Bitternut Swamp Hickory

=Habitat and Range.=--In varying soils and situations; wet woods, low,

damp fields, river valleys, along roadsides, occasional upon uplands and

hill slopes.

From Montreal west to Georgian bay.

Maine,--southward, rare; New Hampshire,--eastern limit in the

Connecticut valley, where it ranges farther north than any other of our

hickories, reaching Well's river (Jessup); Vermont,--occasiona
west of

the Green mountains and in the southern Connecticut valley;

Massachusetts,--rather common, abundant in the vicinity of Boston; Rhode

Island and Connecticut,--common.

South to Florida, ascending 3500 feet in Virginia; west to

Minnesota, Nebraska, Kansas, Indian territory, and Texas.

=Habit.=--A tall, slender tree, 50-75 feet high and 1 foot-2-1/2 feet in

diameter at the ground, reaching greater dimensions southward. The

trunk, tapering gradually to the point of branching, develops a

capacious, spreading head, usually widest near the top, with lively

green, finely cut foliage of great beauty, turning to a rich orange in

autumn. Easily recognized in winter by its flat, yellowish buds.

=Bark.=--Bark of trunk gray, close, smooth, rarely flaking off in thin

plates; branches and branchlets smooth; leaf-scars prominent; season's

shoots yellow, smooth, yellow-dotted.

=Winter Buds and Leaves.=--Terminal buds long, yellow, flattish, often

scythe-shaped, pointed, with a granulated surface; lateral buds much

smaller, often ovate or rounded, pointed. Leaves pinnately compound,

alternate, 12-15 inches long; rachis somewhat enlarged at base; stipules

none; leaflets 5-11, opposite, 5-6 inches long, 1-2 inches wide, bright

green and smooth above, paler and smooth or somewhat downy beneath,

turning to orange yellow in autumn; outline lanceolate, or narrowly oval

to oblong-obovate, serrate; apex taper-pointed to scarcely acute; base

obtuse or rounded except that of the terminal leaflet, which is acute;

sessile and inequilateral, except in terminal leaflet, which has a short

stem and is equal-sided; sometimes scarcely distinguishable from the

leaves of C. porcina; often decreasing regularly in size from the

upper to the lower pair.

=Inflorescence.=--May. Sterile and fertile flowers on the same tree,

appearing when the leaves are fully grown,--sterile at the base of the

season's shoots, or sometimes from the lateral buds of the preceding

season, in slender, pendulous catkins, 3-4 inches long, usually in

threes, branching umbel-like from a common peduncle; scale 3-lobed,

hairy-glandular, middle lobe about the same length as the other two but

narrower, considerably longer toward the end of the catkin; stamens

mostly 5, anthers bearded at the tip: fertile flowers on peduncles at

the end of the season's shoots; calyx 4-lobed, pubescent, adherent to

the ovary; corolla none; stigmas 2.

=Fruit.=--October. Single or in twos or threes at the ends of the

branchlets, abundant, usually rather small, about 1 inch long, the width

greater than the length; occasionally larger and somewhat pear-shaped:

husk separating about to the middle into four segments, with sutures

prominently winged at the top or almost to the base, or nearly wingless:

nut usually thin-shelled: kernel white, sweetish at first, at length


=Horticultural Value.=--Hardy throughout New England; grows almost

anywhere, but prefers a rich, loamy or gravelly soil. A most graceful

and attractive hickory, which is transplanted more readily and grows

rather more rapidly than the shagbark or pignut, but more inclined than

either of these to show dead branches. Seldom for sale by nurserymen or

collectors. Grown readily from seed.

1. Winter bud.

2. Flowering branch.

3. Sterile flower, back view.

4. Sterile flower, front view.

5. Fertile flower.

6. Fruiting branch.