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- SE Maine southwestward to central Mississippi and E Texas
- E Texas northward to Iowa and central Wisconsin
- Central Wisconsin eastward to New York and SE Maine
- Lacking from most of South Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plains and Lower Mississippi Valley
This hickory is distinct because of its bark, sections of which peel away from the trunk (giving the species its common name). The leaves usually have five leaflets that are mostly smooth except for fine hairs present along the teeth at the edges. Shagbark hickory grows both on upland slopes and well-drained lowlands. Blooming takes place in spring; the male flowers, borne on catkins, release their copious wind-blown pollen that fertilizes the few female flowers found near the ends of the twigs. The nuts are sweet and enclosed within a moderately thin husk.