SHAGBARK HICKORY TREE NEAR AN OLD COUNTRY CHURCH
A few weeks ago, I was meandering around a piece of property where an old country church stood but was now abandoned. I had been to this property before and thought I could capture some better photos of the church than I had taken previously.
As I wandered about, snapping photos, I nearly bumped into a tree. The tree that I had almost bumped into was a majestic Shagbark hickory tree that was back-lite by a dark blue clear sky. Its shaggy appearance was humorous yet appealing and its height and girth told me it was middle aged to elderly, appearing quite healthy.
SHAGBARK HICKORY NUT HUSKS CRACKED OPEN
ON THE GROUND BY THE TRUNK OF THE SHAGBARK TREE
I instinctively looked down at the ground to search for hickory nuts that I knew would have dropped from the tree around this time -- providing a rich food source for wildlife.
There appeared to have been a banquet on the ground around the base of the tree. Nut husks were cracked open in fragments, fragments that once contained white nut meats. It was evident that some wild critters had certainly enriched their diets. It could have been any of the wildlife that can be found in the area such as Gray squirrels, Eastern chipmunks, White Footed mice, or wild turkeys -- all known to devour Shagbark nuts.
Missing from the Shagbark hickory banquet were bears that love the nuts as well as the native American population that used the nuts in their diet.
This very Shagbark could be almost 200 years old as they are known to live that long. If it is, that means that it actually could have had in its early life a few bears and native Americans feasting on its bounty. Perhaps these former area residents did visit this tree at one time. If only this tree could tell us its story.
Hilton Pond, Center for Piedmont Natural History