The shellbark hickory is most prominent in the lower Ohio River region and south along the Mississippi River to central Arkansas. Although very similar to shagbark hickory, shellbark hickory does have some key differences. The shellbark hickory prefers wet sites. Another difference between the two species is the number of leaflets on the leaf, the shellbark has 7 large leaflets while the shagbark only has 5. Shellbark hickories are also referred to as kingnut hickory because the produce the largest nut of all the native hickories. At maturity the shellbark hickory nut can reach the diameter of a tennis ball! The shellbark hickory played a role in forging our nation. It’s tough, shock-resistant wood was used to make gunstocks, ramrods, and tool handles. This hickory tree also provided food on the frontier and dozens of useful products and medicines.