Content Detail

Plant a shagbark hickory, a long-lived large tree with a straight trunk, in a large landscape for excellent shade. This Midwest native is named for its bark, which peels away in large, flat, curving plates, giving the tree a shaggy appearance. As a member of the walnut family, the hickory produces edible nuts. 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, Wide median
  • 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 60-80 feet
  • Mature width 30-50 feet
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Dry sites, Occasional drought, Occasional flooding
  • Season of interest early winter, midwinter, late winter, early spring, mid spring, late spring, early summer, midsummer, late summer, early fall, mid fall, late fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous
  • Shape or form Irregular, Oval
  • Growth rate Slow
  • Transplants well No
  • Planting considerations May be difficult to find in nurseries
  • Wildlife Cavity-nesting birds, Game birds, Migrant birds, Small mammals, Songbirds
  • Has cultivars Yes

Native geographic location and habitat: 

Shagbark hickory, a midwestern native, is found in upland woodlands and savannas. C-Value: 5. 

Bark color and texture: 

Mature trees have gray bark that exfoliates in long flat plates with outwardly curving ends, giving the tree a shaggy appearance.  The shaggy bark has year-round appeal.

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

Alternate, 8 to 14 inches long, pinnately compound leaves have five to seven leaflets with serrated margins. Terminal buds are 1 inch long and hairy. Fall color is golden brown.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size: 

Relatively inconspicuous; tiny male flowers are  3 to 4 inch long,  pendulous catkins.  The small female flowers are in terminal spikes.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions: 

Fruit is a rounded nut with a thick  four-sectioned husk. The edible nut ripens in the fall.

Plant care:

Best grown in well-drained soil in large landscapes. Develops a long taproot, making it difficult to transplant.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:  

No serious problems. Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.


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