Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Southern Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Sweet Pignut Hickory
Carya glabra (Mill.) Sweet
- Family: Walnut (Juglandaceae)
- Flowering: April-May
- Field Marks: This hickory is recognized by its usually 5 leaflets, its small, nearly smooth buds,
and its tight, scaly bark.
- Habitat: Moist to dry soils on ridges, slopes, stream and river bottoms, wet hammocks, stabilized
dunes, bottomlands, floodplains.
- Habit: Tree up to 132 feet tall; trunk diameter up to 4 feet; crown oblong or obovoid.
- Bark: Light gray to black, tight, not peeling into shreds, at maturity furrowed and ridged.
- Twigs: Slender, brown or gray, shiny, smooth, tough.
- Buds: Small, brown to gray, smooth or with a few hairs.
- Leaves: Alternate, pinnately compound, with usually 5, or less commonly 7, leaflets; leaflets
lanceolate, pointed at the tip, tapering to the base, toothed, smooth except for a few hairs on
the veins 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 after the leaves
have begun to expand; the male in slender, drooping spikes; the female in clusters of 1-3.
- Sepals: Very tiny, 2- to 3-parted.
- Petals: 0.
- Stamens: 3-10.
- Pistils: Ovary inferior.
- Fruits: Spherical to pear-shaped, up to 1 inch long, nearly as broad; the husks thin, greenish,
usually not splitting all the way to the base.
- Notes: The wood is heavy and strong, and is used for fence posts, fuel, and tool handles.
Previous Species -- Bitter-nut Hickory (Carya cordiformis)
Return to Species List -- Group 5
Next Species -- Nutmeg Hickory (Carya myristiciformis)