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Serving your perennial, flowerbulb, fruit and vegetable plant needs since 1957.

Nut Tree, Bitternut Hickory

The Bitternut Hickory is a beautiful, tall slender tree that is great for a large landscape. It is a common Hickory that has bitter nuts usually too ill-fit for human consumption, as its name implies. These trees are deer and wild turkey friendly! They also provide protective cover and nesting habitat for many birds, including woodpeckers and warblers. Its leaflets are lance-shaped, fruits have four-winged husks and are thin-shelled. The bark is sinewy when young with criss-crossing ridges at maturity, its small winter buds are yellow, and its twigs are slender and grows rapidly.

As a member of the walnut family, it is related to other hickories and the walnuts. Bitternut Hickory has cleaner foliage in late summer as compared to other hickories; that is, its leaflets tend not to be as riddled by chewing insects. It has virtually no disease or pest problems and is rapid growing. Bitternut Hickory prefers deep, moist soils that range from poorly drained to well-drained, but is often found in drier conditions. Its alternative common name is Swamp Hickory. It tolerates shade in its youth, but needs full sun at maturity and is adaptable to all soils.

Plant Details +

Botanical Carya cordiformis
Common Name Bitternut Hickory
Height Maximum of 50-70'
Spacing 30-50'
Hardiness Zones 3-7
Exposure Full sun
Foliage Medium-green to dark-green, lance-shaped leaves
Flower Three-branched staminate (male) catkins droop from the previous year's twig growth.
Harvest Late summer throughout autumn

General Information +

Planting/Care Instructions +

Planting Instructions: It tolerates a variety of soils and conditions. Dig a hole large enough to encompass the roots without bending or circling. Set the plant in place so the crown (part of the plant where the root meets the stem) is about 1-2 inches below the soil surface. Add generous amounts of peat but no fertilizer when planting. Cover with soil to the original soil surface and water thoroughly.