Tennessee's forests are home to several species of hickory trees, all belonging to the walnut family.
These deciduous hardwood trees are an important part of the state's native ecosystem, providing food, shelter, and wood products.
This article will explore some of the key types of hickory trees found in Tennessee, including information on identification, habitat, uses, and interesting facts about each species.
- Tennessee is home to several native hickory tree species, including bitternut, shagbark, pignut, and mockernut hickories.
- Hickory trees thrive in a range of habitats across Tennessee, from rich moist soils to dry rocky ridges.
- Shagbark and mockernut hickories produce edible nuts that are favored by wildlife. Pignut and bitternut hickories have bitter nuts.
- In addition to providing food and habitat, hickory trees are valued for uses like firewood, lumber, and wood products due to their strength, hardness, and high BTU output when burned.
- Hickory trees can grow quite tall, reaching mature heights over 100 feet for some species like shagbark hickory.
- Learning to identify Tennessee's native hickory trees by bark type, leaf shape, nut taste, and habitat can help appreciate the diversity of this useful tree group.
1. Bitternut Hickory
The bitternut hickory is a common hickory species found throughout Tennessee.
It grows on a variety of sites, including rich, loamy or moist soils.
The bitternut hickory produces bitter tasting nuts that are not considered desirable for human consumption.
This tree can grow quite large, reaching heights of 100 feet or more at maturity.
2. Shagbark Hickory
The shagbark hickory is a large deciduous tree native to much of the eastern United States, including Tennessee.
It is named for its unique peeling bark that forms long, narrow plates that give the trunk a shaggy appearance.
This species produces sweet, edible nuts.
The shagbark hickory can grow very tall, up to 120 feet, with a spreading canopy.
3. Pignut Hickory
The pignut hickory is a common hickory species found in Tennessee.
It can thrive in a variety of habitats, including dry ridges and moist coves.
The pignut hickory produces bitter tasting nuts that are not good for human consumption.
This medium-sized tree can reach heights of 80 feet at maturity.
The pignut hickory is valued for its strong and flexible wood.
4. Mockernut Hickory
The mockernut hickory tree is native to Tennessee and is typically found on dry ridges and rocky slopes.
It produces round nuts that have thick husks and provide food for wildlife.
The mockernut hickory is named for its tendency to produce empty nutshells.
It is one of the most abundant hickory species in Tennessee, growing to around 60 feet tall at maturity.
The mockernut hickory is considered excellent firewood due to its high BTU output.
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