Bioimages home    main tree key    back to simple-leaved tree key 

Key of hickories
(Modified from a text key to common trees of Radnor Lake by W.G. Eickmeier)

Click on any image to see it enlarged.  Then use your browser's Back button to return to the key.
Compare Carya (hickory) features
Compare Carya fruits (hickory nuts)

1. Leaflets mostly 11 or more (5 or more pairs plus terminal), fruit with obvious wings:
Carya illinoinensis (pecan)  Note: because this tree is frequently planted, it is not clear how often it occurs naturally in this area.
top: wild fruit, bottom: cultivated fruit

1. Leaflets mostly 9 or fewer (4 pairs plus terminal), fruit without wings or with less obvious wings: go to 2

 

 

 

 

 

2. Leaflets mostly 5 to 7 (2 or 3 pairs plus terminal): go to 3

2. Leaflets mostly 7 to 9 (3 or 4 pairs plus terminal): go to 5

 

 

 

 

 

3. Bark thin ridged but not shaggy, fruit splitting only partially to base:
Carya glabra (pignut hickory)

3. Bark with large shaggy plates on medium to large trees, fruit husk easily splitting to base when mature: go to 4

 

 

 

 

 

4. Terminal leaflets about 1/4 as wide as long.  Fruit often wider than long.  Twigs slender.  Common in the vicinity of cedar glades:
Carya carolinae-septentrionalis (southern shagbark hickory)       Compare shagbark hickories.  Note: considered by some to be a subspecies of Carya ovata

 

4. Terminal leaflets about 1/3 to 1/2 as wide as long (although possible hybrids may have narrower terminal leaflets).  Fruit about as wide as long.  Twigs thick.  Common on dry ridges and slopes: 
Carya ovata (shagbark hickory)    Compare shagbark hickories.

 

 

 

 

 

5. Buds yellow, bud scales not overlapping (see terminal bud):
Carya cordiformis (bitternut hickory)

5. Buds not yellow, bud scales overlapping (see terminal bud): go to 6

 

 

 

 

 

6. Bark on medium to large trees with large shaggy plates, leaflets velvety below:
Carya laciniosa (shellbark hickory or kingnut hickory)    Compare shagbark hickories.

6. Bark shallowly to deeply furrowed, but not with large shaggy plates: go to 7

 

 

 

 

 

7. Leaflets without pubescence, bark furrows deep:
Carya ovalis (red hickory)

7. Leaflets with pubescence, bark furrows shallow:
Carya tomentosa (mockernut hickory)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.