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Shagbark Hickory-Wisconsin Native Plamt

Carya ovata

Shagbark Hickory

Benefits:    Butterflies
Bloom Time:    Apr, May
Sun Shade:    Full Sun, Partial Sun
Zones:    4, 5
Soil Conditions:    Loam
Soil Moisture:    Medium, Moist
Color:    Green, Yellow
Fragrance:    No
Height:    70 to 90 feet
Spacing:    40 feet

Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata) is a large deciduous tree that typically grows 70-90 feet tall with an irregular, oval-rounded crown. It typically occurs on both dry upland wooded slopes and hills and in moist valleys and lowland woods. Trunks mature to 2-3 feet in diameter. This tree features smooth, medium yellow-green, odd-pinnate, compound leaves, each leaf having 5 (less frequently 7 or 9) finely-toothed, broadly lance-shaped, pointed leaflets. Leaflets range from 3-7 inches long. Leaves turn yellow to golden brown in fall. Non-showy, monoecious greenish yellow flowers appear in April-May, the male flowers in pendulous catkins (to 3-5 inches long) and the female flowers in short spikes. Female flowers give way to edible oval-rounded nuts. Each nut is encased in a moderately thick husk which splits open in four sections when ripe in fall. The wood is extremely hard and is used to make a variety of products including tool handles, ladders, gun stocks and furniture. The root system has a deep taproot with spreading lateral roots.

Habitats include upland woodlands, drier areas of floodplain woodlands, lower wooded slopes, bluffs, and edges of limestone glades. This tree is often found in upland habitats that are dominated by oaks, but it also occurs in more mesic habitats where maples and other trees occur. These habitats usually consist of old-growth woodlands that are little disturbed, although some old trees have persisted in more disturbed areas. Shagbark Hickory is more resistant to fire than maples, but less resistant to fire than oaks.

Best grown in humusy, rich, moist, well-drained loams in full sun to part shade. This tree needs a very large space within which to grow. It is difficult to transplant because of its deep taproot. Cross-pollination generally produces a more abundant crop of better quality nuts.

Plant Care and Notes:

  Growth and development are rather slow.

  Individual trees begin to produce nuts at about 40 years of age.

  Lives up to 200-300 years.

  Nuts were an important food source to Native Americans and early settlers