Everything You Need to Know About Hickory Wood

Distinguished by its unparalleled robustness, the hickory tree is a deciduous hardwood species, maturing gradually and enduring for numerous years. Typically, the average lifespan of hickory trees can range from 150 to 200 years, with the most resilient among them continuing to bear seeds up to their 300th year. Apart from their notable lifespan, hickory trees are esteemed for their capacity to yield nuts. Following their maturation at around 150 or 200 years old, depending on the subspecies, these trees produce a bountiful nut crop every third year. Rich in fatty acids, these nuts serve as a valuable source of nutrients, contributing to the overall well-being of individuals. In this blog, we will discuss everything about hickory trees, delving into the myriad species and uses.

Overview of Hickory Trees

Hickory trees include the genus Carya, which contains around 18 species. Some of these species are native to different regions, including India, China, Indochina, the United States and Canada. These hickory trees deliver two primary resources: nuts and wood. Significantly, these hardwoods flourish in temperate rainforests and are known for being solid and durable. Plus, these hardwoods are naturally resistant to decay and endure longer than other wood species, such as oak and ash. There are various types of hickory trees, each with distinct characteristics.

  1. Shagbark Hickory 

The Shagbark hickory, scientifically recognized as Carya ovata, naturally thrives in the southeastern regions of Canada and throughout the eastern United States. These large deciduous trees reach heights of over 100 feet and are characterized by their distinctive shaggy bark.

  1. Shellbark Hickory 

Shellbark hickory, known scientifically as Carya laciniosa, is a hardwood from the walnut family. It usually grows 50 to 75 feet tall and is best in moist soils. Such hardwoods cannot tolerate alkaline soil and prefer growing in a large area with well-drained soil.

  1. Mockernut Hickory 

Such hardwood species are found in the eastern half of the United States. They are used to create ladder rungs, athletic goods, agricultural implements, dowels, gymnasium apparatus, poles, shafts, well pumps, and furniture.

Applications of Hickory Wood 

Hickory wood often appears light to medium brown with a reddish colour, resulting in a beautiful stained or unfinished look. Due to their distinctive appearance and exceptional durability, hickory woods are widely used for countless purposes. The following are some of the critical applications of hickory wood:

  1. Culinary Applications

Hickory wood has a low moisture content, rendering it with a high thermal energy capacity. This extremely dense firewood can produce an intense flame or fire that can reach temperatures up to 3000 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, they are widely used in smoking and barbecuing meats. From hickory planks and wood chips to wood chunks and split logs, this firewood can also add a smoky flavour to different meats, cheeses, and nuts.

  1. Furniture and Flooring

As mentioned, hickory is a sturdy and tough material. This makes it ideal for crafting furniture, including tables, chairs, benches, shelves, etc. In fact, many individuals nowadays prefer such hardwood to add warmth to their home decor projects. On the other hand, due to hickory’s exceptional appearance and wear resistance abilities, it can also be utilized for flooring purposes. These hickory wood floors combine a wide range of brown, red, and tan colour tones with lots of natural character, making them a classic choice among individuals.

  1. Tools 

With its unparalleled density, hickory has emerged as one of the dense woods able to withstand the heavy use and abuse that an axe handle endures. Today, it is used to manufacture tool handles, including hammers, picks, axes, and whatnot. These hickory tools also boast a natural springiness that helps them absorb shock, making them less likely to break or shatter when the hardwood is used to chop or split wood.


Hickory is one of the strongest and densest types of hardwood found in different countries worldwide. Known for its versatility, hickory is utilized in various ways today, from imparting a smoky flavour to meats to being transformed into durable furniture, tools, and equipment. For those looking to explore the wide range of possibilities hickory wood offers, Tropical Forest Products stands ready to support your endeavours. We travel the world to acquire the most amazing wood species nature has to offer, sourcing lumber from North America, South America, Africa, and Asia. More than 50 species are ready to ship at any time. Besides, we are proud to carry the FSC certificate, which demonstrates our commitment to sustainable forestry practices and responsible sourcing. So, get in touch with us for all your lumber needs!

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