Carya glabra

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: pignut 
Type: Tree
Family: Juglandaceae
Native Range: Eastern United States
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 50.00 to 80.00 feet
Spread: 25.00 to 40.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Yellowish-green
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Shade Tree, Street Tree
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Good Fall
Fruit: Showy
Tolerate: Black Walnut


Best grown in humusy, rich, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best performance occurs in moist soils. Plants are generally intolerant of shade. This tree needs a large space within which to grow. It may be difficult to transplant because of its long taproot.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Carya glabra, commonly called pignut hickory, is a medium to large, deciduous tree with a straight trunk and rounded crown that typically grows 50-80’ (less frequently to 100’) tall. It is primarily native to hillsides and ridges in somewhat dry soils, but may also be found in some moist soils. It grows throughout the eastern and central U. S., with concentrations in Appalachian forests and the Ohio River valley. In Missouri, it is found in dry upland ridges in the far southeastern part of the State (Steyermark). Compound, odd-pinnate, dark yellowish-green leaves (each to 6-12” long) have 5-7, toothed, ovate-lanceolate leaflets. Leaflets grow 3-6” long. Leaves turn an attractive yellow in fall. Gray bark develops scaly ridges as it matures. Non-showy, monoecious, yellowish-green flowers bloom in April-May, with the male flowers in drooping catkins (to 3” long) and the female flowers on short spikes. Female flowers give way to fruits (rounded nuts), but only after the tree reaches about 25 years old. Each nut is encased in a ridged husk which partially splits open in fall when ripe. Although the nuts are usually bitter and unpalatable to humans, some mammals (e.g., squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons and black bears) eat them. Hogs were found by early U.S. settlers to eat the nuts, thus giving rise to the common name of pignut hickory. Settlers also split saplings to make brooms, hence the additional common name of broom hickory.

Genus name comes from the Greek word karya used for walnut trees.

Specific epithet comes from Latin meaning smooth in reference to the hairless leaves and twigs of this tree.


No serious insect or disease problems. Hickory bark beetle, pecan weevil, borers and twig girdler can be problems in some areas of its range. White heart rot, anthracnose, leaf blotch, powdery mildew, leaf spot, cankers, catkin blight, crown gall and scab are occasional diseases. Large trees can produce considerable litter through twig, leaf and fruit (nut) drop.


Not commonly planted for ornamental purposes. A tall shade tree for large properties and parks. Wood is strong and has been used in the past for yokes, wheels, tool handles, ladders and furniture. Wood is an excellent firewood. Wood is harvested for lumber.