mockernut hickory (Carya tomentosa)
mockernut white hickory
Carya alba (Mill.) K. Koch
CONFIRMATION STATUS: Confirmed.
TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name for mockernut
hickory is Carya tomentosa Nutt. Recognized morphological varieties
based on differences in the leaves and fruit include: 1) var. subcoriacea
(Sarg.) Palm. & Steyermark, commonly known as Gulf mockernut hickory,
it is distiguished from the typical variety by having thicker, more pubescent
leaves, and a fruit more prominently angled with thicker and larger nuts; 2)
var. ficoides Sarg., commonly known as fig mockernut hickory, is distin-
guished from the typical variety by having a stipelike base to the fruit; 3)
var. ovoidea Sarg., commmonly known as ovoid mockernut hickory, is
distinguished from the typical variety by having a long-acuminate ovoid
fruit. Mockernut hickory hybrid products are: Carya tomentosa x Carya
illinoensis=Carya X schneckii; Sarg. Carya tomentosa x Carya ovata =
Carya X collina Laughlin.
NATIVE STATUS: Native, United States.
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Mockernut hickory
is a medium-to-large native, deciduous tree, typically reaching a height of
65 to 100 feet (20-30 m). When grown in association with other trees,
mockernut hickory develops a long, slender, straight trunk which is free
of branchlets for about half the height of the tree. The crown is open,
narrow, and rounded at the top. In the open, the crown covers much more
of the length of the tree and is generally oblong, with branches that bear
straight branchlets. Sometimes the branches droop. The trunk is often
swollen at the base. As with other hickories, a deep strong taproot develops.
REGENERATION PROCESSES: Mockernut hickory requires a
minimum of 25 years to reach commercial seed-bearing age. Optimum
production occurs from 40 to 125 years, and the maximum age for
commercial seed production is 200 years. Good seed crops occur every
2 to 3 years. with light seed crops in the intervening years. Approximately
50 to 75 percent of the fresh seed will germinate. Seed is disseminated
mainly by gravity, squirrels, and birds. Hickory nuts seldom remain viable
on the ground for more than 1 year. This species requires a moderately
moist seedbed for satisfactory seed germination. Seedlings are slow
growing. Mockernut hickory will sprout prolifically from the stump after
cutting or fire. As the stumps increase in size, the number of stumps that
produce sprouts decreases.
SITE CHARACTERISTICS: In the north, mockernut hickory grows
on rocky hills and slopes and less frequently on alluvial bottomlands. In
the Cumberland Mountains and in the hills of southern Indiana, it grows
on dry sites, typically south and west slopes or dry ridges. Most of the
merchantable mockernut hickory grows on moderately fertile uplands.
It attains its best development on deep fertile soils.
SUCCESSIONAL STATUS: Mockernut hickory is classified as
intolerant of shade, but at certain times during its life, may be variously
classified as tolerant to intolerant. It recovers rapidly from disturbances
and is probably a climax species on moist sites.
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: Mockernut hickory flowers open from
early April in central Florida to the end of May in eastern New England.
The fruit ripens in September and October, and the seed is dispersed from
September through December.
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Mockernut hickory grows from
Massachusetts and New York west to southern Ontario, southern
Michigan, northern Illinois, southeastern Iowa, Missouri, and eastern
Kansas; south to eastern Texas; and east to northern Florida. Mocker-
nut hickory is most abundant southward through Virginia, North Caro-
lina, and Florida. It is also abundant in the lower Mississippi Valley and
grows largest in the lower Ohio River Basin.
SKY MEADOWS DISTRIUBTION:
Tree specimens can be found on trails marked in red.
Appalachian Trail/Old Trail
South Ridge/North Ridge
Rolling Meadows/ Lost Mountain
HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES: Mockernut
hickory is associated with the eastern oak-hickory forest and the beech-
maple forest, particularly in upland hills and slopes. The species does not
exist in sufficient amounts to be included as a title species in the Society
of American Foresters forest cover types but it is identified as an associa-
ted species in eight cover types.
In the central forest upland oak types, mockernut is commonly associated
with pignut hickory (Carya glabra), shagbark hickory (Carya ovata), and
bitternut hickory (Carya cordiformis); black oak (Quercus velutina), scarlet
oak (Quercus coccinea), chestnut oak (Quercus muehlenbergii), post oak
(Quercus stellata), and bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa); blackgum (Nyssa
sylvatica), yellow-poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), maples (Acer spp.),
white ash (Fraxinus americana), eastern white pine (Pinus strobus), and
eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis). Common understory vegetation
includes flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), sumac (Rhus spp.), sassafras
(Sassafras albidum), sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum), downy service-
berry (Amelanchier spp.), redbud (Cercis canadensis), eastern hophorn-
beam (Ostrya virginiana), and American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana).
Mockernut is also associated with wild grapes (Vitis spp.), rosebay rhodo-
dendron (Rhododendron maximum), mountain-laurel (Kalmia latifolia),
greenbriers (Smilax spp.), blueberries (Vaccinium spp.), witch-hazel
(Hamamelis virginiana), and spicebush (Lindera benzoin). Other under-
story vegetation includes New Jersey tea (Ceanothus americanus), wild
hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens), tick-trefoil (Desmodium spp.),
bluestem (Andropogon spp.), poverty oatgrass (Danthonia spicata),
sedges (Carex spp.), pussytoes (Antennaria spp.), goldenrod (Solidago
spp.), and asters (Aster spp.).
IMPORTANCE AND USES: Mockernuts are preferred mast for wild-
life, especially squirrels. Black bears, foxes, beavers, and white-footed
mice feed on the nuts, and sometimes the bark. White-tailed deer browse
the foliage, twigs and nuts. Mockernuts are a minor source of food for
ducks, quail, and turkey.
Researchers have found mockernut hickory provides cavity-nesting sites
for a variety of birds in the Missouri oak-hickory forest; this nesting site
attribute is probably common throughout much of its natural range.
The deep lateral roots of mockernut hickory make it a valuable species for
Nearly 80 percent of harvested mockernut hickory is used to manufacture
tool handles, for which its hardness, toughness, stiffness, and strength make
it especially suitable. Other uses include agricultural implements, dowels,
gymnasium equipment, poles, and furniture. Mockernut hickory is also
used for lumber, pulpwood, charcoal, and fuelwood.
Mockernut hickory sawdust and chips are often used commercially to
smoke meats. Although mockernut kernels are edible, because of their
size they are rarely eaten by humans.
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