Tennessee Smart Yards Native Plants

A comprehensive database of Tennessee native plants

Shagbark Hickory

Shagbark Hickory

Carya ovata

Full to part sun; medium moisture level; prefers rich loamy soils but adaptable to a wide range of soils including fine silty clays, sandy clays and clay; slightly acid pH.

75-100 feet height by 35-50 feet spread; yellow-green flowers in late April to May, with male catkins drooping in clusters of three, 3-5 inches long; brown, round nuts in four-sectioned husks from August to October.

Growth Rate: Slow

Maintenance: Infrequent disease problems and frequent insect problems, primarily hickory bark beetles. Sensitive to root disturbance once established. Undisturbed trees are generally more disease resistant.

Propagation: Seed germination code C (30-150) at 33-44 degrees F. Best to collect seeds in fall, store in damp peat in refrigerator for winter, and then sow in place for spring.

Native Region: Statewide

Long-lived tree which is mature at 150-200 years, with many surviving 250 years. Has striking, exfoliating bark that curls off in long, loose strips. Rich, golden colored leaves in fall. When first planted, seedlings develop a large, remarkably deep taproot 2-3 feet long in the first year but grow only a few inches above ground. Performs best in rich, well-drained loamy soil.

Birds and mammals love the nuts. Several large species of moths feed on the foliage, including the Luna moth.

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