Mockernut Hickory

Carya tomentosa
Juglandaceae (walnuts)

A large tree with a narrow to broadly rounded crown and stout, ascending branches.

Leaves alternate, feather-compound, 8–15 inches long, with 5–9 (usu. 7) leaflets; leaflets 3–7 inches long, 1–3 inches wide, broadest near the middle; margin toothed, upper surface yellowish green, shiny; lower surface paler, densely hairy with light orange or brown hairs. Crushed leaves smell spicy, like orange rind. Leaf stalk has dense hairs.

Bark gray, grooves shallow; plates flat, tight, never shaggy.

Twigs stout, brown to dark gray, very hairy at first, smooth later; pores pale; terminal buds distinctive: light tan, large (½ inch or greater), hairy.

Flowers April–May; male and female flowers separate on same tree; male catkins in threes, 4–5 inches long, hairy; female flowers 2–5, in hairy spikes.

Fruits September–October, with a dark reddish brown husk 1½-3½ inches long, widest at the middle; shell thick; nut strongly 4-angled, top long-pointed, kernel sweet, edible.

Height: to 100 feet.
Habitat and conservation: 
Occurs in dry upland woods on upper slopes and ridges, commonly in acid soils over chert, sandstone or igneous rock; occasionally in low woods along streams.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Nearly statewide, except for the far southeast corner and northwestern counties. It is most common south of Missouri river.
Human connections: 
The wood of this tree is probably the hardest of all the hickories and is used for tool handles, wood splints, skis and for the manufacture of rustic furniture, and for charcoal. Early American colonists reported that Indians processed the nuts into “a fine oylie or mylke liquor.”
Ecosystem connections: 
Nuts are eaten by squirrels, mice and deer. Squirrels also eat the buds. As with other hickories, its leaves are food for large, showy moths, including the luna moth, several colorful underwing moths and the giant regal moth, which has an impressive 6-inch wingspan.
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