Shellbark Hickory, a slow-growing but potentially massive tree scattered throughout Ohio, is often found in moist bottomlands where Shagbark Hickory usually does not grow. Like other hickories, its heavy, dense, strong, yet elastic wood is sought after for making tool handles, athletic equipment, furniture, construction timbers, and firewood, and its wood chips are utilized in the smoking of meats. Its sweet, huge nuts are relished by squirrels and give it an alternative common name of King Nut Hickory, due to their being the largest of the hickories.
A native to the Midwestern United States, and stretching into portions of the Southern, Eastern, and Great Plains states, Shellbark Hickory is a climax forest tree in moist soils, particularly along flood plains and bottomland areas. It grows to 80 feet tall by 40 feet wide when found in the open. As a member of the Walnut Family, it is related to other Hickories and the Walnuts.
Planting Requirements - Shellbark Hickory prefers deep, moist to occasionally wet, rich soils under sunny conditions, such as are found in bottomlands, flatlands that do not drain quickly, and floodplains. It tolerates shade in its youth, when it is stretching for sunlight beneath the canopy of taller trees, and develops its deep taproot system. Like other Hickories, it is very tolerant of summer drought, even though it prefers moist conditions. It is found in zones 5 to 8.
Potential Problems- Shellbark Hickory is virtually disease and pest free, although its leaflets become frayed by late summer due to minor pest feeding. However, it sends down a constant rain of leaflets, rachises, dead twigs, immature fruits, 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.