Native Plant Database

Header Photo: Mervin Wallace

Shagbark Hickory

Carya ovata
Plant Type: Trees
Native Environment: Forest
Season of Interest: Mid (May - June), Late (July - frost), Winter (Nov - Mar)
Main Color: Green
Fall Color: Gold, Yellow

USDA PLANTS Range Map

At the range map link above, zoom in for county-level data

Sun Exposure 
Full Sun, Medium Sun/Average Shade, Shade
Soil
Moisture
Dry, Moderate
Nature Attracting
Butterfly, Pollinators/Beneficial Insects
Wildlife Benefit
Butterfly / Moth Host, Cover, Food/Birds, Food/Small Animals, Nesting
Animal
Resistance
Size

Height:

60 to
80
feet

Spread:

40 to
60
feet
Size
Height: 60 to
80
feet
Spread: 40 to
60
feet
Size
Height: 60 to
80
feet
Spread: 40 to
60
feet
Typical Landscape Use
Edible nuts,wood great to flavor Bar-b-q, American Indians made cooking oil from the nuts, can use the sap to make syrup, wood is hard and has great character/color variations for making furniture and hardwood floors.
Establishment and Care Instructions
Grow in humus rich soil. Adaptable to many soils as long as drainage is good and there is no standing water.
Special Features
Interesting Bark, Nuts
Special Usage
Edible, Salt Tolerant
Basic Description

A large tree of great character. The gray to brown bark peels off in thin sections, curling at the ends while staying attached in the middle. The trunks are usually straight, the foliage has 5 leaflets and is deep yellow green casting a beautiful light onto the peeling bark. Fall color is rich yellow and golden brown tones. Produces large, edible hickory nuts. Host plant to butterflies. Used by bats. According to Illinois Wildflowers: A large number of insects feed on the wood, foliage, plant juices, and other parts of hickories (Carya spp.). Caterpillars of the butterflies Satyrium caryaevorum (Hickory Hairstreak) and Satyrium calanus falacer (Banded Hairstreak) feed on these trees, as do caterpillars of many moths (see Moth Table). Among these moth species, Catocala angusi (Angus Underwing), Catocala judith (Judith Underwing), and Catocala residua (Residua Underwing) feed on Shagbark Hickory exclusively (Wagner et al., 2009). Note: This resource on this edible plant is intended as general information only. As with any foods, there is a potential for allergic reactions when consuming native edibles. Always seek the advice of a health professional with any questions about touching or eating any plant matter.

 

Shagbark hickory fall color. Photo: Carol Davit.

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