Carya ovata, Shagbark Hickory

Carya ovata
photos by Dennis Kalma

Scientific Name:
Common Name:
ITIS Number:
NRCS Symbol:
  Carya ovata (P. Mill.) K. Koch
Shagbark Hickory
Juglandaceae (walnuts)

Plant: tree, to 35 m height, diameter to 1 m

Flowers: in monoecious catkins; female unbranched, male 3-branched

Fruits: 2.5-4.0 cm long; nut: 2.0-3.0 cm, nearly round, thick-walled, smooth, 4-ribbed, usually sharp pointed on end; kernel sweet; husk: thick (4-15 mm), round to egg- or pear-shaped; splits into 4 parts when ripe

Leaves: alternate-compound, 20-35 cm; most with 5-7 toothed leaflets, the end leaflet often larger thtan the upper pair; new leaves pubescen beneath, then hairless; subapical tufts of hairs on the margins of leaves

Buds & Twigs: bud scales not paired, overlapping, red-brown to gray, terminal buds >12 mm long; twigs stout, reddish brown, shiny to slightly hairy, pith solid

Bark: peals in long shaggy strips or plates

Habitat: rich, moist soils

Similar Species: Juglans (butternut & walnut) have a greater number of leaflets and a chambered pith; for other Carya in our area see this chart.

        Carya ovata bark
bark ~30 cm dbh
Carya ovata terminal bud
terminal bud ~ 13 mm
  terminal bud unfolding
terminal bud unfolding ~ 4 cm
  Carya ovata distribution
Flora of North America