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Carya ovata

Pronunciation: Kair-ee-uh oh-vay-tuh
Family: Juglandaceae (walnut family
Common Name: Shagbark hickory, shellbark hickory, scalybark hickory
Plant Type:
  • trees, shrubs
Height to: 150'
Width to: 50'
USDA Hardiness Zones:
  • -20 to -30ºF ZONE 4
  • -10 to -20ºF ZONE 5
  • 0 to -10ºF ZONE 6
  • 10 to 0ºF ZONE 7
  • 20 to 10ºF ZONE 8
Sun Exposure:
  • part sun
  • full sun
Bloom Description: The deliciously sweet and fragrant kernels are enclosed in thin-shelled, light tan nuts that are a little longer than broad and rather flattened. The nuts are themselves enclosed in spherical husks, about 2 in (5. 1 cm) long and dark yellowish or reddish brown at maturity. In september and october the husks split open in four sections, exposing the ripe oily nuts. The bark of a mature shagbark hickory is gray and broken up into long, flat plates that are loose at one or both ends where they curl outward, away from the trunk. From a distance, the trunk looks shaggy.
Propagation: Shagbark hickory is usually propagated by seed which is planted outdoors as soon as it is ripe. (squirrels often volunteer for this. ) selected cultivars are grafted onto seedling stock. The hickories are difficult to transplant because of their very long taproots. Two year old seedlings can have a taproot 2-3' long.
Native to: Shagbark hickory is native to eastern north america from maine and southern quebec and ontario to southeastern minnesota and southward to east texas and georgia. There are scattered localities in the mountains of eastern mexico. Shagbark hickory grows in dry upland sites as well as in well-drained sites in lowlands and river valleys. Shagbark hickory usually grows in mixed hardwood forests, with oaks and other broadleaf hardwoods, but it also is common in pastures where it was intentionally left standing when the land was cleared.
Notes for Identification: Source: floridata - shagbark hickory is a bold and handsome tree in the landscape, and not second fiddle to any other tree. The bark is very ornamental. The foliage turns rich yellows and browns in autumn. Shagbark may be too large and too slow growing for most home landscapes, but it's an excellent choice for parks and estates. The wood is so heavy and dense that it has nearly as much heating capacity (calories or btus) as soft coal. It is used for smoking hams, bacon, sausage and other meats and for making high quality charcoal, as well as for tool handles, baseball bats, and (formerly) wagon wheels.   care: shagbark grows faster than other hickories, but it still takes some 40 years to reach commercial seed-bearing age. Best production is from trees 60-200 years old. Crops tend to be heaviest every 2 or 3 years, with lighter crops in the years between. A healthy mature shagbark can produce 2-3 bushels of shelled nuts in the good years. Young shagbark hickories are moderately tolerant of shade, and when released from the shade they grow rapidly. Established shagbarks can tolerate normal droughts. They may drop their nuts in extremely dry years.
Seed photo: 1
Located in: Seed Photos
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