The Hardy Pecan (Carya illinoinensis) is a large deciduous lowland tree that is the largest of the hickories. It typically grows 75-100’ tall with a large rounded spreading crown. Trunks mature to 2-4’ in diameter. It is native from Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio south to Alabama and Mexico, being primarily found in the Mississippi River valley and the valleys of its principal tributaries. Pecan features medium green, odd-pinnate, compound leaves, with each leaf having 9-17 pointed leaflets. Leaflets range from 2-7” long. Leaves mature to yellow green in summer, eventually turning yellow brown in fall. Non-showy, monoecious greenish yellow flowers appear in April-May, the male flowers in pendulous catkins (to 4” long) and the female flowers in short spikes. Female flowers give way to sweet, edible nuts. Each nut is encased in a thin husk which splits open in four sections when ripe in fall. Best grown in humusy, rich, moist, well-drained soils in full sun. Difficult to transplant because of its deep taproot. If grown for nut production, plant at least two different varieties for best cross-pollination. Nut production can be sparse in the northern part of its growing range, particularly when spring is late and summer is cool. May be grown from seed, but it normally takes 8-10 years for a young tree to bear a nut crop.
Ships bare root