My husband, Ron, is adamant about his exercise. We walks the roads around our property every day picking up trash as he goes. If you live out here I'm sure you have seen him. Recently, he brought me home a small handful of nuts. He asked me to figure out what they were. I started to google them but he was faster on the research than me. They are hickory nuts.
Per Ron's research, here is the skinny on hickory nuts. They are related to both the pecan and the walnut. There are quite a few species of hickory so most of the characteristics have a range. The nuts we found are deeply credulated and lean more towards a walnut than a pecan.
They vary in taste but can be every bit as sweet as a pecan but are much more difficult to shell. They have a husk that's bigger than a pecan but much smaller than a black walnut. I found one mention of using the hickory nut husks for a green dye. I'm going to have to try that. Green dyes that don't require over-dyeing a yellow with indigo are hard to come by.
I needed to see the hickory trees so Ron and I went out for a short drive. The trees are tall and similar to a pecan tree in shape - or at least I think they probably are.
The trees Ron found are near the road but in a section of crowded forest with many other trees. The hickory can have very shaggy bark - our trees have crenulated bark but it's not shaggy.
It turns out that hickory nuts are one of the few nuts historically eaten raw by Native Americans. All hickory nuts are edible although the more bitter varieties are probably less inviting.
Hickory wood is used for smoking meats and bar-b-queing and it also makes beautiful floors such as mine.
Ron has been back to this same stretch of road to collect more hickory nuts. He is cracking them with his vice and then picking out the nut meat in small pieces. I think hickory nut cookies are in the offing. The raw nut tastes pretty good so I'll bet the cookies will too!