Mockernut Hickory?

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JHarkness
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Mockernut Hickory?

Post by JHarkness » Sat Nov 17, 2018 6:43 pm

Hickories are difficult to identify to say the least, two of my trees are no exception. I always presumed them to be bitternut but this summer I found a nut which I identified as mockernut, strange as I didn't think that they were present this far north in eastern New York. I later thought that perhaps I just got a strange pignut hickory nut and that the two trees were indeed bitternut, but this fall I noticed that they are indeed a separate species, the bark is close but subtly different and not within the natural variation of any of the bitternuts, additionally they lost their leaves almost a full week before any bitternuts began to turn. I searched for nuts as there are some pignuts nearby and I wanted to get multiple samples, I got many nuts that appeared to be bitternut but the husks were much thicker than any bitternuts I'd seen before, otherwise they were almost a match, perhaps I got nuts that hadn't full developed or perhaps having laid on the forest floor for over a year has caused them to decay significantly? It took a lot of effort but I managed to obtain twigs, and buds, which caused even more confusion as they don't match bitternut and are a perfect match to mockernut, yet they're much smaller than typical mockernut hickory buds. My conclusion is that it is definitely not pignut or red, and not bitternut either, which leaves only mockernut, but again it's not supposed to be native here, and these are two exceptional old specimens, kind of strange for the edge of a species' range, no less strange considering that the site they're present on is a moist maple-beech forest in a protected cove at almost 1,000' in elevation, not a rocky dry ridge in a warm environment. However, I can attest to this, the two trees have certainly taken a lot of damage from winter storms, one had a forked trunk with two large leaders, one of which snapped off, the remnants of which are dangling along the trunk, and the other leans severely, the cause of which appears to be snow or ice, makes sense for a species at the edge of its range. The leaves don't match either bitternut or mockernut, strangely one tree's leaves are more like bitternut than mockernut and the other tree is the exact opposite (despite buds, bark and nuts being the same), the texture however didn't match bitternut or pignut.


Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of photos of the trees, all I have is a bark photo, I have no experience with mockernut so hopefully someone here who does can help me out, but remember this ain't no young tree and I expect the bark is very different from that of a typical young specimen. I will try to get more photos soon, hopefully of buds.

IMG_3160.jpg
Balding mockernut?
IMG_0387PHB016.jpg
Typical bitternut in my forest.
"Be not simply good; be good for something." Henry David Thoreau

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RayA
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Re: Mockernut Hickory?

Post by RayA » Sun Nov 18, 2018 8:04 am

Joshua,

We have a bit of mockernut in Western Mass. If you examine a leaf stalk, it should be slightly fuzzy (very very short hairs) if it's mockernut (hence the species name "tomentosa").

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JHarkness
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Re: Mockernut Hickory?

Post by JHarkness » Sun Nov 18, 2018 3:59 pm

Ray,

Thank you, I knew of the fine hairs on the leaves but not of the leafstalk, I've seen the hairs on the leaflets themselves to be quite variable. Anyway, two of the leaves I collected from the base of that tree recently was indeed mockernut, I'll just need to confirm it came from this tree as there is a nearby tree which I was thinking was pignut, but perhaps it is not.
"Be not simply good; be good for something." Henry David Thoreau

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