The ground underneath a Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata) tree is a dangerous place to be during late summer and early fall--particularly if you have a sizeable squirrel population in your neighborhood. Many times I've come close to getting bopped on the head by falling nuts!
I'm joining in Loose and Leafy's "Tree Following" meme, and my posts each month are about our Shagbark Hickories.
I suppose the Hickory nut drop probably wouldn't cause serious damage to my head--and might even knock some sense into me. But it can be quite a surprise to see the moderately sized nuts (one to two inches in diameter) dropping from several yards up in the tree.
Someone asked me in the comments of an earlier post if I harvest and eat the Hickory nuts. The answer is "no." And the main reason is that the squirrels get to them first! Even before the nuts are full-size the squirrels gnaw on the branches to dislodge the nuts.
Occasionally, I manage to grab a few nuts as they drop before the squirrels snatch them up, but the nutmeats are quite small at this stage, and hardly worth all the effort for a few bites.
Here are a few observations:
Evidence of a squirrel party;
Nuts dried for about a week.
I've read that you should dry the nuts in the sun for two weeks and the husks will naturally pull away from the nut. But if I leave them outside, the squirrels will get them!
So I've been drying them inside in a sunny window for about a week. They're not quite ready, but I'll break them open so you can see what's inside.
Sliced and partially peeled hull;
Hulled Hickory nut in the shell;
And cracked open.
You can see that the nutmeats themselves are rather small. If they had a chance to grow larger before the squirrels got them, however, they might be more substantial and tasty.
Apparently, this little fellow thinks they're delish.
Personally, I find them ... rather bland. But maybe if I'm able to get some larger ones and let them dry a little longer, I'll be a convert.
So, that's a brief update on the Shagbarks. The leaves are still deep green and not much sign of changing color. One could say the trees are at the peak of their productivity--providing food, beauty, shade, and shelter all at the same time.
To read about trees other bloggers are following, visit Lucy at Loose and Leafy.
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