Height: The pignut hickory usually reaches 50 to 60 feet in height; rare specimens grow twice as tall
Lifespan: Pretty long-lived; occasionally reaching 300 years of age
Fall Foliage: Brilliant gold; very attractive
Range: Primarily the southeastern portion of the U.S., extending to parts of the Midwest
Typical Habitat: Fairly adaptable and found in a variety of upland habitats
The Pignut Hickory Tree: An Underappreciated Species
In many ways, the pignut hickory tree is an underappreciated species.
This is likely due to the fact that humans don’t typically consider its nuts edible, though a litany of forest-dwelling animals readily consume them (guess why they’re called PIGnut hickories).
However, the pignut hickory is a great shade or specimen tree, which should probably garner more attention from homeowners. It is strongly built, it usually features an attractive form, and it produces really nice fall color.
Pignut Hickory Tree Identification: Tips & Tricks
It’s usually not terribly difficult to distinguish hickories from most other trees (ashes, which are perhaps the most similar, bear oppositely rather than alternatively arranged leaves). It’s even pretty easy to distinguish pignut hickories from some of the other hickories – such as the mockernut hickory (Carya tomentosa) – if you can find nuts on the ground.
However, it can be tricky to distinguish the pignut from some of the other hickories that produce thin-shelled husks. In such situations, geography and habitat will often prove most helpful.
The Pignut Hickory Tree: Additional Information
Looking for more info on these interesting and important trees? Check out these great resources:
- The Morton Arboretum: A handy table-style collection of basic information, presented in digestible fashion.
- University of Florida, IFAS Extension: A comprehensive guide to the species that answers most of the basic questions nature lovers may have.
- Missouri Botanical Gardens: Basic information about the pignut hickory, including planting guidance.