The most common species of nut trees in the U.S. are varieties of the Juglandaceae family, including walnut trees and hickory trees. Another common species, the beech, produces edible nuts. The rare American chestnut tree was a common and significant species of nut tree before its decline in the early 20th century.
Tree species commonly referred to as "hickory" are the most common nut producing trees in the U.S. The pecan tree is the most edible hickory tree, with pecan nuts as a major commodity in the southern United States. Because the meat is slightly sweet, the pecan is used for cooking or eating raw. Other native hickory trees include the pignut and bitternut, generally considered unappealing to the human palette due to bitterness. Conversely, the shagbark hickory nut has a sweeter taste.
Tree species commonly referred to as "walnut" are also common in the U.S. This genus includes the eastern black walnut, the butternut and the California black walnut. Black walnuts are edible and used in baked goods. However, the nut meat is difficult to extract from the shell. The oily texture of the butternut also makes it popular for baking. The California black walnut is edible but is not grown commercially.