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Compare Features of Shagbark Hickories (Carya spp.)

Compare features of Carya (hickory) species
Key to southeastern U.S. Carya (hickory) species
Compare all Carya (hickory) fruits

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Carya carolinae-septentrionalis (southern shagbark hickory)

Carya ovata (shagbark hickory)

Carya laciniosa (shellbark hickory or kingnut hickory)

Three species of Carya found in the southeastern U.S. appear to be similar in that they have shaggy bark.  However, their habitat and other characteristics are different.  C. carolinae-septentrionalis is a southern species and a calciphile (typically found in areas where  limestone predominates).  It is commonly seen in the vicinity of cedar glades.  C. ovata is a wide-ranging species that is often found on dry ridgetops.  C. laciniosa is usually found in the rich, moist soils of bottomlands. 

The twigs, buds, and fruits of the three species vary in size.  C. carolinae-septentrionalis twigs (top) are slender and have tiny buds.  C. laciniosa twigs (bottom) are very thick with large buds.  C. ovata twigs and buds (middle) are intermediate in size.

The fruits and nuts increase in size in the same order as the twigs.  C. carolinae-septentrionalis (top), C. ovata (middle), C. laciniosa (bottom).


C. carolinae-septentrionalis leaf has 5 leaflets.

C. ovata leaf has 5 leaflets.

C. laciniosa has 7 leaflets.