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Red hickory is sometimes referred to as pignut hickory or false shagbark hickory. It has a slightly shaggy bark and good golden-yellow fall color. The nuts are edible and are attractive to wildlife. This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.

  • Family (English) Walnut
  • Family (botanic) Juglandaceae
  • Planting site City parkway, Residential and parks
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
  • Size range Large tree (more than 40 feet)
  • Mature height 60-100 feet
  • Mature width 60-80 feet
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Chicago), Zone 6, Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Dry sites, Occasional drought, Wet sites
  • Season of interest early fall, mid fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous
  • Shape or form Round
  • Growth rate Slow
  • Transplants well No
  • Wildlife Browsers, Game birds, Migrant birds, Small mammals
  • Has cultivars Yes

Native geographic location and habitat: 

C-Value: 5.  Midwestern native commonly found in upland woods.

Bark color and texture: 

Bark is dark gray with interlacing ridges.  With age it takes on a slightly shaggy look.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture: 

The alternate, compound leaves have 5 to 7 ovate leaflets.  Leaves are medium green with serrate margins.  Fall color is golden brown.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size: 

Relatively inconspicuous; tiny male flowers in drooping clusters of catkins; small green female flowers in spikes.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions: 

Fruits are nuts with four-ridged husks.  The husks will split at the base when ripe.  The nuts are edible.

Plant care:

Transplant only in the spring.  Red hickory develops a long taproot, making it difficult to transplant.  Like all hickories, debris from its fruit drop from late summer throughout autumn make fall cleanup in urban areas more challenging.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances: 

Potential problems include anthracnose, hickory bark beetles and galls.   Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.


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