Carya Ovata (Shagbark Hickory)

I have decided to expand my botanical range in Gallup and other Ann Arbor parks by including trees that are native to Michigan in my posts. I begin today with Hickory trees and specifically, Shagbark Hickory.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Photo by Stewart V. Nelson, 2018, © Some rights reserved

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Shagbark Hickory takes its name from the its distinctive bark that when the tree is mature looks like it is peeling off in large strips. Young trees have a much smoother bark. The leaves are pinnate and oddly compound with 5 broadly lanceolate leaflets.  Another species of Hickory, Shellbark, also has shaggy bark and it has similar leaflets but they number 7 so the trees are easy to distinguish.  Hickory trees live on average for 200 years and have been know to live 300 years.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Shagbark Hickory leaves
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Photo by Stewart V. Nelson, 2018, © Some rights reserved

Hickory is a very hard and resilient wood which makes it perfect for making handles for tools and baseball bats and at one time, wagon wheels and tennis racquets.  The wood makes excellent charcoal because it burns completely and at a high temperature.  The smell of hickory burning is perfect for smoking meats and barbecues.

Hickory fruit (nuts)
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Photo by Stewart V. Nelson, 2018, © Some rights reserved

These nuts are delicious and at one time represented a big part of the diet of Native Americans.  In fact, they made a milk-like beverage out of ground hickory nuts similar to coconut milk.  The Native Americans called it pawcohiccora, referring to a milky drink made from ground hickory nuts, hence the name Hickory.

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