Shellbark Hickory

( Carya laciniosa )

  • Shellbark hickory is a valuable tree to establish in floodplain and riparian forests. Similar to Shagbark hickory but better suited to moist deep soils. Large edible sweet nuts are sought by humans and wildlife alike. Shellbark is fairly shade tolerant but slow growing when young.

Ornamental features:

  • Forms a high branched canopy with a tall straight trunk.
  • Bark is: gray, separating into long, thin shaggy plates hanging loosely, very similar to shagbark hickory.
  • Fall color is a golden yellow.

Wildlife value:

  • An important large tree of bottomland forests.
  • Large sweet nuts are produced annually.

Horticulture profile:

  • Zone 5 to 8
  • Grows 60 - 80 ft Tall x 30 - 40 ft Wide.
  • Slow to medium growth rate 10 – 15 ft in 10 years.
  • Tree is self-fertile producing some nuts most years.
  • Nut production may begin at 12 years but 40 is typical.
  • Grows best on moist deep fertile soils in flood plains and bottomland forests.  Can withstand periodic flooding and seasonal drought. pH adaptable. Does not like heavy clay.
  • Native from western NY south to Tennessee west to Iowa.