Bitternut Hickory - Carya cordiformis

The Bitternut Hickory is Canada's only native pecan hickory. This shade tolerant species is most often found on moist lowlands, or in areas where rich soil is present. The wood is good for fuel, as it burns brightly and leaves little ash. The Bitternut Hickory is also popular because of the distinctive flavour it gives meat when smoked. The nuts of this tree are quite bitter and even squirrels will only eat them as a last resort.

Bitternut Hickory Bark
Bitternut Hickory bark is greenish-grey and smooth when young. With age, the bark takes on shallow fissures and scale-like ridges. The wood is extremely brittle but has also been characterized as shock resistant, and thus was used to make wooden wheels and tool handles. 
Photo by Chris Earley.

Bitternut Hickory Buds
This flat terminal bud can reach almost 20mm long. It has 2-4 scales and boasts a dark yellow, granular look. Photo by Chris Earley.

Bitternut Hickory Leaves
Leaves of the Bitternut Hickory are scythe-shaped and hairy, with 7-11 of each per stalk. Photo by Chris Earley.

Ontario Tree Atlas map of non-planted Bitternut Hickory. 1995-1999.
Ontario Tree Atlas map of non-planted Bitternut Hickory. 1995-1999.

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Farrar, J.L.. 1995. Trees in Canada. Fitzhenry & Whiteside Ltd. Toronto. ON. 504 pp.  

Kershaw, L. 2001. Trees in Ontario: Including tall shrubs. Lone Pine Publishing. Edmonton. AB. 240 pp

Muma, W. 2011. Ontario Trees and Shrubs. [Online] Available:

OMNR, 2011. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources: Ontario Tree Atlas. [Online] Available:

OMNR, 2008. Ontario’s Biodiversity: Species at Risk.