Hickory trees are a common sight across many parts of Florida. While some hickory species are native to the state, others have been introduced over the years.
Hickories are prized for their hard, dense wood and large, edible nuts.
This article explores the different types of native and non-native hickories found growing in Florida.
- Florida is home to several native hickory tree species including scrub, bitternut and mockernut hickories. These trees naturally occur in various habitats across the state.
- Non-native hickories like the water hickory and pecan have also been introduced in Florida over the years. They grow well in the warm, humid climate.
- Hickory wood is prized for its strength, hardness and flexibility. It's used commercially for products like tool handles and flooring.
- Mature hickories can be identified by their tall, narrow shape, shard, tight bark, compound leaves and thick-husked nuts.
- Popular pecan cultivars are widely planted in Florida for their delicious nuts. Pecan wood is also used for smoking and furniture.
- Both native and non-native hickories thrive in Florida due to the warm climate and moist soils. They are an important part of the state's natural landscapes.
Native Hickory Trees in Florida
Several hickory species are native to Florida. These trees naturally occur in various habitats across the state.
1. Scrub Hickory
The scrub hickory (Carya floridana) is one of Florida's native hickories.
As its name suggests, this species grows in the dry, sandy areas of scrub habitat.
Scrub hickory is found throughout peninsular Florida but is most abundant in the central ridge area.
This small to medium-sized hickory reaches heights of around 50 feet. It can be identified by its distinctive leaves which have 7 to 9 leaflets.
The scrub hickory produces small nuts with thick husks. This is one of the rarer native hickories in the state.
2. Bitternut Hickory
Bitternut hickory (Carya cordiformis) naturally occurs in northern Florida. Its range extends into the panhandle region.
Bitternut hickory thrives on moist sites and is typically found along streams and swamps.
The bitternut hickory is a large tree growing up to 100 feet tall.
It has a tall, straight trunk when mature. The leaves normally have 7 to 9 long, slender leaflets.
As the name hints, the nuts have a bitter taste.
Bitternut hickory wood is used commercially for products like tool handles.
3. Mockernut Hickory
Mockernut hickory (Carya alba) can also be found in the panhandle region of Florida.
It prefers rich soils and grows on bottomlands and hillsides.
Mockernut hickory develops into a big, towering tree reaching heights over 100 feet.
The leaves contain 7 to 9 leaflets. The mockernut produces rounded nuts with thick husks.
As with other hickories, the mockernut's wood is used extensively for products where strength and flexibility are needed.
Non-Native Hickory Trees in Florida
While the above species are native, several other hickories have been introduced to Florida over the years.
These non-native trees grow well in the warm climate and moist soils.
4. Water Hickory
Water hickory (Carya aquatica) is native further west but can be found in Florida's panhandle today. As its name indicates, this hickory grows in wetter areas near rivers and swamps.
The wood from the water hickory is sometimes used as a pecan substitute.
Water hickory can reach 60 feet tall. It has a narrow, straight trunk when mature.
The compound leaves normally have 7 to 9 leaflets with smooth edges.
The small nuts are edible but not widely consumed.
5. Pecan Hickory
The pecan (Carya illinoinensis) is the most commonly planted hickory in Florida.
Pecan trees need a warm, humid climate and grow well across the state.
This species towers over 100 feet tall and can live for centuries.
Pecan has alternate, feather-like leaves. It is grown commercially for its delicious nuts which have a high oil content.
Pecan wood is also used for flooring, furniture and smoking wood. Numerous pecan cultivars have been developed.
Before You Go
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I also have other articles that might interest you.
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