Red Hickory
Carya glabra

Location in Ontario
Red Hickory, also called Pignut Hickory, is a Carolinian Tree. It grows along Lake Erie and in Lambton County and Brant County. Red Hickories prefer moist soil.


Red Hickory in spring, Norfolk County

Genus Carya
Leaves are compound and alternate. All are medium sized trees, except for Shellbark Hickory which is large. Trees are slow growing with hard, heavy wood. The seeds are hard-shelled nuts contained in a husk. Trees are monoecious (male and female flowers on the same tree). Emerging leaves are flower-like, with pink bracts resembling flower petals. Ontario has four species of Carya; Bitternut and Shagbark Hickory, and the Carolinian trees Red and Shellbark Hickory.

TREE FACT: Ash and Hickory are similar, both with compound leaves. Ash leaves are opposite while Hickory leaves are alternate.


A beautiful roadside row of Hickories, including Shellbark, Shagbark and Bitternut. Spring, Norfolk County.

In the Landscape
Red Hickory is a medium sized tree that can reach 20 metres, and 200 years of age. It is slow growing and rare in Canada. Red Hickory makes a nice landscape tree with its tall, slender form, and beautiful new growth in the spring.

TREE FACT: Red Hickory is known as "Pignut" hickory since the nuts are very bitter and "best left for the pigs". Some documentation refers to two different types of Hickory Glabra; Red Hickory (sweet nuts) and Pignut Hickory (bitter nuts).


Roadside Red Hickory, Norfolk County

Leaves
Red Hickory leaves are compound with 5 to 7 narrow leaflets with fine teeth. They have a high calcium content which helps to improve soil. Leaves turn yellow to gold in the fall.
Bark
The bark is thin and grey with shallow grooves.
Flowers
Red Hickory is monoecious (male and female flowers on the same tree). Hickory flowers are small and green, and appear in May with the leaves. Pollen flowers are in catkins, and seed flowers are in small upright clusters. Emerging leaves are flower-like, with pink bracts resembling flower petals. Flowers are wind pollinated.
Fruit
Red Hickory has hard-shelled nuts contained in a pear-shaped husk. The husks split open into four sections in the fall. The nuts are an important food source for small mammals and birds. Red Hickory produces nuts most years after 30 years of growth.

Wood
Hickory wood is hard and heavy, and used for tool handles and sports equipment.
Specific gravity: 0.75
Janka Hardness: 2140 lb
Wood Comparison Chart

TREE FACT: Red (Pignut) Hickory is one of the hardest of Ontario trees. It has the highest specific gravity, and second highest Janka rating.

Genetics
There is some uncertainty about the classification of Red Hickory, because Hickories readily hybridize with each other and it could be a hybrid.


Large Red Hickory in fall, Norfolk County

Link to United States Forest Service Silvics Manual for Red Hickory.

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