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Hickory trees are large deciduous shade trees that produce a nut. Hickory flowers are small, yellow green catkins that arrive in spring. The hickory nuts develop after the female blooms. They are rounded or oval in shape and are enclosed by the husk, which splits into four pieces when they ripen in the fall. These nuts are edible for wildlife and people. A number of hickory species are used for products like edible nuts or wood.