|Natural range of Carya ovata|
Carya ovata, the shagbark hickory, is a common hickory in the eastern United States and southeast Canada. It is a large, deciduous tree, growing up to 27 m tall, and will live up to 200 years. Mature shagbarks are easy to recognize because, as their name implies, they have shaggy bark. This characteristic is, however, only found on mature trees; young specimens have smooth bark.
The shagbark hickory's nut is edible and has a very sweet taste.
The leaves are 30–60 cm long, pinnate, with five (rarely three or seven) leaflets, the terminal three leaflets much larger than the basal pair. The shagbark hickory is monoecious. Staminate flowers are borne on long-stalked catkins at the tip of old wood or in the axils of the previous season's leaves. Pistillate flowers occur in short terminal spikes. The fruit is a 2.5– to 4.0-cm-long drupe, an edible nut with a hard, bony shell, contained in a thick, green four-sectioned husk which turns dark and splits off at maturity in the fall. The terminal buds on the shagbark hickory are large and covered with loose scales. The word "hickory" is said to have come from the Algonquian Indian word "pawcohiccora". Shagbark hickory nuts were a significant food source for the Algonquians. Red squirrels, gray squirrels, raccoons, chipmunks, and mice are consumers of hickory nuts. Other consumers include black bears, gray and red foxes, rabbits, and bird species such as mallards, wood ducks, bobwhites, and wild turkey.
The two varieties are :
- Carya ovata var. ovata (northern shagbark hickory) has its largest leaflets over 20 cm long and nuts 3.0–4.0 cm long.
- Carya ovata var. australis (southern shagbark hickory or Carolina hickory) has its largest leaflets under 20 cm long and nuts 2.5–3.0 cm long.
Some sources consider southern shagbark hickory as the separate species Carya carolinae-septentrionalis 
Shagbark hickory is found throughout most of the eastern United States, but it is largely absent from the southeastern and Gulf coastal plains and lower Mississippi Delta areas. An isolated population grows in eastern Canada as far north as Lavant Township, Canadian zone 4b. Scattered locations of shagbark hickory occur in the mountains of eastern Mexico. 
The nuts are edible with an excellent flavor, and are a popular food among people and squirrels alike. They are unsuitable to commercial or orchard production. Shagbark hickories can grow to enormous sizes but are unreliable bearers. The nuts can be used as a good substitute for their more southerly relative, the pecan, and have nearly the same application in baking.
The wood of the shagbark hickory has been used in a number of ways. The lumber is heavy, hard, and tough, and has been employed for implements and tools that require strength. These include: axles, axe handles, ploughs, and skis.
The bark of the shagbark hickory is also used to flavor a bitter maple-style syrup.
Shagbark hickory hybridizes with pecan, Carya illinoensis, and shellbark hickory, C. laciniosa (C. x dunbarii Sarg.). Shagbark hickory has 32 chromosomes. In general, species within the genus with the same chromosome number are able to cross. Numerous hybrids among the Carya species with 32 chromosomes (pecan, bitternut, shellbark, and shagbark) have been described, though most are unproductive or have other flaws. A few hican varieties are commercially propagated.
- Hilton Pond Center: Shaggybark Tree
- Barnes and Wagner, Michigan Trees, University of Michigan Press, 2004
- Bioimages: Carya carolinae-septentrionalis
- USDA Forest Service: Silvics Manual. Carya ovata (Mill.) K. Koch. Shagbark Hickory
- http://www.songonline.ca/ecsong/northern_shags/lavant.html The Lavant Shagbarks
- Floridata: Carya ovata. Retrieved 2012-09-30.
- Texas A&M University: Department of Horticultural Science. Hickories: Carya ovata
- Peattie, Donald Culross. Trees You Want to Know. Whitman Publishing Company, Racine, Wisconsin, 1934.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Carya ovata|
- USDA forest service description
- Flora of North America: Carya ovata
- Comparison of Shagbark, Southern Shagbark, and Kingnut Hickory at bioimages.vanderbilt.edu
- Carya ovata (= Carya ovata var. ovata ) images at bioimages.vanderbilt.edu
- Carya carolinae-septentrionalis (= Carya ovata var. australis ) images at bioimages.vanderbilt.edu
- Shagbark Hickory - large format diagnostic photos tree, leaves, bark, nuts
- northern shagbarks
- Carya ovata entry at the Plants for a Future database
- photos of leaves, bark, nut and twig
- Comparison Photos between Shagbark Hickory varieties