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Audubon® Bitternut Hickory
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Why would you plant a Hickory Tree that only produces bitter nuts? Because even though its nuts are inedible, Bitternut Hickory is a blessing for birds. This splendid native shade tree attracts a diverse assortment of moth and butterfly caterpillars, which in turn lure in wrens, warblers, grosbeaks, vireos, and many other backyard birds for a bite. Nesting birds in particular seek out this valuable insect protein for their chicks. In addition, Bitternut Hickory is a beautiful landscape tree, growing tall and straight and vase-shaped. Its fall color is tops, too—a vibrant yellow that positively glows!
May Benefit & Attract: Thrushes, waxwings, wood warblers, finches, mockingbirds & thrashers, chickadees & titmice, orioles, cardinals & grosbeaks, crows & jays, sparrows, nuthatches, vireos, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, and wrens.
Take Birds Under Your Wing
New! Introducing our bird-friendly collection of Audubon® Native Plants & Trees
- Better for Birds, 100% Neonic-Free
- Not Available in non-native regions, states or counties (see Native Regions map)
Bower & Branch is proud to grow Audubon® Native Plants for Birds in partnership with the National Audubon Society to help birds and other wildlife thrive.
- The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow
- This bird-friendly native plant provides food and shelter for local and migrating birds and other wildlife
- Your purchase and planting of this native flora directly supports Audubon’s conservation mission and impact
- Learn how you can help birds in your home and community through Audubon’s Plants for Birds program
- Audubon Native Plants & Trees are free of neonicotinoids and exclusively grown by Bower & Branch
Audubon® is a licensed and registered trademark of the National Audubon Society. All rights reserved.
Size AA (12-18" tall) container grown
- Hardiness Zone: 4-9
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Wide-ranging and probably the most common Hickory species in the U.S., Bitternut Hickory was a familiar sight to settlers throughout the eastern states. They encountered it from New Hampshire to Minnesota and south to North Florida and East Texas. Although they couldn’t eat the seeds, they extracted the oil for lamp fuel and they used the durable wood for ax handles, furniture, and wagon axles. They also learned how delicious ham and bacon could be when cured with hickory smoke! Even today, Bitternut Hickory is considered the best Hickory to use in smoking meat.
Bitternut Hickory is host to an assortment of really weird and wonderful insect species. If you’re lucky, your tree may attract the breathtaking pale green luna moth or even the gigantic royal walnut moth. Those funny “walking stick” insects also feed on Hickory.
How to Grow
Bitternut Hickory is sensitive to root disturbance, so plant it in an open space where it will never be in the path of construction projects. This tree does drop leaves and nuts, so you’ll want to keep it away from pools, patios, and sidewalks anyway. Full sun is a must, and average to rich, well-drained soil will support the best growth, which will never be fast. Water regularly during the establishment period. Hickories look especially handsome in groves. Plant a grouping in a semi-wild space on your property, and you’ll create a natural, self-sustaining scene that will get more beautiful with each passing year.
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