Most of the trees on our property are hardwood, the only softwoods are several types of pine (see Trees #1 – Great Eastern White Pine) and what they call Red Cedar (Virginia juniper). Our climate is mild enough in Prince Edward County that we are in what they call the Carolinian Forest, or the great Eastern hardwood forests which stretch all the way from the Carolina’s in the south to the southernmost parts of Ontario.
I have been holding off featuring the hardwoods until early October when they normally reach the peak of their glorious fall colours (and then, I warn you, if the weather is bright you may not see anything but pictures of their foliage for a while!).
However, the Shagbark Hickory ( Carya ovate) has been catching our attention lately. There are quite a few of them here but one tree along the pathway from the Cottage to our new house doesn’t let us ignore it. It is so heavily laden with hickory nuts that we have to bend to get underneath the bowing branches.
We have read that the nuts are very good too eat, quite similar to pecans, and we are looking to forward to trying them. There seems to be a bumper crop of them this year but we have read that squirrels love them too and that they don’t always wait until they are ripe to harvest them. So we shall see if we are able to get any ripe ones.
And the bark of the shagbark hickory is……….shaggy!
The wood is very hard and tough. Some small shagbark hickories had to be taken down near the house site and I cut and split them for firewood. No matter how sharp I had the saw blade, the wood took twice as long as any other type to cut. While struggling to split some of the pieces, I came to realize why baseball bats and other types of sports equipment that need to be very strong are often made of hickory!
The trees can grow quite large. We haven’t found any particularly large specimens on our property yet but some are respectably large.