Trees of Alabama and the Southeast

Lisa Samuelson, Ph.D.
School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
Auburn University

Bitternut Hickory
Carya cordiformis

Leaves are alternate, deciduous and pinnately compound with 7-11 lanceolate to obovate leaflets. The leaf base may be tapered or cordate. Leaflets and rachis may show hair. Twigs bear bright yellow, valvate buds. Bark is smooth on young trees and on larger trees the bark is gray-brown with tight interlacing ridges. Nut is round, grooved, 4 ribbed and bitter tasting, and the husk is thin, winged and with yellow scales. Form is up to 30 m (100 ft) in height and 1 m (3 ft) in diameter. Bitternut hickory is found on moist, fertile soils in the east and central U.S. and is intolerant of shade. The hard wood is used for pulpwood and furniture.

Photographs by Mike Hogan.

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