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Carya sp.

Family: Juglandaceae

Pignut Hickory
  • found mostly in the East and middle United States
  • medium-sized tree, up to 24 m or 80 feet tall, with a 60cm or 2 foot trunk diameter
  • slow-growing
  • twigs are stout and tough yet flexible
  • wood is strong, heavy, tough, and elastic
  • wood is often attacked by insects and decays on contact with moisture
  • can be divided into 3 groups: pecans, shagbarks, and pignuts
Pignut Hickory leaflet
pignut hickory
Pignut Hickory compound leaf
pignut hickory compound leaf
Flower and Fruit (nuts):
  • male flowers occur in catkins during the spring
  • fruit occur in the form of nuts
  • husks usually break into 4 separate parts upon opening while walnuts remain whole
  • most are edible
  • fall in September and October
  • Pecans: thin husks
  • Shagbarks: egg-shaped, not ridged, thick and yellow nut husk
  • Pignuts: thin husks, yellow-powdery, ridged, nuts are sweet
pignut hickory leaflet
Shagbark Hickory nut Shagbark Hickory open
shagbark hickory nut in hull shagbark hickory hull open, exposing nut
  • Pecans: medium dark, closely ridged, not peeling, numerous vertical ridges
  • Shagbarks: light colored, very shaggy, in long, loose strips
  • Pignuts: pale to dark gray, smooth to furrowed, sometimes shaggy
Pignut Hickory Bark Shagbark Hickory Bark
Buds and Leaf Scars:
pignut hickory bark shagbark hickory bark
Also known as Bow Wood for the use in making archery bows. The tough, yet flexible character of the wood makes it ideal for making snowshoes. The wood can also be used for frames in birch bark canoe making. The stripped inner bark of hickory can be used for lashing. The green husks from hickory nuts can be used as fish poison. A piece of this dried hardwood can be used to make the drill and handle of a bow drill. This dense hardwood burns slowly and evenly making it ideal for slow cooking.

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