Pignut Hickory
Carya glabra (Mill.) Sweet

Pignut Hickory: Full Size

Mature Size: 50 to 75 feet in height and 1 to 3 feet in diameter.

Form: Spreading, often drooping, branches forming a tall, narrow crown.

Habitat: Most common on drier soils of slopes and ridge tops, but also grows on moist upland sites.


Pignut Hickory: Leaves

Alternate, pinnately compound, 8 to 12 inches long with 5 (rarely 7) finely toothed, sharp-pointed, tapering leaflets.


Yellow-green; males in 2 to 3 inch drooping catkins, with three hanging from one stalk; females very short in clusters at branch tips.


Pignut Hickory: Fruit

Pear shaped or nearly round, 1 to 2 inches long, with a thin husk that only partially splits when ripe; nut not ribbed, fairly round but flattened, seed sweet or somewhat bitter.


Pignut Hickory: Bark

On young trees, smooth and light gray, soon developing scaly ridges; on older trees, darker gray with obvious interlacing, shaggy-topped ridges.


Moderately thick; smooth; leaf scars 3-lobed to heart-shaped, resembling a "monkey face;" end bud small, egg-shaped, light brown.

Values and Uses

The wood is heavy, hard, strong and flexible. It is used for tool handles, skis and other equipment requiring strength and impact resistance. It is also a good fuelwood. The nuts are a favorite of squirrels, chipmunks, turkeys, black bears, foxes, rabbits and raccoons.

Did You Know?

Early settlers named the species "pignut" because their hogs loved to eat the nuts. A related species, red hickory (Carya ovalis) differs from pignut hickory by slight differences in the fruit and bark. Many hickories hybridize with each other, making exact identification difficult even for experts.