Virtual Herbarium
K-12 Educational Materials
Site Map

Carya cordiformis (Wangenheim) K. Koch

Common names: bitternut hickory, pignut.
Synonyms: Carya cordiformis (Wangenheim) K. Koch var. latifolia Sargent, Hicoria minima (Marshall) Britton, Hicoria cordiformis (Wangenheim) Britton, Juglans cordiformis Wangenheim.
Family: Juglandaceae.

Brief description:
A medium to large-sized, deciduous tree, typically ranging from 15–35 m (50–115 ft.) tall when fully grown. Terminal buds are relatively large (10–19 mm long), and sulfur yellow to tan, with valvate bud scales. Twigs are relatively slender. Bark of mature trunks is gray or brownish, initially with a smooth texture, becoming furrowed and ridged with age, sometimes with small exfoliating scales, but not shaggy. Leaves are alternate, moderately large (15–40 cm long), and pinnately compound, with 7–9 (occasionally 5, 11, or 13) leaflets. Leaflets are ovate to lanceolate or obovate to oblancoleate in shape, sometimes falcate, with coarsely to finely serrate margins. The lower leaf surface bears hairs along the larger veins, the remaining portions with few to many hairs. Leaves produce a pungent odor when bruised or crushed. Petioles lack hairs at the base, but become hairy closer to the rachis, which is also hairy. Separate male and female inflorescences occur on the same tree, the male flowers in drooping catkins, the female flowers in short, terminal spikes. Fruits are relatively small (2–3.6 cm long) nuts enclosed in a thin (2–3 mm) husk. The husk is 4-winged above the middle, has a short point at the end, and typically splits into four sections about half it’s length.

USDA Profile

Herbarium sheet images:
Herbarium sheet image thumbnail Herbarium sheet image thumbnail Herbarium sheet image thumbnail Herbarium sheet image thumbnail

Live specimen images:

• Individual leaf.• Branchlet with buds • Close-up of buds • Close-up of leaf scar •

Plant Information Center
About PIC | Project Staff | Advisory Panel | Research Activities | Partners | Permissions