The Shagbark Hickory tree, Carya
ovata, has a distinctive, shaggy bark, conspicuous on tall straight trees, which gives this species its name. Shellbark hickory trees are also called shagbark hickory, bigleaf shagbark hickory,
kingnut, big shellbark, bottom shellbark, thick shellbark, and western
shellbark, which attest to some of its characteristics.
It is a
slow-growing long-lived tree. The nuts, largest of all hickory
nuts, are sweet and edible. Wildlife and people harvest most of
them; those remaining produce seedling trees readily.
wood is hard, heavy, strong, and very flexible, making it a
favored wood for tool handles. The wood also makes excellent
firewood, and often is used in smoking meat. As with other
edible nuts, squirrels compete with humans for this fruit. Its
bold-textured, jagged branch structure and thick twigs give it a
striking appearance in winter. This deciduous shade tree has a
yellow fall color.
The Shellbark Hickory tree, Carya
laciniosa, is also know as bigleaf shagbark, kingnut, big shellbark, bottom shellbark, thick shellbark and western shellbark). This deciduous tree is similar to that of the Shagbark Hickory, but often not quite as shaggy. The fruit is larger than other
is a big tree and it prefers wet, fertile bottomland. It is less
common than either the Shagbark or Bitternut Hickories. The wood
is similar to that of the Shagbark Hickory and is used in much
the same way.
sweet, huge nuts are relished by squirrels and give it an
alternative common name of King Nut Hickory, due to their being
the largest of the hickories. Like other hickories, it is very
tolerant of summer drought.The nuts of shellbark hickory are
utilized by wildlife (ducks, quail, wild turkeys, squirrels,
chipmunks, deer, foxes, raccoons, and white-footed mice) and
man. This tall shade tree displays a yellow fall color.
The Mockernut Hickory tree, Carya
tomentosa, is also called a White Hickory, Whiteheart Hickory, Hognut and Bullnut.The gray bark of this tree is marked with branching ridges and deep furrows. Mockernut hickory is so named because the nuts are large but with thick shells and very small kernels.
twigs are stout and reddish-brown to grayish-brown in color.
This tree grows well on rich, moist, well-drained soils of
upland areas. Mockernut Hickory trees grow throughout most of
the eastern United States and westward to eastern Texas.
most common in the southern part of its range. As with the
Shagbark Hickory, the wood of this tree is hard, strong, tough
and elastic, and is used in handles for tools and in athletic
equipment. The unusually small kernels from the nuts are sweet
and edible. It is long lived, sometimes reaching the age of 500
years. This and the other hickories are very desirable both for
forest and shade trees.
Bittenut Hickory, Carya cordiformis, is also known as the
Yellow-bud Hickory tree. The yellow bud makes it difficult to
mistake for another species and combined with the alternate
compound leaves and relatively large nuts, it is very
distinctive. The nuts are reported to be bitter, as one of the
common names suggests.
The lighter colored shallow cracks in the
younger bark are roughly similar to those of young Shagbark
Hickory, but the mature bark of Yellow-bud Hickory does not
split so deeply. This deciduous tree is found on moist, fertile
soils in the east and central U.S. and is intolerant of shade.
Hickory trees are known for their hard wood. The wood is used
for pulpwood and furniture. This deciduous species displays a
leaf color of medium green to dark green. The fall color is
often green to chartruese, but sometimes is a brilliant
golden-yellow in excellent seasons. It is a fast growing,