Hickories, Pecans, and Walnuts are all part of the Walnut Family, Juglandaceae. They are better know for their nuts than for their blossoms. But for some, like the Pignut Hickory the real show is the opening of the buds.
For those of you who think “buds” are just little green lumps, here is a marvelous example of nature being extravagant. This young Pignut Hickory has a sensational and explosive budding ritual each spring. Some of the other Hickories bud with bright yellow petals, but this one is red and pink and a real eye catcher in the woods. From the ground, it looks like the whole tree is covered with red blossoms.
The greenish cluster at the center of this “bud” are the new leaflets emerging. Once the buds begin to open, it only takes a couple of days for the leaflets to unfurl and go to work; cleaning our air, releasing the oxygen we need to breath and locking up the carbon (that is causing global warming) for as long as the tree shall live.
And another thing… The amount of nuts that these trees produce is amazing. They can be almost 2 inches in diameter, but the actual nut meat is very small. The wildlife eat them all through the winter and well into the spring. I don’t care for them myself, they are bitter, but they make wonderful ammunition for my sling shot.
(Click on any image in the list to see it full sized)