Small wide hickory nut ID

Top left shellbark hickory nut.
Top right mockernut.
Bottom left shagbark.

Bottom right ???

I am not sure… I collected 30 or so of those small wide hickory nuts and have eaten all but these last two. I remember they had a thicker husk like mocker and shag do.

But they do not look like shag to me… and I have not found any other mockernuts that look just like that either… not that tiny and wide.

Any guesses on what kind of hickory nut that is ?

It taste very good… like mocker and shag and shell.

The pic above shows a shag split (top) and that tiny wide nut split (bottom).

This shows the nut meat.

I can almost always get a shag to crack out nicely in 4 quarters… and this small nut does that well too… but the small nut has more ridges and valleys on the nut meat. Mockers do not crack out that well.

Shag nuts are usually a bit longer than they are wide… and all these small wide nuts were as wide or wider than they were long.

Wondering if that small wide nut might something different like a southern shag ?



do any of those nuts hybridize?

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@steveb4 … I think they may do that some.

I have a hickory in my field that is very shaggy… just looking at the bark you would sure think it was a shag.

But the nut it produces is a pignut … has the snout… pretty obvious pignut.

All other pignuts on my property have a rather smooth bark… slightly raised ridges but no shaggyness at all.

That small wide nut I found at another location… I thought it was just a very small mockernut… but it cracks out well… giving 4 chunks… where all my other mockers do not.

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seeing they all evolved together, id think they share alot of the same genetics. im betting hybrids amongst them happen often.

I think it’s a shagbark. I’ve seen a lot of native shagbark nuts like that. I am not an expert at hickory ID.

Kernel and nut pass for simple Shagbark genetics, for me, however. Counting the leaves is the first thing to do, however. Shag’s leaves are in groups of (mainly 5’s) per (branchlet). I’ve seen a lot of 7’s on shagbark’s too… and you know I’ve seen 9’s plenty of times, too. It’s weird to grab a few branches and find 9’s and 7’s and then walk away and later return to find mostly 5’s and to have assumed you had been looking at a different species - the last time (you) were looking at tree(s). So, beware with hickories…


@Barkslip - it sure cracks like a shag… but looks quite different (shape wise) and is much smaller than any other shag nuts I have found so far.

I have a Document from Univ of TN Extension that details Hickory Trees in TN.


That is how they describe Shag (Shellbark) and Southern Shag.
Per a Map I found last week that shows the Natural Range of Shellbark Hickory… Not in my County… or any County that neighbors mine. As that description says mostly in BIG RIVER bottom areas in TN.

The description above of Shag and Southern Shag are quite similar…


Looks like both commonly have 5 leaves.


And both have similar thick husk… I do remember that small wide hickory nut having thick husk.

Now in that section above it gives more details including fruit size, twig differences, etc…
The way they describe the fruit size is a little confusing to me…

Shag - fruit round, 1.5-2 inch wide, thick husk, small nut.

Southern Shag - fruit smaller, 1 inch, thick husk.

I guess where they are saying Fruit they mean the whole nut (husk and all).
Shag nut including the Husk 1.5-2 inch (.05 husk thickness).
Southern Shag, fruit size 1 inch, .05 husk…

Seems like the Southern Shag (nut) minus the husk would have to be quite a bit smaller than the Shag.


If I get a chance I will check out the twigs and terminal bud…


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Actually they’re describing the nut/fruit not including the husk(s).

I see Shags up here from .5 inch to .75 inch typically. Southern shag is where ‘Grainger’ fits in. I didn’t know but had assumed the southern species had larger nuts because up here they cannot even ‘relate’ to Grainger. I’m not sure about them saying: “Southern Shag - Fruit smaller, 1 inch, thick husk.” @Fusion_power would know though.

On the nut size…

I have collected shag bark nuts from 7-8 different shagbark trees here in my county…
None of these were really HUGE trees… 12-18" diameter trees. I hope to find some larger trees over time, perhaps larger nuts ?

The nuts all seem to average 1.5" long (tip to tip) and 1" wide.

This little short wide nut is 3/4" from tip to tip, and 7/8" wide.

A nice person on this site sent me some Shellbark nuts and Shagbark nuts from the KY state.
His shagbark nuts are same size as mine. Very little difference.


Grainger above and Native New York State shagbark hickory from a member here on the group that I had at my disposal at the time this photograph was taken.

Typical Northern IL shagbark hickory. A smidge bigger than those New York nuts coming from a zone 4a I believe:


The Grainger Shagbark Hickory was discovered in Tennessee in 1935.


Wow now that is a BIG Shag.
Have not found one like that in my County — YET…
I would bet it was found in a BIG RIVER bottom area too… like the Shellbark.

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You nailed that, I’ll bet. We won’t know for certain until Darrel chimes his answers of wisdom!

Thanks TNH

Here is perhaps a better comparison picture of the small wide nut vs an average shagbark.

I say it’s still a shagbark and if it isn’t then it might be mockernut; I’ve not been able to release mockernut kernels nor do I know anyone else who has - as you were able to demonstrate. Those kernels look too much like shagbark, again.

The shape is wrong for mockernut, however, it is best to get a look at the tree in early summer to be sure. I would vote shagbark unless something else is indicated. For a trivia item, I found a hickory tree about 30 years ago that made very elongated nuts similar to a long pecan. It was not a hybrid. I was never quite sure what species but suspect it was mockernut based on knowing what grows in the area. The tree was cut down a year later for firewood. It did not have any significant value, just was an unusual shape for a hickory.


Found a decent pic of Carya carolinae-septentrionalis (Southern Shagbark) Top…
vs Shag Middle, Shell bottom.

The regular shag in that pic looks much like mine.
The southern shag nut in that pic looks to be quite a bit larger than mine. possible I guess.

Anyway it is a good little nut, cracks out OK, taste good, and I will keep picking them up.


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The Carya trees around here cross easily. and some are really hard to identify. We have Bitternut, so any cross with that is obvious by taste, but others? I’m planting Northern pecan from seed to add new genetics to the mix!

@Ged … I have seen this vid on youtube…

A cross of shag and bitternut… he says it produces a nut with thinner shell that is not bitter.

I have bitternut here too… down at buffalo river lots. I ate one this fall not knowing what to expect… nasty bitter.

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Very cool. I guess I’ll be tasting a bunch more nuts now. The shagbarks only seem to set nuts every few years, longer if it’s dry. But the bitternuts seem to have something every year. No shellbark here, and I’m unclear if others are pignut,or possibly mockernut, or maybe different hybrids. Makes me wonder how any of them breed true.