En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - February 26, 2014

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Lifespan of pecan from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

What is the lifespan of a pecan tree? I've seen several places say up to a thousand years, but I'd always thought it was closer to around 300 years. Thanks!

ANSWER:

Since you are in Austin, as is the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, we are going to direct you to our webpage on Carya illinoinensis (Pecan). It does not mention a possible lifetime length, but does have a couple lines in it we thought you would appreciate.

"The largest of the hickories, pecan typically grows 70-100 ft. and can reach 160 ft."

"Pecan is one of the most valuable cultivated plants originating in North America. Improved varieties with large, thin-shelled nuts are grown in plantations or orchards in the Southeast; pecans are also harvested locally from wild trees."

From this USDA Plant Profile Map, you will see that it is, indeed, native to Travis County, and could be counted to grow as long there as anywhere else. So, we will look to other resources for estimates on the lifespan of this tree.

From Plants for a Future, we found this statement:

"Trees come into bearing when about 20 years old, the best period of production being between the ages of 75 to 225 years old."

From an eHow article: The Average Lifespan of a Pecan Tree

"Life Span

  • A healthy pecan tree has a long life. Planted when a child is born, as an adult that individual would be able to harvest the pecan tree's nuts well into her 60s or 70s. A "whip" or sapling will go through a long period of juvenility before reaching its precocity stage."

"The Texas State Tree
The Pecan treee (Carya illinoensis) was designated the official state tree of Texas in 1919 (and the pecan was adopted as the state health nut in 2001). Fossil remains found in Texas show that our native pecan tree was here long before humans came on the scene. Remarkably long lived, the pecan can survive more than a thousand years and grow over 100 feet tall."
So, we have a lot of stories and estimates, but no established fact. There just must not have been an entity 1000 years ago in existence that wrote down "Today, we planted a pecan tree." And then, that entiity continued over 1000 years to enter every year the information that the plant was still alive. Frankly, if I get a nice sprinkling of pecans on my ice cream sunday, I don't care how old the tree was that bore them, and if I were to plant one today, I sure wouldn't expect to live to see the tree die of old age.
 

From the Image Gallery


Pecan
Carya illinoinensis

Pecan
Carya illinoinensis

Pecan
Carya illinoinensis

More Trees Questions

Erosion Solution for Lorton, VA
February 07, 2014 - We have a steep slope in our common area of our homeowners association. Trees that were planted have died. It is a large area around a pond. What should we plant that will hold the soil? The soil...
view the full question and answer

Viability of Taxus canadensis (Canadian yew) for Buffalo, NY
February 28, 2008 - I live in Buffalo, N.Y. and am gradually naturalizing my back yard. The previous owner built a 6' fence along the western edge of the yard and planted a straight line of arborvitae, which are now abo...
view the full question and answer

Suitability of Monterrey oaks for small space in San Antonio
April 23, 2009 - I am purchasing a home and the existing owners have planted three Monterrey oaks in the back. It is a small yard and the trees are no more than 15 feet from the house.The trees back up to a fence that...
view the full question and answer

Possibility of saving hurricane-damaged Umbrella Magnolia
October 12, 2005 - Our beautiful umbrella magnolia Magnoliaceae Magnolia tripetala was toppled during Hurricane Katrina. We have lifted it back in place, however it looks very distressed. I have the following questions:...
view the full question and answer

Problems with live oak in Carrollton TX
April 03, 2011 - This past winter was very hard on all the trees in our area in Texas, but added to our stress was the loss of three large Bradford pears just prior to the winter (23yrs old and over 50ft spans of limb...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center