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Mockernut hickory

Leaves of mockernut hickory.

Mockernut hickory, like all hickories, is tap-rooted and thus difficult to transplant. This Illinois native tolerates dry sites fairly well and produces good golden-yellow fall color. It may be difficult to find in nurseries.

This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.

Botanical name:

Carya tomentosa

All common names:

mockernut hickory, white hickory

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Planting Site:

  • Residential and parks,
  • City parkway,
  • Wide median

Tree or Plant Type:

  • Tree


  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)

Native Locale:

  • Chicago area,
  • Illinois,
  • North America

Landscape Uses:

  • Parkway/street,
  • Shade tree,
  • Specimen

Size Range:

  • Large tree (more than 40 feet)

Mature Height:

50-60 feet

Mature Width:

20-30 feet

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 4,
  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7,
  • Zone 8,
  • Zone 9

Soil Preference:

  • Acid soil,
  • Moist, well-drained soil


  • Dry sites

Acid Soils:

  • Tolerant

Alkaline Soils:

  • Intolerant

Salt Spray:

  • Intolerant

Soil Salt:

  • Intolerant

Drought Conditions:

  • Tolerant

Poor Drainage:

  • Intolerant

Planting Considerations:

  • May be difficult to find in nurseries

Ornamental Interest:

  • Fall color,
  • Edible fruit,
  • Attractive bark

Seasons of Interest:

  • mid fall,
  • late fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Inconspicuous

Shape or Form:

  • Oval

Growth Rate:

  • Slow

Transplants Well:

  • No


  • Cavity-nesting birds,
  • Game birds,
  • Migrant birds,
  • Small mammals,
  • Songbirds

More Information:

Tree & Plant Care

Difficult to transplant due to a deep taproot.  Best in slightly acidic soils.

Disease, pests, and problems

No common pests.  Sensitive to compacted soils.

Disease, pests, and problem resistance

Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.

Native geographic location and habitat

C-Value: 10

Native to much of the Midwest and Southeastern United States.  Found growing in a variety of soil types.

Bark color and texture 

Bark is gray and shallowly ridged and furrowed.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Alternate, compound leaves with 7 to 9 leaflets, with the terminal leaf being the largest.  The lower side of the leaf and the leaf stalk are both hairy.
Leaves are medium to yellow green in summer, changing to golden yellow-brown in fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Not ornamentally important.  male and female flowers in separate structures on the same tree (monoecious).  Male flowers in hanging catkins, females in small terminal spikes.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Fruit are edible hickory nuts, each enclosed in a thick husk that splits into four sections.  Nuts ripen in fall.



Location of Carya tomentosa (Mockernut hickory) at the Arboretum

We do not seem to have this in our living collection.