Shagbark Hickory

Carya ovata
Juglandaceae (walnuts)

A medium-sized to large tree with a crown 2–4 times longer than broad and shaggy bark.

Leaves alternate, feather-compound, 8–17 inches long; leaflets 3–5, lance- to pear-shaped, 4–7 inches long, the end leaflet stalked; upper 3 leaflets quite larger than lower 2; pointed at the tip, margins toothed with tufts of hairs along the outer edge of the teeth.

Bark gray, separating into distinctive thick, long, shaggy strips, free at one end or both ends, curved outward.

Twigs stout, brown and hairy when young, becoming gray and smooth; pores pale and elongated.

Flowers April–May; male and female flowers separate on the same tree. Male catkins in threes, 4–5 inches long, slender, green, hairy; female flowers 2–5, conical.

Fruits September–October, nuts single or in clusters up to 3, oval or round, 1¼–2 inches long; husk blackish- to reddish-brown, slightly depressed at the tip, splitting in 4 lines; nut light brownish-white, oval, somewhat flattened, with 4 ridges, aromatic.

Height: to 100 feet; spread: to 45 feet.
Habitat and conservation: 
Occurs in bottomland forests in valleys along streams and in upland forests on slopes and ridges. Over 75 varieties have been developed in cultivation, mostly for large, sweet, easy-to-crack nuts.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Statewide; the most common hickory north of the Missouri River.
Human connections: 
Cultivated for its sweet, edible nuts. Also prized for its aromatic wood, which burns long with little or no smoke and is used to produce high-quality charcoal, as well as tool handles, athletic goods, agricultural implements, baskets and, at one time, wagons and wagon wheels.
Ecosystem connections: 
The nuts are eaten by squirrels, mice and deer. Squirrels also eat the buds. Like other hickories, its leaves are eaten by several species of large, showy moths. The crevices formed by the thick, peeling bark provide summer shelter for some bats, especially the endangered Indiana bat.
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