Monday, February 4, 2019

Shagbark Hickory - Carya ovata

Shagbark Hickory - Carya ovata (also called the Scalybark Hickory or Upland Hickory) is a medium to large sized deciduous tree that reaches heights of 60-80 feet tall. It is native to the Eastern United States usually found growing naturally on dry sites. It's mousy gray to silver bark is easily identified by long narrow peeling bark scales that overlap and hang down in loose layers. The strips of bark create an almost armor that is very hard to pull off or remove from the tree. Generally the trunk of the Shagbark Hickory is long and void of limbs until reaching the oblong shaped crown that is full of short crooked limbs (this form may vary if grown in open setting instead of a forest setting).

Image Citation: Rob Routledge, Sault College,

The leaves of the Shagbark Hickory are 8-14 inches long, alternate, compound, with five to seven leaflets that are dark yellow-green in color on the upper surface and paler (sometimes downy) on the loser surfaces.  In the fall the leaves turn a brilliant yellow/ or golden orange or brown before falling off to make room for the next seasons new growth.  The nut of this Hickory is covered with a yellow-brown or nearly black four ribbed husk that ranges in size from 1.25-1.5 inches long it is smooth and nearly round in shape. When the husk splits it releases a light tan, slightly flattened nut that is ridged on four sides with needle sharp tips on each end.

Image Citation: Paul Wray, Iowa State University,

Shagbark Hickory is recommended for hardiness zones 4-9. It can be grown as both a shade tree or a specimen tree and prefers dry soils. It is tolerant of drought and highly acidic soils but not tolerant to poor drainage or moist soils. The lumber of the Shagbark Hickory is very resilient, tough, and highly impact resistant. A wide variety of birds and mammals feed off the large nut crops produced by the Shagbark Hickory each year. The Shagbark is very similar to both the Southern Shagbark and the Shellbark Hickory.

Image Citation: Jason Sharman, Vitalitree,

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