wpe5.jpg (2127 bytes)U.P. TREE  IDENTIFICATION  KEY
from Michigan State University Extension

Bitternut Hickory, Butternut and Black Walnut
Juglandaceae, The Walnut Family

BUTT-header.jpg (10683 bytes)The walnut family has 6 to 7 genera with a distribution mostly in the northern temperate zone.  In the U.P., there are two genera, Juglans (walnuts) and Carya (hickories) but neither are very common.  These trees have large, edible  nuts in thick fibrous husks.  The male flowers appear in catkins.  The leaves are compound and generally quite large.   Juglans is well-known for its high quality wood, valuable for the appearance.  Carya has dense, hard wood, often used for handles and other implements requiring strength. 

Bitternut.jpg (39662 bytes)   BITTERNUT HICKORY   (Carya cordiformis)
Other Names:   Yellowbud, Swamp Hickory
  Key ID Features:  Leaves, Buds, Twigs, Nuts, Leaf Scars

Compound LEAVES are 7-10 inches long, have 7-11 leaflets, with the largest leaflets at the tip.   Leaflet margins are toothed and leaflets do not have stalks.  The terminal BUDS are yellow with a powdery appearance which is why the tree is sometimes called yellowbud.  TWIGS are somewhat stout with white spots (lenticles).  The large leaf scars are heart-shaped with three circles of bundle scars.  FRUITS are about an inch across with a four-part husk enclosing a bitter-tasting hickory NUT.  The firm gray BARK stays fairly smooth for years, eventually developing tight, shallow furrows.  Bitternut grows with other upland hardwoods and is rare in the U.P., occurring mostly in Menominee county.  Common pests: bark beetles, hickory decline, drought.

Butternut.jpg (38874 bytes)   BUTTERNUT  (Juglans cinerea)
Other Names:   White Walnut, Oilnut
  Key ID Features:  Leaves, Chambered Pith, Nuts

Compound LEAVES are 15-30 inches long and have 11-17 leaflets.  Leaflet margins are toothed and are without stalks (or nearly so).  The central leaf stalk is fuzzy.  The NUTS are oval, about 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 inches long.  Husks start out green, sticky, and fuzzy and become dark brown with age.  TWIGS are quite stout and have a chocolate-colored chambered pithLeaf scars are large with three groups of bundle scars.  Terminal BUDS are about about a quarter to a third inch long and fuzzy.  Side BUDS are knobby.  BARK is firm and light to medium brown.  The bark on larger trees is rough and separated by long raised ridges.  Most trees have a disease called butternut canker (Sirrococcus clavigignenti-juglandacearum) which appears as cracks that are black inside.  A well-formed butternut can grow to 40-60 feet in HEIGHT and 1-2 feet in DIAMETER.  The tree prefers richer, well-drained SOILS and ASSOCIATES with black cherry, basswood, oak, sugar maple, and yellow birch.  Common pests: butternut canker.

BLACK WALNUT   (Juglans nigra)
Other Names:  Walnut, American Walnut
Key ID Features:  Leaves, Chambered Pith, Nuts

Compound LEAVES are 12-24 inches long and have 15-23 leaflets.  Leaflet margins are finely-toothed and are without stalks (or nearly so).  The NUTS are round, about 1-1/2 to 2 inches long.  Husks start out green, sticky, and fuzzy and become dark brown with age.  TWIGS are quite stout and have a tan-colored chambered pith Terminal BUDS are half the length of butternut but side buds and leaf scars are similar.  BARK is dark brown or gray with deep furrows closer together than butternut.  Further south, the tree may reach HEIGHTS of 70-90 feet and DIAMETERS of 2-3 feet.  However, the U.P. is beyond the natural range of black walnut and occur only where planted, occasionally in Menominee and Delta counties.  Trees that survive are often of lesser form but sometimes grow large.  Black walnut, in its prime range, produces some of the most valuable timber in the United States.  Most of the "black walnut" in the U.P. is probably butternut.  It is not a component of our U.P. forest.  Common pests: 1000 cankers disease.  

Click on the blue to return to the Deciduous Summer Key or the Deciduous Winter Key.
Click HERE to return to the home page.

A note about the images on this website, click here.

This site created and maintained by Bill Cook, MSU Extension Forester for the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.   Editing and modification is ongoing.  Submit suggestions, questions, and corrections to cookwi@msu.edu or call 906-786-1575.