A dozen species of hickory trees are native to the United States, but some can be difficult to identify. Hickory nuts are high in fat and protein, and they are an important source of food for some mammals. Blue Jays play an important role in dispersing them. Many moth caterpillars, aphids, leafhoppers, treehoppers, beetles, bugs, and other insects feed on hickory trees. The wood is very hard and strong, and it is used for a variety of purposes, including tool handles, wheel spokes, paddles, and walking sticks. It is used extensively in wood-burning stoves and to barbecue meat. It is also popular for wood flooring and cabinets because of its resistance to wear. Baseball bats used to be made of hickory, but most are now made of ash. Hickory nuts are a favorite food of Southern Flying Squirrels; one way you can tell if these nocturnal mammals are around is if you find round gnawed holes in nuts at the base of a hickory tree.
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