What it looks like

The leaves of the shagbark are 15 to 25 centimetres long, made up of 5 leaflets on a central stalk. They are green on top, and paler and hairy underneath. The tree’s bark separates into long plates as it gets older, which loosen from the trunk and give the tree a 'shaggy' look — that’s how it gets its name. It can live for 200 years, grows to be 25 metres tall, and prefers rich, moist soil. Nuts from the shagbark hickory are edible and are 3 to 4.5 centimetres long. They are sweet tasting and are a favourite food of squirrels.

Where it is found

The shagbark hickory grows only in southern Ontario along the St Lawrence River and into Quebec.

Planting Tips

  • Size: 20 to 30 metres tall, trunk is 30 to 80 centimetres in diameter
  • Moisture: Prefers moist soil
  • Shade: Prefers sun, but can tolerate some shade
  • Soil: Prefers rich soil

Shagbark hickories grow well on hillsides and in valleys — they prefer moist soil.

Did you know?

Lone stands of shagbark hickory have been found near Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. They may have been planted by native people hundreds of years ago.

Image credits

  • Tree: Susan Sweeney
  • Leaf: Daniel Tigner, Canadian Forest Tree Essences
  • Bark: Daniel Tigner, Canadian Forest Tree Essences
  • Catkin: Daniel Tigner, Canadian Forest Tree Essences