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Carya aquatica (Michx. f.) Nutt.
Water hickory, Bitter pecan
Synonym(s): Carya aquatica var. australis, Hicoria aquatica
USDA Symbol: caaq2
USDA Native Status: L48 (N)
The pinnately compound leaves of this hickory have 9-11 leaflets. Trees can grow to 115 ft. but are usually much shorter. The bark of older trees is light-brown, splitting into long, plate-like, red-tinged scales. Large tree with tall straight trunk, slender upright branches, narrow crown, and bitter inedible nuts.
Both the common and scientific names describe this hickory occupying wettest soils. The bitter nuts are consumed by ducks and other wildlife. Water Hickory is the tallest of all hickories; the national champion measures 150 (45.7 m).
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr
, VA Native Distribution:
to s. IL
& s.e. MO,
s. to FL
& TX Native Habitat:
Swamps; river banks
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Wet
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Wet soils.
Conditions Comments: This species is very tolerant of wet soils, yet is can flourish on well-drained sites.
BenefitUse Wildlife: Serves as a primary host for some magnificent moths.
Larval Host: Luna, funeral dagger, and giant regal.
PropagationDescription: Propagation is possible by seed.
Seed Collection: Nuts can be collected off the ground after natural seed fall or after shaking the tree.
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
National Wetland Indicator Status
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1
(Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here
for map of regions.
From the National Organizations Directory
According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:
Mt. Cuba Center
- Hockessin, DE
Record Last Modified: 2013-09-06
Research By: TWC Staff