Pignut Hickory - Carya glabra

This hickory species is rare in Ontario, only occurring in a few pockets in the extreme southern parts of the province.  The Pignut Hickory prefers more open, well-drained areas; but similar to the Bitternut Hickory, the fruits are largely unpalatable, although they will still be eaten by some wild animals as a last resort.  This species has very tough, durable wood that is used to make tool handles and sports equipment such as tennis rackets.  This Hickory also makes an excellent fuel source, as it burns intensely with little ash, so it is popular for home-heating uses.

Pignut Hickory Tree
The Pignut Hickory is a relatively small tree, only growing about 20 m in height and 50 cm in diameter, but it can live for up to 200 years. Many of this tree’s branches bend downward, which give it a droopy look. Photo by Chris Earley.

Pignut Hickory Leaves
The leaves of the Pignut Hickory are compound and pinnately divided, usually with 5-7 leaflets. They measure 15-25 cm in length and are finely toothed. Photo by Jesse Wolf.

Pignut Hickory Bark
Bark of the Pignut Hickory is grey and often scaly with many intersecting ridges. Photo by Jesse Wolf.

Pignut Hickory Nuts
The nuts of this species are usually dark brown when mature in the fall, and are protected by 4 husks that will split apart when opened. Photo by Jesse Wolf.

Ontario Tree Atlas map of non-planted Pignut Hickory. 1995-1999.
Ontario Tree Atlas map of non-planted Pignut 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: www.ontariotrees.com

OMNR, 2011. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources: Ontario Tree Atlas. [Online] Available: http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/en/Business/ClimateChange/2ColumnSubPage/267027.html

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