Carya ovata (Shagbark Hickory)


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The seeds for this product can only be shipped to customers in Canada. No USA or overseas delivery.

Carya ovata (Shagbark Hickory) Seeds – November 2022

Zone: 4 to 8.

Native to eastern North America and some areas in Mexico.

The Shagbark hickory gets its name from the large pieces of peeling bark that are characteristic on older trees. Hickories are related to walnuts and have similar growing requirements. They prefer full sun to partial shade and grow best in soil that is deep, fertile, and moist but well-drained. Shagbark hickories produce a long taproot that makes transplanting very difficult. It is best therefore to transplant a seedling in the desired location and protect it until it gets established. Foliage consists of 5 alternate, pinnately compound leaflets on a central stock. The leaves are green and paler underneath. The bark on young trees is smooth, but on older trees peels outward in vertical strips giving the tree its shaggy appearance. Nuts are nearly round 1 1/2 to 2 inches (3 to 4.5 cm) long, with a very thick husk. The nuts which are delicious, ripen in autumn and are popular with people and squirrels. Hickory wood is often used to cure or smoke meats because it leaves a distinctive savoury flavour.  The wood is extremely hard and is used to make a variety of products, especially tool handles, gun stocks and furniture.

Size: Height 70 to 90 ft; Width 50 to 70 ft.

Nuts have a short shelf life so it is best to plant immediately or keep refrigerated until ready to plant.

Germination Instructions

Stratification: Hickory seeds require 90 to 120 days cold, moist stratification at 3° C (37° F) to 5° C (41° F).

    1. The seeds are mixed with moist peat moss at delivery. Upon receipt make several small holes in the bag to allow contents to breath and refrigerate. Do not freeze.
    2. Occasionally every few weeks open bag; if the peat moss is drying out spray some water inside and mix. Do not soak – there should be no standing water.
    3. In spring (late April to early May) sow the seeds 3 inches deep either in the ground or in deep pots.
    4. 2 litre milk cartons with holes at the bottom for drainage are excellent for potting.
    5. If a radicle (root) has emerged from the seed at the time of the planting gently place it pointing downward. Be careful not to break the root. If there is no radicle present then the orientation of the seed in the ground does not really matter. The seed will orient itself naturally upon germinating.
    6. Protect seeds from squirrels and other animals. Use chicken wire fence or similar protection.
    7. Water regularly to keep soil moist. The seed can take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months or more to germinate.
    8. If the seedlings are potted, transplant them to the desired location in late summer or autumn.
    9. Protect seedlings from animals until established. Remove weeds from planting site.


    Note: In late winter to spring inspect the seed mix weekly in case any seeds are sprouting early in the bag. If this should happen the seed should be removed from the bag and planted in a pot as per instructions above. If it’s too cold outside, grow the seedling inside by a window or under fluorescent light and move outdoors when danger of frost has subsided.

    Alternately, you can just direct sow the seeds in the ground in autumn before the ground freezes. Protect the pot or site from squirrels or other animals that may discover and eat the seeds.