larval Host: Luna, funeral dagger, and giant regal.


Description: 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

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Attracting butterflies in Tennessee
July 03, 2009
What flowers and plants do the caterpillars in Tennessee eat? And do you know what butterflies live in Tipton Co. Tennessee?
view the full question and answer

From the National Suppliers Directory

According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:

American Native Nursery - Quakertown, PA

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE


Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Carya alba in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Carya alba in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Carya alba


Record Modified: 2013-09-06
Research By: TWC Staff

Go back

© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center