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Shellbark Hickory (Carya laciniosa)

C. sulcata. Juglans laciniosa.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Shellbark Hickory
Carya laciniosa

Wood – close-grained, tough, hard, heavy, elastic, very flexible. It weighs 50 lb. per cubic foot. An excellent wood, it is used for tool handles, baskets, fuel etc[46, 61, 63, 82, 226, 227].

  • Medicinal Use

    The inner bark is astringent and detergent[257]. It has been used as a dressing for cuts and has been chewed to treat sore mouths[257].

  • Edible Use

    Seed – raw or cooked in pies, cakes etc[183]. Sweet, with a very fine flavour[183], it has the largest seeds of the hickories[227], up to 5cm long[229]. Probably the finest flavoured hickory[117]. The shell is hard and thick[101, 117] and the cracking quality is poor compared to C. ovata[183]. The seed ripens in late autumn and, when stored in its shell in a cool place, will keep for at least 6 months[K].

    Sap – a sweet flavour[62]. Tapped in spring, it can be boiled down to a syrup or sugar and be used in similar ways to maple syrup[101, 183].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – requires a period of cold stratification. It is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe[78]. Stored seed should be kept moist (but not wet) prior to sowing and should be sown in a cold frame as soon as possible[78]. Where possible, sow 1 or 2 seeds only in each deep pot and thin to the best seedling. If you need to transplant the seedlings, then do this as soon as they are large enough to handle, once more using deep pots to accommodate the tap root. Put the plants into their permanent positions as soon as possible, preferably in their first summer, and give them some protection from the cold for at least the first winter[78, K]. Seed can also be sown in situ so long as protection is given from mice etc and the seed is given some protection from cold[200] (a plastic bottle with the top and bottom removed and a wire mesh top fitted to keep the mice out is ideal)
Prefers a deep moisture-retentive loam in a sunny sheltered position, requiring a good summer for best development[1, 63, 137, 200]. A very ornamental but slow growing tree[1], it is sometimes cultivated for its edible seed, and is also sold in local markets in N. America[82]. There are some named varieties[183] though some of these are likely to be hybrids. ‘Fayette’ is a thin shelled form[200]. ‘Henry’ has a very large nut[200]. Trees have been planted on an experimental scale in Germany for their wood[50]. Hybridizes in the wild with C. ovata[227]. Trees take up to 15 years from seed to bear fruit[117]. Plants are strongly tap-rooted and should be planted in their permanent positions as soon as possible[1, 137]. Sowing in situ would be the best method so long as the seed could be protected from mice[1, 200]. Trees are late coming into leaf (usually late May to June) and lose their leaves early in the autumn (usually in October)[137]. During this time they cast a heavy shade. These factors combine to make the trees eminently suitable for a mixed woodland planting with shrubs and other trees beneath them[137]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200]. Most species in this genus have quite a wide range of distribution and, in order to find trees more suited to this country, seed from the most appropriate provenances should be sought[137]. Most trees growing in Britain at present tend to only produce good seed after hot summers[137]. Trees are self-fertile but larger crops of better quality seeds are produced if cross-pollination takes place[229].
Eastern N. America – New York and Pennsylvania to Indiana, Iowa and Kansas.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.