10 Common Nut Trees In Ohio (Pictures & Identification)

Video ohio nut tree identification

Many different types of nut trees grow naturally in Ohio or have been brought from other places.

These trees produce delicious nuts and beautify the landscapes of the state. We’ll learn about the unique characteristics of each tree, where they prefer to grow, and why they’re important to both humans and animals. Native trees such as Black Walnut and Hickory have long been valued for their strong wood and tasty nuts.

In this article, we’ll look at how to tell the difference between native nut trees in Ohio that have been growing here for a long time and non-native nut trees that have recently been introduced.

So, let’s get started.

1. Ohio Buckeye

Ohio Buckeye Tree
  • Common Name: Ohio Buckeye
  • Scientific Name: Aesculus glabra
  • Mature Height: 20-40′ (6-12 m)
  • Native/Non-Native: Native
  • Flowers/Cones: green flowers
  • Uses: planted in parks, yards, and along streets for its attractive autumn foliage

The Ohio Buckeye, also known as Fetid Buckeye or Stinking Buckeye, is a Native American tree that features a broad spherical crown with a flat top and can reach a height of 20-40 feet.

The Ohio Buckeye’s palmate leaves are composed of 5 leaflets, each 3-5 inches long and radiating from a central point with fine uneven teeth. The leaves are yellowish green on top and pale and hairy on the bottom, and they are linked to the tree in different directions.

Because of the unpleasant odor of the blossoms and most other portions of the tree when crushed, the Ohio Buckeye is also known as Fetid Buckeye or Stinking Buckeye. It thrives in damp locations naturally, such as river bottoms, and is planted as a landscaping tree in drier highland areas for its gorgeous autumn foliage.

The tree produces spherical, light brown spiny capsules that are 1-2 inches wide. These capsules carry 1-2 glossy brown toxic seeds that fauna avoids. The bark of the Ohio Buckeye was originally employed as a cerebrospinal system stimulant.

The Ohio Buckeye leaves turn yellow to orange in the fall, creating a stunning picture. It can be distinguished from Yellow Buckeye by the warty spines on its fruit capsules. Despite its unpleasant odor, they are one of the most commonly found nut trees in Ohio.

2. Black Walnut

Black Walnut
  • Common Name: Black Walnut
  • Scientific Name: Juglans nigra
  • Mature Height: 50-75 feet (15-23 meters)
  • Native to North America
  • Flowers in catkins and fruits are green with an edible nut inside

The black walnut tree can be found throughout North America. It can reach a height of 75 feet!

The Black Walnut tree’s leaves are compound, which means that many little leaves grow together on one stalk. Each leaflet is approximately 3-4 inches long and has a pointed tip. The leaves become yellowish green in the fall and fall off the tree.

The Black Walnut tree’s fruit is green with a firm dark nut inside. The nutmeat is delicious and safe to consume. The husk that covers the nut, on the other hand, contains a chemical that can color your skin. Pioneers dyed their garments light brown using these husks!

The wood of black walnut is also quite valued. It does not shrink or distort, making it ideal for making furniture and cabinets. Animals such as squirrels and birds rely on the Black Walnut tree for food.

One important feature of Black Walnut is its ability to create juglone, a natural herbicide. This compound can be damaging to surrounding plants and is present in the tree’s fallen leaves and roots.

3. American Bladdernut

American Bladdernut
  • Common Name: American Bladdernut
  • Scientific Name: Staphylea trifolia
  • Mature Height: 20-25 feet
  • Native/Non-Native: Native
  • Flowers/Cones: Green capsule fruit
  • Uses: Provides shade and beauty in gardens and forests

The American Bladdernut tree has several slender stems and an open crown. It can reach a height of 20-25 feet and has compound leaves that are 6-9 inches long.

The leaves are oppositely connected and consist of 3-5 oval leaflets ranging in length from 1-3 inches. The fine-toothed margins of the dark green leaves are placed above while the paler green margins are located below.

The bark of the American Bladdernut is originally gray and smooth, but it can turn scaly and fractured as the tree becomes older. The tree’s fruit is a 3-lobed green capsule that turns brown when mature and can grow to be 1-2 inches long. The capsule dangles and opens at the pointed end, releasing lustrous brown spherical seeds.

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The American Bladdernut is native to Ohio and grows in moist soils and shade in the understory of deciduous woodlands.

It gets its name from its distinctive inflated green-to-brown bladders, which are most visible in the summer and autumn. These bladders help distinguish this tree from others. Because of its location in the understory of deciduous forests, this tree is sometimes ignored.

4. Butternut

  • Common Name: Butternut
  • Scientific Name: Juglans cinerea
  • Mature Height: 40-60 feet
  • Flowers/Acorns: Produces small greenish-yellow flowers in the spring; develops oblong nuts enclosed in sticky husks.
  • Uses: Valued for its timber, which is used in woodworking and furniture making; nuts are edible and enjoyed by both wildlife and humans for their rich flavor.

Butternut, commonly known as White Walnut, is a medium-sized tree with a divided trunk and an open crown that can grow to a height of 40-60 feet. It is scientifically known as Juglans cinerea and is a member of the Walnut family (Juglandaceae).

If you are looking for the best variety among the nut trees in Ohio, then Butternut must be the ideal choice. It is a native tree with a wide range that can live for 80-100 years.

The tree’s compound leaves are 15-25 inches long and have 11-17 leaflets. These leaflets have a toothed border and are typically 2-4 inches long. The last leaflet of each leaf is normally present and the same size as the lateral leaflets, gradually shrinking toward the leaf base.

The bark of the tree is light gray with broad flat ridges. Butternut flowers are catkins that are 1-2 inches long and made up of many tiny green flowers. The fruit is an oval, edible nut with a sticky green husk that becomes brown.

Butternut trees grow in a wide range of soil types, often on slopes with well-draining rich soils.

Butternut wood is highly hard, robust, and in high demand among woodworkers. This tree’s sap can be boiled to make syrup, and yellow dye derived from the husks can be used to color clothes. The common name comes from the butter-like oil that American Indians extracted from the nuts.

Unfortunately, Butternut is plagued by a devastating illness known as Butternut canker, which is caused by a fungus and has killed many of these trees.

5. Horse chestnut

Horse Chestnut Tree
  • Common Name: Horse Chestnut
  • Scientific Name: Aesculus hippocastanum
  • Mature Height: 50-75 feet
  • Flowers/Acorns: Produces white or pink flowers with a yellow or red spot in the spring; develops spiky capsules containing shiny brown nuts.
  • Uses: Ornamental tree in parks and gardens, nuts for wildlife.

Aesculus hippocastanum, or horse chestnut, is a medium-sized tree that can grow to be 40-60 feet tall. It is a member of the Soapberry family and is recognized for its lovely white blooms with yellow or orange centers that grow in spike clusters 8-12 inches long.

The Horse-Chestnut tree’s leaves are palmately compound, with 5-9 leaflets radiating from a central point on each leaf.

The bark of Horse-Chestnut trees is dark brown with numerous furrows and scales, and the fruit has numerous spines.

The fruit is a spherical, thick-walled leathery green capsule with 1-3 smooth, non-edible, lustrous chestnut-brown seeds. The tree is not native to the United States and was brought over from Europe perhaps 75-100 years ago.

Horse-Chestnut trees thrive in a wide range of soil conditions and can be found in parks and yards across the United States. They are linked to Ohio Buckeye trees and were sometimes used to treat horse coughs, which is how they received their name. Esculin, a substance found in the Horse-Chestnut tree’s leaves and bark, has been extracted for use in skin protectants.

The Horse-Chestnut tree’s leaves become yellow in the autumn season. This plant is a lovely addition to any outdoor setting, and many people enjoy its distinctive flowers and foliage. However, keep in mind that the tree’s seeds are not edible and should not be consumed.

6. Yellow Buckeye

Yellow Buckeye
  • Common Name: Yellow Buckeye
  • Scientific Name: Aesculus flava
  • Mature Height: 50-70 feet
  • Flowers/Acorns: Produces showy yellow flowers in the spring; develops spiny capsules containing shiny brown nuts.
  • Uses: Planted for decorative purposes in gardens and parks, providing shade and visual appeal; nuts serve as a food source for wildlife.

Aesculus flava, or Yellow Buckeye, is a big tree that can grow to be 50 to 70 feet tall. It has a circular crown with spreading branches and single or several trunks.

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Yellow Buckeye leaves are a palmate compound and range in length from 5 to 14 inches. They are composed of 5 to 7 leaflets radiating from a central point. The leaflets are finely serrated and uniformly yellowish-green on top, paler below, and frequently hairy.

Yellow Buckeye produces green-to-tan tubular flowers in triangular clusters 4 to 6 inches tall in the spring. The Yellow Buckeye produces a smooth, leathery, 3-parted light brown capsule that is spherical and 2 to 3 inches wide. There are 1 to 2 deadly seeds inside the capsule.

Yellow Buckeyes are endemic to Ohio and feature a yellow-to-orange fall color. They can grow up to 6,000 feet in a range of settings and are often found in deep moist soils, rivers, and mountain valleys.

Although the Yellow Buckeye is ubiquitous in the Great Smoky Mountains, it is rare in pure stands in Ohio and is restricted to rich bottomlands.

The Yellow Buckeye’s soft wood is listed at the bottom of the 35 major timbers in the United States and is frequently used for pulpwood, artificial limbs, and interior finishes for dwellings.

Yellow Buckeye seeds and young shoots are poisonous and can make cattle sick. However, the Yellow Buckeye is often marketed as a shade tree and is also known as Sweet Buckeye, Big Buckeye, or Large Buckeye.

7. Shellbark Hickory

Shellbark Hickory
  • Common Name: Shellbark Hickory
  • Scientific Name: Carya laciniosa
  • Mature Height: 70-90 feet
  • Native/Non-Native: Native
  • Flowers/Cones: Thick-shelled green fruit turning dark brown at maturity, round 2-3″ in diameter, husk splits open into 4 sections, releasing a nearly round nut.
  • Uses: Fruit is edible and eaten by wildlife.

One of the tallest nut trees in Ohio, the Shellbark Hickory, also known as the Big Shagbark Hickory or Kingnut, is a huge, natural tree that may be found throughout most of the United States save the far eastern limit of Ohio.

It can reach a height of 90 feet and has a straight trunk and a narrow spherical crown.

It has complex leaves that are glossy green on top and lighter on the bottom, with 7 (occasionally 9) lance-shaped leaflets. The tree’s bark is gray and rough, growing shaggy with age and flaking into long, thin, loosely linked pieces.

The Shellbark is one of the easiest hickories to identify due to its enormous leaves, incredibly large fruit, and orange twigs. Its fruit, which is edible and consumed by wildlife, is thick-shelled, green, and matures to a dark brown color.

The husk separates into four parts, revealing an almost spherical nut. The central stalk (rachis) of the tree persists after the leaflets fall off each autumn.

Shellbark Hickory grows well in moist to wet soils, floodplains, and sun to partial shade. The tree has been present for 150-200 years, and the Latin species name, laciniosa, means “with folds,” referring to the shaggy bark. It’s a lovely tree that feeds wildlife and lends a unique touch to any area.

8. Mockernut Hickory

Mockernut Hickory Tree
  • Common Name: Mockernut Hickory
  • Scientific Name: Carya tomentosa
  • Mature Height: 40-80 feet
  • Native/Non-native: Native
  • Flowers/Cones: Produces thick-shelled green nuts
  • Uses: Valued for its strength for furniture; also used for smoking meat, such as ham.

The Mockernut Hickory is a medium to big tree with a straight trunk. It can reach heights of 40-80 feet and has a narrow circular crown. It has complex leaves that are 8-20 inches long and have 7-9 leaflets. Each leaflet is elliptical, with a pointy apex and a round base.

The leaves are lustrous dark green on top and lighter and hairy on the bottom. The bark is gray to light brown and has short forked ridges.

The Mockernut Hickory produces thick-shelled green nuts that develop to brown. These nuts contain a small edible kernel that ranges in color from tan to light brown.

The tree bears nuts after 20 years, but the optimal nut-bearing age ranges from 50 to 150 years. Its nuts are an essential wildlife food source, as many birds and animals consume them or store them for the winter.

Mockernut Hickory is native to the eastern and southern United States, where it can be found in damp highland areas. It is commonly found growing with oaks and other hickories on ridges and hillsides in the sun.

The species name stems from the Latin term tomentum, which means “covered with dense short hairs,” and refers to the underside of leaves, which aids in species identification.

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Mockernut Hickory wood has long been prized for its strength and durability, particularly in furniture. It is also used to smoke meat, like ham. Its hairy, sturdy twigs are frequently reddish brown.

The Mockernut Hickory tree represents a strong and enduring species that has survived for 300-500 years.

9. Bitternut Hickory

Bitternut Hickory
  • Common Name: Bitternut Hickory
  • Scientific Name: Carya cordiformis
  • Mature Height: 50-100 feet
  • Native/Non-Native: Native
  • Flowers/Cones: Produces nuts
  • Uses: Wood is used for smoking meat, and nuts were once used for lamp fuel

Bitternut Hickory is a huge, strong tree that can reach heights of 100 feet. The trunk is straight, with slender erect branches and an open spherical crown.

The leaves are compound, which means they are made up of several smaller leaflets. Each leaflet is 3-6 inches long and has a pointed tip and a finely serrated border. The leaves are glossy green above and lighter below.

Bitternut Hickory bark is gray in hue with uneven vertical fractures.

Bitternut Hickory fruit is a circular nut, 34 to 12 inches in diameter, with a pointed end and four ridges extending to the point. This nut is too bitter for humans and most creatures to consume. Previously, the oil derived from the nuts was utilized as lamp fuel.

Bitternut Hickory is a North American native that thrives in damp soils and lowlands. It is a full-sun tree that does not tolerate shade. It has a bright yellow bud that makes it simple to distinguish before the leaves appear. Bitternut Hickory wood is used for smoking meat and has a particular flavor.

This tree has been existing for 100-150 years and is an important part of North America’s natural landscape.

10. American Chestnut

American Chestnut
  • Common Name: American Chestnut
  • Scientific Name: Castanea dentata
  • Mature Height: 60-90 feet (18-27.5 meters)
  • Native/Non-Native: Native
  • Flowers/Cones: Catkin with male and female flowers on the same tree (monoecious)
  • Uses: Hard oak-like wood with a straight grain, relatively decay-resistant.

The American Chestnut is a magnificent tree that previously stood more than 100 feet tall.

The leaves of the American Chestnut are distinctive, having large teeth that extend beyond the leaf margin and curve forward like saw teeth. The bark of the American Chestnut is smooth and dark brown to red, splitting into large flat-topped ridges.

The American Chestnut is well-known for its delectable chestnuts, which are frequently roasted over an open fire during the holiday season. However, the tree has numerous more purposes besides producing tasty nuts. The wood of the American Chestnut is firm and straight like oak, making it a great choice for furniture and building materials.

A fungus known as chestnut blight has made mature trees extremely scarce today. Chestnut blight is a fungus that destroys trees by damaging the bark and interfering with nutrition delivery.

The American Chestnut tree is endemic to the eastern United States and is frequently observed in parks or near historic structures.

Although mature trees are difficult to obtain owing to chestnut disease, the American Chestnut will sprout from the stumps of dead or cut trees and can continue to thrive.

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Common Nut Trees In Ohio – Sources

The Regional Gardening team makes sure that the information in our articles is accurate by only using sources that are known to be trustworthy. Some of these sources are peer-reviewed journals from government agencies, well-known universities, and scientific research organizations.

  1. Trees Of Ohio, Division Of Wildlife
  2. Trees Of Ohio Field Guide, ​​Book by Stan Tekiela
  3. Ohio Trees, OSU Extension Publications
  4. Native Plant Lists, Ohio Department Of Natural Resources
  5. Ohio Department Of Agriculture
  6. Gardening, The Ohio State University
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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>