The importance and distribution of hickoryThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
The importance and role of hickory (Carya spp.) in the Oak-Hickory forest community complex has been studied over the last 70 years and questioned by several investigators. Until recently, there were virtually no species-level landscape-scale studies that accurately defined the role of hickory in these systems. Data from the USDA Forest Service, Forest Inventory and Analysis Program, were used to describe the distribution and compositional status of several hickory species across Virginia. Oak-Hickory was the predominant forest-type group in Virginia, covering 3 859 500 ha and accounting for 78 430 000 m2 of basal area. A total of 1 880 live hickory trees (d.b.h. ≥ 12.7 cm) occurred and were measured on 51 percent of plots. Across all plots in the study, the average basal area of hickory was 1.2 m2 ha-1. On plots where hickory was present, basal area was 2.4 m2 ha-1. Mockernut (Carya tomentosa (Poir.) Nutt.) and pignut (C. glabra (Mill.) Sweet) hickory were the most prevalent hickory species measured. Mockernut (basal area = 0.5 m2 ha-1) and pignut (basal area = 0.5 m2 ha-1) were tallied on 29 and 30 percent of plots, respectively. Shagbark (C. ovata (Mill.) K. Koch) and bitternut (C. cordiformis (Wangenh.) K. Koch) hickory were also tallied, but they occurred less frequently. Hickory ranked in the top three species, by importance value, on 25 percent of all plots. This study sheds new light on the importance and species-level distribution of hickory in the Oak-Hickory forest complex at the landscape scale.