A tree 50 to 60, occasionally 100 ft high; winter buds large, the terminal one broadly egg-shaped, pointed, 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. long, and 1⁄2 in. or more wide; the inner scales covered with a soft pale felt; young shoots very downy, especially at first. Leaves fragrant, 8 to 12 in. (on very vigorous young trees 20 in.) long; composed usually of seven (sometimes five or nine) leaflets; terminal leaflet is 5 to 8 in. long, 2 to 41⁄2 in. wide, obovate, wedge-shaped at the base; basal pair sometimes only 11⁄2 to 2 in. long, ovate, rounded at the base; the middle pair or pairs are intermediate in size and shape; all taper-pointed, toothed, upper surface dark green, downy on the midrib; lower surface yellowish, and covered with starry down and glands; common stalk stellately downy. Male catkins 3 to 5 in. long, very downy. Fruit top-shaped or roundish.
Native of eastern N. America; rare in cultivation. The species is distinct in its large winter buds (it is sometimes called ‘big-bud hickory’) and in the fragrance of its foliage. This, of course, is most marked when the leaf is rubbed, but on dewy mornings in summer it can be perceived many yards away from the tree. The mockernut has been too much neglected in gardens, if only on this account. There is a fine specimen at Kew 70 ft high, remarkable for its stately habit and splendid foliage. Another grows at Sidbury Manor, Devon; planted in 1898, it is 68 ft high. Smaller trees grow at Westonbirt and Tortworth, Glos.; and in the University Parks, Oxford. This species resembles C. cordiformis in its bark but is easily distinguished by its terminal winter buds, which are brown, hairy and broadly ovate, with imbricate scales; in C. cordiformis they are bright yellow, scurfy, elongated, with two pairs of scales which do not overlap (valvate).