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Trees of Clear Lake Twp.

May 18, 2020

Article & photos contributed by Don Luepke

You've seen that face before, on the twenty dollar bill. It is Andrew Jackson, our 7th president. His nickname was “Old Hickory” because he was thought to be as tough as a hickory tree.

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Our tree feature is the native shagbark-hickory, Carya ovata. Hickories along with oaks were the primary trees that were present in our region. An excellent shade tree they are deciduous (shed leaves during the winter) and provide excellent fall foliage of a deep golden color.

"Shagbark" hickory trees derive their picturesque name from their fascinating bark. It curls out from one or both ends, protruding outward. Even when the leaves are long gone from the trees in winter, this feature provides landscape interest.

Hickories are a slow-growing tree but can live for more up to 300 years and grow to a height of 60-80 feet. Hickory wood is known for its toughness and strength. Native Americans used it for making most of their bows. It is used today to make home decor, such as flooring, cabinetry and furniture, as well as tool handles (hammers, picks axes, etc.), and sporting goods equipment. Most early golf clubs were called “hickory sticks."

And of course the wood is used to smoke all sorts of meats including poultry, beef, ribs, bacon and fish, creating a sweet, yet strong bacon-like flavor to just about all cuts of meat.

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And perhaps one of the most prized aspect of a good shagbark-hickory is its delicious nuts. Who can remember Grandma's Cinnamon Sticky Buns topped with those incredible nuts? They have a positive impact on cardiovascular health, normal growth and development, metabolism, circulation, nerve function, and kidney health. A good tree will provide a full year's supply of nuts for several families and will do so for generations.

Think about adding this legacy tree to your landscape.

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