Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Water Hickory, Bitter Pecan, Swamp Hickory
Carya aquatica

Family: Juglandaceae (joo-glan-DAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Carya (KAIR-yuh) (Info)
Species: aquatica (a-KWA-tee-kuh) (Info)

Synonym:Carya aquatica var. australis
Synonym:Hicoria aquatica

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2 members have or want this plant for trade.


over 40 ft. (12 m)

30-40 ft. (9-12 m)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring


Other details:
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Soil pH requirements:
5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
From seed; stratify if sowing indoors
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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By melody
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1 positive
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive melody On Jul 8, 2004, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

Very similar to the Pecan (carya illinoenis) The Water Hickory tree can be mistaken for it.

The main difference for the casual observer to find is that the Water Hickory has smooth leaves above and below, while the Pecan has fuzzy or hairy leaves. Buds are yellow/hairy for the Pecan and brown for the Water Hickory.

Bark is shreddy, but not shaggy like the Shagbark or Shellbark Hickories.

A very large can top 100'. Favors the wet lowlands and river bottoms. It is mainly a Southern tree, but is seen as far north as Southern Illinois along the Mississippi River.

The nuts are essential to wildlife for winter survival, as they form the 'mast' that falls on the forest floor, along with other nut bearing trees. Deer and small animals use them for winter food


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Spanish Fort, Alabama
Benton, Kentucky
Paducah, Kentucky
Sugar Land, Texas

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