Over the past few weeks, I've been showing you photos of pecan tree bud development. However, hickories put on a more impressive display of spring bud growth (photo at right). Shagbark and Shellbark hickory produce huge terminal buds. The inner scales of these buds enlarge during bud elongation, then curl back to reveal the new shoot growth. At this time of year, these inner scales almost look like flower petals. They appear light green in color but develop a reddish tinge on the outer margins as they age.
Hickory buds go through all the same growth stages as pecan buds. The photo at left shows a Yates shagbark hickory in the bud elongation stage. Note that the true hickories have numerous bud scales that overlap each other in a spiral fashion around the emerging shoot. Pecans buds develop a single inner scale around their new shoots.
The hybrid of pecan and hickory, also known as a hican, breaks bud more like a hickory than a pecan (photo at right). Hicans produce some overlapping bud scales but these scales do not expand to the large size or create a flower petal type appearance that we see with the true hickories.