Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Sand Hickory - Carya pallida   (Ashe) Engler & Graebner
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Section 6 » Order Juglandales » Family Juglandaceae
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Author(Ashe) Engler & Graebner
DistributionScattered over the entire state, though primarily found in the Coastal Plain and lower Piedmont. Of somewhat spotty distribution in the western half of the state; likely absent in northern Mountain counties and a few far northeastern counties.

A somewhat Southern species, ranging north only to southern NJ and southeastern MO, and south to western FL and barely to eastern LA. Essentially found east of the Mississippi River.
AbundanceCommon in the Sandhills and most of the southeastern part of the Coastal Plain. Infrequent to fairly common in the northern Coastal Plain and the extreme eastern Piedmont. Generally uncommon to infrequent in the western half of the state. Probably the most numerous hickory in the southern Coastal Plain, especially in sandy soil.
HabitatThis species favors more xeric conditions than all other hickories in the state, except for Mockernut Hickory. It is widespread and not hard to find in the sandy soils of more mature (and less often burned) pine-oak stands in the Coastal Plain. It not only occurs in sandy oak-hickory stands across the state but in somewhat rocky hardwood forests, as well. However, it is generally much less often found outside the Coastal Plain in the drier soils than are Mockernut (C. tomentosa) and Pignut (C. glabra) hickories.
PhenologyFlowers in April and May, and fruits in October.
IdentificationThis is the smallest of the hickories in the state, being a small to medium deciduous tree, usually only 35-40 feet tall, rarely over 60 feet tall. The bark is not shaggy, and usually shows a somewhat diamond-shaped pattern of narrow ridges. It has 7-9 leaflets, which are usually somewhat narrower than on those of other similar species, most being just 1-2 inches wide. To identify the species, look at the undersides of the leaflets, as they are quite pale (whitish-green), covered with many scales and hairs. The leaflet number and width seems to vary quite a bit across its range, and thus it is important to check the leaf undersides to be sure; other hickories are reasonably medium green below and many are rather smooth, as well. Despite its wide range in the state, and its frequency in much of the Coastal Plain, this is not an overly familiar tree to many biologists, at least west of the Coastal Plain.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Pale Hickory
State RankS4 [S5]
Global RankG5
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B.A. SorrieWhispering Pines, disturbed woods, May 2015. MoorePhoto_natural
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