Carya ovata -Shagbark Hickory

Botanical Name: Carya ovata

The Shagbark Hickory is a low maintenance, large deciduous tree that grows to a height of 60-80 feet with a spread of 50-70 feet. Its form is irregularly rounded or oval. This tree is named after the shaggy bark that peels from the trunk in large curving sheets. However, the bark of the juvenile tree is smooth and gray. The shaggy bark develops as the tree matures.

The Shagbark Hickory grows in the mid-western and eastern United States. These trees are found growing individually in mixed forests with pine trees, maples, and oaks. This tree is related to the walnut tree (Juglans). It has compound leaves and produces nuts encased in hard shells – like the Juglans genus does.

The leaves are large and light green in color. They are pinnately compound, usually with 5 leaflets making up each leaf. They produce a pretty yellow display in the fall.

The male flowers are drooping catkins, around 3-5 inches in length, and the female flowers are shorter spikes. 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 to wildlife and people.

Wood from the Shagbark Hickory tree is strong and has many uses, including making tool handles and furniture. Hickory wood is also used to smoke bacon and other meats.

No serious disease or insect problems, but trees may occasionally get leaf spot or anthracnose. Twig and leaf drop can cause some mess.


Height: 60-80 ft.
Width: 50-70 ft.
Shape: Oval, Rounded
Flower Color: Greenish-Yellow
Flowering Time: April-May
Fall Color: Golden Yellow
Features: Edible nuts, peeling bark
Exposure: Full Sun to Part Shade
Watering: Moderate & Regular
Soil: Prefers rich, moist and well-drained loam soil. Will tolerate clay.
Growth Rate: Slow
USDA Zones: 4-8
Uses: Shade tree, fruit tree
Similar Trees: Paw Paw Fruit Tree (Assimina triloba)

Additional information


Oval, Rounded

Flower Color


Flowering Time

April, May

Fall Color

Gold, Yellow

Growth Rate



Fruit Tree, Shade Tree

USDA Zones

4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Mature Height


Mature Width



Full Sun, Partial Shade

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