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Mockernut Hickory Bitternut

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Mockernut Hickory Bitternut


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The Mockernut Hickory Bitternut (Carya Tomentosa) is a medium to large, deciduous tree with a straight trunk and rounded crown that typically grows 60-80’ tall. It is primarily native to hillsides and ridges in somewhat dry soils. It grows throughout the eastern and central U.S., with concentrations of tall trees in the Ohio River valley and Mississippi River valley. Compound, odd-pinnate, dark yellowish-green leaves (each to 6-12” long) have 5-7, toothed, ovate-lanceolate leaflets. Leaflets grow 3-6” long. Leaflet undersides are downy and glandular. Rachis and petiole are pubescent. Leaflets are aromatic when cut or bruised. Leaves turn an attractive yellow in fall.  Non-showy, monoecious, yellowish-green flowers bloom in April-May, with the male flowers in drooping catkins (to 6” long) and the female flowers on short spikes. Female flowers give way to fruits (rounded nuts), but only after the tree reaches about 25 years old. Each nut is encased in a thick, four-grooved husk which splits open in fall when ripe. Nuts are edible for humans but can be very difficult to extract from the husks, hence the common name of mockernut. Nuts are eaten by a variety of mammals including squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, raccoons and black bears. Light colored sap wood of this tree gives rise to a sometimes used common name of white hickory. Best grown in humusy, rich, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best performance occurs in moist soils. Plants are generally intolerant of shade. This tree needs a large space within which to grow. It may be difficult to transplant because of its long taproot.


Zones 4-9

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