The TreeThe trees vary according to species, from 18m to 30m or a little more in height, with diameters ranging from 0.5m to 1.0m.
The TimberAll the species are similar in appearance; the sapwood is white, and usually wide, and is generally preferred, while the heartwood is brown or reddish-brown in colour. The grain is straight, and only occasionally wavy or irregular, and the texture is coarse, not unlike ash in general appearance. The true hickories weigh about 830 kg/m3 and pecan weighs about 750 kg/m3 when dried. Although for practical purposes it is usually unnecessary to distinguish between the various species, except where high strength is required, when high density and a growth rate of less than 20 rings to 25mm is usually preferred, it is possible to separate true hickory from pecan by observing the position of the narrow bands of parenchyma in the early-wood as seen on clean cut end-grain. These bands appear like ladder rungs between the rays; in the true hickories the first band appears beyond the first row of early-wood pores, while in pecan it occurs between these large pores.
DryingAll types dry fairly rapidly without much tendency to warp and twist, but shrinkage is said to be high.
StrengthCompared with ash, hickory is much tougher, stronger in bending, stiffer, and more resistant to shock loads, and although pecan is slightly inferior, both types exceed in importance all other North American woods, where a combination of such properties is required.
Working QualitiesDifficult - Rather variable in working properties, the general run of hickory working with moderate ease, but the fast-grown wood, mostly preferred because of its higher density and strength, is relatively hard, and combined with its natural toughness tends to make it rather difficult to work. There is a tendency for the grain to tear in planing, and a reduction of cutting angle to about 200 is often necessary to overcome this. Cutting edges are inclined to dull fairly quickly, but the wood can be finished to a smooth surface, and can be glued satisfactorily.
Latin NameCarya spp, Carya glabra, Carya tomentosa, Carya laciniosa, Carya ovata
Also known aspignut hickory, mockernut hickory, shellbark hickory, shagbark hickory
OriginNorth America, Mexico