A tree up to 100 ft high; bark smooth on younger trees, later broken into shallow furrows and narrow, interlacing ridges; young shoots glabrous or soon becoming so; winter buds coated with bright yellow scales. Leaves 6 to 10 in. (occasionally 15 in.) long, composed usually of seven, but sometimes five or nine leaflets, the lowest pair of which are considerably smaller than the others. Leaflets lance-shaped, narrowly oval, oblong or obovate, tapered at both ends, sharply toothed; 2 to 6 in. long, 3⁄4 to 21⁄2 in. wide; glabrous above, downy at first below, especially along the midrib and veins; common stalk downy. Fruits usually in pairs or threes, pear-shaped to roundish, 3⁄4 to 11⁄2 in. long, with a thin, yellowish husk. Nut thin-shelled, with a bitter kernel. Male catkins usually in threes, 21⁄2 to 3 in. long, downy.
Native of eastern N. America; introduced, according to Aiton, in 1766. Of all the cultivated hickories, this appears to be the hardiest and the best grower. It is easily distinguished from all the rest by the bright yellow winter buds.
The largest recorded in recent years are: Kew, by the Lion Gate, 84 × 5 ft (1963), another by the Main Gate, 89 × 51⁄2 ft (1965) and others slightly smaller; Westonbirt, Glos., in the Main Drive, 86 × 43⁄4 ft (1964); Tortworth, Glos., 85 × 61⁄4 ft (1964); Hergest Croft, Heref., 70 × 41⁄2 ft (1961); Bicton, Devon, 85 × 83⁄4 (1967).