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Botanical Name: Carya cordiformis

Common Name: Bitternut Hickory
Origin: E. & C. USA
Location: KN


Notable Feature: Bark is thin, tight and hard; initially smooth and silvery gray; with age a darker gray with shallow furrows and interlacing ridges.

Habit: A medium to large deciduous tree, height over 100 feet with open rounded top, and the shortest lived of the hickories, living 200 years. Also one of the most abundant of the hickories growing throughout the eastern U.S. 

Flower: Flowers are monecious and appear in spring. Male flowers are yellow-green, drooping catkins, 3’’ to 4’’ long.  Females are short, four angled on a terminal spike.

Fruit: The 1-inch long bitternuts are rounded and slightly flattened, husk is thin and four winged above the middle.  Fruit matures in fall and is bitter.

Foliage: Leaf is alternate and pinnately compound, 7 to 10 inches long, with 7 to 11 leaflets; dark green above and a paler green beneath.

Interesting Fact: It is closely related to the pecan tree, sharing a similar leaf shape but unlike the pecan, it does not have edible nuts. The bitternut hickory played a role in forging our nation. Its tough, shock-resistant wood was used to make gunstocks, ramrods and tool handles.

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