Shellbark Hickory (Carya laciniosa)

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Shellbark Hickory (Carya laciniosa) leaves

Shellbark Hickory is very rare in North Carolina, with only a few known stands. One stand, of several hundred trees, is in Durham County, along New Hope Creek south of 15-501.

The leaves are distictively large (over a foot long), normally with 7-9 leaflets. The nuts are very large, as you might guess from another of its common names: Kingnut.

Shellbark Hickory (Carya laciniosa) bark The bark on medium to large trees is very shaggy, much like that of a Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata) or Carolina Shagbark Hickory (Carya carolinae-septentrionalis). Leaves of Shagbark Hickory normally have 5 leaflets; those of Carolina Shagbark have 5 or 7, but the tree grows in upland habitats.
Shellbark Hickory (Carya laciniosa) bark

The bark at the base of large trees (as well as on young trees) is not at all shaggy. This tree (same one as in the photo above) is one of the state co-champions, with a 3-foot diameter.

Shellbark Hickory (Carya laciniosa) tree

Same tree as above, with a large Virginia Creeper vine scrambling up to the canopy.

Durham Co., NC 3/1/08.

Shellbark Hickory (Carya laciniosa)

On young growth, the long leaf rachises tend to curl up and persist throughout the winter, creating a distinctive look.

Durham Co., NC 3/1/08.

More information:
Virginia Tech Dendrology


Revised 3/16/08

All photographs and text ©2008 by Will Cook unless otherwise indicated.