R: Pignut Hickory
Pignut is a medium-sized hardwood tree and a common component of eastern oak-hickory forests, like the one around you. How many other hickory trees can you spot here?
This slow-growing tree prefers to grow in dry areas on hillsides and ridges. Many wildlife species eat this tree’s nuts, leaves, flowers, and bark, but the nuts are particularly important for squirrels and can make up 15% of their diet.
You can identify a Pignut Hickory by its compound leaves, which hold five V-shaped, serrated leaflets. Its bark is light gray with scaly ridges. Many hickories share similar qualities and can hybridize with each other, making species-level identification difficult even for experts.