Carya cordiformis, commonly known as the bitternut hickory or swamp hickory, is a species of hickory native to eastern North America.
It typically grows to be a medium-sized deciduous tree, reaching heights of up to 30-40 meters (100-130 feet) tall, with a trunk diameter of up to 1.5 meters (5 feet). The bark of the bitternut hickory is grayish-brown and ridged, with interlacing furrows that form a pattern of diamonds or plates.
The leaves of Carya cordiformis are pinnately compound, with 7-11 leaflets that are lanceolate in shape, and have serrated margins. The leaflets are typically 7-12 centimeters (3-5 inches) long and 3-5 centimeters (1-2 inches) wide, and are arranged in an alternate pattern along the stem.
The bitternut hickory produces small, greenish-yellow flowers that bloom in the spring, typically in May or June. The fruit of the tree is a nut enclosed in a thick, hard shell that is 3-4 centimeters (1-1.5 inches) long and 2-3 centimeters (0.75-1.25 inches) wide. The nut is edible, but very bitter and not often used for food.
Carya cordiformis is an important hardwood tree in the eastern United States, valued for its strong, hard wood. It is used for a variety of purposes, including furniture, flooring, tool handles, and sporting goods. The tree is also an important food source for wildlife, including squirrels, chipmunks, and birds.