Shellbark hickory is a large tree with shaggy bark and good yellow fall color. It has a deep taproot, so it is difficult to transplant. The nuts produced are edible.
This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.
All common names:
- Residential and parks,
- City parkway,
- Wide median
Tree or Plant Type:
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Chicago area,
- North America
- Shade tree,
- Large tree (more than 40 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7,
- Zone 8,
- Zone 9
- Wet soil
- Wet sites,
- Occasional flooding
- Moderately Tolerant
- May be difficult to find in nurseries
- Fall color,
- Edible fruit,
- Attractive bark
Seasons of Interest:
- early winter,
- late winter,
- early fall,
- mid fall,
- late fall
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
- Game birds,
- Migrant birds,
- Small mammals
Tree & Plant Care
A long-lived large tree with a straight trunk.
Best grown in moist to wet soils in large landscapes.
Develops a long taproot, making it difficult to transplant.
Disease, pests, and problems
This tree produces large nuts and when the crop is heavy, a quantity of litter can be produced under the tree.
Disease, pest, and problem resistance
Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.
Native geographic location and habitat
Found primarily in wet bottomlands.
Bark color and texture
Mature trees have gray bark that exfoliates in long flat plates with outwardly curving ends giving the tree a shaggy appearance; shaggy bark has year-round appeal. Nearly as shaggy as the bark of Shagbark hickory.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Alternate, pinnately compound leaves with 7 to 9 leaflets with serrated margins.
Terminal buds are 1 inch long.
Fall color is golden brown.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Relatively inconspicuous; tiny male flowers in 3 to 4 inch long, pendulous catkin; small female flowers are in terminal spikes.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
Fruit is an oval nut with a thick, 5 to 6 sectioned husk. The largest nut produced by a native hickory (2 1/2 inches long)
Edible nut ripens in the fall.