Bitternut Hickory vs Pignut Hickory: [Differences]

Bitternut Hickory vs Pignut Hickory

Key Takeaway

  • The main difference between is pignut hickory has a similar fruit to bitternut hickory, but its fruits lack conspicuous ridges. This tree usually has fewer leaflets per compound leaf, and its buds aren’t yellow.

In the world of hickory trees, there are two main types: the bitternut hickory and the pignut hickory. Though they may seem similar at first glance, these two types of hickory trees have some important differences. Lets explore them.

Bitternut Hickory

Bitternut Hickory vs Pignut Hickory

The bitternut hickory is a large deciduous tree that can grow up to 100 feet tall. It has a thick, dark brown bark and large, green leaves. The bitternut hickory is native to the eastern United States and Canada. Its nuts are small and bitter-tasting.

This hickory is closely related to the pignut hickory. Both trees are members of the genus Carya, which includes all the hickories. The bitternut hickory can be distinguished from the pignut hickory by its larger size and its more bitter-tasting nuts.

This tree is an important food source for many animals, including squirrels, mice, and birds. The tree’s nuts are also used in making some types of alcohol.

Pignut Hickory

Bitternut Hickory vs Pignut Hickory

Pignut hickory is a type of hickory tree that is native to North America. The tree grows to be about 50-75 feet tall and has a lifespan of around 100 years. The pignut hickory’s bark is light brown or gray in color and is smooth when young but becomes rough and scaly as the tree ages.

The leaves of the pignut hickory are alternate, simple, and oblong-shaped with serrated margins. The leaves are dark green in color and turn yellow or brown in the fall. The flowers of the pignut hickory are small, greenish-yellow, and borne in clusters.

The fruit of the tree is a small nut that is encased in a thick husk.

The pignut hickory is an important source of food for many animals, including deer, squirrels, mice, and birds. The nut can also be used by humans for food or as a source of oil.

The wood of the pignut hickory is hard and strong, making it good for use in construction, furniture, tool handles, and other wood products.

Bitternut Hickory Vs Pignut Hickory

The bitternut hickory has a lighter flavor that some say is more pleasant than the pignut hickory. The pignut hickory, on the other hand, has a strong flavor that some say is too bitter.

The texture of the two nuts can also differ – the bitternut hickory has a softer texture, while the pignut hickory has a tougher texture.

So, which nut is better? It really depends on your personal preference. If you like a light flavor, then the bitternut hickory is probably a better choice. If you prefer a stronger flavor, then the pignut hickory might be a better choice.

And if you prefer a softer or tougher texture, then you’ll have to choose based on that preference.


In conclusion, bitternut hickory is the better choice for most people. It is more flavorful than pignut hickory and has a better texture. It is also easier to find in stores. If you are looking for a hickory to use in your cooking, go with bitternut hickory.

Brian Koller

Growing up on a farm in eastern PA, I’ve grown fond of wildlife and the woods and learning about the critters and firewood and everything else in-between. I made this site to share my experiences and knowledge.

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