Hickory Trees in Alaska: A Mystery of the Past

Alaska's diverse and rugged landscapes are often associated with pristine forests, vast tundras, and majestic mountains.

While the state is well-known for its unique flora, the presence of certain tree species like hickory has been a subject of intrigue and debate.

In this blog post, we'll explore the historical evidence of hickory trees in Alaska, their absence from modern tree lists, and the possibility of their once-thriving existence. Join us on this journey to uncover the mystery of hickory trees in the Last Frontier.

Hickory Trees: Ancient Residents of Alaska

It might come as a surprise to many that hickory trees are not commonly found in Alaska today.

However, geological evidence has suggested that these trees once existed in the region during the Cretaceous Period, millions of years ago.

This discovery raises fascinating questions about the ancient ecosystems that thrived in Alaska and the factors that led to the subsequent disappearance of hickory trees from the region.

The Curious Absence from Modern Tree Lists

The USDA Forest Service and Alaska.org, trusted sources for information on Alaskan trees, notably omit hickory trees from their lists of common trees in the state.

This absence might prompt one to assume that hickory trees have never been part of Alaska's modern flora.

However, delving deeper into historical records provides a different perspective.

Clues from the Past: Geophysical Institute's Findings

A crucial piece of evidence comes from a 1998 article by the Geophysical Institute, which mentions a variety of deciduous trees that once grew in Alaska, including oaks, hickories, beech, chestnuts, walnuts, wing-nuts, basswoods, elms, hollys, hazelnuts, and sweetgums.

This historical account opens up the possibility that hickory trees were indeed part of Alaska's natural landscape at some point in the past.

Unraveling the Enigma

The question remains: if hickory trees once thrived in Alaska, why are they no longer commonly found in the state's forests?

The answer likely lies in various environmental factors and changes over time.

Climate fluctuations, geological shifts, and the migration patterns of flora and fauna might have played a significant role in the disappearance of hickory trees from the region.

Current Tree Landscape in Alaska

At present, the six principal shade trees that grow in the interior of Alaska are Quaking Aspen, balsam poplar, and paper birch.

These trees are well-adapted to the harsh climate and are valuable components of Alaska's ecosystems.


The mystery of hickory trees in Alaska adds an intriguing dimension to the state's rich natural history.

While geological evidence points to their ancient presence, the absence of hickory trees from contemporary tree lists suggests they are no longer common in the region.

Environmental changes, spanning millions of years, have likely shaped the flora of Alaska, leading to the disappearance of certain tree species like hickory.

Despite their current rarity, the legacy of hickory trees in Alaska serves as a reminder of the ever-changing dynamics of our planet's ecosystems.

Wyatt Keith

Wyatt is a hickory tree expert with 25 years of experience studying and working with these majestic trees. Wyatt has worked on various research projects and has conducted extensive field work, studying the growth and behavior of hickory trees in different regions of the country. In addition to his research, he has also worked with landowners and land managers to help them properly care for and manage their hickory trees. Wyatt is passionate about sharing his knowledge and expertise with others, and he frequently gives talks and presentations on hickory trees to various audiences.

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