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Brandon Miller and Nina Bassuk

Impressive ornamental features including exfoliating bark and golden fall color are among the reasons why hickories [Carya (Nutt.)] are sought after by horticulturists. Their potential for application in the green industry continues to grow as producers and consumers in the United States become more interested in adopting native plants; however, an absence of knowledge that defines which species are tolerant of abiotic stresses in the landscape limits their use. If production of stress-tolerant hickories increases, they could be used to diversify urban forests and may bolster the resiliency of managed landscapes. We examined the predicted leaf water potential at the turgor loss point to estimate drought tolerance among several species of hickories and pecans adapted to growing in northern climates in the United States. Our hypotheses were that because some bottomland habitats experience seasonal drought in addition to flooding, taxa adapted to these sites may be more drought tolerant than previously assumed, and that the degree of drought tolerance would be variable within species and populations. Predicted mean leaf turgor loss measured in summer across species was −3.38 MPa. Kingnut hickory [Carya laciniosa (F. Michx.) Loud.] exhibited the lowest mean summer leaf turgor loss point −3.64 MPa), whereas pignut hickory [Carya glabra (Mill.) Sweet.] exhibited the highest (−3.20 MPa). Provenance of trees studied influenced estimated drought tolerance of C. laciniosa. Variability between individual trees within each species was observed, suggesting clonal selections of each taxon can be made for drought-prone landscapes. The results of this work imply that all the species studied are at least moderately drought tolerant and should be considered for planting in managed landscapes. Further, species often associated with riparian habitats may exhibit substantial tolerance to drought and should not be excluded from use on drought-prone sites.

Free access

Brandon M. Miller and William R. Graves

A reputation for coarse root systems with dominant taproots, and for slow shoot development among seedlings, limits use of hickory species (Carya Nutt.) that could increase diversity in managed landscapes. We examined effects of root pruning and application of auxin on root and shoot development of seedlings of several species of hickory. Our hypothesis was that pruning the radicle shortly after seed germination and subsequent treatment with auxin would increase root branching without curtailing development of the shoot. Germinated seeds of Carya aquatica (F. Michx.) Nutt., Carya cordiformis (Wangenh.) K. Koch, Carya laciniosa (F. Michx.) Loudon, Carya ovata (Mill.) K. Koch, and Carya tomentosa (Lam.) Nutt. were treated by removing two-thirds of the length of the radicle with and without immediate application of 3000 mg·L−1 indole-3-butyric acid (IBA) via Hormex rooting powder #3 to the remaining one-third of radicle. Neither treatment altered stem height, stem caliper, or root dry weight. After 75 days, root-pruned seedlings of Carya ovata without auxin had 42% fewer fibrous first-order lateral roots than did unpruned controls. Root pruning plus auxin led to a 79% increase in the number of fibrous first-order lateral roots of C. laciniosa and an ≈50% increase in the shoot dry weight of C. aquatica. Both root pruning and root pruning plus auxin evoked formation of taproot branches for all species. Because species differed in responses of root and shoot systems to root pruning with and without auxin, the practice should be implemented cautiously based on the species.