Benefits

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Special Uses

Hickories serve as food for many wildlife species. The nuts are a  preferred food of squirrels and are eaten from the time fruits  approach maturity in early August until the supply is gone.  Hickory nuts also are 5 to 10 percent of the diet of eastern  chipmunks. In addition to the mammals above, black bears, gray  and red foxes, rabbits, and white-footed mice plus bird species  such as mallards, wood ducks, bobwhites, and wild turkey utilize  small amounts of hickory nuts (14). Hickory is not a preferred  forage species and seldom is browsed by deer when the range is in  good condition. Hickory foliage is browsed by livestock only when  other food is scarce.

    The bark texture and open irregular branching of shagbark hickory  make it a good specimen tree for naturalistic landscapes on large  sites. It is an important shade tree in previously wooded  residential areas. At least one ornamental cultivar of shagbark  hickory has been reported (10), but it is not planted as an  ornamental to any great extent.

    The species normally contributes only a very small percentage of  total biomass of a given forest stand. Its adaptability to a wide  range of site conditions and vigorous sprouting when cut make  shagbark a candidate for coppice fuelwood. However, difficulty in  planting and generally slow growth makes shagbark less attractive  than many faster growing species.

    Hickory has traditionally been very popular as a fuelwood and as a  charcoal-producing wood. The general low percentage of hickory in  the overstory of many privately owned woodlots is due in part to  selective cutting of the hickory for fuelwood. Hickory fuelwood  has a high heat value, burns evenly, and produces long-lasting  steady heat; the charcoal gives food a hickory-smoked flavor.

    The wood of the true hickories is known for its strength, and no  commercial species of wood is equal to it in combined strength,  toughness, hardness, and stiffness (18). Dominant uses for  hickory lumber are furniture, flooring, and tool handles. The  combined strength, hardness, and shock resistance make it  suitable for many specialty products such as ladder rungs,  dowels, athletic goods, and gymnasium equipment.

    Shagbark hickory is probably the primary species, after pecan (Carya  illinoensis), with potential for commercial nut production.  The nuts have sweet kernels and fair cracking quality (which is  often better in cultivars). The species can be successfully  top-grafted on shagbark, and shellbark rootstocks and grafts on  older rootstocks can bear in 3 to 4 years.

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