What is the Scientific Name for a Hickory Tree

The hickory tree is a native of America. But the plant grows in many other world regions, including China, India, Indonesia, etc.

They grow straight from the nuts they bear in their fruits, and only one tree can live and produce nuts for up to 500 years. Hickory trees are famous for their durable wood and nutritious nuts that people have used for decades.

Do you know the appearance of a hickory tree? What is the Scientific name of the plant? If not, you must keep reading.

In this blog, we will discuss everything about this classic nut tree, from its scientific name, origin, identifications, uses, myths, and legends associated with the name.

So get ready to explore the mysterious world of hickory trees.

Scientific Name and Other Details About Hickory Tree

Scientific Name and Other Details About Hickory Tree

Scientific NameCarya (genus) or Carya spp. (C.ovata, C.laciniosa, C.tomentosa, C.pallida).

Plant Family– Walnut family (Juglandaceae).

Etymology– The term hickory comes from the word pawcohiccora from the Virginia Algonquian. It means the hickory-nut meat or the milky beverage made from the nut. The word Carya comes from the Greek Karya (nut tree).

Other names of hickory – There are more than 30 different types of hickory trees available worldwide, and everyone has a different name. Here are some common names for hickory trees given by the natives- Mockernut hickory, Shagbark hickory, pale hickory, white-heart hickory, etc.

Indigenous Use of Hickory

Hickory nut trees are very useful, and indigenous peoples have used different parts of the plant for decades. The nuts of hickory trees are used for snacks and beverages. Also, the tree has various medical uses like digestive, diaphoretic, and in large dosage emetic for cold. People used to chew bark to treat sore mouths, drink steeped water for supple muscles, inner bark for dressing cuts (especially in blood vessels), and detergent.

Hickory trees are also used for various crafts, from bow making to blowgun darts, arrow shafts, etc.

Folklore About Hickory

Folklore About Hickory

There are two major folklore about hickory; in one, the Laconian kind made a temple for Dionysus and invited him. When Dionysus visited the temple, he fell for the Laconian princess Carya. But her two sisters start to put obstacles in their relationship. Angry Dionysus made them into stone. Soon, Princess Carya died due to illness, and Dionysus made her the hickory tree as a memorial.

The other story goes as Laconian princess Carya falling into a moral dilemma between the gods Apollo and Dionysus. As a result, disturbed Dionysus turns Carya into a hickory tree to save her. Later, the twin of Apollo Goddess Artemis claimed her (Carya’s) strength as her own.

Interesting Facts About Hickory

Interesting Facts About Hickory

  • Hickory trees flower during spring. Also, the plant is monoecious. Male and female flowers grow separately. Female flowers look like terminal spikes, and male flowers look like green-yellow catkins.
  • The plant also cannot perform self-pollination. And depends on pollination through the wind.
  • The hickory tree has brown or grey, furrowed bark.
  • A mature hickory tree can reach a height of 80-100 feet. Its trunk can grow up to 2-6.6 wide. It can also grow a crown up to 39-75 feet wide.
  • Most of the hickory nut species are egg-shaped, with a single pit and an outer woody husk.
  • Many forest animals like chipmunks, woodpeckers, beavers, deer, wild mice, and turkeys find the leaves, bark, and fruits of the hickory tree edible.
  • Hickory nuts contain zinc, manganese, phosphorus, and other dietary fibers.
  • The hickory nut is also beneficial for human health. One can eat the nuts as snacks. Hickory nuts reduce the chances of high blood cholesterol and gallstones in females.
  • The bark of shagbark hickory is often used to produce edible syrup.
  • The wood of the hickory tree is steel-strong and durable. In earlier days, wood was used to manufacture aircraft. Nowadays, it is used to make furniture, tool handles, and drumsticks.

Types of Hickory Tree

Hickory trees grow in different regions of the world and have more than 30 other species among them. You can find 12 different species in the US. Below, we will discuss some top hickory tree types and how to identify them-

  • Shellbark hickoryCarya Laciniosa or Shellbark hickory tree is a popular type of hickory tree. It is famous for its high-quality wood and super tasty nuts.
  • Shagbark hickory – Another popular type of hickory popular for shock-resistant wood and long lifespan.
  • Pignut hickory – Scientific name Carya Glabra. As the name suggests, nuts are the favorite of pigs and wild animals, not humans.
  • Others – black hickory, red hickory, white hickory, mockernut hickory, sand hickory, bitternut hickory, etc.


The hickory tree is scientifically known as Carya (a Greek term that means nut tree). The hickory tree is a genus plant that comes from the walnut family.

The plant is primarily native to eastern America, but you can find various spices or hickory trees in different parts of the globe, including China and India. The tree has more than 30 other species among 12 species grown in USDA regions. The plant is known for producing nutritious nuts and solid wood.

Above, we have discussed detailed information about the hickory tree from its scientific name, origin, different species, usage, myths about the hickory tree, and more.

Quinn Roberts

Quinn Roberts, with a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science from the University of Washington, has been a nature enthusiast since childhood. With over a decade of experience in environmental research, Quinn's work has been pivotal in understanding ecosystem dynamics. Joining our team in 2019, Quinn has enriched our platform with insights into natural landscapes and sustainable practices. When not working, he loves hiking and photography, capturing the serene beauty of the wilderness.

Leave a Comment