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Posted on August 18th, 2022 in Forestry, How To, Plants, Wildlife, Woodlands | No Comments »

Drawing of Bitternut Hickory LeafThe classic and trusted book “Fifty Common Trees of Indiana” by T.E. Shaw was published in 1956 as a user-friendly guide to local species.  Nearly 70 years later, the publication has been updated through a joint effort by the Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Indiana 4-H, and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and reintroduced as “An Introduction to Trees of Indiana.”

The full publication is available for download for $7 in the Purdue Extension Education Store. The field guide helps identify common Indiana woodlot trees.

Each week, the Intro to Trees of Indiana web series will offer a sneak peek at one species from the book, paired with an ID That Tree video from Purdue Extension forester Lenny Farlee to help visualize each species as it stands in the woods. Threats to species health as well as also insight into the wood provided by the species, will be provided through additional resources as well as the Hardwoods of the Central Midwest exhibit of the Purdue Arboretum, if available.

This week, we introduce the bitternut hickory or Carya cordiformis.

This cousin of the pecan, has anywhere from five to 11 leaflets, commonly seven to nine, on each alternately held compound leaf. Leaflets are much longer than they are wide and are often curved backwards.

A sulphur-colored, elongated bud is a standout identifying characteristic. Bitternut hickory has tight light to silvery gray bark with interlacing ridges throughout the life of the tree.

The fruit is a light colored, small, round nut, with a thick hull and a slight wing where the sutures meet. It is quite bitter and not preferred by animals or humans.

The bitternut hickory is one of the fastest growing hickory species in the state behind the pecan, and produces some fall beauty with yellow and gold foliage. Bitternut hickory, one of the most abundant and wide spread hickory species, can be found on dry gravelly uplands as well as rich moist bottomland from the Atlantic coast to the Great Plains, north through Minnesota and the St. Lawrence River valley, except the gulf coastal plains and the lower Mississippi flood plain regions.

For full article with additional photos view: Intro to Trees of Indiana: Bitternut Hickory.

Other Resources:
Hackberry in Hardwoods of the Midwest, Purdue Arboretum Explorer
Hickory and Pecan Species in the Hardwood Lumber and Veneer Series, The Education Store, Purdue Extension’s resource center
Sustaining Our Oak-Hickory Forests – Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment, The Education Store
The Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment: 2006-2016, The Education Store
Indiana Forestry and Wildlife: The Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment, The Education Store
Fifty Trees of the Midwest app for the iPhone, The Education Store
Native Trees of the Midwest, The Education Store
Shrubs and Woody Vines of Indiana and the Midwest, The Education Store
Investing in Indiana Woodlands, The Education Store
Forest Improvement Handbook, The Education Store
ID That Tree, Purdue Extension-Forestry & Natural Resources (FNR) YouTube playlist
Woodland Management Moment , Purdue Extension-FNR YouTube playlist

Wendy Mayer, FNR Communications Coordinator
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Lenny Farlee, Sustaining Hardwood Extension Specialist
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


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