Plant Information

Plant Information

Shagbark Hickory*

Shagbark hickory (Carya ovata)

Planting Site:
N/R +35 yrs

Shagbark hickory is a large deciduous tree that typically grows 70–90 feet tall with an irregular, oval-rounded crown. Trunks mature to 2–3 feet in diameter. This tree features smooth, medium yellow-green, odd-pinnate, compound leaves, each leaf having 5 finely-toothed, broadly lance-shaped, pointed leaflets. Leaflets range from 3 to 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 that splits open in four sections when ripe in fall. Nuts were an important food source to Native Americans and early settlers, and are commercially sold today. Nuts are attractive to a variety of wildlife. Bark of young trees is gray and smooth, but exfoliates in long strips with age. Hickory wood is often used to cure/smoke meats. It is also an excellent firewood/fuel. 

Illinois native species.

Carya ovataCarya ovata


Street: Appropriate for restricted size planting sites; recommended by the City of Chicago Urban Tree Planting List
Park/Residential: Appropriate for landscaped planting sites including public parks, residential property, golf courses, cemeteries, etc.
Legacy: For plantings with an expected life span of more than 60 years; retained 50 percent or more climate suitability in models for the decade 2080
N/R +35 yrs: Not recommended for plantings with an expected life span of more than 35 years