Leaves are alternate, compound with five to nine leaflets.
The bitternut hickory is a tall slender tree, 60 to 80 feet tall. It is found on moist sites on upper flood plains and at the bottom of slopes. It is widely distributed over the eastern United States as far west as Kansas and Nebraska.
The tree has pinnately compound leaves from 6 to 9 inches long and composed of from seven to eleven leaflets. The individual leaflets are more slender than those of the other hickories except the pecan.
The fruit is a medium-sized nut about 1 inch long with a thin, light green husk. The nut itself has a thin, brittle, creamy colored shell with a reddish-coated kernel, very bitter in taste.
Although the bark is made up of very fine platelike scales, it is much smoother than the shagbark hickory. On young branches it is gray in color, slightly ridged and often tinged with yellow. On larger branches and trunk it is granite gray and coarser ridge.
This key was developed by "bt" in June 1982. It was put into HTML format by Stephen Ostermiller in July 1997. Copies of the entire guide in zip format that may be taken to camp on a laptop are available to those who write.