If you’re looking for a wood with character, hickory is the tree for you. This North American hardwood is known for its strength, shock resistance, and flavor. In fact, hickory is the primary flavor in many smoked meats!
While there are 18 species of hickory trees, not all of them are commercially available. In Alabama, you’re likely to find one of these five types of hickory trees.
(I’m going to have a link after each section to purchase that particle tree from nature hills, a very trusted online seller of hickory trees)
1. Mockernut Hickory
The mockernut hickory is a native hickory of Alabama. This tree grows to be about 50-80 feet tall and 2-3 feet in diameter. The leaves are 8-12 inches long and have 5-7 leaflets.
The mockernut hickory produces a nut that is 1-1.5 inches in diameter. This nut is edible for both humans and animals. The wood of this tree is hard and strong, making it good for fuel, furniture, and tool handles.
This hickory is a valuable tree for both wildlife and humans. The nuts produced by this tree are an important food source for many animals, including squirrels, birds, and deer.
The wood of the mockernut hickory is also very strong and durable, making it a good choice for fuel, furniture, and tool handles.
2. Shagbark Hickory
The shagbark hickory is a native hickory of Alabama. This type of hickory is characterized by its shaggy bark, which is why it’s named the shagbark hickory. The shagbark hickory is a large tree that can grow up to 100 feet tall.
This type of hickory is found in the eastern United States and Canada. The wood of the shagbark hickory is hard and strong, making it good for firewood and other uses.
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3. Pignut Hickory
The pignut hickory is a native hickory of Alabama. The tree grows to a height of 50-60 feet and has a diameter of 1-2 feet. The leaves are alternate, simple, and oblong-lanceolate in shape with a serrated margin.
The flowers are greenish-yellow and borne in clusters. The fruit is a nut enclosed in a thin shell.
Pignut hickories are found in the Appalachian Mountains from Pennsylvania to Georgia. In Alabama, they are found in the northern and central part of the state.
The tree prefers well-drained, sandy soils but can also grow in clay or loam soils. It is tolerant of shade but prefers full sun. Pignut hickories are mostly used for fuelwood and sometimes for lumber.
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4. Bitternut Hickory
Bitternut hickory is a deciduous tree that is native to Alabama. It grows up to 50 feet tall and is characterized by its smooth, gray bark. The leaves of the bitternut hickory are alternate, simple, and pinnately-lobed with serrated margins.
The leaflets are oblong-oval in shape and taper to a point at the end. The flowers of the bitternut hickory are yellow-green and grow in clusters. The fruit is a globose drupe that is dark brown in color with a bitter taste.
The wood of this tree is hard and heavy. It is used for making furniture, flooring, cabinets, and other wood products. This tree is also a popular choice for smoking meats because it imparts a distinctive flavor.
The bitternut hickory is susceptible to several diseases and pests. These include cankerworms, scale insects, borers, and powderpost beetles.
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5. Water Hickory
Water hickory is one of the five native hickory trees of Alabama. It grows in floodplains, bottomlands, and along streams. The tree is distinguished by its large, alternate leaves that are oblong to elliptical in shape with serrated margins.
The leaves are dark green above and paler below with hairy leaf surfaces. The bark is light brown to gray and smooth with a corky texture. Water hickory nuts are enclosed in a thick husk and are positioned upright on the branch. The nut meat is edible and has a sweet flavor.
The water hickory is a valuable tree for wildlife in Alabama. The nuts are an important food source for squirrels, chipmunks, mice, voles, and ducks.
The tree provides nesting sites for birds such as woodpeckers, owls, and nuthatches. The dense foliage offers protection from the sun and predators for many animals including deer and rabbits.
Water hickory trees are an important part of the ecosystem in Alabama and provide many benefits to humans and animals alike.
There are five types of hickory trees native to Alabama: mockernut hickory, shagbark hickory, pignut hickory, bitternut hickory, and water hickory. Each type of hickory tree has its own unique characteristics, making it well-suited to different purposes.
Whether you’re looking for a sturdy tree for construction or a nut-bearing tree for food, you’re sure to find the right hickory tree for you in Alabama.