An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Shagbark Hickory Nuts Ripening

11-19-13 shagbark hickory 043Shagbark Hickory, Carya ovata , a member of the Walnut family, is named after the shaggy appearance of the bark on older trees. Shagbark Hickory produces nuts which initially are covered with thick husks. As time goes on, the green husks turn brown and open, exposing the nuts, which fall to the ground if squirrels haven’t managed to eat them while they are still on the tree. It takes about ten years for a Shagbark Hickory tree to start producing nuts, but large quantities are not produced until it’s 40 years old. Nut production continues (a good crop every three to five years) for at least 100 years. Shagbark Hickory nuts are very sweet and highly nutritious. They were a staple food for the Algonquians and squirrels, raccoons, chipmunks, mice, bears, foxes, rabbits, wood ducks and wild turkey also feed on these excellent sources of protein, fats and carbohydrates.

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2 responses

  1. Cool photo, Mary. You can actually harvest the nuts long before the husks open naturally. I have a post on identifying and harvesting both shagbark and pignut hickory, if anyone is interested: http://ouroneacrefarm.com/hickory-nuts-foraging-pignut-shagbark-hickory-nuts/

    November 19, 2013 at 1:33 pm

  2. Good to know. Wish it was easier to find trees in the woods around here that were 100 years old.

    November 19, 2013 at 2:04 pm

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