Fall color primer 3: The yellow of hickory foliage
Fall color primer 03: Hickory trees, genus Carya
Hickory trees are one reliable source of yellow color locally. The most common kinds of hickory in woodlands near my home are shagbark (Carya ovata) and shellbark, aka kingnut (C. laciniosa). Hickories aren’t popular landscape trees for small yards, for obvious reasons, so you pretty much have to see them in wooded settings, where they are almost always found together with oaks. Walking or driving through woods, many of your views of these trees are looking upward. The trees can grow to heights of 90-100 feet. That means you’re often seeing the fall colors via back (or top) lighting, which enhances the vibrance of the colors.
For those of you not (yet) accustomed to examining the leaves of trees very carefully, one way to help distinguish hickory trees from, say, maple or oak, is their compound leaves. Multiple leaflets branch from a stalk or rachis. The leaflets are larger nearer the tip of the rachis. Different species of hickory have leaves with different numbers of leaflets per stalk, leaflets of different sizes and even shapes, different kinds of leaflet margins, etc. Other trees and shrubs with compound leaves that produce colorful fall foliage include ash trees, sumac, and locust. Hickory trees are in the walnut family, and walnut trees do have compound leaves, but they are a dead washout when it comes to fall color (apart from a few green-husked walnuts left hanging on bare limbs after the leaves drop).
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arctangent2019Octobernatureseasonsfallautumnfall foliagefall colorsyellowhickoryshagbark hickoryshellbark hickorykingnut treegenus carya