A medium-sized tree with a rather narrow crown, 2-4 times longer than broad.
Leaves alternate, feather-compound, 8-12 inches long, with 5 (rarely 7) leaflets. Leaflets lance-shaped, narrow at base or near middle; margin toothed; tip tapered to a point. Upper surface yellow-green, smooth; under surface paler and smooth or hairy along veins. Bright yellow in fall.
Bark gray, thin, tight, rough from numerous shallow, criss-crossing cracks forming close, flattened scales.
Twigs rather slender, reddish-brown, smooth; pores pale.
Flowers April-May, male and female flowers separate on same tree; male catkins 3-branched, yellowish-green; female flowers few.
Fruits September-October, variable, usually pear- or egg-shaped, often with a necklike base; about 1¼ inches long; husk dark brown, thin, splitting late along 2-4 lines or not at all. Nut pear-shaped with a short beak.