July 08, 2014

Tree Following: The Shady Shagbarks

sun

It's the height of summer and our Shagbark Hickories (Carya ovata) are saving us money on our air-conditioning (A/C) bill.

I'm joining Loose and Leafy's "tree following" meme each month with updates on our twin Shagbark trees.

This is the time of year when they really earn their keep! I rarely turn on the A/C anyway, until temperatures hit about 85F/30C and higher. But fortunately, we've been hovering around 80F/27C for several weeks--which is perfectly comfortable in my book. It's fabulous to have the windows open, with fresh air pouring in!

shade

The Shagbarks help, no matter how hot it gets. The other day, I walked from the sunny west-side potager to the shade of the Shagbarks, and the temperature seemed to drop about 10 degrees! Their patch of ground provides deep shade for humans, other mammals, birds, and other critters.

Other observations about the Shagbarks in July:

moss and lichen

It's true what they say about moss: It does, indeed grow on the north side of the tree. There's a bit of moss on the other sides, but a very healthy patch on the north. The tree bark also has a healthy coating of lichens.

sawflies

Earlier in the growing season, I noticed there were holes in some of the leaves. I don't believe the infestation has gotten any worse, but the leaves are now larger and the holes are bigger. The leaves are never perfect, but they seem a little more affected this year. I'm pretty sure it's a sign of sawflies. I'm monitoring it, but my understanding is that the trees should be fine if we don't have repeated infestations. I'll try some organic treatments of the soil around the trees--where next year's larvae will hatch.

leaf

Many of the leaves are near-perfect: Catching the sun in their capillaries and carrying on the miracle of photosynthesis.

nuts

Hickory nuts--a definite hit with our resident squirrels--are forming. I'd estimate these are about one inch in diameter at this point.

heart

The bark is as interesting as ever. The heart shape that I've included in previous posts is now aging and splitting, and I'm starting to see other shapes (maybe a good post for next month).

bats

Is there a bat up there? Indiana and Little Brown Bats often use Hickories for daytime roosting. (Check out the link: It's fascinating!)

All in all, the Shagbark Hickories are looking good. Plenty of moisture, warmth, and sunshine should help them recover from 2012's drought and last winter's polar vortex. Their deep taproots (several feet deep, depending on the soil) protect them from both extremes, but also make them difficult to transplant.

To learn how other bloggers' trees are faring this July, visit Lucy at Loose and Leafy. Happy tree following!

40 comments:

  1. Beth I adore your tree...the bark was my favorite part and now those hickory nuts are fabulous. We used to live in an old grove of 100 ft black walnut trees...we had thousands of black walnuts and so did the squirrels....they looked a lot like your hickory nuts but a bit smaller...and the shade they provided was amazing...rarely used the air conditioner there as it was always so cool under those trees. Sounds like heaven...

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    1. Oh... your description of the grove of trees is dreamy. It must have been difficult for you (your parents?) to have a vegetable garden, though, with all those Black Walnuts. We have lots of Black Walnuts up at our cottage, and the squirrels love them as much as the Hickory nuts.

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  2. The most interesting thing from this plant is the bark. It looks like the bark of a very old tree. The leaf is almost similar to 'Jati' (Tectona grandis). The nut is so interesting. I have never seen before. Is this an edible nut?

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    1. I know--the bark is wonderful. Yes, the Hickory nut is edible. One of my friends said I should collect them and harvest them, but it's complicated process. Plus, they provide food for the wildlife. Actually, the squirrels usually grabe them all before I have a chance to harvest, anyway. I'll have to look up the Jati tree.

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  3. Handsome Shagbarks . . . I am becoming informed through you!

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    1. Great trees--we were fortunate that they were here when we moved in. They add a lot of charcter to the garden.

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  4. Good evening!!!!

    As I recall, you are just a state away from me! Now, are you having the torrential rains like we are this year? We are literally water logged,and this rain has changed the growth pattern of our flowers. Even the rabbits in our yard have disappeared ( I fear their nests have been washed away) and our lakes and rivers are way over the top of their levels. But there is great beauty to be found, and your area is lovely. Thank you so much for coming by to visit! Anita

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    1. Hi Anita: Yes, I'm in Southern Wisconsin. We've definitely had some strong storms and lots of rain, but I don't think quite as much as you in Minnesota. Rabbits washed away? Wow, I've never heard of that! We have way too many rabbits here, as usual. Maybe they washed over into Wisconsin. ;-)

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  5. Every time I see this tree I am wishing that I had such a beauty in my yard. It's gorgeous...[I'm a tree lover].

    Oh, and for me it's February.

    Definitely.

    Jen

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    1. Your favorite month is February? Really? I wouldn't have guessed it. Yes, I do believe you would enjoy a Shagbark Hickory or two or three on your property. Great trees!

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  6. Thank you for a fascinating post. I also like trees with unusual bark, but nothing beats your Shagbarks! I love the last picture looking up along the trunk, great photography.

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    1. Thank you, Masha. I'm a big bark fanatic, too. A few that come to mind are Rainbow Eucalyptus and Crape Myrtle. Strange bark adds so much to a tree's personality.

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  7. Good timing! I was wondering about a tree I'd spotted nearby, and your post leads me to concludes it's a shagbark hickory. Or some kind of hickory. I see them in a lot of wild areas of North Carolina, but sadly, they don't save us money on our air conditioning bill.

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    1. Sorry about the A/C bill. ;-) Most summers I have the A/C on for most of July, but this year is so very pleasant. Must be a holdover from the bitter cold winter. Glad to help you ID a tree.

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  8. It is amazing how the temperature seems to drop when you walk into a shady area. Are the shagbark hickories edible?

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    1. Yes, and yes! Sometimes the temperature drop is more perceptible than others. Regarding the Hickory nuts, yes they are edible. I usually leave them for the squirrels because their shells are complicated, but they are edible nuts. Here's a link about it: http://www.artofeating.com/tt/shagbarkhickorynuts.htm.

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  9. Truly a fabulous tree in every way! I love having the windows open too but we've been in the 90's lately so the A/C has been running more than I would like. It's true the temps drop under the shade of a tree ~ I think I've read 10 or 20 degrees which is why we should all have some!

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    1. It is, and it's fun to follow it through the seasons. So interesting that you're so warm again, and we're cooler than normal. I'm really enjoying the perfect temps, although next week will be a bit cool for my tastes in July. And, yes, trees are great natural air-conditioners!

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  10. What an interesting post. I love your amazing tree. I have never actually seen a shagbark. The bark is beautiful. And I can see how you must be glad of the shade if it gets so hot where you live.

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    1. Thanks, Chloris. I've been wanting to visit your blog, but when I click on your link it takes me to your Blogger profile, but no website or blog is listed. I don't know if you'll see this, but just wanted to let you know. Most summers, it gets pretty hot around here in July and August. But so far, this year, it's near perfect.

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  11. In high summer when we step into the pool of shade around our 2 ash trees, I feel reverence as if stepping into a cathedral, that gentle balm of coolth. In our hot dry summers some of the balm is the moisture in the air around trees. No aircon in our house and except for the worst few days, we are comfortable.

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    1. Yes, yes, I know what your mean! I'm guessing your climate gets hotter than mine during the peak of summer, so the trees would be event more critical because of their cooling effect. I have a pretty high tolerance for heat, but I can't get anything done when it's hot. I just want to sit in the shade and drink lemonade or swim in a pool. Come to think about it, that sounds mighty nice around now. ;-)

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  12. Your tree is lovely Beth, and I still feel like stretching out and touch it!
    Have you ever tasted the nuts from the tree? Would be interesting to know what they taste like :-)

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    1. Thanks, Helene. Yes, it's definitely one of those tactile trees. I seem to remember trying the Hickory nuts way back and not being particularly impressed, but I've read that some people think they're very tasty. I'll have to try some this fall and report on the flavor for the tree following meme!

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  13. The shade trees such as this have much value come the heat of summer. Our street is losing the Norway Maples and every year it gets a bit warmer. The hickory is a fine tree and so useful in so many ways.

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    1. I agree, Donna. It's great to have a mix of sun and shade, but the shade is particularly important to wildlife. And it helps to cool our houses.

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  14. We have a friend with a hickory grove. It is wonderful!

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    1. That sounds fabulous--an entire Hickory grove! We have two trees, and I'm so glad the previous owner planted them.

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  15. Your weather sounds fabulous to me! And shade is ever precious here, too. I have to admire your tree's shaggy bark.

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    1. The weather has been great. I little cool yesterday (unseasonably so for July), but overall no complaints about the weather this summer.

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  16. They are wonderful trees Beth, love the moss and lichen, and those nuts look tasty even to me! Glad to see some leaves are still perfect too, they are such a great shape. I love the instant chill from walking into the shade of trees on a hot day. Much better than noisy air conditioning.

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    1. I know--I try to avoid the A/C as much as possible. I love a cool summer breeze blowing through the house!

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  17. What an excellent tree! Love the shaggy bark (and the idea of bats in there somewhere).
    And the nuts look very hard - I see from your link that they are a bit of a hassle to prepare!
    All the best :)

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    1. Thanks for stopping by! Yes, the outer husk of the nuts is a little messy. And then the shell can be a bit tough to crack. I'll try to grab some this fall before the squirrels get them, to show the harvesting process and comment on the taste of the nuts.

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  18. Very nice! My parents have some big Sweetgum trees that provide shade for their house. They hate the trees because they drop so many spiky sweet gum balls all over the place, but they can't bring themselves to cut them down because they provide such great cooling benefits for the house. Definitely great to have some mature trees like that! I love the Shagbarks.

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    1. Ah, yes. The trees can be a little messy--especially in the fall when the nuts are dropping. But the squirrels take care of most of them for us. ;-)

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  19. Wonderful post, I love these trees. Years ago I was hired to move ten shagbark hickories with our tree spade from a woods to a new house. I was astounded by the depth of the tap roots on these 10' tall trees. And I was terrified they wouldn't survive the move, but they did. For an additional perk, I was able to take a one foot tall hickory home to plant in our yard. It is now over 15' tall and after seeing your post, I'm sure I will come to regret the fact I didn't plant a few more. But it's never too late, right?

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    1. Wow, I'm amazed that they survived, too! That must have been quite a challenge, Karen. Of course--it's never too late. Glad you have at least one. :)

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  20. I couldn't cope with the heat you live with - even in the shade! To look up through a leaf with the sun shining through - it always brings one up against the power of nature and the wonder of science. Both. And there's something cooling in seeing it too. Maybe because it's only by looking up from the shade one can see leaves in such detail.

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    1. I love summer! Temperatures anywhere from 75F to 90F (24C to 32C) are fine by me. After that, give me a cold drink and a pool or an ocean and no physical work and I'm OK. Regarding the leaves--yes, they're fascinating! Especially as you say, looking up through the shade. Fabulous! Thanks, again, for hosting the meme!

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