There are several types of hickory nut trees around: Shagbark, Shellbark, Pignut and Bitternut. I am most familiar with Shagbark because I became the owner of several when I purchased my home some years ago.
Mine are deep within the woods that inhabit 70% of our land. I have to go searching for them every fall and each time I tell myself I’m going to mark them so I don’t have to look for them the following year. But then, I reach the trees and I remember why I didn’t mark them. Shagbark, as its name implies, has a very distinct bark.
|Distinct bark of the Shagbark Hickory tree|
I would have liked to include a photo of my own for this post but I didn’t realize I was going to write about this until I sat at the computer. I did find a lovely photo that demonstrates the unique bark of the Shagbark. As you can see, the bark separates from the tree in long, shaggy strips.
Hickory trees are a hardwood and prized for tool and furniture making. There are also used as fire wood and to cure meats with their hickory flavor.
The nuts are in the walnut family. They develop inside a hull which is shed or peeled from the nut. The nuts are hard and difficult to crack but very tasty. The trees I have are very old and must reach 40 or 50 feet in height. Often the nuts have tiny worms in them. The trees are much too big for me to treat in any effective way. Still I enjoy collecting the nuts and savoring their distinct flavor each fall.
|Hickory nut still inside hull|
They make wonderful shade trees if you want to add one to your landscape. Just be aware that they have been known to reach 100 feet tall and may not be suitable for all situations. And the falling nuts can present a hazard and become a mess to deal with.
|Hickory nuts being removed from hulls|