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Plant Families / Carya - Hickories

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Carya - Hickories

Carya (Hickory) is a genus of 18 species distributed in North America, Mexico, and eastern Asia. They are vigorous deciduous trees of beautiful appearance. Their large, often lustrous, dark olive-green, pinnate leaves turn brilliant golden yellow in fall on many species. The trees provide seasonal interest, and several species produce sweet, edible nuts that drop from late summer into autumn. Long-lived, slow-growing, they are known for being good shade trees.

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Season of Interest
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Carya cordiformis (Bitternut Hickory)

One of the largest hickories, Carya cordiformis (Bitternut Hickory) is a medium to large deciduous tree of broadly columnar habit with an irregular, oval-rounded crown and a long branch-free trunk. Its gray-brown bark is shallowly furrowed. The stiff, ascending branches are clothed with long, slender, light to medium green leaves, 6-12 in. (15-30 cm), each leaf having 5-9 ovate leaflets. They turn bright yellow in the fall.

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Carya glabra (Pignut Hickory)

Long-lived, Carya glabra (Pignut Hickory) is a slow-growing deciduous tree with a straight trunk and a narrow oblong crown with slender, contorted branches. Its gray bark is shallowly ridged and furrowed. The short, picturesque branches are clothed with pinnately compound leaves, 6-12 in. long (15-30 cm), each leaf having 5-7 toothed and ovate leaflets. Emerging burgundy, the leaves mature to lustrous dark green as the season progresses, and turn a rich, golden-yellow color in the fall.

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Carya illinoinensis (Hardy Pecan)

Carya illinoinensis (Hardy Pecan) is a tall and massive deciduous tree with a large spreading crown boasting lustrous dark olive-green leaves, each leaf having 11-17 pointed leaflets, 4 to 7 in. long (10-17cm). They turn yellow-brown in the fall. Inconspicuous greenish-yellow flowers appear in spring, the male flowers in pendulous catkins, and the female flowers in short spikes.

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Carya ovata (Shagbark Hickory)

Carya ovata (Shagbark Hickory) is a tall deciduous tree of broadly conical habit with an irregular, oval-rounded crown and a stunning straight gray trunk that peels in large, shaggy strips. The ascending and descending branches are clothed in dark olive-green leaves, each leaf having 5 pointed leaflets, 3 to 7 in. long (7-17cm). They turn rich yellow and golden brown in the fall.

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Juglans nigra (Black Walnut)

Juglans nigra (Black Walnut) is a tall and massive deciduous tree with a large, oval to rounded canopy of wide-spreading branches. The trunk is usually long and devoid of branches on mature trees. The dark gray-black bark is fissured, sharply ridged, forming attractive diamond patterns.

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