Carya tomentosa

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: mockernut 
Type: Tree
Family: Juglandaceae
Native Range: United States
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 60.00 to 80.00 feet
Spread: 40.00 to 60.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Yellowish-green
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Shade Tree
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Fragrant, Good Fall
Fruit: Showy, Edible
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 tomentosa, commonly called mockernut hickory, is a medium to large, deciduous tree with a straight trunk and rounded crown that typically grows 60-80’ (less frequently to 100’) tall. It is primarily native to hillsides and ridges in somewhat dry soils. It grows throughout the eastern and central U.S., with concentrations of tall trees in the Ohio River valley and Mississippi River valley. In Missouri, it is found in dry upland woods, ridges and slopes throughout the State, except it is not present in the southeastern lowlands and northwestern corner (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. Leaflet undersides are downy and glandular. Rachis and petiole are pubescent. Leaflets are aromatic when cut or bruised. Leaves turn an attractive yellow in fall. Thin dark gray bark develops furrows and flattened ridging as it matures. Non-showy, monoecious, yellowish-green flowers bloom in April-May, with the male flowers in drooping catkins (to 6” 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 thick, four-grooved husk which splits open in fall when ripe. Nuts are edible for humans but can be very difficult to extract from the husks, hence the common name of mockernut. Nuts are eaten by a variety of mammals including squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, raccoons and black bears. Light colored sap wood of this tree gives rise to a sometimes used common name of white hickory.

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

Specific epithet means with short hairs in reference to the leaflet undersides.


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.


A tall shade tree for large properties and parks. Wood is strong and has been used in the past for fence posts, yokes, wheels, tool handles, ladders and furniture. Wood is an excellent firewood. Wood is harvested for lumber.