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Carya glabra (Pignut hickory)
Smith, R.W.

Carya glabra

Carya glabra (Mill.) Sweet

Pignut Hickory, Sweet Pignut Hickory, Coast Pignut Hickory, Pignut, Sweet Pignut, Smoothbark Hickory, Broom Hickory, Red Hickory, Swamp Hickory, Switch Hickory, Switchbud Hickory

Juglandaceae (Walnut Family)

Synonym(s): Carya glabra var. glabra, Carya glabra var. hirsuta, Carya glabra var. megacarpa, Carya leiodermis, Carya magnifloridana, Carya microcarpa, Carya ovalis var. hirsuta, Carya ×ovalis var. hirsuta, Hicoria austrina, Hicoria glabra, Hicoria glabra var. hirsuta

USDA Symbol: cagl8

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

A coarse-textured tree, 50-100 ft., with short, picturesque branches, irregular, spreading crown and thick-shelled nuts. Bark is not shaggy. Leaves are pinnately compound, the terminal leaflets considerably larger than the lower pair, turning a rich, golden-yellow color in fall.

One of the most common hickories in the southern Appalachians and an important timber source there, its wood is made into tool handles and skis. It was formerly used for wagon wheels and textile loom picker sticks because it could sustain tremendous vibration. Named in colonial times from the consumption of the small nuts by hogs. Early settlers, who also called it "Broom Hickory," made brooms from narrow splits of the wood. Red Hickory (var. odorata (Marsh.) Little), a variety with nearly the same range, has the fruit husk splitting to base, usually 7 leaflets, and often shaggy bark.


From the Image Gallery

13 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Complexity: Pinnate
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Fruit Type: Nut
Size Notes: Up to about 100 feet tall.
Leaf: Green
Autumn Foliage: yes
Fruit: Brown

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Apr


USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , MI , MO , MS , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VA , VT , WV
Canada: ON
Native Distribution: S.w. NH to c. MI, n. IL, s. to c. FL, e. TX & s.e. KS
Native Habitat: Dry slopes & dunes

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Well-drained to dry, rich loams & silty clays.
Conditions Comments: Most shade tolerant hickory. Most flood intolerant hickory. Very long-lived. Difficult to transplant because of a large taproot. Nuts are bitter.


Use Wildlife: Songbirds and small mammals. Serves as a primary host for some magnificent moths.
Use Other: The tough, heavy wood makes excellent tool handles, broom handles, and sport implements. The bitter, inedible nutmeats are probably best left to pigs and wild animals. (Kershaw)

Because of its low conductivity of heat, it is prized for wagon parts, like the hub, where the heat of friction may be great.

American Hickory is the most prized wood of skiers the world over. For Hickory is stronger than steel, weight for weight, more elastic, less brittle and less heat-conductive. (Peattie)
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.

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 on display at the following locations:

Crosby Arboretum - Picayune, MS
Longwood Gardens - Kennett Square, PA
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE


Bibref 298 - Field Guide to Texas Trees (1999) Simpson, B.J.
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 glabra in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Carya glabra in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Carya glabra


Record Modified: 2015-11-13
Research By: TWC Staff

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