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CARYA glabra

Image of Carya glabra

Gerald L. Klingaman

Family

Juglandaceae

Botanical Name

CARYA glabra

Plant Common Name

Pignut Hickory

General Description

A valuable wildlife and timber plant, pignut is a highly variable medium to large deciduous tree from eastern North America. Its tapering, sometimes forked trunk bears relatively short, spreading or drooping branches, forming a narrowly oval crown. The gray bark can be smooth, furrowed, or scaly. The pinnate leaves are divided into five or rarely seven lance-shaped yellow-green leaflets, with one leaflet at the tip and the others paired. The foliage turns yellow in fall. Inconspicuous flowers appear in spring, with male flowers borne in drooping catkins on second year wood, and female flowers in short spikes at the tips of the new growth. Pollination is by wind. Green, pear-shaped or ovoid, thin-husked fruits ripen tan in fall, each fruit containing a pale, thin-shelled nut with a small sweet kernel at its center. The flavorful, edible nuts are valuable to wildlife, including large birds. This tree has hard, heavy, dense wood that is valuable for furniture making, wood flooring and tool handles. Slow- and clean-burning, it is excellent for fuel or for adding a pleasing flavor to smoked meats.

Give this tree ample space and sunlight. Its long taproot grows best in deep well-drained soil. Use it in groups or as an individual specimen in parks, large residential properties, or naturalistic plantings.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 1

  • Plant Type

    Tree

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    50'-90' / 15.2m - 27.4m

  • Width

    30'-60' / 9.1m - 18.3m

  • Native To

    Northeastern United States, Mid-Atlantic United States, Southeastern United States, Central United States, Canada

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Oval/Rounded

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    Yes

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    Yes

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Edible, Shade Trees

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes