Herb: Mockernut

Latin name: Carya tomentosa

Synonyms: Carya alba, Juglans tomentosa

Family: Juglandaceae (Walnut Family)

Medicinal use of Mockernut:

The inner bark is astringent and detergent. It has been used as a dressing for cuts and has also been chewed to treat sore mouths.

Description of the plant:


30 m
(98 feet)


Habitat of the herb:

Mainly along ridges, dry hills and hillsides, growing best in rich well-drained soils.

Edible parts of Mockernut:

Seed - raw or cooked. A delicious sweet taste but the thick, hard shell makes extraction very difficult. The kernel is quite small considering the size of the nut. Even squirrels leave the seed to accumulate under trees. The seed can be up to 6cm long. The seed ripens in late autumn and, when stored in its shell in a cool place, will keep for at least 6 months. Sap - used as a drink. Tapped in spring, it has a sweet flavour.

Other uses of the herb:

A black dye is obtained by boiling the bark in a vinegar solution. A beige dye is extracted from the leaves and twigs, cream of tartar is required as a mordant. A yellow dye is obtained from the bark when alum is used as a mordant. The inner bark has been used to finish baskets and to make chair bottoms. The leaves have been scattered about to repel insects. Wood - close-grained, tough, elastic, very heavy, hard. It weighs 51lb per cubic foot. The wood has excellent bending qualities and can withstand compression better than most other woods. One of the best hickory woods, it is an important commercial timber and is used for vehicle parts, tool handles, fuel etc.

Propagation of Mockernut:

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 the herb:

Mainly along ridges, dry hills and hillsides, growing best in rich well-drained soils.

Known hazards of Carya tomentosa:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.