Hickory nuts (Carya spp.), dried
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
2,749 kJ (657 kcal)
Pantothenic acid (B5)
Link to USDA Database entry
μg = micrograms • mg = milligrams
IU = International units
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Hickory is a type of tree, comprising the genus Carya (Ancient Greek:
κάρυον, káryon, meaning "nut"). The genus includes 17 to 19
species. Five or six species are native to China, Indochina, and India
(State of Assam), as many as 12 are native to the United States, four
are found in Mexico, and two to four are from Canada.
Hickories are deciduous trees with pinnately compound leaves and large
Hickory flowers are small, yellow-green catkins produced in
spring. They are wind-pollinated and self-incompatible. The fruit is a
globose or oval nut, 2–5 cm (0.79–1.97 in) long and
1.5–3 cm (0.59–1.18 in) diameter, enclosed in a
four-valved husk, which splits open at maturity. The nut shell is
thick and bony in most species, and thin in a few, notably the pecan
(C. illinoinensis); it is divided into two halves, which split apart
when the seed germinates.
Beaked hickory (
Annamocarya sinensis) is a species formerly classified
as Carya sinensis, but now adjudged in the monotypic genus
1 Species and classification
6 See also
9 External links
Species and classification
In the APG system, genus Carya (and the whole
Juglandaceae family) has
been recently moved to the
Carya sect. Sinocarya – Asian hickories
Carya dabieshanensis M.C. Liu – Dabie Shan hickory (may be
synonymous with C. cathayensis)
Carya cathayensis Sarg. – Chinese hickory
Carya hunanensis W.C.Cheng & R.H.Chang – Hunan hickory
Carya kweichowensis Kuang & A.M.Lu – Guizhou hickory
Carya poilanei Leroy - Poilane's hickory
Carya tonkinensis Lecomte – Vietnamese hickory
Carya sect. Carya – typical hickories
Carya floridana Sarg. – Scrub hickory
Carya glabra (Mill.) Sweet – Pignut hickory, pignut, sweet pignut,
coast pignut hickory, smoothbark hickory, swamp hickory, broom hickory
Carya laciniosa (Mill.) K.Koch – Shellbark hickory, shagbark
hickory, bigleaf shagbark hickory, kingnut, big shellbark, bottom
shellbark, thick shellbark, western shellbark
Carya myristiciformis (F.Michx.) Nutt. – Nutmeg hickory, swamp
hickory, bitter water hickory
Carya ovalis (Wangenh.) Sarg. – Red hickory, spicebark hickory,
sweet pignut hickory (treated as a synonym of C. glabra by Flora N.
Carya ovata (Mill.) K.Koch – Shagbark hickory
Carya ovata var. ovata – Northern shagbark hickory
Carya ovata var. australis – Southern shagbark hickory, Carolina
hickory (syn. C. carolinae-septentrionalis)
Carya pallida (Ashe) Engl. & Graebn. – Sand hickory
Carya texana Buckley – Black hickory
Carya tomentosa (Poir.) Nutt. – Mockernut hickory (syn. C. alba)
Carya washingtonensis - Manchester Extinct Miocene
Carya sect. Apocarya – pecans
Carya aquatica (F.Michx.) Nutt. – Bitter pecan or water hickory
Carya cordiformis (Wangenh.) K.Koch – Bitternut hickory
Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K.Koch – Pecan
Carya palmeri W.E. Manning – Mexican hickory
Hickory is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera
species. These include:
Luna moth (Actias luna)
Brown-tail (Euproctis chrysorrhoea)
Coleophora case-bearers, C. laticornella and C. ostryae
Regal moths (Citheronia regalis), whose caterpillars are known as
Walnut sphinx (Amorpha juglandis)
The Bride (nominate subspecies
Catocala neogama neogama)
Hickory Tussock Moth
Hickory Tussock Moth (Lophocampa caryae)
The hickory leaf stem gall phylloxera (
Phylloxera caryaecaulis) also
uses the hickory tree as a food source. Phylloxeridae are related to
aphids and have a similarly complex life cycle. Eggs hatch in early
spring and the galls quickly form around the developing insects.
Phylloxera galls may damage weakened or stressed hickories, but are
Deformed leaves and twigs can rain down from the tree in the spring as
squirrels break off infected tissue and eat the galls, possibly for
the protein content or because the galls are fleshy and tasty to the
squirrels. The pecan gall curculio (Conotrachelus elegans) is a true
weevil species also found feeding on galls of the hickory leaf stem
The banded hickory borer (Knulliana cincta) is also found on
Some fruits are borderline and difficult to categorize.
(Carya) and walnuts (Juglans) in the
Juglandaceae family grow within
an outer husk; these fruits are sometimes considered to be drupes or
drupaceous nuts, rather than true botanical nuts. "Tryma" is a
specialized term for such nut-like drupes.
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Finished hickory in a cabinet
Hickory wood is very hard, stiff, dense and shock resistant. There are
woods that are stronger than hickory and woods that are harder, but
the combination of strength, toughness, hardness, and stiffness found
in hickory wood is not found in any other commercial wood. It is
used for tool handles, bows, wheel spokes, carts, drumsticks, lacrosse
stick handles, golf club shafts (sometimes still called hickory stick,
even though made of steel or graphite), the bottom of skis, walking
sticks, and for punitive use as a switch (like hazel), and especially
as a cane-like hickory stick in schools and use by parents. Paddles
are often made from hickory. This property of hickory wood has left a
trace in some Native American languages: in Ojibwe, hickory is called
"mitigwaabaak", a compound of mitigwaab "bow" and the final -aakw
"hardwood tree" 
Baseball bats were formerly made of hickory, but are now more commonly
made of ash.
Hickory is replacing ash as the wood of choice for
Scottish shinty sticks (also known as camans).
Hickory was extensively
used for the construction of early aircraft.
Hickory is also highly prized for wood-burning stoves and chimineas
because of its high energy content.
Hickory wood is also a preferred
type for smoking cured meats. In the Southern United States, hickory
is popular for cooking barbecue, as hickory grows abundantly in the
region and adds flavor to the meat.
Hickory is sometimes used for wood flooring due to its durability in
resisting wear and character.
Hickory wood is not noted for rot
A bark extract from shagbark hickory is also used in an edible syrup
similar to maple syrup, with a slightly bitter, smoky taste.
The nuts of some species are palatable, while others are bitter and
only suitable for animal feed. Shagbark and shellbark hickory, along
with pecan, are regarded by some as the finest nut trees.
When cultivated for their nuts, clonal (grafted) trees of the same
cultivar cannot pollinate each other because of their
self-incompatibility. Two or more cultivars must be planted together
for successful pollination. Seedlings (grown from hickory nuts) will
usually have sufficient genetic variation.
Comparison of North American Carya nuts
Chinese hickory nuts, peeled and roasted
Ripe hickory nuts ready to fall
Bitternut hickory (C. cordiformis)
^ "Carya Nutt". TROPICOS. Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved
^ "Subordinate Taxa of Carya Nutt". TROPICOS. Missouri Botanical
Garden. Retrieved 2009-10-19.
^ Identification Of Major
Fruit Types Archived 2011-11-20 at the
^ "Nut Photos". waynesword.palomar.edu.
^ Important Trees of Eastern Forests, USDA, 1974
^ Valentine, Rudolph 2001. Nishnaabemwin Grammar, Toronto: University
of Toronto Press. p.485).
Philips, Roger. Trees of North America and Europe. Random House, Inc.,
New York. ISBN 0-394-50259-0, 1979.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Carya.
Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article
Flora of North America: Carya
Flora of China: Carya
USDA Agricultural Research Service: Carya
Comparison of eastern North American hickories at
Comparison of hickory nuts at bioimages.vanderbilt.edu
USDA Plants Database Profile for Carya (hickory)
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