Hickory (Carya) is a species in the walnut family. The wood is used to make knife handle scales.
Depending on the exact classification within the genus, there are 17 to 19 species of hickory trees indigenous to North America (Canada, US and Mexico) as well as South, Southeast and East Asia (India, Indochina, China). North America has a particularly large population of hickory trees. Even the name of the trees points towards their North American origin. "Hickory" comes from the word "pocohiquara". In the language of the Algonquin, a Native American people who lived in the territory of today\'s Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec, it is the word for a drink made from the pressed nuts of the hickory tree.
The different hickory species show a very varied growth, from shrubs such as Carya floridana that reaches a height of just a few meters to the Carya illinoinensis, also known as the pecan tree, that can grow up to 45 meters tall. The so-called real hickory wood used in knife production is the wood of the mockernut hickory (Carya tomentosa), a species indigenous to the southeastern United States. The hardwood of real hickory is gray-brown with clearly visible brown streaks. Its appearance is reminiscent of the wood of European ash. Real hickory is very hard, durable and easy to process.
The indigenous people in North America used hickory wood to make bows. European settlers soon prized hickory as a desirable material for all applications requiring a very resilient, durable material – carriages, tool handles and drumsticks as well as many types of athletic equipment (baseball bats and, until the early 20th century, golf clubs). Today, bows are still made from hickory wood, just as the Native American bows were.