Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Carya cordiformis


SPECIES: Carya cordiformis
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Coladonato, Milo. 1992. Carya cordiformis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].
ABBREVIATION : CARCOR SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : CACO15 COMMON NAMES : bitternut hickory bitternut swamp hickory pignut hickory TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name for bitternut hickory is Carya cordiformis (Wangenh.) K. Koch [3,18]. There are no recognized subspecies, varieties, or forms. Bitternut hickory naturally hybridizes with the following [26]: C. illinoensis (C. X brownii Sarg.) C. glabra (C. X demareei Palmer) C. ovata (C. X laneyi Sarg.) LIFE FORM : Tree FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Carya cordiformis
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Bitternut hickory's range extends from southwestern New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, and southern Quebec; west to southern Ontario, central Michigan, and northern Minnesota;, and south to eastern Texas and northern Florida. It is most common from southern New England west to Iowa and from southern Michigan south to Kentucky [3,13,22,26]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES10 White - red - jack pine FRES11 Spruce - fir FRES12 Longleaf - slash pine FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine FRES14 Oak - pine FRES15 Oak - hickory FRES16 Oak - gum - cypress FRES17 Elm - ash - cottonwood FRES18 Maple - beech - birch STATES : AL AR CT DE FL GA IN IA KS LA ME MD MA MI MN MS MO NE NH NJ NY OH OK PA RI SC TX VT VA WV WI ON PQ BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : NO-ENTRY KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K089 Black Belt K095 Great Lakes pine forest K096 Northeastern spruce - fir forest K097 Southern spruce - fir forest K099 Maple - basswood forest K100 Oak - hickory forest K101 Elm - ash forest K102 Beech - maple forest K103 Mixed mesophytic forest K104 Appalachian oak forest K106 Northern hardwoods K107 Northern hardwoods - fir forest K108 Northern hardwoods - spruce forest K110 Northeastern oak - pine forest K111 Oak - hickory - pine forest K112 Southern mixed forest K113 Southern floodplain forest K114 Pocosin SAF COVER TYPES : 21 Eastern white pine 22 White pine - hemlock 23 Eastern hemlock 24 Hemlock - yellow birch 25 Sugar maple - beech - yellow birch 26 Sugar maple - basswood 27 Sugar maple 28 Black cherry - maple 39 Black ash - American elm - red maple 40 Post oak - blackjack oak 42 Bur oak 43 Bear oak 44 Chestnut oak 45 Pitch pine 46 Eastern redcedar 51 White pine - chestnut oak 52 White oak - black oak - northern red oak 53 White oak 55 Northern red oak 57 Yellow-poplar 58 Yellow-poplar - eastern hemlock 59 Yellow-poplar - white oak - northern red oak 60 Beech sugar maple 64 Sassafras - persimmon 75 Shortleaf pine 76 Shortleaf pine - oak 78 Virginia pine - oak 79 Virginia pine 80 Loblolly pine - shortleaf pine 82 Loblolly pine - hardwood 83 Longleaf pine - slash pine 87 Sweetgum - yellow poplar 91 Swamp chestnut oak - cherrybrak oak 103 Water tupelo - swamp tupelo 108 Red maple 110 Black oak SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Carya cordiformis
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE : The hardwood of bitternut hickory is used for making tools, furniture, paneling, dowels, and ladders. Bitternut hickory is also desirable for charcoal and fuelwood [16,26]. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Bitternut hickory fruit is generally considered unpalatable to wildlife [28]. Rabbits, beavers, and small rodents will occasionally feed on the bark of bitternut hickory [26]. PALATABILITY : NO-ENTRY NUTRITIONAL VALUE : The foliage of bitternut hickory has a high calcium content [26]. COVER VALUE : Bitternut hickory provides nesting sites for a variety of cavity-nesting birds in the Missouri oak-hickory forest [1]. VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : The deep lateral roots of bitternut hickory make it a valuable species for watershed protection. Bitternut hickory has been grown successfully on zinc mine waste sites in southwestern Wisconsin [2]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : Smoke from the wood of bitternut hickory is used to give hams and bacon a "hickory smoked" flavor [16,23]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Establishing hickory trees from seedlings is difficult because of seed predators. Infrequent bumper crops usually produce some seedlings, but seedling survival is poor under a dense canopy. Wherever advance reproduction is adequate, clearcutting results in fast-growing sapling stands. If there is no advance hickory reproduction, clearcutting eliminates hickories except for stump sprouts. Light thinnings or shelterwood cuts can be used to create advance hickory regeneration [15,21,26]. In three studies that were carried out in adjacent fields in southern Ontario, atttempts to establish bitternut hickory in open-field plantations were unsuccessful. Sowing of nuts was the least successful method of afforestation because either germination or height increments were too low [30].


SPECIES: Carya cordiformis
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Bitternut hickory is a medium-to-large native, deciduous tree, typically reaching a height of 60 to 80 feet (18-24 m) [11,13]. Under a forest canopy, it develops a long branch-free trunk with little taper, and a short rounded crown of slender ascending branches that broaden the crown toward the top. The branchlets are sparse and tend to droop slightly from the main ascending branches. The leaves are long and slender [9,16]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Seed production and dissemination: Bitternut hickory does not produce abundant seed until the tree is approximately 30 years old [16]. Optimum seed production extends from 50 to 125 years; trees that are more than 175 years old seldom produce seed crops. Good seed crops appear at 3- to 5-year intervals, with light seed crops borne in the intervening years. Bitternut hickory seed is estimated to be from 75 to 85 percent viable. Seed dissemination is almost entirely by gravity [26]. Seedling development: Bitternut hickory is probably more tolerant of a moist seedbed than other hickories and is the least susceptible to frost damage. Germination is hypogeal. Bitternut hickory seedlings grown in the open or light shade in the Ohio Valley were 13.3 inches (34 cm) at 4 years; sprouts of 1-year-old seedlings grown on red clay averaged 11 inches (28 cm) [26]. Vegetative reproduction: Bitternut hickory is the most prolific rootand stump-sprouter of the northern species of hickories, with sprouts arising from stumps, root crown, and roots. Most sprouts from sapling and pole-size trees are root crown sprouts, while those from sawtimber-size trees are mostly root sprouts. Stump sprouts are less numerous than either root crown sprouts or root suckers [26]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : In the northern parts of its range, bitternut hickory occurs on a variety of sites [5,14]. It is found on rich, loamy or gravelly soil, low wet woods, and along borders of streams, but is also found on dry uplands [31]. In the south, bitternut is more restricted to moist sites than in the north. It reaches it largest size on the rich bottomlands of the lower Ohio River Basin [5]. In the southwestern parts of its range, bitternut hickory is common on poor, dry, gravelly upland soils. Bitternut hickory is absent from the mountain forests of northern New England and New York, and it is not found at the higher elevations in the Appalachians [25]. Principle tree assoicates are listed under Distribution and Occurrence. Other commom tree associates include eastern hophornbean (Ostrya virginiana), butternut (Juglans cinerea), and hackberry (Celtis occidentalis). Common understory associates include largeflower bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora), virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), wood-nettle (Laportea canadensis), and violets (Viola spp.) [20,26]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Bitternut hickory are generally classified as intolerant of shade but bitternut hickory seedlings appear to be more tolerant on overflow bottomlands than most of its associates [26]. Top dieback and resprouting may occur frequently with each successive shoot attaining a larger size and developing a stronger root system than its predecessor. By this process, hickory reproduction gradually accumulates and develops under moderate canopies, especially on sites dry enough to restrict reproduction of more tolerant, but more fire- or drought-sensitive species [7,8,26]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Bitternut hickory flowers in April or May. The fruit ripens in September and October and is dispersed from September through December [3,6].


SPECIES: Carya cordiformis
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Bitternut hickory saplings are easily damaged by fire; older trees are also susceptible to fire damage because of the low insulating capacity of the bark [26]. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : survivor species; on-site surviving root crown or caudex off-site colonizer; seed carried by animals or water; postfire yr 1&2


SPECIES: Carya cordiformis
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Most fires top-kill the aboveground portions of the plant [26]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Bitternut hickory can sprout from the stump, root crown, or roots following fire [26]. The Research Paper by Bowles and others 2007 provides information on postfire response of several plant species, including bitternut hickory, that was not available when this species review was originally written. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Periodic burning effectively controlled bitternut hickory on the Kansas prairie [4]. The absence of fire increased the expansion of the Oak-Hickory association in eastern Nebraska [25].


SPECIES: Carya cordiformis
REFERENCES : 1. Allen, Arthur W.; Corn, Janelle G. 1990. Relationships between live tree diameter and cavity abundance in a Missouri oak-hickory forest. Northern Journal of Applied Forestry. 7: 179-183. [13504] 2. Blewett, Thomas J. 1988. Natural forest recovery of lead pit mines. Restoration & Management Notes. 6(2): 92-93. [6140] 3. Bonner, F. T.; Maisenhelder, L. C. 1974. Carya Nutt. hickory. In: Schopmeyer, C. S., technical coordinator. Seeds of woody plants in the United States. Agric. Handb. 450. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 269-272. [7571] 4. Bragg, Thomas B.; Hulbert, Lloyd C. 1976. Woody plant invasion of unburned Kansas bluestem prairie. Journal of Range Management. 29(1): 19-24. [10383] 5. Braun, E. Lucy. 1936. Forests of the Illinoian till plain of southwestern Ohio. Ecological Monographs. 6(1): 91-149. [8379] 6. Chapman, William K.; Bessette, Alan E. 1990. Trees and shrubs of the Adirondacks. Utica, NY: North Country Books, Inc. 131 p. [12766] 7. Clebsch, Edward E. C.; Busing, Richard T. 1989. Secondary succession, gap dynamics, and community structure in a southern Appalachian cove forest. Ecology. 70(3): 728-735. [6972] 8. Clements, Frederic E. 1936. Nature and structure of the climax. Journal of Ecology. 24: 252-284. [11729] 9. Duncan, Wilbur H.; Duncan, Marion B. 1988. Trees of the southeastern United States. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 322 p. [12764] 10. Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. [905] 11. Fernald, Merritt Lyndon. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. [Corrections supplied by R. C. Rollins]. Portland, OR: Dioscorides Press. 1632 p. (Dudley, Theodore R., gen. ed.; Biosystematics, Floristic & Phylogeny Series; vol. 2). [14935] 12. Garrison, George A.; Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Duncan, Don A.; [and others]. 1977. Vegetation and environmental features of forest and range ecosystems. Agric. Handb. 475. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 68 p. [998] 13. Godfrey, Robert K. 1988. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of northern Florida and adjacent Georgia and Alabama. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 734 p. [10239] 14. Hill, John P.; Dickmann, Donald I. 1988. A comparison of three methods for naturally reproducing oak in southern Michigan. Northern Journal of Applied Forestry. 5(2): 113-117. [14482] 15. Hix, David M.; Lorimer, Craig G. 1990. Growth-competition relationships in young hardwood stands on two contrasting sites in southwestern Wisconsin. Forest Science. 36(4): 1032-1049. [13440] 16. Hosie, R. C. 1969. Native trees of Canada. 7th ed. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Forestry Service, Department of Fisheries and Forestry. 380 p. [3375] 17. Kuchler, A. W. 1964. Manual to accompany the map of potential vegetation of the conterminous United States. Special Publication No. 36. New York: American Geographical Society. 77 p. [1384] 18. Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). Agric. Handb. 541. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 375 p. [2952] 19. Lyon, L. Jack; Stickney, Peter F. 1976. Early vegetal succession following large northern Rocky Mountain wildfires. In: Proceedings, Tall Timbers fire ecology conference and Intermountain Fire Research Council fire and land management symposium; 1974 October 8-10; Missoula, MT. No. 14. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 355-373. [1496] 20. Metzger, F. T. 1990. Ostrya virginiana (Mill.) K. Koch eastern hophornbeam. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 2. Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 490-496. [13970] 21. Ontario Department of Lands and Forests. 1953. Forest tree planting. 2d ed. Bull. No. R 1. Toronto, Canada: Ontario Department of Lands and Forests, Division of Reforestation. 68 p. [12130] 22. Pavlovic, Noel B. 1990. Vegetation restoration planning at Lincoln Boyhood National Monument. Park Science: A Resource Management Bulletin. 10(3): 22-23. [12597] 23. Randall, Charles Edgar. 1968. Enjoying our trees. Washington, DC: The American Forestry Association. 122 p. [1933] 24. Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p. [2843] 25. Rothenberger, Steven J. 1985. Community analysis of the forest vegetation in the lower Platte River Valley, eastern Nebraska. Prairie Naturalist. 17(1): 1-14. [2031] 26. Smith, H. Clay. 1990. Carya cordiformis (Wangenh.) K. Koch bitternut hickory. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 190-197. [17064] 27. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service. 1982. National list of scientific plant names. Vol. 1. List of plant names. SCS-TP-159. Washington, DC. 416 p. [11573] 28. Van Dersal, William R. 1938. Native woody plants of the United States, their erosion-control and wildlife values. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 362 p. [4240] 29. Vines, Robert A. 1960. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of the Southwest. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. 1104 p. [7707] 30. Althen, F. W. von. 1990. Sowing and planting shagbark and bitternut hickories on former farmland in southern Ontario. Inf. Rep. O-X-403. Sault Ste. Marie, ON: Forestry Canada, Ontario Region, GreatLakes Forestry Centre. 11 p. [14070] 31. Voss, Edward G. 1985. Michigan flora. Part II. Dicots (Saururaceae--Cornaceae). Bull. 59. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science; Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Herbarium. 724 p. [11472]

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