Hickory trees are not endemic to the state of Oregon.
The native range of hickories is in the eastern and central United States and south into Mexico.
However, over the years several species of hickory trees have been introduced in Oregon.
With the right conditions, these hickory species have adapted to grow quite well in the state despite not being indigenous.
- Hickory trees are not native to Oregon, but some species have been introduced and can grow well with proper care.
- The shellbark hickory shows great promise for nut production in Oregon, producing very large and tasty nuts.
- Shagbark and bitternut hickories can also succeed in Oregon as ornamental and shade trees.
Hickory Species Introduced in Oregon
There are a few main hickory tree species that have been brought to Oregon and can thrive under the right circumstances:
1. Shellbark Hickory
The shellbark hickory (Carya laciniosa) is arguably the most promising hickory for nut production in Oregon.
This large deciduous tree can grow to heights of 60-100 feet and live for over 300 years.
It produces very large, oblong nuts that have a sweet and savory flavor reminiscent of bacon or pecans.
The shellbark is prized for timber and is also known as the kingnut hickory.
It does best in deep, fertile soil and appreciates ample moisture.
Shellbark hickories take around a decade to begin producing nuts.
2. Shagbark Hickory
The shagbark hickory (Carya ovata) is named for its loose, peeling bark that gives the trunk a shaggy appearance.
It can grow up to 80 feet tall and thrive for 200 years.
The oval nuts have a distinctive sweet taste but are smaller than shellbark nuts.
This species can succeed in much of western Oregon.
3. Bitternut Hickory
The bitternut hickory (Carya cordiformis) is taller and more narrow than other hickory species.
It is named for its bitter, astringent nuts that are not desirable for human consumption.
However, the bitternut hickory makes a handsome ornamental tree and can reach towering heights over 100 feet.
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