Trees , to 35 m. Bark gray to brownish, fissured or exfoliating, separating freely into long strips or broad plates. Twigs brown to bronze, slender, without hairs, densely scaly. Terminal buds bronze, ovoid, 4-6 mm, essentially without hairs, densely scaly; bud scales valvate; axillary buds protected by bracteoles fused into hood. Leaves 3-6 dm; petiole 3-10 cm, densely scaly. Leaflets (5-)7-9, lateral petiolules 0-2 mm, terminal petiolules 2-3 mm; blades ovate or obovate to elliptic, not falcate, 3-17 × 1-8 cm, margins finely to coarsely serrate, without tufts of hairs, apex acuminate; surfaces abaxially with unicellular and 2-4-rayed fasciculate hairs along midrib in spring, densely scaly with coating of large peltate scales and small irregular, round, and 4-lobed peltate scales, imparting bronze color, adaxially pubescent along midrib and major veins in spring, with scattered peltate scales. Staminate catkins pedunculate, to 6 cm, stalks and bracts scaly; anthers hirsute. Fruits light tan to bronze, obovoid to ellipsoid, not compressed, 2-3 × 1.5-2 cm; husks rough, 2 mm thick, dehiscing to base, sutures winged; nuts reddish brown mottled with tan patches, ellipsoid, not compressed, not angled, smooth; shells thick. Seeds sweet. 2 n = 32. Flowering spring. River bottomlands, edges of streams, bluffs, and hillsides, often on calcareous prairie soils and marl ridges; 0-500 m; Ala., Ark., La., Miss., N.C., Okla., S.C., Tex.; Mexico (Nuevo León). Carya myristiciformis is the rarest species in the genus. It is patchily distributed from the mountains of northeastern Mexico to the coastal plain of North Carolina.