Shagbark Hickory

Shagbark Hickory is a common Hickory tree belonging to the Carya genus. It is a deciduous tree shedding its leaves during fall. They can live as long as 200 years. The nuts of these trees are edible and very popular around the world. It is consumed by humans as well as various animals.

Shagbark Hickory Scientific Name

The scientific name for this tree is Carya ovata.

Shagbark Hickory Nut History

According to the 18th century naturalist John Bartram, the Native Americans used to store hundreds of bushels of these Hickory nuts for winter. It was one of the main sources of nutrition for them. They used to boil the nuts in water and prepare “hickory milk” which increases the nutritional value of foods.

Shagbark Hickory description

These trees are usually tall, growing to an average height of 60- 80 feet. Here is a description of this tree:


This tree has compound leaves which grow anywhere between 30 and 60 cm in length. Each leaf consists of five to seven leaflets with toothed edges. The leaves have a golden-yellow fall color.

Phoots of Shagbark Hickory
Picture 1 – Shagbark Hickory
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A Shagbark Hickory tree bears both male and female flowers. These are generally wind-pollinated, but sometimes insects pollinate them.


The Shagbark Hickory trees bear Drupe fruits (the seed- shell is surrounded by the fleshy part of the fruit) which grow somewhere between 2.5 and 4 cm in length. The green fleshy part covers the edible nut and its hard shell.


The ash-grey bark of the matured Shagbark Hickory trees has an extremely shaggy appearance because it gets divided into long strips. Due to this reason, it is called the “Shagbark Hickory”. The bark also helps in the identification of these trees.

Varieties of Shagbark Hickory

There are two varieties of this tree:

  • Northern Shagbark Hickory
  • Southern Shagbark Hickory

The nuts from both the species have delicious flavor and taste.

Shagbark Hickory Distribution

These trees are mainly found in the eastern United States. They can be found in different regions of Nebraska, Minnesota, Ontario, Quebec, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana etc.

Shagbark Hickory Edible Nut

The sweet nuts of this Hickory species ripen in autumn and have a delightful aroma. These nuts are harvested for commercial use. Other than humans, it is a favorite with many wild animals and birds like Squirrels, Chipmunks and Wild Turkey.

Nutritional Value of Shagbark Hickory Nuts

The nuts have a high nutrition level:

  • Protein: 3.6g
  • Carbohydrate: 5.2g
  • Fat: 18.2g
  • Calories: 186
  • Fiber: 1.8g

Shagbark Hickory Nuts Health Benefits

Many health benefits can be derived from these nuts:

  • They are rich in vitamin B1 which helps in the proper functioning of the heart, muscles and the Central Nervous System.
  • A major portion of the recommended daily Phosphorus intake can be obtained from one ounce of these nuts.
  • It is also rich in Magnesium which helps the kidneys, muscles and heart to function properly.
  • The risk of coronary heart disease is low as the nuts contain low amounts of saturated fat.

Cultivation of Shagbark Hickory Nut

Some people cultivate these trees in their gardens to obtain the nuts.

Shagbark Hickory Picture
Picture 2 – Shagbark Hickory Image
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Growing Conditions

Soil: The tree can grow both in wet and dry soil.

Sunlight: The proper growing conditions include direct sunlight.

It is not advisable to plant the roots too deep into the soil or it may die.


It is best to wait until the fruits have ripened to harvest these nuts. Breaking the outer husk is easier once the fruit is completely ripe. One has to break the inner shell when the nut is out of the husk. Once the shell is removed, the nut is edible.

Uses of Shagbark Hickory Nuts in the Kitchen

The nuts of this Hickory are very popular in kitchens around the world. They are used for adding a special flavor and taste to different foods.

The wood is used to smoke meat and cheese which adds a special flavor to the food.

Shagbark Hickory Nut Recipes

Numerous wonderful dishes can be prepared using these nuts.

Pumpkin Rock Cookies with Shagbark Hickory Nut

It is a preparation of butter, sugar, flour, pumpkin and the Hickory nuts. These cookies are very tasty when freshly baked and are good for health.

Nut Cake

This dessert is not a low fat one. But it is delicious and one would not mind having some of this cake occasionally. The preparation is quite like any other cake, but the nuts add a unique taste.

Nut Fudge

This milk, sugar and butter recipe is one of the best fudge recipes in existence and one is sure to enjoy it.

Wild Persimmon and Shagbark Hickory Nut Bread

This bread can be a good option for a healthy and tasty breakfast. It is easy to bake it at home following some simple instructions.

Nut Candy

Making these candies is very simple and people of all age are sure to like them. One only has to boil sugar and water and mix the nuts and some vanilla in it.

There are numerous other wonderful recipes of these nuts like Custard Pie, Shagbark Maple Cookies and Hickory Wild Rice Stuffing.

Shagbark Hickory Syrup

A type of syrup is extracted from the bark of the Shagbark Hickory trees. It can be prepared by following a simple recipe using water, sugar and scraps of bark from this tree. The uses of this syrup are similar to the Maple Syrup. It is used as a sweetener and also to add an extra flavor to some dishes.

Other Uses of Shagbark Hickory

The wood of this tree is tough and is used to make furniture, bows, walking sticks carts etc. It makes quality firewood. It is also used for flooring purposes.

Shagbark Hickory Food Interesting Facts

The nuts have some other interesting qualities and uses:

  • These sweet nuts are a great favorite with squirrels and are one of the principal food sources for some wildlife species.
  • Nuts of these Hickory are the largest in size among all hickory nuts.
  • They are sometimes referred to as the most delicious Hickory nuts in the world.

Shagbark Hickory Nut Side Effects

They may cause allergies or allergenic reactions to people who are allergic to nuts.

Shagbark Hickory Nuts for Sale

The nuts are generally not available in all large dry fruit stores but some local shops might have them in stock. Plants of these trees are also available for sale.

Shagbark Hickory pictures

Are you curious about the appearance of these trees and its nuts? Here are some images for you to find out how they look like.

Pictures of Shagbark Hickory
Picture 3 – Shagbark Hickory Picture
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Images of Shagbark Hickory
Picture 4 – Shagbark Hickory Image
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