Carya ovata (Shagbark Hickory)

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

This slow-growing, but long-lived, large tree is indigenous* to river banks and flood plains and makes an attractive ornamental specimen for large landscapes with its good fall color and distinctive exfoliating bark. It also provides excellent support to a variety of wildlife.

*In the Mid-Atlantic Region, it is native in DC, throughout much of VA, predominantly in the mountains, in parts of MD and DE, and in most of PA.

Print Version (Legal Size): Carya ovata (Shagbark Hickory)

Height: 60–80 feet, Spread: 30–50 feet. Bloom Color: Yellow-green. Large, long-lived, deciduous tree with irregular, rounded crown, straight trunk, and deep taproot. Smooth, green, pinnately-compound leaves, usually with 5 lanceolate leaflets; yellow to golden brown fall color. Non-showy yellow-green catkins April to May. Rounded nuts in thick 4-part husks in fall. Bark exfoliates in long strips on older trees. Tolerates occasional drought and flooding. No serious pests or diseases. Deer rarely severely damage. Nuts edible; wood used for curing/smoking, firewood, and making furniture and tools. Host plant for Banded Hairstreak and moths; nuts eaten by birds and mammals; nesting site and cover for songbirds and migrant birds. Soil Requirements: Rich, well-drained. Light Requirements: Sun, Partial Shade. Water Requirements: Moist. Site carefully; difficult to transplant. Use as an ornamental shade tree on large properties. Hardiness: USDA Zones 4–8. Excellent Replacement for Quercus acutissima (Sawtooth Oak) and Juglans nigra (Black Walnut). In the Mid-Atlantic Region, it is native in DC, throughout much of VA, predominantly in the mountains, in parts of MD and DE, and in most of PA.

Learn more about other Mid-Atlantic plants: Tried and True Plant Fact Sheets