Shellbark Hickory (Carya laciniosa), in the Juglandaceae or walnut family, is also called  shagbark hickory,  bigleaf shagbark hickory,  king nut,  big,  bottom, thick, or  western shellbark, attesting to some of its characteristics. It is a slow-growing, long-lived tree, hard to transplant because of its long taproot, and subject to insect damage. The nuts, largest of all hickory nuts, are sweet and edible. Wildlife and people harvest most of them; those remaining produce seedling trees readily. The wood is hard, heavy, strong, and very flexible, making it a favored wood for tool handles.

Shallbark Hickory Facts

  • Scientific name: Carya ovata
  • Range: found across the East except in the Gulf states
  • Height: up to 100 ft.
  • Nuts: brown thick husk with nuts that are rounded and flattened
  • Fall colors: yellow
  • Distinguishing feature: shaggy gray bark

You Can Take Care of Trees Like the Shallbark Hickory

  • Plant in late fall or winter when the tree is dormant, unless the ground is frozen. 
  • Allow plenty of room for the tree to mature and grow.
  • Water it regularly in its first three years.
  • Spread mulch around the base of the tree. 

If Trees Could Sing…

Click here to see Deanie Richardson talk about one of her favorite trees. Video courtesy of The Nature Conservancy and Deanie Richardson.