Carya cordiformis (Bitternut Hickory) - Qt Super Plugs


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Bitternut Hickory (Carya cordiformis) is probably the most widespread, evenly-distributed hickory in North America.

With a range that extends from Quebec and Ontario to Minnesota and Iowa, South to Texas and Georgia, Bitternut hickory can be found in a variety of habitats, from rich floodplains to poor uplands with low soil nutrients.  Bitternut Hickory grows to its greatest size in the rich, fertile bottomlands along the Ohio River, as well as in Appalachian Cove Forests.

Bitternut Hickory can be easily identified by its pecan-like leaves and its bright yellow winter buds.  The tree bears small, pointed nuts in large quantities, offering food to squirrels, deer, and other animals.


Bitternut hickory is an important tree economically - Though its wood is not as strong as that of other hickories, such as Shagbark and Shellbark Hickories, the tree grows relatively quickly.  Bitternut hickory is an excellent firewood (fuel) species, as it burns hot, makes excellent coals, and leaves little ash.

Bitternut hickory is used to some extent in landscapes, mostly in larger estates and rural acreages.  Bitternut hickory nuts are not usually consumed by humans, as they are quite bitter (Hence the name!).  However, they are consumed by many animals, and the trees offer nesting sites for birds.

Growing Information

Bitternut hickory is an excellent tree for both the wild and cultivated landscape, though it is not available to a great extent commercially because of its tap-rooted characteristic.  The tree makes a beautiful, stately shade tree in larger yards, and the tough, dense wood is highly resistant to breakage.  The coarse twigs generally aren't easily broken off the tree, which means that there aren't as many twigs to pick up off the lawn!  (Those who have old silver maples or siberian elms will know what I mean!)  As an added bonus, the deep root system is highly amenable to grass - In the wild, grass often grows right up to the trunks of open-grown trees.

GreenTec Bitternut Hickory seeds are sourced from Indiana and neighboring states.  Our Bitternuts are started in Rootmaker propagation cells and grown in Quart SuperPlug fabric pots - This gives a much more healthy, robust plant and root system than conventional growing methods.  Because the tap root is pruned at a very young age, a system of well-branched lateral roots replaces it.  The result is a tree with a much better root system and much quicker establishment than a conventionally grown or bare-root sapling.

Common Name: Bitternut Hickory
Botanical Name: Carya cordiformis