Carya ovata - Shagbark Hickory
Family: Juglandaceae

Hear the scientific name

Carya ovata is a tall shade tree with straight trunk, shaggy bark (tendency of the bark to peel off in long strips), and striking golden yellow autumn color that unfortunately lasts for only a few days.

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  form2 form Form

-large deciduous tree, 60-80' tall x 25-35' wide

-upright, straight trunk, oblong crown

-oval outline with the lower branches somewhat drooping, the upper branches upright, and the middle branches just about horizontal

-slow to medium growth rate (12-18" per year), long-lived

foliage2 foliage Foliage

-alternate, compound, oddly pinnate, commonly 5 leaflets, 8-14" long

-serrated margin

-lanceolate to oblong-lanceolate leaflets

-deep yellow green in summer, golden-yellow/brown in autumn; autumn color can be spectacular, if brief


-catkins up to 6" long



-oval/round, 1-2"

-dry, hard; edible but must be cleaned

-very showy


-gray-brown, stout, many lenticels

trunk2 trunk Trunk

-very distinctive and showy as the tree matures

-shaggy, resulting from long plates which are detached from trunk at both ends but remain attached in the middle

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-full sun to partial shade

-prefers moist, well-drained (light) soils but will tolerate many soil types

-coarse root system makes it somewhat difficult to transplant

-rare availability

distribution map


-zones 4 to 8


-native to Eastern U.S.

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-striking autumn color

-interesting bark


-fruit can cause significant litter

-fallen leaves can be messy because of their large size


-shade tree, specimen, highway plantings; the tree is most likely used in a naturalistic setting; it can be found in older neighborhoods


-medium in foliage and coarse when bare

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Varieties and Cultivars - Search OSU PlantFacts for additional plants in this species


-other large shade trees (Acer saccharinum, A. saccharum, Aesculus flava, Celtis occidentalis, etc.)


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