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Home > Resources > North Carolina Trees > Pignut Hickory

Pignut Hickory

(Carya glabra (Mill.) Sweet)


Pignut hickory is a medium to large upland tree, usual] drier soils in the center of the state and less frequently The tree reaches heights of between 50 and 75 feet tall, N diameter of 1 to 3 feet.

Its leaves are 8 to 12 inches long with five (rarely 7) finely toothed, sharp-pointed, tapering leaflets.  The fruit is not ribbed, is globular to pear-shaped, about 1 1/2 inches long and is enclosed in a thin husk that remains closed or opens only part way down the nut.  The nutmeat is small and sweet.

The spreading, often drooping, branches form a tall, narrow head.  As the tree matures, the dark gray bark becomes deeply fissured and separates into scaly ridges that form into rough diamond patterns. The wood is heavy, hard, strong and flexible.

The red hickory (Carya ovalis Wangenh Sarg.) differs from pignut hickory in that its fruit is round and its bark frequently separates into narrow, short plates or minute scales.  It grows on upland sites with black, red and white oaks. 

The sand hickory (Carya pallida (Ashe) Engl. & Graebn) is found on sandy Piedmont soils and grows sparingly in mountains and Coastal Plain. It has pale, delicate foliage.  The leaves are woolly or hairy underneath and, when young, covered with silvery scales. The husks are thicker than those of the pignut.

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