Tree to 29 m, to 1.2 m dbh. Bark dark grey, ridged, often deeply furrowed. Branchlets reddish brown, slender, glabrous or pubescent. Leaves deciduous, imparipinnate, 30–60 cm long; leaflets (five to) seven (to nine), ovate to obovate or elliptic, 2–15 × 1–6 cm, leathery, upper surface largely glabrous, lower surface silvery tan, hirsute towards the base, often with stellate hairs and large scales, margins finely to coarsely serrate, apex acuminate; petiolules 0–0.1 cm long; rachis densely hirsute and scaly; petiole 3–10 cm long. Staminate spikes to 13 cm long, hirsute, scaly. Fruits tan to reddish brown, 3–4 × 2–3 cm, obovoid to globose, slightly compressed, splitting to the middle or base; nuts finely wrinkled. Stone & Whittemore 1997, Schaarschmidt 1999, 2002. Distribution USA: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia. Habitat Dry woodland on well-drained sandy or rocky soils between 0 and 500 m asl. USDA Hardiness Zone 5. Conservation status Not evaluated. Illustration NT215. Cross-reference K287.
Despite its wide range through the eastern United States Carya pallida was recognised as distinct as late as 1896 and is afforded brief mention by Dirr (1998) and by Sternberg (2004), apparently only for the sake of completeness. This overlooked tree is seldom seen in collections in our area, whether in the United States or in Europe, but there is one at Wakehurst Place, grown from seed collected by Howick and Warner (WAHO 183) in Virginia in 1986, and it is also grown at Arboretum Bokrijk, Genk, Belgium (J. De Langhe, pers. comm. 2007).