Herb: Sweet Pignut

Latin name: Carya ovalis

Synonyms: Carya microcarpa, Juglans ovalis

Family: Juglandaceae (Walnut Family)

Edible parts of Sweet Pignut:

Seed - raw or cooked. Small but sweet with a thin shell. The seed ripens in late autumn and, when stored in its shell in a cool place, will keep for at least 6 months. Sap - raw. Tapped in the spring, it has a sweet flavour.

Description of the plant:


30 m
(98 feet)

to May


Habitat of the herb:

Rich woodlands and on hillsides.

Other uses of Sweet Pignut:

Wood - heavy, hard, tough and elastic. Used for making wagons, agricultural implements, tool handles etc.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - requires a period of cold stratification. It is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Stored seed should be kept moist (but not wet) prior to sowing and should be sown in a cold frame as soon as possible. Where possible, sow 1 or 2 seeds only in each deep pot and thin to the best seedling. If you need to transplant the seedlings, then do this as soon as they are large enough to handle, once more using deep pots to accommodate the tap root. Put the plants into their permanent positions as soon as possible, preferably in their first summer, and give them some protection from the cold for at least the first winter. Seed can also be sown in situ so long as protection is given from mice etc and the seed is given some protection from cold (a plastic bottle with the top and bottom removed and a wire mesh top fitted to keep the mice out is ideal)

Cultivation of Sweet Pignut:

Rich woodlands and on hillsides.

Medicinal use of the herb:

None known

Known hazards of Carya ovalis:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.