November 26, 2015
Shown above is a sturdy shagbark hickory tree caught in the late afternoon autumn sunshine at the Kennicott Grove located in Glenview, Illinois. It's easy to see how this tree got its name. Native to Illinois and much of Eastern North America, the shagbark hickory (Carya ovata) grows slowly, often with a very straight trunk. These deciduous hardwood trees can grow to over 100 ft (30 m) and may live as long as 350 years. Highly prized for furniture, firewood, ax handles, drumsticks, as well as for many other uses the tree’s numbers have dwindled in the last century. The nuts of the hickory tree were once sought after by Native North Americans and early North American settlers. It's taste is like that of a pecan. But, the tree is only a sporadic producer, yielding nuts only every 3 to 5 years. Thus, it's not planted as a crop-yielding tree. This time of year squirrels and deer readily feed on hickory nuts. Note that the shaggy appearing bark develops only after trees reach an age of 50 years or so.