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Bitternut Hickory

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Considered by many to be the hardiest hickory, this is a massively tall and narrow tree, best used for natural forests and larger landscapes; fall color can be spectacular; large nuts are very bitter and can be messy in fall

Characteristics

Species:
cordiformis
Other Species Names:
Swamp Hickory
Average Landscape Height:
70 feet
Average Landscape Width:
40 feet
Genus:
Carya
Branching:
decurrent
Plant Form:
columnar
Canopy:
high
Growth Rate:
fast
Pruning:
late winter pruning
Summer Foliage Color:
dark green
Fall Color:
gold
Maximum Light:
full sun
Minimum Light:
partial shade
Maximum Moisture:
moist
Minimum Moisture:
dry
Pollution Tolerance:
medium

Ornamental Features

Bitternut Hickory has dark green deciduous foliage on a tree with a columnar habit of growth. The large compound leaves turn an outstanding gold in the fall. It produces brown nuts in early fall. The fruit can be messy if allowed to drop on the lawn or walkways, and may require occasional clean-up. The furrowed gray bark adds an interesting dimension to the landscape.

Landscape Attributes

Bitternut Hickory is a deciduous tree with a narrowly upright and columnar growth habit. Its average texture blends into the landscape, but can be balanced by one or two finer or coarser trees or shrubs for an effective composition.

Planting & Growing

Bitternut Hickory will grow to be about 70 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 40 feet. It has a high canopy of foliage that sits well above the ground, and should not be planted underneath power lines. As it matures, the lower branches of this tree can be strategically removed to create a high enough canopy to support unobstructed human traffic underneath. It grows at a fast rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live to a ripe old age of 120 years or more; think of this as a heritage tree for future generations!

This tree does best in full sun to partial shade. It is very adaptable to both dry and moist locations, and should do just fine under average home landscape conditions. It is not particular as to soil pH, but grows best in rich soils. It is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution. This species is native to parts of North America.

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