Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Mockernut Hickory - Carya tomentosa   (Lamarck) Nuttall
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Section 6 » Order Juglandales » Family Juglandaceae
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Author(Lamarck) Nuttall
DistributionStatewide, almost certainly occurring in all 100 counties. Unlike Pignut Hickory (C. glabra), this species does not have a mysterious “black hole” in the western Coastal Plain, where the latter species seems inexplicably scarce.

An Eastern species, found from MA, NY, and IA south to central FL and eastern TX.
AbundanceCommon essentially everywhere in the state, probably least numerous in the far eastern counties. The most numerous and widespread species of hickory in the state, though equally as common as Pignut Hickory in much of the state.
HabitatThis is one of the dominant species of oak-hickory forests, growing in a wide variety of upland sites, from somewhat rocky to somewhat sandy. It can be found in drier parts of bottomland hardwoods, but it is mainly an upland species. It is one of the last species to arrive in the successional sequence from old field to climax forest, usually well after oaks have started to dominate a forest.
See also Habitat Account for General Oak-Hickory Forests
PhenologyFlowers in April and May, and fruits in October.
IdentificationThis very familiar species is a large deciduous tree, often growing to 90-100’ tall. It has rather distinctive (though not quite unique) bark, it being a series of narrow ridges and furrows, typically in a diamond-shaped pattern. It has quite broad twigs, often the size of your “pinkie”, and large terminal buds. The leaves usually have 7 leaflets, and the leaflets are quite wide (often 3-4” wide), with a large terminal leaflet. The lower surface of the leaves is quite hairy, often somewhat rusty. Normally, when walking through an upland and rather mature forest, this species will be seen frequently, and often just the diamond pattern of the bark and the very thick twigs are enough for identification, without a careful scrutiny of the leaves.
Taxonomic CommentsThough historically known as Carya tomentosa, for a while in the latter few decades the name of Carya alba took over as the preferred scientific name. See Weakley (2018) for a discussion of the return to C. tomentosa as the preferred name.

Other Common Name(s)Mockernut, White Hickory
State RankS5
Global RankG5
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