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Carya illinoinensis (Pecan) | NPIN
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Carya illinoinensis (Pecan)
Waitt, Damon E.

Carya illinoinensis

Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch

Pecan

Juglandaceae (Walnut Family)

Synonym(s): Carya oliviformis, Carya pecan, Hicoria pecan

USDA Symbol: CAIL2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

The largest of the hickories, pecan typically grows 70-100 ft. and can reach 160 ft. It is massive-trunked, with stout branches supporting a symmetrical, oval crown. Slate gray bark remains smooth for years. Pinnately-compound, deciduous leaves are 12-20 in. long with 11-17 leaflets. Midrib of the leaflet off center with the wider part of the blade toward the leaf tip. Flowers inconspicuous, male in elongate clusters, both sexes on same tree. Fruit an oblong nut enclosed in a thin husk splitting open at maturity, husk often persistent on the tree for weeks after the nut has fallen.

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. The wood is used for furniture, flooring, veneer, and charcoal for smoking meats. The word pecan is of Algonquin origin. The Latin species name is from an old term, Illinois nuts, and refers to the region where traders found wild trees and nuts. Native Americans may have extended the range by planting. This tree of the Mississippi valley was unknown to British colonists on the Atlantic coast. Thomas Jefferson planted seeds at Monticello and gave some to George Washington; now these Pecans are the oldest trees in Mount Vernon.

 

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Pinnate
Leaf Shape: Lanceolate
Leaf Venation: Pinnate
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Fruit Type: Nut
Leaf: Yellow-Green
Flower:
Fruit:
Size Class: More than 100 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May

Distribution

USA: AL , AR , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MD , MO , MS , NC , OH , OK , SC , TN , TX , VA
Native Distribution: AL to TX, n. to OH, s.e. IN, IL, s.e. IA & s.e. KS
Native Habitat: Wooded bottomlands; stream banks

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Cold Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Rich, moist, well-drained soils. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Caliche type
Conditions Comments: The sweet, edible nut, makes pecan the best hickory for fruit production. The tree does not bear liberal quantities of fruit in the northern part of its range, but makes an interesting ornamental there. Susceptible to galls, twig girdlers, aphids, borers, weevils, pecan scab, tent caterpillars, and webworms. Slow-growing. Difficult to transplant because of a large taproot.

Benefit

Use Ornamental: Excellent nut and shade tree, fall conspicuous.
Use Wildlife: Fruit mammals and birds, Substrate-insectivorous birds.
Use Food: Fruits-nutrition
Use Other: Furniture, veneer for wood paneling, charcoal.
Interesting Foliage: yes
Attracts: Butterflies
Larval Host: Gray hairstreak butterfly

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Carya illinoinensis is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Gray Hairstreak
(Strymon melinus)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA

Propagation

Propagation Material: Seeds
Seed Collection: Collect nuts from September to November. Husks usually dry and split open by themselves when the nuts are mature. Persistent husks can be removed with a corn sheller.
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: Remove dead growth, Prune to maintain strong branching, Prevent complete soil dryness, Maintain mulch layer, Fertilize 3 times a year with lawn fertilizer 3:1:2 ratio, Spray, as required, to control insects & desease, Highly alkaline soils may require zinc spr

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

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National Wetland Indicator Status

Region:AGCPAKAWCBEMPGPHIMWNCNEWMVE
Status: FACU FAC FACU FAC FACW FACW FAC
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Brackenridge Field Laboratory - Austin, TX
Nueces River Authority - Uvalde, TX
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX
NPSOT - Fredericksburg Chapter - Fredericksburg, TX
NPSOT - Austin Chapter - Austin, TX
Jacob's Well Natural Area - Wimberley, TX

Herbarium Specimen(s)

NPSOT 0374 Collected Apr 28, 1987 in Bexar County by Harry Cliffe
NPSOT 0448 Collected Jun 5, 1987 in Bexar County by Harry Cliffe

2 specimen(s) available in the Digital Herbarium

Bibliography

Bibref 355 - Landscaping with Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest (1991) Miller, G. O.
Bibref 354 - Native & Naturalized Woody Plants of Austin & the Hill Country (1981) Lynch, D.
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 291 - Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife (1999) Damude, N. & K.C. Bender
Bibref 297 - Trees of Central Texas (1984) Vines, Robert A.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

From the Archive

Wildflower Newsletter 1993 VOL. 10, NO.6 - Saving Trees and Plants at New Center Site a Big Job, Director's Report, Wildflo...

Additional resources

USDA: Find Carya illinoinensis in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Carya illinoinensis in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Carya illinoinensis

Metadata

Record Modified: 2008-06-02
Research By: TWC Staff

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