Hickory Trees: About the 3 Best Types
All about the Hickory Trees
Hickory trees are beautiful and tall trees that are known to be great shade trees. They grow between 60 and 80 feet tall with a diameter of approximately 40 feet.
The trees relate to the walnut family (Juglandaceae) and are members of the Carya plant genus. They are admired for their rugged, thick wood and delicious nuts.
Hickory trees are widespread in temperate rain forests in North America and some areas of Asia.
Types of Hickory Trees
There are 18 types of hickory trees. Twelve of the varieties are native to North America.
The most popular types of hickory trees are shagbark hickory, shellbark hickory, and the bitternut hickory.
The Shagbark Hickory tree, Carya ovata, has a unique shaggy bark, noticeable on tall, straight trees, which gives its name to this genus. Shellbark hickory trees are also known as shagbark hickory, bigleaf shagbark hickory, big shellbark, bottom shellbark, dense shellbark, and western shellbark, which attests to some of its attributes.
Shellbark Hickory tree, Carya laciniosa, is also described as a bigleaf shagbark or king nut tree. It likes warm, rich soil. The nuts of shellbark hickories are used by wildlife. Its sweet, giant nuts are relished with squirrels and giving it an alternate common name, King Nut Hickory since they are the hickory’s biggest. The wood is similar to that of the Shagbarks, and it is used in almost the same manner.
The Bitternut Hickory, the Carya Cordiformis, is also known as the Yellow-Bud Hickory tree. This deciduous tree is located on damp, rich soils in the east and the central United States and is shade-intolerant. Bitternut Hickory trees are famous for their hardwood, which is used in pulpwood and furniture. The nuts were said to be bitter, as one of the common names suggests.
The Bark of Hickory Trees
The bark of hickory trees has a rugged character with ridges running up the tree vertically. The long plates on certain hickory trees tend to curve outward at the top and bottom, barking a rough look. The bark of hickory trees can have either shallow or deep ridges, and the gaps between the ridges may also be either be close or wide apart. It is gray and darkens as the tree matures.
The bark of hickory trees contains scaly plates and rolled up and down ends. The distinction between shagbark hickory and shellbark hickory bark can be easily determined: the bark of shellbark hickories is smoother and less “shaggy” than the bark of the shagbark hickory tree.
The Leaves of Hickory Trees
The leaves of the Hickory trees are long and thin, made up of several leaflets developing opposite the stem. Hickory leaflets have ribbed edges and are lanceolate or ovate with a rounded tip. Hickory leaves consist of pairs of leaflets with a terminal leaf blade.
The leaves of the Hickory trees are compound and pinnate, with pairs of leaflets developing on a stem and a single terminal leaf. Shellbark hickory leaves grow up to 60 cm in length (24″), and shagbark hickory leaves grow to 25 cm (10″) in length. Shellbark leaves often have more than two leaflets.
The Nuts of Hickory Trees
Hickory tree nuts are like green balls that eventually turn dark brown. The nutshells in the hickory tree are egg-shaped and about the size of a walnut. The rough shells are coated with a deliciously sweet kernel. Hickory nuts are white or tan colors.
The nuts of hickory trees usually are sweet and delicious. The nuts of shagbark hickory trees make the most precious nuts or drupes. Shellbark hickory trees also have delicious nuts, and these nuts are the biggest of all hickory nuts.
How to Grow Hickory Trees
Hickory trees accept many soil types, but proper drainage is essential. The Hickory trees need to be watered quite often for the first season, and you need to keep the soil somewhat damp. Water through dry spells in the subsequent years. Apply the water to the depths steadily. Eliminate moisture and nutrient rivalry by setting an environment without weeds under the tree canopy.
In the early spring or autumn, measure 5 feet over the ground and use 10-10-10 pounds of fertilizer per inch of trunk diameter. Spread the fertilizer under the tree canopy, starting at about 3 feet from the trunk. Water the fertilizer to the soil at a foot depth.
Trees that have begun as seedlings may take 10 to 15 years to bear nuts. Those you buy as grafted plants will produce in as little as 4 to 5 years. They are maintaining a solid, open canopy during this time of growth before nut production is essential to nuts’ future development.
How to Prune Hickory Trees
For confident gardeners, pruning can be confusing. That’s because for various plants, year cycles, and even areas – there are separate rules. Pruning is not required for fruit production as the trees are mature, but it is an essential part of plant development during their growth. When they are young, pruning hickory trees will embrace more substantial limbs and a healthier habit to bloom and produce in the future.
Young trees need to have 1 or 2 strong central leaders that make up a scaffold for peripheral growth. The pruning of hickory trees during the first or second year often helps the plant establish strong air circulation. Nut development is better when trees obtain sufficient sunshine, encouraging more flowers and more fruit. Right cutting strategies improve the benefits and reduce the potential damage to the plant.
If the trees have been developed and have a healthy form, the only accurate pruning required is to extract the frail, diseased, or weakened plant material. The best time for such repairs is during the inactive phase, but you can remove injured limbs at any time if they pose a threat.
In addition to well-honed tools and clean surfaces, it is essential to make accurate cuts. Never cut into the main stem as the limb is removed. Cut the collar just above the branch, using a gentle angle that forces moisture away from the freshly cut surface. This helps avoid rot as the surface of the cut heals. If you don’t take a branch back to the central stem all the way, break it back to the node.
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