hickory (Carya glabra) is also commonly referred to as sweet pignut.
It is slow growing, medium to tall tree typically reaching 60 to 80 feet
in height. It has a straight trunk, which sometimes branches close to the
ground, and an oblong crown. It is present throughout almost all of Illinois,
most frequently on wooded slopes.
are divided into three groups comprised of the pecans (four species), the
shagbarks (three species), and the pignuts (four species). The pignuts
are distinguished from the other groups by their tight bark (not as shaggy
as the shagbark hickory), slender twigs, thin nut husks, and smaller buds.
Pignut hickory reproduces by seed and by stump sprouts. The seedlings do
not tolerate shade very well, and require a gap or sufficient sunlight
to survive over long periods.
is gray and smooth when the tree is young. As the tree ages, the bark peels
off into narrow strips, but these are not as extensive or curling as in
shagbark hickory (Carya ovata).
are reddish, brown, slender and usually smooth.
(at the end of the twig) buds are relatively small, hairy edged, brown
with tiny yellow dots, and rounded with a short point at the tip.
hickory leaves are 6 to 12 inches
long, alternate, and pinnately compound with 5 to 7 leaflets. The leaflets
are finely toothed, smooth, lance-shaped, pointed at the tip and tapering
at the base. They are green on the upper surface and may be dotted and
have hairs on the underside.
(staminate) and female (pistillate) flowers are borne separately, but on
the same tree (monoecious), and appear after leaf out. As with the other
hickories, the flowers appear as drooping catkins (spike-shaped flowers,
usually drooping, that bear only male or female parts and eventually fall
entire from the tree. Catkins occur only in woody plants).
are egg-shaped and 1/2 to 1 1/4 inches long. The nut husks are brown, somewhat
warty, and split into four sections as in the shagbark, but are much thinner
shelled than in the shagbark hickory. The pignut hickory is a mast producing
species. (It produces large nut crops at irregular intervals, even though
some nuts are produced each year).
As with the other hickories, the wood is strong, hard, and durable. It is used for fence posts, tool handles, and fuel. Pignut hickory is also a good ornamental tree, especially for drier sites. Wildlife - especially squirrels- and domestic swine eat the nuts.