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How to Identify Hickory Wood

Hickory trees are harvested for both their nuts and wood. Hickory wood is a durable wood used to make floors, cabinets, furniture and even handles for tools. Nowadays, hickory wood is also used to smoke, cure and barbeque meats giving them that distinct hickory flavor. Fortunately, compared to other kinds of woods, hickory wood has some distinguishing features, which makes it easy to identify.

Look at the color of the aged wood that was on the inner side of the hickory tree trunk. This is called the heartwood. Hickory heartwood has a reddish-brown or tan color.

Look at the color of the young wood that was on the outside of the tree trunk. This is called the sapwood. Hickory sapwood is a cream or white color. The extreme contrast of the two colors is a distinct property of hickory wood and is often on the same piece of wood.

Examine the grain. The grain of hickory wood is typically straight, but there can be some irregular waves.

Feel the texture. Hickory wood is a little bit coarse compared to other woods.

Identify A Shagbark Hickory Tree

The shagbark hickory tree grows naturally in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 5 through 8A. Be aware, however, that the tree can be cultivated in other areas. Each leaf is 4 to 8 inches long and green with a yellow fall color. Each twig also has another set of leaves that grow across from one another. The tips of the leaves of the shagbark hickory tree have dense groupings of hairs that are individually quite thin. The bark of a young shagbark hickory tree is brown, but it will turn gray as the tree ages. Look at the tree’s distinctive buds. Locate the tree’s fruit, which is about 1 inch in diameter. As it matures, it develops several ridges. Open the fruit with a knife.

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