The Bitternut Hickory is a beautiful, tall slender tree that is great for a large landscape. It is a common Hickory that has bitter nuts usually too ill-fit for human consumption, as its name implies. These trees are deer and wild turkey friendly! They also provide protective cover and nesting habitat for many birds, including woodpeckers and warblers. Its leaflets are lance-shaped, fruits have four-winged husks and are thin-shelled. The bark is sinewy when young with criss-crossing ridges at maturity, its small winter buds are yellow, and its twigs are slender and grows rapidly.
As a member of the walnut family, it is related to other hickories and the walnuts. Bitternut Hickory has cleaner foliage in late summer as compared to other hickories; that is, its leaflets tend not to be as riddled by chewing insects. It has virtually no disease or pest problems and is rapid growing. Bitternut Hickory prefers deep, moist soils that range from poorly drained to well-drained, but is often found in drier conditions. Its alternative common name is Swamp Hickory. It tolerates shade in its youth, but needs full sun at maturity and is adaptable to all soils.