Shagbark Hickory, a slow-growing but potentially massive tree located in all of Ohio, is frequently found in dry uplands or moist valleys in association with other hickories and oaks. Its cut timber is prized for making tool handles, athletic equipment, furniture, construction timbers, and firewood. Its "green" wood (or sometimes seasoned but freshly-wetted wood chips) is also sought after for the smoking of meats, especially pork meats. Its sweet and large nuts are relished by squirrels. The most distinctive feature of this tree is its shaggy bark, which peels in long, wide, thick strips from the trunk and branches, giving it the alternative common name of Scalybark Hickory. Its bold-textured, jagged branch structure and thick twigs give it a striking appearance in winter.
A native to most of the Eastern United States, Shagbark Hickory is a climax forest tree in well-drained, moist to dry woodland soils. It grows to 100 feet tall by 40 feet wide when found in the open. As a member of the Walnut Family, it is related to the Walnuts, as well as other Hickories (there are three types, namely the Pecans, the Shagbarks, and the Pignuts).
Planting Requirements - Shagbark Hickory prefers deep, moist, rich, well-drained soils under sunny conditions, but is often found in the dry upland soils of woods or fields because of its superior drought tolerance. It tolerates the shade of nearby trees when young, when its branching is upright and spindly and it first develops its deep taproot system. It is found in zones 4 to 8.
Potential Problems - Shagbark Hickory is virtually disease and pest free, although many insects nibble at its foliage throughout the summer. However, it sends down a constant rain of leaflets, rachises, dead twigs, immature fruits, outer husks, and debris from squirrel feeding from mid-summer until late autumn, presenting a constant clean-up chore and mowing hazard when it is found in urban areas.