Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Southern Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Carya aquatica (Michx. f.) Nutt.
- Family: Walnut (Juglandaceae)
- Flowering: April-May
- Field Marks: This hickory is distinguished by its 7-17 curved leaflets and its short, ellipsoid,
flattened fruits with a bitter kernel.
- Habitat: Swampy woods, floodplains subjected to long winter flooding and river banks.
- Habit: Tree up to 100 feet tall; trunk diameter up to 3 feet; crown narrow.
- Bark: Red-brown to gray, furrowed, sometimes exfoliating into strips.
- Twigs: Slender, red-brown or gray, usually smooth.
- Buds: Pointed, red-brown with yellow scales, usually hairy, up to 1/4 inch long.
- Leaves: Alternate, pinnately compound, with 7-17 leaflets; leaflets lanceolate, curved, pointed
at the tip, tapering to the base, finely toothed, smooth or somewhat hairy on the lower surface,
up to 5 inches long, up to 2 inches wide.
- Flowers: Male and female borne separately, but on the same tree, appearing when the leaves
are partly grown; the male in slender, drooping spikes up to 3 inches long; the female in clusters
- Sepals: Very tiny, 2- to 3-parted.
- Pistils: Ovary inferior.
- Fruits: Short-ellipsoid, flattened, up to 1 1/2 inches long, up to 1 inch broad, 4-winged,
containing a flattened, 4-angled nut with a bitter kernel.
- Notes: The wood of this species has been used for fence posts and fuel. This tree resembles
the pecan and occasionally grows in the same habitat, but it has a flattened nut while the nut of
the pecan is round in cross-section.
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