A large tree with a narrow, pyramid-shaped crown in the forest, a broad and rounded crown in the open; largest of all the hickory trees.
Leaves alternate, compound, 9–20 inches long, with 9–17 leaflets; leaflets 4–8 inches long, 1–3 inches wide, lance-shaped, curved; margins toothed; upper surface dark green; lower surface paler, smooth to hairy.
Bark grayish-brown to light brown when young, becoming dark reddish-brown with age, ridges long, flat, loose.
Twigs stout, reddish-brown, hairy, with numerous elongated orange-brown pores; bud on end of twig yellow-brown.
Flowers April-May, male catkins and female clusters separate on the same tree.
Fruits September–October, in clusters of 3–10; husk thin, aromatic, reddish-brown, winged, splitting along 4 ridges at maturity to expose the nut. Nut thin, 1–3 inches long, 2–4 times longer than broad, cylindrical, pointed at the tip, light brown to reddish-brown, with irregular black markings on the shell; kernel sweet and edible.