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Plants that fill a similar niche:
Carya glabra Form
Carya tomentosa Form
Liriodendron tulipifera Liriodendron tulipifera
Carya cordiformis has some common insect problems:
Hickory Spiral Borer
Twig Girdler

Bitternut Carya cordiformis

Phonetic Spelling
KAIR-yuh kord-ih-FOR-miss
Description

Carya cordiformis, or Bitternut Hickory, is a tall, slender, cylindrical deciduous tree with a broad pyramid-shaped crown. It is native to North Carolina and usually found on moist rich soils in relatively open areas where the tree can find sun. The Bitternut Hickory does not tolerate shade, but will tolerate a variety of soil types. The tree has a strong tap-root, making it difficult to move, and needs a lot of space as it matures; all considerations for planting in a permanent position. When surrounded by other trees, the trunk is long and straight and the crown is short; in open areas, the trunk is less long and the crown larger and ovoid in shape. At all seasons, the Bitternut Hickory can be identified from all other native trees by its long, scaly, yellow buds. On bottom lands it develops into a tree of 50 to 70 feet or more with a straight trunk, 1 to 2 1/2 feet in diameter. The wood is hard, strong and heavy, with a reddish brown heartwood. This tree is late coming into leaf and looses its leaves early in the autumn, but while the leaves are present, it casts an open shade allowing lawn or other plants to grow beneath it. Individual trees have been known to live up to 200 years; however, they do not produce nuts until at least 30 years old.

Diseases, Insects, and Other Plant Problems:

No known disease or insect problems. This tree is shade intolerant. Hickory bark beetle, pecan weevil, borers and twig girdler are sometimes problems. White heart rot, anthracnose, leaf blotch, powdery mildew, leaf spot, catkin blight and crown gall are occasional diseases.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#wildlife plant#moths#NC native#nighttime garden#pollinator plant#Braham Arboretum#larval host plant#food source fall#food source herbage#coastal FAC#bird friendly#food source hard mast fruit#mammals#butterfly friendly#moth larvae#Piedmont Mountains FACU#pollinator garden#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats#audubon#hickory horndevil moth
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#wildlife plant#moths#NC native#nighttime garden#pollinator plant#Braham Arboretum#larval host plant#food source fall#food source herbage#coastal FAC#bird friendly#food source hard mast fruit#mammals#butterfly friendly#moth larvae#Piedmont Mountains FACU#pollinator garden#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats#audubon#hickory horndevil moth
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Carya
    Species:
    cordiformis
    Family:
    Juglandaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Said to be somewhat inferior to the other hickories, but is used for the same purposes: tool handles, furniture, interior paneling, and sporting goods. Also used to smoke ham and bacon.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern Canada to Central & Eastern United States.
    Distribution:
    Northeast Canada west to Nebraska, south to Texas and east to Florida.
    Fire Risk Rating:
    medium flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Several species of moth are attracted to the foliage. Larval host for butterflies and Luna moths. This plant supports Hickory Horndevil (Citheronia regalis) larvae which have one brood and appear from May to mid-September. Adult Hickory Horndevil moths do not feed.
    Edibility:
    Thin shelled nut, but bitter and astringent.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 50 ft. 0 in. - 100 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 25 ft. 0 in. - 40 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Ascending
    Irregular
    Oval
    Pyramidal
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Wet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Nut
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Nuts do not appear until the tree is about 30 years old. The 4-ribbed nut is about an inch long, roughly spherical, with a thin shell. The meat of the nut is very bitter. The husk is four-winged from the tip to about the middle and is covered with yellowish-green, scruffy hairs. Nuts display in October.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Catkin
    Insignificant
    Spike
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Monoecious with both male and female flowers produced on the same tree. The male flowers are arranged in greenish yellow catkins that are 3 to 5 inches long in clusters of 3, drooping downward from either the tips of the previous year's twigs or at the base of the current year's twigs. Each tiny male flower has a 3-lobed calyx and several stamens. The female flowers are small short spikes at the tips of the current year's twigs. Each female flower is about an 1/8 of an inch, consisting of an ovoid ovary with 4 prominent ridges and a pair of styles. The blooming period occurs from mid- to late spring for about 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are 6 to 10 inches long with 7 to 9 long, oval, toothed leaflets that are dark yellow-green above and lighter below.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Furrowed
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    The bark on the trunk is granite gray and faintly tinged with yellow. It is less rough that most of the hickories, yet it is broken into narrow, plate-like scales as it ages. The hard bark is initially smooth.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Lenticels:
    Conspicuous
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Branches are gray and smooth, while twigs are gray or light brown. Young non-woody shoots are light green, terete, and glabrous; they have scattered lenticels that are white or pale yellow.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Nighttime Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Shade Tree
    Street Tree
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Moths
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Black Walnut