Plant Details

Carya aquatica

Water Hickory, Bitter Pecan

Scientific Name:

Carya aquatica

Common Name:

Water Hickory, Bitter Pecan

Plant Family

Juglandaceae (Walnut Family)


NC Native



Size in Feet:

70 - 100

Bloom Time:

April - May

Bloom Area:

Coast, Piedmont (rarely)

Habitat Description:

Swamp forests, where flooded during the winter months

State Rank:

No NC Rank Listed (*)

Global Rank:

No Global Rank listed (*)

State Status:

No NC Status Listed (*)

Federal Status:

No U.S. Status Listed (*)


It is considered important in cleansing drainage waters since the plants slow water flow during flooding, allowing sediments to fall out of the water column. This tree species is tolerant of wet soils but grows best on well draining soils near rivers and other water ways.

Male Catkins

Water Hickory is common on the coast in swamp forests that are flooded in the winter. Looking much like a Pecan tree, it differs in having pubescent leaflets, a flattened nut, and, when mature, scaly bark.


Jack Spruill, 5/26/11, Hampstead

Female Flower Buds


Jack Spruill, Hampstead, 5/26/11


Husks are thin, 4-winged and split nearly to the base. The nut is bitter.


Jack Spruill, Hampstead


USDA PLANTS Database Record

Bird-Friendly Native Plants

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