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Kansas Forest Service

Kansas Forest Service
2610 Claflin Road
Manhattan, KS 66502

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Bitternut Hickory

bald  cypressNative Range
Carya cordiformis, or Bitternut Hickory, is native to Kansas and Eastern United States.

Mature Size 
It is a large tree with an oval crown reaching a height of 50 to 80 feet.

Growth Rate
It has a slow growth rate.

Leaves, Stems and Fruit
The compound leaves, 6-12 inches long, with 5-9 leaflets. They are borne alternately on the stem. They are a light green color and turn golden yellow in the fall. The fruit is a bitter nut, great for wildlife. The mature bark is grayish-brown with ridges.

Timber - Bitternut Hickory is an excellent timber species. This hardwood is used in the production of wood for furniture, tools, and firewood.

Wildlife Habitat - Shagbark Hickory nuts are a good food source for wildlife birds.

Adaptation and Soil
Bitternut Hickory has adapted statewide and grows best on deep, fertile bottomland soils. It grows best on well-drained moist soils. It is not tolerant of clay soils. Grows in full to part sun.

Spacing for timber and nut plantings are 15 x 15 feet or greater spacing to allow larger growth. Periodic thinnings during the life of the stand are used to reduce the number of trees for maximum productivity.

One-year- old, bare root seedlings, 18 to 24 inches tall. Bitternut Hickory can be planted successfully if the site is properly prepared, and good weed control is practiced. Initial growth is slow but accelerates some once the root system becomes established.

Several pests, such as the shuck worm and weevils, may cause damage to the nuts if not controlled. Generally, diseases are not a serious problem.

Soil Information
Average Height in 20 Yrs: 
-Eastern24-30 ft.
-CentralNot Suitable
-WesternNot Suitable
Growth Rate:Slow
Native Species:Native to Kansas
Windbreak Value:Medium
Wildlife Value:High
Lumber Products:Yes
Fuelwood Products:Yes
Drought Tolerance:Medium
Soil Saturation:Medium Tolerance
Salinity Tolerance:No Tolerance
pH Range:4-7.4