Carya tomentosa
Mockernut Hickory (Carya tomentosa)

Distribution Map to Right
Counties in blue contain tree

Distribution Map
Shape and Distribution
The mockernut hickory is also referred to as white hickory. It is a medium to tall tree (up to 90 feet in height) with a trunk of up to 3 feet in diameter. The crown is rounded and open. Mockernut hickory grows in dry upland forests in Illinois, mostly in the southern two thirds of the state.

Interesting Facts
Hickories may be divided into three groups, the pecans, the shagbarks, and the pignuts. Mockernut, kingnut (or shellbark), and shagbark hickory comprise the shagbark group. The shagbarks are distinguished from the pecan and pignut hickories by their large terminal buds, thick twigs, and thick nut husks. The bark of kingnut and shagbark hickories peels into long strips at maturity. This trait is not shared by mockernut hickory, which has dark gray bark with network of shallow ridges often in a diamond-shaped pattern. The species name, tomentosa (Latin for hairy) is a reference to the hairy leaves.

Identifying Features

The bark is dark gray with an often diamond-shaped pattern of ridges.
Mockernut hickory has yellow-green leaves that are hairy on the upper and lower surfaces. The leafstalks and twigs are also hairy. The leaves are alternate and pinnately compound. They are 8 to 20 inches long and have 5 to 9 lance-shaped leaflets, which are up to 8 inches long and about half as wide. Leaflets are pointed at the tip, rounded at the base, and have fine toothed edges. When crushed, the leaves are very fragrant. The bark is dark gray and shallowly ridged.
Both male and female flowers appear on the tree as drooping clusters of catkins in early spring just as the leaves begin to unfold. 
The nuts are oval or round, approximately 2 inches in diameter, brown, and split to the base in 4 sections. The nuts ripen in September and October, are sweet and fragrant, and are eaten by wild game turkey, squirrels and other small mammals, as well as deer.

The wood is coarse-grained, heavy, and strong. It is used for fence posts, tool handles, fuel, and also as veneer, even though mockernut and the other hickories are susceptible to a disease that causes the wood to split apart at the annual rings. This splitting is a problem if the wood is used for thin veneers. Native Americans used parts of the mockernut hickory to make analgesics (pain relievers). The nuts were also a food source.