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Similar but less problematic plants:
Carya alba Carya tomentosa
Carya ovata is often confused with:
Carya laciniosa Leaves
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Fraxinus pennsylvanica Fraxinus pennsylvanica
Carya glabra Carya glabra
Quercus falcata Form

Carya ovata

Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
KAIR-yuh oh-VAY-tuh
Description

The Shagbark Hickory is a deciduous tree that may grow 70 to 80 feet tall. The bark on young trees is scaly.  As the tree ages, narrow, flat plates 1 foot to 3 foot long develop and begin to separate and curve away from the trunk, giving it a shaggy appearance which provides winter interest in the landscape.  The trunk may mature to 2-3 foot in diameter.  Large trees like the shagbark hickory can produce ample litter through dropped leaves and fruit so choose its planting location accordingly. 

You may be familiar with hickory wood when curing or smoking meats.  The wood is extremely hard and is used to make a variety of products including furniture, tool handles, and gun stocks. It also makes excellent firewood or fuel. 

Fire Risk: This plant has a low flammability rating.

Seasons of Interest: 

     Leaves:  Fall     Bloom:  Spring     Fruit/Seed/Nut:  Fall

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems:  No serious insect or disease problems. Occasionally the hickory bark beetle, pecan weevil, and twig girdler can be a problem. 

Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Holden'
Tags:
#butterflies#deciduous#shade tree#bark#wildlife plant#native tree#moths#nectar plant#winter interest#host plant#host#squirrels#edible nuts#nuts#small mammals#food source#low flammability#NC native#chipmunks#black bears#shaggy#fire resistant#pollinator plant#Braham Arboretum#food source fall
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Holden'
Tags:
#butterflies#deciduous#shade tree#bark#wildlife plant#native tree#moths#nectar plant#winter interest#host plant#host#squirrels#edible nuts#nuts#small mammals#food source#low flammability#NC native#chipmunks#black bears#shaggy#fire resistant#pollinator plant#Braham Arboretum#food source fall
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Carya
    Species:
    ovata
    Family:
    Juglandaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Used as fuel wood, charcoal, furniture, flooring, tool handles, ladder rungs, dowels, athletic good and gymnasium equipment.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    E. Canada to Central & E. U.S.A. and NE. Mexico
    Distribution:
    Found from Quebec south through the New England states throughout the south (with the exception of FL) west to TX north through ND (with the exception of SD) east through Ontario
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    The shagbark hickory is a host plant for Banded Hairstreak butterfly and many moths.  The nuts are eaten by a variety of wildlife such as squirrels, chipmunks, and black bears.
    Play Value:
    Edible fruit
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Resistant to fire in the landscape. Moderately resistant to damage done by deer.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 70 ft. 0 in. - 80 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 50 ft. 0 in. - 70 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Native Plant
    Tree
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Oval
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    24-60 feet
    more than 60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Nut
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    Female flowers give way to edible oval-rounded nuts. Each nut is encased in a moderately thick husk which splits open into four sections when ripe in the fall.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Catkin
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Size:
    3-6 inches
    Flower Description:
    Non-showy, monoecious greenish-yellow flowers appear on the Shagbark hickory in April to May, the male flowers in pendulous catkins (3 to 5 " long) and the female flowers in short spikes.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Feel:
    Smooth
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Oblong
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaf of the Shagbark hickory is a smooth, alternate, medium yellow-green, odd-pinnate, compound leaf, each having 5 finely-toothed, broadly lance-shaped, pointed leaflets. Leaflets range from 3-7" long. They turn yellow to golden brown in the fall.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Surface/Attachment:
    Shaggy
    Bark Description:
    The bark on young trees is scaly. As the tree ages, narrow, flat plates 1 foot to 3 foot long develop and begin to separate and curve away from the trunk, giving it a shaggy appearance.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Edible Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Shade Tree
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Moths
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Fire
    Problems:
    Messy