39. Red Hickory

(Carya ovalis)

Other Common Names: Spicebark Hickory, Sweet Pignut Hickory

Family: Juglandaceae

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North of Denny Hall is the only old hickory on campus. Red hickory was once considered a hybrid species, a cross of pignut and shagbark hickories, but now it is recognized as its own species. All hickory trees are known for their nuts, their strong yet supple wood, and bright yellow October color. This specimen, healthy and handsome, makes small nuts that are not worth eating. Red hickory forms a straight trunk that continues the entire height of the tree, occasionally splitting off into two or three large limbs. The lower limbs grow bending downwards, the middle limbs grow horizontally, and the top limbs reach upward to the sky. This is a defining feature of all hickories. Red hickory commonly has seven leaflets on its compound leaves, but this specimen has only five. The bark is grey to dark brown and sharply furrowed with deep crevices and red highlights between scales. The wood is heavy, hard, tough and elastic. In the past it has been used to make wagons, agricultural tools, and tool handles.

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