We want to hear from you! Please take this short, anonymous survey to help us improve the DG home page.

Bitternut Hickory, Yellow-bud Hickory

Carya cordiformis

Family: Juglandaceae (joo-glan-DAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Carya (KAIR-yuh) (Info)
Species: cordiformis (kord-ih-FOR-miss) (Info)



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


over 40 ft. (12 m)


30-40 ft. (9-12 m)


USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)

USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

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)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade



Bloom Color:

Chartreuse (Yellow-Green)

Pale Green

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring



Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:

Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


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

North Port, Florida

Hinsdale, Illinois

Valparaiso, Indiana

Benton, Kentucky

Clermont, Kentucky

Georgetown, Kentucky

Louisville, Kentucky

Chaska, Minnesota

Lincoln, Nebraska

Raleigh, North Carolina

Waxhaw, North Carolina

Downingtown, Pennsylvania

Elmwood, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Dec 20, 2013, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

I see this species the most growing in draining wet or moist soils in lowlands, but I have seen some in well-drained uphill locations. It is usually the second most common hickory in the North. Native from New England to central MN to east TX to northwest FL. Handsome tree with fantastic texture! Good yellow fall color. Good for wildlife. Slow growing of about 6 to 9"/yr and develops a big taproot like most hickory and lives about 200 years. Sometimes offered for planting by native nurseries in containers. Messy for residential landscapes, but magnificent like oak trees. Can tolerate some soil compaction nearby with new construction. The compound leaves are 6 to 9" long with 7 to 11 relatively more narrow leaflets and it has a more Medium texture, less course than most other hickories, see... read more


On May 19, 2013, plant_it from Valparaiso, IN wrote:

Native to eastern North America.

Nuts are bitter and squirrels tend to avoid them. Serves as a primary host for some magnificent moths. Larval Host: Luna, funeral dagger, and giant regal. Attracts birds and butterflies.

A slender shade tree, bitter-nut hickory is one of the largest hickories, growing 50-100 ft. tall. Bitter-nut hickory typically develops several primary ascending limbs, forming an arched shape. The deciduous tree produces long, graceful catkins and large, hard-shelled nuts. The pinnately-compound leaves attain a bright, clear yellow early in the fall. It holds its fall foliage longer than other hickories.

This is the most rapid growing of all hickory trees. It is difficult to transplant because of a large taproot, but perhaps le... read more


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

A wonderful tree that wildlife depends on. The nuts are bitter to humans, but deer and other animals use them for winter forage.

Similar to the Pecan in appearance, but it's range is much more widespread,even into southern Canada.

Height 50' to 60', but can get as tall as 100' in the right conditions.