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Mockernut hickory is a large, broadly rounded tree at maturity. Like all hickories, it 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.

  • Family (English) Walnut
  • Family (botanic) Juglandaceae
  • Planting site City parkway, Residential and parks, Wide median
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
  • 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 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Dry sites
  • Season of interest mid fall, late fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous
  • Shape or form Oval
  • Growth rate Slow
  • Transplants well No
  • Planting considerations May be difficult to find in nurseries
  • Wildlife Cavity-nesting birds, Game birds, Migrant birds, Small mammals, Songbirds
  • Has cultivars No

Native geographic location and habitat:

C-Value: 10. Mockernut hickory is native to much of the Midwest and southeastern United States and is found growing in a variety of soil types.

Bark color and texture:

Bark is gray, furrowed, and shallowly ridged.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

Leaves are alternate, compound and have seven to nine 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:

Flowers are not ornamentally important. Male and female flowers bloom in separate structures on the same tree (monoecious). Male flowers bloom in hanging catkins and the females in small terminal spikes.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

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

Plant care:

This tree is difficult to transplant due to its deep taproot. It grows best in slightly acidic soils.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances: 

This tree has no common pests but is sensitive to compacted soils. It is tolerant of black walnut toxicity.


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