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

Disagreement with HOA on raised beds placed beneath mature oak from Tequesta FL
April 05, 2014 - I have mature 30 year old oak trees on my property and I put a raised bed under each with very good soil and I used pavers for retaining the soil about about 1.5 ft high. I planted a perennial begonia...
view the full question and answer

Do Deer Eat Orchid Trees?
March 08, 2013 - I have planted three anacacho orchid trees, however we have a lot of deer around us. Is this a tree they will want to eat? Do you have any ideas to keep deer away?
view the full question and answer

Black walnut herbivory
June 13, 2005 - We moved to Texas just about a year ago and have loved it here. This past January we visited the Wildflower Center and obtained some black walnut seeds. Up until last night the tree was doing well p...
view the full question and answer

Fast growing non-invasive flowering tree from Carlsbad CA
April 17, 2013 - Looking for fast growing flowering tree with non-invasive roots.
view the full question and answer

Non-native jade plants and spider plants beneath Mayberry tree in Bay Point CA
October 15, 2013 - I have a fruitless Mayberry in my back yard that's about 50/50' can I plant jade and spider plants under it? The tree is very healthy.
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