“Momma” is an impressive, shagbark hickory tree that towers above all the other trees in Meadowmont. She is featured prominently on the Meadowmont logo because Momma is an important member of the Meadowmont community.  She was awarded the mayor’s first ever “Tree of the Year” award on January 8, 2020.  Mayor Pam Hemminger said “Our judging panel appreciated the fact that shagbark hickories are important to our piedmont region and really liked the fact that, to date, nine of the tree’s `babies’ have been transplanted to other locations within Meadowmont.”

The shagbark hickory tree is named for its thick bark plate that is attached at the middle, with both ends curving away from the trunk and giving the tree a truly shaggy appearance. Once plentiful in North Carolina, shagbark hickory trees have seen a significant decline in our area since colonial days. European settlers used shagbark hickory wood for heating fuel, because it burns slower and hotter than other fire woods. It also produces a fragrant smoke when burned, which was, and still is, used for curing meats. Its tough wood is also ideal for crafting axe handles, wagon wheels, flooring and furniture. These beneficial traits of the tree led to overuse and the subsequent deforestation of shagbark hickories in our area. Additionally, compared to most trees, they grow very slowly and are difficult to plant, which makes repopulation challenging.

Fortunately, the Meadowmont community has taken a special interest in bringing back the shagbark hickory to Chapel Hill.  As of 2013, there have been nine “Shagbark Hickory Babies” successfully transplanted, and over 30 more saplings are currently being protected and growing strong.

Momma is a tall and magnificent symbol of the importance of tree preservation, located at the gateway into Chapel Hill. She can be easily spotted at the top of the hill to the left of the fountain in the main meadow that runs along Raleigh Road/Highway 54.


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