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The pecan (''Carya illinoinensis'') is a species of
hickory Hickory is a common name for trees In botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method ...

hickory
native to the southern United States and northern Mexico in the region of the
Mississippi River The Mississippi River is the second-longest river and chief river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and b ...

Mississippi River
. The tree is cultivated for its seed in the southern United States, primarily in
Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (country) Georgia (, ; ) is a country located at the intersection of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. It is a part of the Caucasus region, bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north and east by ...
,
New Mexico ) , population_demonym = New Mexican ( es, Neomexicano, Neomejicano, Nuevo Mexicano) , seat = Santa Fe , LargestCity = Albuquerque , LargestMetro = Greater Albuquerque , OfficialLang = None , Languages = English English usually refer ...

New Mexico
,
Texas Texas (, ; Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambigu ...

Texas
, and
Mexico Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organi ...

Mexico
, which produces nearly half of the world total. The seed is an edible
nut Nut often refers to: * Nut (fruit), a fruit composed of a hard shell and a seed * Nut (food), collective noun for dry and edible fruits or seeds * Nut (hardware), a fastener used with a bolt Nut or Nuts may also refer to: Places * Nomenclature of ...
used as a
snack A snack is a small portion of food Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional Nutrition is the biochemical Biochemistry or biological chemistry, is the study of chemical processes within and relating to living organism ...

snack
and in various recipes, such as
praline Praline (; New Orleans English, New Orleans, Cajun English, Cajun, and ) is a form of confection containing, at a minimum, culinary Nut (food), nuts – usually almond, almonds, pecan, pecans and hazelnut, hazelnuts – and sugar. Cream is a c ...
candy and
pecan pie Pecan pie is a pie A pie is a baked Baking is a method of preparing food that uses dry heat, typically in an oven, but can also be done in hot ashes, or on hot stones. The most common baked item is bread but many other types of food ...

pecan pie
. The pecan, in various aspects, is included in state symbols of
Alabama (We dare defend our rights) , anthem = "Alabama (We dare defend our rights) , anthem = "Alabama (state song), Alabama" , image_map = Alabama in United States.svg , seat ...

Alabama
,
Arkansas Arkansas () is a U.S. state, state in the South Central United States, South Central region of the United States, home to more than three million people as of 2018. Its name is from the Osage language, a Dhegihan languages, Dhegiha Siouan la ...

Arkansas
,
California California is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

California
,
Oklahoma Oklahoma () is a U.S. state, state in the South Central United States, South Central region of the United States, bordered by the state of Texas on the south and west, Kansas on the north, Missouri on the northeast, Arkansas on the east, New ...
, and Texas.


Name

"Pecan" is from an
Algonquin Algonquin or Algonquian—and the variation Algonki(a)n—may refer to: Indigenous peoples *Algonquian languages, a large subfamily of Native American languages in a wide swath of eastern North America from Canada to Virginia **Algonquin languag ...
word variously referring to pecans,
walnut A walnut is the Nut (fruit), nut of any tree of the genus ''Juglans'' (family Juglandaceae), particularly the Persian or English walnut, ''Juglans regia''. A walnut is the edible seed of a drupe, and thus not a true botanical nut. It is com ...

walnut
s, and
hickory Hickory is a common name for trees In botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method ...

hickory
nuts. There are many variant pronunciations, some regional and others not.See "
Pecan The pecan (''Carya illinoinensis'') is a species of hickory native to the southern United States and northern Mexico in the region of the Mississippi River. The tree is cultivated for its seed in the southern United States, primarily in Georgia ...
" at
Wiktionary Wiktionary is a multilingual, web Web most often refers to: * Spider web A spider web, spiderweb, spider's web, or cobweb (from the archaic word '' coppe'', meaning "spider") is a structure created by a spider Spiders ( order Ara ...
.
The most common American pronunciation is . There is little agreement in the United States, even regionally, as to the "correct" pronunciation.


Growth

The pecan tree is a large
deciduous In the fields of horticulture Horticulture is the art of cultivating plants in gardens to produce food and medicinal ingredients, or for comfort and ornamental purposes. Horticulturists are agriculturists who grow flowers, fruits and nuts, ...
tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, stem, or trunk (botany), trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of a tree may be narrower, including only wood plants with se ...

tree
, growing to in height, rarely to .Flora of North America
''Carya illinoinensis''
/ref> It typically has a spread of with a trunk up to diameter. A 10-year-old sapling grown in optimal conditions will stand about tall. The
leaves A leaf (plural leaves) is the principal lateral appendage of the vascular plant plant stem, stem, usually borne above ground and specialized for photosynthesis. The leaves, stem, flower and fruit together form the shoot system. Leaves are ...

leaves
are alternate, long, and
pinnate Pinnation (also called pennation) is the arrangement of feather Feathers are epidermis (zoology), epidermal growths that form a distinctive outer covering, or plumage, on dinosaurs, both Bird, avian (bird) and some non-avian (non-bird) and ...
with 9–17 leaflets, each leaflet long and broad. A pecan, like the
fruit In botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in this field. The term "botany" comes from the ...

fruit
of all other members of the
hickory Hickory is a common name for trees In botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method ...

hickory
genus, is not truly a
nut Nut often refers to: * Nut (fruit), a fruit composed of a hard shell and a seed * Nut (food), collective noun for dry and edible fruits or seeds * Nut (hardware), a fastener used with a bolt Nut or Nuts may also refer to: Places * Nomenclature of ...
, but is technically a
drupe In botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in this field. The term "botany" comes from the A ...
, a fruit with a single stone or pit, surrounded by a husk. The husks are produced from the
exocarp Fruit anatomy is the plant anatomy Plant anatomy or phytotomy is the general term for the study of the internal structure A structure is an arrangement and organization of interrelated elements in a material object or system A system is ...
tissue of the flower, while the part known as the nut develops from the
endocarp Fruit anatomy is the plant anatomy Plant anatomy or phytotomy is the general term for the study of the internal structure A structure is an arrangement and organization of interrelated elements in a material object or system A system is a ...
and contains the
seed A seed is an embryonic ''Embryonic'' is the twelfth studio album by experimental rock band the Flaming Lips released on October 13, 2009, on Warner Bros. Records, Warner Bros. The band's first double album, it was released to generally positi ...

seed
. The husk itself is aeneous, that is, brassy greenish-gold in color, oval to oblong in shape, long and broad. The outer husk is thick, starts out green and turns brown at maturity, at which time it splits off in four sections to release the thin-shelled seed.Oklahoma Biological Survey
''Carya illinoinensis''
/ref>Bioimages

/ref>Collingwood, G. H., Brush, W. D., & Butches, D., eds. (1964). ''Knowing your trees''. 2nd ed. American Forestry Association, Washington, DC.


Cultivation

Pecans were one of the most recently domesticated major crops. Although wild pecans were well known among native and colonial Americans as a delicacy, the commercial growing of pecans in the United States did not begin until the 1880s. As of 2014, the United States produced an annual crop of , with 75% of the total crop produced in
Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (country) Georgia (, ; ) is a country located at the intersection of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. It is a part of the Caucasus region, bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north and east by ...
,
New Mexico ) , population_demonym = New Mexican ( es, Neomexicano, Neomejicano, Nuevo Mexicano) , seat = Santa Fe , LargestCity = Albuquerque , LargestMetro = Greater Albuquerque , OfficialLang = None , Languages = English English usually refer ...

New Mexico
and
Texas Texas (, ; Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambigu ...

Texas
. They can be grown from
USDA The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), also known as the Agriculture Department, is the federal executive department responsible for developing and executing federal laws related to farming, forestry, rural economic development, ...
hardiness zones Global Plant Hardiness Zones, 250px A hardiness zone is a geographic area defined to encompass a certain range of climatic conditions relevant to plant growth and survival. The original and most widely used system, developed by the United States ...
approximately 5 to 9, and grow best where summers are long, hot and humid. The nut harvest for growers is typically around mid-October. Outside the United States, Mexico produces nearly half of the world total, similar in volume to the United States, together accounting for 93% of global production. Generally, two or more trees of different cultivars must be present to pollinate each other. Choosing cultivars can be a complex practice, based on the Alternate Bearing Index (ABI) and their period of pollinating. Commercial growers are most concerned with the ABI, which describes a cultivar's likelihood to bear on alternating years (index of 1.0 signifies highest likelihood of bearing little to nothing every other year). The period of pollination groups all cultivars into two families: those that shed pollen before they can receive pollen (
protandrous Sequential hermaphroditism (called dichogamy in botany) is a type of hermaphroditism that occurs in many fish, gastropods, and plants. Sequential hermaphroditism occurs when the individual changes its sex at some point in its life. In particular, a ...
), and those that shed pollen after becoming receptive to pollen (
protogynous Sequential hermaphroditism (called dichogamy in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, b ...
). State level resources provide recommended varieties for specific regions. Native pecans in Mexico are adapted from zone 9 to zone 11. Little or no breeding work has been done with these populations. A few selections from native stands have been made such as Frutosa and Norteña which are recommended for cultivation in Mexico. Improved varieties recommended for cultivation in Mexico are USDA developed cultivars. This represents a gap in breeding development given that native pecans can be cultivated at least down to the Yucatán peninsula while the USDA cultivars have chilling hour requirements greater than those occurring in much of the region. Some regions of the U.S. such as parts of
Florida Florida is a U.S. state, state located in the Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States. Florida is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the northwest by Alabama, to the north by Georgia (U.S. state), Geor ...

Florida
and Puerto Rico are zone 10 or higher, and these regions have limited options for pecan cultivation. 'Western' is the only commonly available variety that can make a crop in low chill zones.


Breeding and selection programs

Active breeding and selection is carried out by the USDA
Agricultural Research Service The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is the principal in-house research agency of the United States Department of Agriculture The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), also known as the Agriculture Department, is the federal e ...
with growing locations at Brownwood and
College Station, Texas College Station is a city in Brazos County, Texas Texas (, ) is a state in the South Central United States, South Central region of the United States. It is the second largest U.S. state by both List of U.S. states and territories by area ...
.
University of Georgia , mottoeng = To teach and to inquire into the nature of things.'To serve' was later added to the motto without changing the seal, so the university motto in English now is "To teach, to serve, and to inquire into the nature of thi ...
has a breeding program at the Tifton campus working to select pecan varieties adapted to
subtropical The subtropical zones or subtropics are geographical Geography (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country locat ...

subtropical
southeastern U.S. growing conditions. While selection work has been done since the late 19th century, most acreage of pecans grown today is of older cultivars, such as 'Stuart', 'Schley', 'Elliott', and 'Desirable', with known flaws but also with known production potential. Cultivars, such as 'Elliot', are increasing in popularity due to resistance to ''''. The long cycle time for pecan trees plus financial considerations dictate that new varieties go through an extensive vetting process before being widely planted. Numerous varieties produce well in Texas, but fail in the Southeastern U.S. due to increased disease pressure. Selection programs are ongoing at the state level, with Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, and others having trial plantings. Varieties adapted from the southern tier of states north through some parts of Iowa and even into southern Canada are available from nurseries. Production potential drops significantly when planted further north than Tennessee. Most breeding efforts for northern-adapted varieties have not been on a large enough scale to significantly affect production. Varieties that are available and adapted (e.g., 'Major', 'Martzahn', 'Witte', 'Greenriver', 'Mullahy', and 'Posey') in zones 6 and farther north are almost entirely selections from wild stands. Kanza, a northern-adapted release from the USDA breeding program, is a grafted pecan having high productivity and quality, and cold tolerance.


Diseases, pests, and disorders

Pecans are subject to a wide range of diseases, pests, and physiological disorders that can limit tree growth and fruit production. These range from scab to hickory shuckworm to shuck decline. Pecans are prone to infection by bacteria and fungi such as , especially in humid conditions. Scab is currently the most destructive disease affecting pecan trees untreated with fungicides. Recommendations for preventive spray materials and schedules are available from state level resources. Various insects feed on the leaves, stems, and developing nuts. These include
ambrosia beetles Ambrosia beetles are beetles of the weevil Weevils are beetles belonging to the Taxonomic rank, superfamily Curculionoidea, known for their elongated snouts. They are usually small, less than in length, and Herbivore, herbivorous. About 97,000 sp ...
, twig girdlers, pecan nut casebearer, hickory shuckworm,
phylloxera Grape phylloxera is an insect pest of commercial grapevine ''Vitis'' (grapevines) is a genus of 79 accepted species of vining plants in the flowering plant family Vitaceae. The genus is made up of species predominantly from the Northern hemi ...

phylloxera
,
curculio ''Curculio'' is a genus of weevil Weevils are beetles belonging to the Taxonomic rank, superfamily Curculionoidea, known for their elongated snouts. They are usually small, less than in length, and Herbivore, herbivorous. About 97,000 specie ...
, weevils, and several aphid species. In the Southeastern United States,
nickel Nickel is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical elem ...

nickel
deficiency in ''C. illinoinensis'' produces a disorder called "mouse-ear" in trees fertilized with
urea Urea, also known as carbamide, is an organic compound In , organic compounds are generally any s that contain - . Due to carbon's ability to (form chains with other carbon s), millions of organic compounds are known. The study of the prop ...

urea
. Similarly, zinc deficiency causes rosetting of the leaves. Various other disorders are documented, including
canker A plant canker is a small area of dead tissue, which grows slowly, often over years. Some cankers are of only minor consequence, but others are ultimately lethal and therefore of major economic importance in agriculture Agriculture is th ...
disease and shuck decline complex.


Uses

The seeds of the pecan are edible, with a rich, buttery flavor. They can be eaten fresh or used in cooking, particularly in sweet desserts, such as
pecan pie Pecan pie is a pie A pie is a baked Baking is a method of preparing food that uses dry heat, typically in an oven, but can also be done in hot ashes, or on hot stones. The most common baked item is bread but many other types of food ...

pecan pie
, a traditional Southern U.S. dish. Butter pecan is also a common flavor in cookies, cakes, and ice creams. Pecans are a major ingredient in American
praline Praline (; New Orleans English, New Orleans, Cajun English, Cajun, and ) is a form of confection containing, at a minimum, culinary Nut (food), nuts – usually almond, almonds, pecan, pecans and hazelnut, hazelnuts – and sugar. Cream is a c ...
candy. Other applications of cooking with pecans include pecan oil and pecan butter. Pecan wood is used in making furniture and wood flooring, as well as a flavoring fuel for smoking meats, giving grilled foods a sweet and nutty flavor stronger than many fruit woods.


Nutrition

A pecan nut is 4% water, 72%
fat In nutrition Nutrition is the biochemical Biochemistry or biological chemistry, is the study of chemical processes within and relating to living organisms. A sub-discipline of both chemistry and biology, biochemistry may be divided ...

fat
, 9%
protein Proteins are large biomolecule , showing alpha helices, represented by ribbons. This poten was the first to have its suckture solved by X-ray crystallography by Max Perutz and Sir John Cowdery Kendrew in 1958, for which they received a No ...

protein
, and 14%
carbohydrate A carbohydrate () is a biomolecule , showing alpha helices, represented by ribbons. This poten was the first to have its suckture solved by X-ray crystallography by Max Perutz and Sir John Cowdery Kendrew in 1958, for which they received a ...
s (see table). In a 100 g reference amount, pecans provide 691
Calories The calorie is a unit of energy defined as the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of a quantity of water by one degree. For historical reasons, two main definitions of calorie are in wide use. The small calorie or gram calorie (usual ...
and a rich source (20% or more of the
Daily Value The Reference Daily Intake (RDI) used in nutrition labeling on food and dietary supplement products in the U.S. and Canada is the daily intake level of a nutrient A nutrient is a substance used by an organism to survive, grow, and reproduce. The ...
, DV) of total fat, protein,
dietary fiber Dietary fiber (British spelling fibre) or roughage is the portion of plant-derived food that cannot be completely broken down by human digestive enzyme Digestive may refer to: Biology *Digestion Digestion is the breakdown of large insolub ...
(38% DV),
manganese Manganese is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical e ...

manganese
(214% DV),
magnesium Magnesium is a chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science ...

magnesium
(34% DV),
phosphorus Phosphorus is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical el ...

phosphorus
(40% DV),
zinc Zinc is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical element ...

zinc
(48% DV), and
thiamin Thiamine, also known as thiamin or vitamin B1, is a vitamin A vitamin is an organic molecule , CH4; is among the simplest organic compounds. In chemistry, organic compounds are generally any chemical compounds that contain carbon-hydroge ...

thiamin
(57% DV) (see table). Pecans are a moderate source (10-19% DV) of
iron Iron () is a chemical element In chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, structure, properties, behav ...

iron
and
B vitamins B vitamins are a class of water-soluble vitamin A vitamin is an organic molecule , CH4; is among the simplest organic compounds. In chemistry, organic compounds are generally any chemical compounds that contain carbon-hydrogen chemical bond ...
. Pecan fat content consists principally of
monounsaturated fat In nutrition Nutrition is the biochemical and physiological process by which an organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual contiguous system that embodies ...
ty acids, mainly
oleic acid Oleic acid is a fatty acid In chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, structure, properties, behavior and t ...

oleic acid
(57% of total fat), and the
polyunsaturated fat In nutrition Nutrition is the biochemical Biochemistry or biological chemistry, is the study of chemical processes within and relating to living organisms. A sub-discipline of both chemistry and biology, biochemistry may be divided ...
ty acid,
linoleic acid Linoleic acid is an organic compound , CH4; is among the simplest organic compounds. In chemistry Chemistry is the scientific discipline involved with Chemical element, elements and chemical compound, compounds composed of atoms, molecules ...

linoleic acid
(30% of total fat).


Evolutionary development

The pecan, ''Carya illinoinensis'', is a member of the
Juglandaceae The Juglandaceae are a plant family known as the walnut family. They are trees, or sometimes shrubs, in the order Fagales. Members of this family are native to the Americas, Eurasia, and Southeast Asia. The nine or ten genera in the family have a ...
family. Juglandaceae are represented worldwide by between seven and 10 extant genera and more than 60 species. Most of these species are concentrated in the Northern Hemisphere of the New World, but some can be found on every continent except for Antarctica. The first fossil examples of the family appear during the
Cretaceous The Cretaceous ( ) is a geological period A geological period is one of the several subdivisions of geologic time enabling cross-referencing of rocks and geologic events from place to place. These periods form elements of a hierarchy of division ...

Cretaceous
. Differentiation between the subfamilies of Engelhardioideae and Juglandioideae occurred during the early
Paleogene The Paleogene ( ; also spelled Palaeogene or Palæogene; informally Lower Tertiary or Early Tertiary) is a geologic period and system that spans 43 million years from the end of the Cretaceous The Cretaceous ( ) is a geological period A geologi ...
, about 64 million years ago. Extant examples of Engelhardioideae are generally tropical and evergreen, while those of Juglandioideae are deciduous and found in more temperate zones. The second major step in the development of pecan was a change from wind-dispersed fruits to animal dispersion. This dispersal strategy coincides with the development of a husk around the fruit and a drastic change in the relative concentrations of fatty acids. The ratio of oleic to linoleic acids are inverted between wind- and animal-dispersed seeds. Further differentiation from other species of Juglandaceae occurred about 44 million years ago during the
Eocene The Eocene ( ) Epoch is a geological epoch In chronology 222px, Joseph Scaliger's ''De emendatione temporum'' (1583) began the modern science of chronology Chronology (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the ...
. The fruits of the pecan genus ''Carya'' differ from those of the walnut genus ''Juglans'' only in the formation of the husk of the fruit. The husks of walnuts develop from the bracts, bracteoles, and sepals, or sepals only. The husks of pecans develop from the bracts and the bracteoles only.


History

Before European settlement, pecans were widely consumed and traded by Native Americans. As a wild forage, the fruit of the previous growing season is commonly still edible when found on the ground. Pecans first became known to Europeans in the 16th century. The first Europeans to come into contact with pecans were Spanish explorers in what is now
Louisiana Louisiana (Standard French Standard French (in French: ''le français standard'', ''le français normé'', ''le français neutre'' eutral Frenchor ''le français international'' nternational French is an unofficial term for a standard ...

Louisiana
,
Texas Texas (, ; Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambigu ...

Texas
, and Mexico. These Spanish explorers called the pecan, ''nuez de la arruga'', which roughly translates to "wrinkle nut". Because of their familiarity with the genus ''
Juglans Walnut trees are any species of tree in the plant genus ''Juglans'', the type genus In biological taxonomy the type genus is the genus Genus (plural genera) is a taxonomic rank Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classificat ...
'', these early explorers referred to the nuts as ''nogales'' and ''nueces'', the Spanish terms for "walnut trees" and "fruit of the walnut". They noted the particularly thin shell and acorn-like shape of the fruit, indicating they were indeed referring to pecans. The Spaniards took the pecan into Europe, Asia, and Africa beginning in the 16th century. In 1792,
William Bartram William Bartram (April 20, 1739 – July 22, 1823) was an American botanist, ornithologist, natural historian, and explorer. Bartram was author of an acclaimed book, now known by the shortened title ''Bartram's'' ''Travels'', which chronicled ...
reported in his botanical book, ''Travels'', a nut tree, ''Juglans exalata'' that some botanists today argue was the American pecan tree, but others argue was hickory, ''Carya ovata''. Pecan trees are native to the United States, and writing about the pecan tree goes back to the nation's founders.
Thomas Jefferson Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect, philosopher, and Founding Father The following list of national founding figures is a record, by country, of people who were cr ...

Thomas Jefferson
planted pecan trees, ''C. illinoinensis'' (Illinois nuts), in his nut orchard at his home, Monticello, in Virginia.
George Washington George Washington (February 22, 1732, 1799) was an American soldier, statesman, and Founding Father The following list of national founding figures is a record, by country, of people who were credited with establishing a state. Natio ...

George Washington
reported in his journal that Thomas Jefferson gave him "Illinois nuts", pecans, which Washington then grew at
Mount Vernon Mount Vernon is an American landmark and former plantation of George Washington, the first President of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of Ame ...

Mount Vernon
, his Virginia home. Commercial production of pecans was slow because trees are slow to mature and bear fruit. More importantly, the trees grown from nuts of one tree have very diverse characters. To speed nut production and retain the best tree characteristics,
grafting Grafting or graftage is a horticultural Horticulture is the art of cultivating plants in gardens to produce food and medicinal ingredients, or for comfort and ornamental purposes. Horticulturists grow flowers, fruits and nuts, vegetables and ...
from mature productive trees was the obvious strategy. However, this proved technically difficult. The ''Centennial'' cultivar was the first to be successfully grafted. This was accomplished by an enslaved person called Antoine in 1846 or 1847, who was owned by
Jacques Telesphore Roman Jacques Telesphore Roman (March 22, 1800 – April 11, 1848) was a 19th-century Louisiana Louisiana (Standard French Standard French (in French: ''le français standard'', ''le français normé'', ''le français neutre'' eutral Fre ...
of the Oak Alley Plantation near the Mississippi river. The scions were supplied by Dr. A. E. Colomb who had unsuccessfully attempted to graft them himself.


Genetics

Pecan is a 32 chromosome species (1N = 16) that readily hybridizes with other 32 chromosome members of the ''
Carya Hickory is a common name for trees In botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method ...
''
genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defining (Circumscription (taxonomy), circumscribing) and classifying gr ...
, such as '''', '' Carya laciniosa'', ''
Carya cordiformis ''Carya cordiformis'', the bitternut hickory, also called bitternut or swamp hickory, is a large pecan hickory with commercial stands located mostly north of the other pecan hickories. Bitternut hickory is cut and sold in mixture with the true hi ...

Carya cordiformis
'' and has been reported to hybridize with 64 chromosome species such as ''
Carya tomentosa ''Carya tomentosa'', (mockernut hickory, mockernut, white hickory, whiteheart hickory, hognut, bullnut) is a tree in the Juglandaceae The Juglandaceae are a plant family known as the walnut family. They are trees, or sometimes shrubs, in the or ...

Carya tomentosa
''. Most such hybrids are unproductive. Hybrids are referred to as " hicans" to indicate their hybrid origin. Recent efforts at NMSU to complete a pecan genome showed that DNA introgressed from C. Aquatica (water hickory), C. Myristiciformis (nutmeg hickory), and C. Cordiformis (bitternut hickory) is present in commercial pecan varieties grown today.


Symbolism

In 1919, the 36th Texas Legislature made the pecan tree the state tree of
Texas Texas (, ; Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambigu ...
; in 2001, the pecan was declared the state's official "health nut", and in 2013, pecan pie was made the state's official pie. The town of
San Saba, Texas San Saba is a city located in, and the county seat A county seat is an administrative center, seat of government, or capital city of a county or Parish (administrative division), civil parish. The term is used in Canada, China, Romania, Hungary ...
claims to be "The Pecan Capital of the World" and is the site of the "Mother Tree" () considered to be the source of the state's production through its progeny.
Alabama (We dare defend our rights) , anthem = "Alabama (We dare defend our rights) , anthem = "Alabama (state song), Alabama" , image_map = Alabama in United States.svg , seat ...
named the pecan the official state nut in 1982.
Arkansas Arkansas () is a U.S. state, state in the South Central United States, South Central region of the United States, home to more than three million people as of 2018. Its name is from the Osage language, a Dhegihan languages, Dhegiha Siouan la ...
adopted it as the official nut in 2009.
California California is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...
adopted it, along with the
almond The almond (''Prunus dulcis'', syn. ''Prunus amygdalus'') is a species of tree native to Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, ...

almond
,
pistachio The pistachio (, ''Pistacia vera''), a member of the cashew family, is a small tree originating from Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the east, and from Afg ...

pistachio
, and
walnut A walnut is the Nut (fruit), nut of any tree of the genus ''Juglans'' (family Juglandaceae), particularly the Persian or English walnut, ''Juglans regia''. A walnut is the edible seed of a drupe, and thus not a true botanical nut. It is com ...

walnut
, as one of four state nuts in 2017. In 1988,
Oklahoma Oklahoma () is a U.S. state, state in the South Central United States, South Central region of the United States, bordered by the state of Texas on the south and west, Kansas on the north, Missouri on the northeast, Arkansas on the east, New ...
enacted an official state meal which included pecan pie.


Gallery

File:Carya illinoinensis bud.jpg, Bud File:Cluster of young pecan.jpg, Immature pecan fruits File:Pecan-nuts-on-tree.jpg, Ripe pecan nuts on tree File:Carya illinoinensis MHNT.BOT.2011.3.85.jpg, ''Carya illinoinensis'', MHNT File:Pecans.jpg, Shelled and unshelled pecans File:Pecan halves with centimeter scale.jpg, Pecan halves File:PecanPie.JPG, Pecan pie File:Pecan tree full of fruit.jpg, Pecan tree in Oklahoma loaded with fruits


References


External links


''Carya illinoinensis'' images at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University Plant Image Database


* [http://www.na.fs.fed.us/Spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/volume_2/carya/illinoesis.htm USDA Forest Service: ''Carya illinoensis'']
Interactive Distribution Map of ''Carya illinoensis''
* (Text from 1906)
First Pecan Trees Grown Here About 1840
historical marker at St. Marys, Georgia {{Taxonbar, from=Q333877 Pecan, Crops originating from Mexico Crops originating from the United States Cuisine of the Southern United States Edible nuts and seeds Georgia (U.S. state) culture Plants described in 1787 Symbols of Texas Trees of Coahuila Trees of Guanajuato Trees of Jalisco Trees of Nuevo León Trees of Oaxaca Trees of Tamaulipas Trees of the Great Lakes region (North America) Trees of the North-Central United States Trees of the Northeastern United States Trees of the South-Central United States Trees of the Southeastern United States Trees of the Southern United States Trees of Veracruz Fruit trees Symbols of Alabama Symbols of California