The Tree Center

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Pignut Hickory

Carya glabra

Pignut Hickory

Carya glabra

This product is currently out of stock and unavailable.

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How are the heights measured?

All tree, and nothin' but the tree! We measure from the top of the soil to the top of the tree; the height of the container or the root system is never included in our measurements.

What is a gallon container?

Nursery containers come in a variety of different sizes, and old-school nursery slang has stuck. While the industry-standard terminology is to call the sizes "Gallon Containers", that doesn't exactly translate to the traditional liquid "gallon" size we think of. You'll find we carry young 1-gallons, up to more mature 7-gallons ranging anywhere from 6 inches to 6ft.

How does the delivery process work?

All of our orders ship via FedEx Ground! Once your order is placed online, our magic elves get right to work picking, staging, boxing and shipping your trees. Orders typically ship out within 2 business days. You will receive email notifications along the way on the progress of your order, as well as tracking information to track your plants all the way to their new home!

Why are some states excluded from shipping?

The short & sweet answer is: "United States Department of Agriculture Restrictions." Every state has their own unique USDA restrictions on which plants they allow to come into their state. While we wish we could serve everyone, it's for the safety of native species and helps prevent the spread of invasive disease & pests. We've gotta protect good ole' Mother Nature, after all.

About Me

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The Pignut Hickory is a large native tree, which lives for 300 years, that will grow about 1-foot a year to become 50 to 80 feet tall, and ultimately even 120 feet tall. It has a strong central trunk and a tall crown, spreading to about 40 feet wide. The large leaves are divided into 5 or 7 leaflets, glossy dark-green turning outstanding golden-yellow in fall. Older trees begin to produce crops of nuts that are too bitter for humans but devoured by all kinds of wildlife (as well as by pigs). An excellent choice to enrich existing woodlands, or to plant as a great tree for you and your family to come.

  • Large native deciduous shade tree
  • Attractive golden fall colors
  • Produces a heavy crop of nuts for wildlife
  • Long-lived and valuable contribution to the future
  • Good replacement for lost American chestnut trees

The Pignut Hickory grows best in full sun or with just a little shade. It prefers moist, rich, well-drained soils but grows fine in almost all ordinary soils that aren’t too dry or flooded. It doesn’t have any serious pests or diseases and needs almost no attention once it is established. Plant away from roads and buildings, as the nuts and twigs can be a nuisance on hard surfaces.

Plant Hardiness Zones 4-9
Mature Width 25-40
Mature Height 50-80
Soil Conditions Moist, Well-Drained Soil
Sunlight Full Sun to Partial Shade
Drought Tolerance Moderate Drought Tolerance
Zones 4-9

In this time of climate crisis there is something deeply satisfying about planting a native tree – a contribution back to our diminished natural landscape, and an investment in the future. Many of our gardens and towns are filled with majestic trees planted by those who came before us, who never saw the trees they planted in their full glory, as we see them. It’s a habit that needs to be revived. Of course, even while young, shade trees contribute a lot to a garden, especially a new one, so it’s a win-win for us, the future and the environment.

With that thought, the name may not be romantic, but the Pignut Hickory is a handsome native shade tree that is under-used, and will make a great contribution to your garden or property, if you have enough room for it. Often natural woodlots have been degraded by earlier tree cutting, so adding different species to them enriches the ecosystem. The Pignut Hickory is a beautiful tree, with bold foliage and outstanding golden fall colors. The nuts are a valuable resource for all kinds of wildlife, so it’s a great choice to add to any existing trees. It makes a strong statement on a large lawn too, or as a boundary marker. Although not endangered, it isn’t a common tree in the wild, so you will be adding something of value, and leaving a legacy for the future. Specifically, if you have lost American chestnut trees to blight, this is an excellent choice as an equivalent replacement.

Growing the Pignut Hickory

Size and Appearance

The Pignut Hickory is a large, long-lived deciduous shade tree that grows between 50 and 80 feet tall, with a crown spreading up to 40 feet across. Forest trees can reach 120 feet and live 300 years or even more. Once established it grows about 1-foot a year. It typically has a single central trunk, with radiating branches creating a tall, slender crown. The bark on the trunk and older limbs is dark brown to gray, split into many long, vertical plates, giving a rugged look. The leaves are large, up to 12 inches long, divided into 5 or 7 oval leaflets along a central leaf-stem, with each being up to 6 inches long. The leaf edges are only very slightly serrated, and the leaf is glossy and a rich dark-green. In fall they put on an outstanding show, turning an eye-catching clear golden yellow. The large leaves give this tree a bold, ‘coarse’ texture when planted among other trees with smaller leaves.

Once a tree is well-established it will begin to flower in April and May. These are not showy, but interesting. The male flowers are hanging catkins, and female flowers are more upright. Both are found on the same tree. It will take about 20 years for your tree to begin to have a nut crop, and it will still be producing heavy crops 300 years from now. The nuts are slightly pear-shaped, at least 1-inch long, and about ¾ of an inch wide, forming a long, flattened oval. They are tan colored when ripe, which is usually in October. They split open, revealing the meaty nut inside when they fall to the ground. They are too bitter for us, but wildlife, from squirrels to chipmunks and bears love them, and so of course do pigs.

Using the Pignut Hickory in Your Garden

Think carefully about where to plant your Pignut Hickory. Once it has grown a little it will be hard to move successfully, as it grows a long taproot. Do not plant underneath overhead lines or above sewers and drains. Plant at least 20 feet from a building, fence or property line. The nuts, leaves, and small twigs that fall can be a nuisance on roads and driveways, so it is best located in a more natural area, or out on a lawn. Since this tree will be there a long time – and could grow to be 120 feet tall – a good location will be its best chance of long-term survival.

Hardiness

This hardy tree can be planted almost anywhere, from zone 4 all the way into zone 9.

Sun Exposure and Soil Conditions

Like most deciduous trees, the Pignut Hickory will tolerate some shade while developing, but it grows best in full sun or with just a little shade. It prefers richer, moist but well-drained soils, but it can be found wild growing on drier and sandy soils, so it is adaptable to most ordinary conditions. In drier areas regular watering will be valuable in the early years.

Maintenance and Pruning

Although there is a list of reported pests and diseases for this tree, they are not common, and none of them are particularly dangerous, so this tree is generally durable and easy to grow. Once established it needs no attention, but some formative pruning when young is useful – simply remove crowded and weak branches in the crown and any lower branches that could become an obstruction.

History and Origin of the Pignut Hickory

The Pignut Hickory, Carya glabra, is one of several species of hickory that grow in America. It can be found all the way from southern Ontario into central Florida, and west to lower Michigan, Iowa, Missouri and Mississippi. It grows in both lower valley bottoms and on drier hillside, and it’s most common in the Appalachians, but nowhere abundant. The wood is used for firewood, and the nuts were once valuable as pig-feed.

Buying the Pignut Hickory at the Tree Center

We take pride in offering young trees of heritage native species. We cannot overstate the value of planting trees for the future, and the Pignut Hickory is a great choice to keep the natural diversity of our forests, and provide food for future wildlife. The availability of native trees is low, and our supply is always limited. So order your trees now, and let’s get planting.

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Pignut Hickory

Carya glabra