mockernut hickory
Carya alba

Secondary Names:
white hickory, bigbud hickory

Leaf Type: Deciduous
Texas Native:
Tree Description:

A short-limbed tree to 80 feet tall and a trunk to 2 feet in diameter, with an oblong or oval crown.

Range/Site Description:

Common on well-drained soils in East Texas, both on sandy ridges and more fertile slopes or bottomlands. One of the more common hickories in the eastern part of the state.


Alternate, once-compound, 8" to 18" long, with 7 to 9 leaflets, the terminal three larger than the rest; each leaflet is obovate to oblong, 4" to 8" long and 2" to 4" wide, pointed, serrate on the margin. Undersides of leaves, leaf rachis, and twigs have a distinctive gray-brown pubescence. The leaves are dark green on top, paler below, turn a beautiful yellow in the fall, and have a spicy odor when crushed. The winter buds are large, egg-shaped, and covered with downy, hard scales; the dark outer scales fall off readily in the fall.


Male and female flowers borne separately on the same tree; the male in three-branched catkins 4" to 5" long, the female in short clusters at the end of the branches.


A nearly round or egg-shaped nut, 1" to 3" long, with a very thick, strong-scented husk that splits nearly to the base when ripe. The nut is pale or reddish-brown and has 4 to 6 ridges, a thick shell, and a small, sweet kernel.


Dark gray, hard, closely and deeply furrowed, often cross-furrowed or netted.


Heavy, hard, tough, and strong, white except for the small, dark-brown heartwood. It is used for tool handles, furniture, and makes excellent firewood.

Similar Species:

Pignut hickory (Carya glabra) lacks pubescence on leaves and twigs; shagbark hickory (C. ovata) has peeling bark and usually only 5 leaflets.

Interesting Facts:

Nut is sweet, but very hard to remove from the shell, giving the species its common name, "mockernut hickory." Another common name is "white hickory," which it gets from the color of its wood.

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