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The Hickories

tree, species, leaves, shagbark and twigs

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THE HICKORIES.

What other fire ever so hot, so brilliant, or so cheering. as one fed by hickory logs ! What other lumber combines so well the qualities of hardness, toughness, tiul strength ! What other nuts are so good to eat as hickory nuts ! It. certainly looks like open itism for Nature to plant all but one of the hickories in eastern North America. A single species found in AIexico is the only one native to any other part of the world. But here they are, and we are proud and happy to have them. Among the six or mo•e species there is not one to make excuses for. Tall, symmetrical, stately trees they are, Nvbether clothed in summer verdure, or lifting hare a•MS 111) to a Avintry sky. Hickories have no look of heaviness nor of weakness. There is. rather, that fine blending of strength and grace which is seen in the sinewy frame of the athlete.

The genus Hicoria has no more valuable species than the comuw:i Shagbark 11 ickory, or Shellbark Hickory, //ivoria unit(. Its mon names call attention to its must noticeable character. The tree begins very early in life to shed its bark in long, thin vertical strips. These often remain attached at the middle some time after they have sprung away at the ends and sides. The leaves of this tree have commonly but five leaflets, though sometimes there are seven. The branches end in stout twigs. which have promi nent terminal winter buds with dark and pointed (inter scales. In the late spring the unfolding of these great buds is a sight to remember. The outer scales drop off, hut the inner ones. smooth and satiny, lengthen and curve back, forming a graceful gauntlet, out of which the young leaves rise like fingers of an opening hand. The fruit of the Shagbark is second only to the pecan in popular ity. It always commands a good price. It is a thin-shelled nut, sweet and of excellent flavor. The range of this species centers in the Ohio valley, but the tree is found, north and south, from the Mississippi valley to the Atlantic coast.

The Big Shellhark, Ifico•itt °sit, is found growing from New York to Oklahoma. It is a tree of large size, with pale gray hark which is shed in thin plates. after the fashion of the common shellbark. " King Nut" the tree is also called by reason of its fruit, which is like the common shag bark in form and flavor, but is much larger. In winter this tree may he distinguished from all other hickories liv its orange red twigs.

The Mockermat or Big Bud 11 ick orv, /ficoria t///n, has close gray hark which shows no tendency to peel in strips or to grow shaggy. The great

terminal buds of tins tree shed their outer scales early in Ivinter, exposing the inner yellow silky ones. These lengthen in spring, displaying a red lining. which makes the tree as striking and beautiful au object as the shagbark at the same season. The Mockernut has the stockiest twigs and branches to be found among the hickories. The leaves are large, with seven to nine leaflets, which yield a pleasant aroma when crushed.

White-heart is a name applied to this tree by reason of its white sapwood. Tlds is a misnomer, for the heartwood is brown. That the fruit is a great dis appointment the name ".Mockernut " gives

The Pignut, Iliveria has all the traits of a fine lawn and park tree, and by any other name might come into the popularity it deserves. But who, by taking thought, would wish a tree to be planted in the midst of his lawn? It seems incongruous to the average person. We must lay the blame on the early settlers, who named the tree when they saw their pigs fall upon the nuts with avidity when turned out to forage in the woods. The botanists might have re-named the tree the `' Smooth —*bp/ meaning smooth—for the twigs and leaves are usually free from pubes cence. The bark is close and gray, and cut with shallow fissures. The branches are strong and slender, and end in delicate drooping twigs. The winter buds are small and brown. The nut is borne in a. thin four ridged husk that opens half-way to the base. The nutshell is very thick and hard. To human taste the kernel is insipid or bitter, but to the creatures of the woods it is delectable. Few nuts are spared to grow except in years of unusual plenty. The Pignut has a very extensive range, and exhibits a marked tendency to vary. Occasion ally a tree shows the bark-shedding peculiarity of the shagbark, and has smooth leaves of but live leaflets. Some botanists call this form Illeorin yl«bra, var. inie•ocarit. Others think it is a distinct species, and they call it Ifiewnt microcaryia. It seems like a hybrid between the Pignut and the shagbark.

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