Monday, August 17, 2009

Tuesday's Trees- Shagbark Hickory

This post needs to start with a song............. gotta love Gram Parsons and the Byrds.

I first came across the Shagbark Hickory, Carya ovata, when we were on our lot in South Carolina in April. I first thought there was something wrong with the tree as the bark was peeling or 'shaggy'. Oh silly me. This is why I need to read and study about different trees! (Remember all pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them.)

The Shagbark Hickory is monoecious. I think I have finally made this stick in my head....I see mono and know it means one or single so in my head I think the plant is of one no no!!!! Monoecious means-- mono (single) and oikos (house) (thanks Wikipedia and of course my MG handbook) Single house!!! Meaning the plant can reproduce because it only needs itself to pollinate. A nice web site with pictures of both the male and female blooms of the tree is from Iowa.

This tree is vary adaptable to light and soil conditions as well as a wide range of climates (zone). It seems from my reading that the one condition that is a factor in where you find hickories is rainfall/moisture. A great native tree with a food source for squirrels and chipmunks --it seems that deer are not attracted to this tree if there is other food available. In addition to the food source it is a nice shade tree, so I am hoping once our lot is cleared for house, well, and septic that some of the hickory trees are still there.

The leaves are large, toothed, pinnated with 5 to 7 leaflets. The leaflets are quite large. The Virginia Tech fact sheet has a good profile of leaves, bark, fruit, twigs, etc.

As I said the bark is the first thing I noticed with this stands out...literally.

The last reference I found that I wanted to share is from the National Forest Service. I try to only use references that are research based. In addition to facts about the Shagbark Hickory this paper has a chart to gage the age of this variety of tree. A great read.

Next time you are out in the woods, look at the bark and the large pinnated leaves, you may have a Shagbark Hickory!

Here is a nice picture of the fall color--

Next week's tree- Black Gum or Tupelo.


  1. Janet, my husband was (once upon a time, long, long ago) a forester and this is a tree that I'll have to ask him about. I think he may have pointed out one to me sometime in the past. It is majestic, isn't it?


  2. Very interesting...and informative! I'll keep my eyes peeled on our next walk...or perhaps they don't grow this far north. It'll make a good research project. ;)

  3. Janet, we have a Shagbark Hickory here at Our Little Acre. It was a native tree, growing here before any homes were ever built here. (Our house is situated in what used to be a woods.)

    We have a bluebird house on ours and the bluebirds use the shaggy bark as perches! Check it out!

    Great post about a great tree.

  4. The bark makes that tree worth growing, even with all of its other attributes. I hope the ones on your lot survive the construction process. I did not see anything about fall color on your links, does it have any?

  5. Hi Cameron, It will interesting to hear what your husband has to say about the hickory. It is a grand tree.

    Hi Nancy, it is worth looking for as you walk through the woods. I am not sure about the range to the north.

    Hi Kylee, I am glad you have a Shagbark! I clicked on your link and it was a blank page from your blog. I am sure the birds love your tree.

    Hi Les, I hope we will have some left once the clearing is done. Here is a link to a site that mentions the fall color as yellow.

  6. What a fantastic tree and an informative post! My daughter lives in South Carolina. I'll have to ask her about them. Thanks for the photography too! I think the bark is cool!

  7. Janet, I'm not sure why you got a blank page, because it's the right address. Try it again? I want you to see the bluebird sitting on the shagbark bark!

  8. Hi Miss Daisy, so glad you liked it. I think if your daughter lives in Upstate she probably has Shagbark Hickory trees nearby.

    Kylee!! the link worked now!! Great shots of the bluebirds! Thanks for fixing it.

  9. I actually didn't fix it. I'm not sure how you do that in a comment anyway - don't think you can, although that would be a great feature, wouldn't it?

    Anyway, not sure why it didn't work for you the first time, just glad you were able to see it now. Shagbarks are favorites of everyone, eh? ;-)

  10. I love these trees! The bark is so interesting and I've heard the nuts are tasty. I'm hoping to try some this fall. There are several shagbarks along the Matteson Trail in Hampton.

  11. Hi Kylee, well, not sure how it worked this time..but am glad it did. LIke I said, your Bluebird pics are great. thanks for sharing.

    Hi Phillip, From what I read the nuts are sweet. I didn't realize they were over along the Matteson Trail. Nice.

  12. Very interesting tree Janet. I also went and saw the bluebird sitting on Kylees tree. How sweet was that?
    So you have this tree to look forward to on your new property.

  13. The are sprouting up in my yard and I can't get rid of them. I've got plenty already. Love them and all the trees with shaggy barks. I call my River Birch a scaly bark tree. My name for it not original.

    They have an interesting canopy in the Autumn and the sun glows right down through the leaves.

  14. I love hickories. They are so tough and have so much character and that old gold fall color really stands out.

  15. Hi RainGardener, It is a neat tree, looking forward to having them in SC.
    Hi Anna, Somebody must be burying the nuts! Shaggy barks and scaly barks are fun...more interest.
    Hi Sweetbay, I look forward to seeing the fall color.


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