The Pecan Tree

The Carya illinoinensis or Pecan tree in my garden is setting fruit now. In the past 10 years we’ve only managed to harvest the nuts from this tree once. We’ve been fighting the squirrels for them every year. The nuts from this tree have wonderful paper shells that crack so easily that you almost don’t need a nutcracker to enjoy their wonderful fruit. This tree needs a long hot summer for the wood to mature and for it to produce the clusters of elongated nuts. My tree is about 15-20 years old and has a nice open feel to the canopy. It must be about 25-30 feet tall now. During Hurricane Isabel four years ago we had substantial damage to the Pecan because it was laden with nuts which made it weak. I wasn’t sure if the tree would survive losing two large branches but it has re-sprouted smaller branches in the damaged area and looks better.
Here are some general facts:

  • Produces one of the world’s most edible & popular nuts
  • Native to the central United States
  • Occurs along river valleys
  • Grows to 100 feet tall with a gray scale like bark
  • Grows quickly in cultivation to about 30 feet in 10-15 years
  • Frost hardy but needs a long hot summer
  • Is propagated by grafting
  • Deciduous and wind pollinated
  • Can bear fruit for 300 years
  • The wood is used in furniture and hardwood flooring
  • Hardy in USDA zones 5-9

Another wonderful benefit of this tasty fruit is all the delicious food that is made with it. We wouldn’t have wonderful desserts such as Pecan Pie or Pralines without this buttery flavored nut. What kinds of fruits or nuts do you grow in your garden?


24 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Darla on September 8, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    Mmmm mmmmm good! Love pecans……especially Pecan Pie. Enjoyed all the info.


  2. Posted by Rose on September 8, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    I didn’t realize pecan trees were hardy to zone 5. We don’t have any nut trees, but my grandparents used to always bring back pecans from Georgia on their way home from Florida. Pecans are very expensive in the stores right now; I hope you have a good harvest!


  3. Posted by tina on September 8, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    I was hoping you would post on this tree since you mentioned it had lost some branches. I wish I had some pecans in my yard. The neighbor has a large mature one. I kept finding pecans in my yard and couldn’t figure out how. Finally I figured it out. One of those pecans sprouted and I planted it to make hubby happy. The voles ate it. boo hoo. They are lovely trees. His always leafs out later than all other trees. The same with yours? They are quite tough as his was not even damaged last year by the freeze or drought, I guess because it leafs out late. Pretty picture of the leaves and seedpod?


  4. Posted by Defining Your Home on September 8, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    Where I grew up, it was a custom to plant a pecan tree when a child was born. Those are wonderful trees and I just love pecan pie! Glad you didn’t have too much storm damage. I think my moisture-loving plants grew 6 inches from all the rain! Did your blog address change? Cameron


  5. Posted by Cindy on September 8, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    PGL – That sounds like a great tree. I’m sorry the squirrels keep you from having a good harvest. I’m not sure what you could do about them. I like the tradition of planting one when a child is born.


  6. Posted by JGH on September 8, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    I love pecans but never have them because my daughter is allergic to treenut. Like your squirrels I eat them “on the sly”


  7. Posted by Meadowview Thymes on September 8, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    Yum–makes me want pecan pie!!
    I am fighting with the squirrels in my yard over bird seed! They will not leave my feeder alone. This may mean war!! πŸ™‚


  8. Posted by The Garden Faerie on September 8, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    I’ll admit I had no idea a pecan tree could grow in Michigan (though its species name might have clued me in, had I known it!).
    ~ Monica (is nuts but doesn’t grow them! πŸ˜‰


  9. Posted by OhioMom on September 8, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    Love your tree, please tell it to produce enough for your mama πŸ™‚


  10. Posted by ChrisND on September 8, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    That’s great you can enjoy pecans sometimes…we have no edible producing trees in our yard…but we are building up the berry populations.


  11. Posted by DP Nguyen on September 8, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    How awesome that you have a pecan tree. And how amazing is that this tree will supply you with pecans for the rest of your life! I think it’s so neat.


  12. Posted by Candy on September 8, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    I live next to a pecan orchard. It is wonderful! Enjoying your blog, thanks.


  13. Posted by PGL on September 8, 2008 at 7:37 pm

    Pecan Pie is one of my favorites too Darla. Glad you enjoyed the post today. πŸ™‚

    Rose, I didn't know they could be hardy that far north either. They are pretty popular in Georgia. We got about 2 or 3 quarts worth last year. They are very expensive.

    We seem to be on the same wavelength Tina. πŸ™‚ It does leaf out alittle later than the other trees. I'm glad you enjoyed the post today. I have Pecan seedlings sprouting up all over the place, because of the squirrels. πŸ˜‰

    What a nice custom Cameron. Pecan Pie is one of my faves too. The rain helped alot, especially all my new plants. I started to change over to WordPress & changed my mind. Sorry for any confusion.

    Cindy,We got a decent harvest last year, I think the dogs have helped with that some. πŸ™‚

    JPH, That's a shame about your daughter. I love pecans. My kids hate nuts so we get them all to ourselves. πŸ™‚

    Glad I could make you hungry Linda. lol I've had the same problem with the squirrel at my feeder too. They can only get to one of the three I have.

    I'm glad my post was able to give you some helpful information about Pecans Monica. πŸ™‚

    Jeez Mom, I'm lucky to get some for me. πŸ™‚ Can't make any promises on that one! lol

    I would love to add berries to my garden Chris. Then I would be fighting the birds for them, right? lol

    Thanks DP, it is pretty amazing to think that tree will outlive me. πŸ™‚

    How amazing that must be Candy to live next door to a Pecan Grove. Thanks for visiting. I'm glad you enjoyed my blog.


  14. Posted by tina on September 8, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    Has your blog moved? I can go to it but not the post from my sidebar.


  15. Posted by Roses and Lilacs on September 8, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    Black walnut trees grow well in this area. I’ll trade you a walnut for a pecan;)


  16. Posted by Frances, on September 8, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    Hi PGL, hoo boy that brings back memories of growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Every yard had a pecan tree, they were native there and we used to go to the park and collect the nuts in the fall for home use. The green hulls will stain your fingers though, I learned the hard way as a child, nothing would remove the yellow coloring. Pecan pie, or pecan anything for that matter is my favorite. What we have growing around the edges of our property are walnut trees. I hate them, they are so messy and the squirrels go nuts, literally burying the nuts then trying to find them, digging everywhere. The nuts they can’t remember sprout trees and grow very fast. I wish they were pecan trees. We have some chinese chestnuts around the neighborhood also, but the nuts are always full of worms, yuck. We are growing strawberries and golden raspberries for the first time this year and are pleased with the results. The strawberries have sent many runners all over, we will never have to buy plants again!


  17. Posted by PGL on September 8, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    Sorry about that Tina, I almost moved my blog earlier today & changed my mind. Maybe it should update soon. πŸ™‚

    Sounds like a deal to me Marnie. I prefer pecans to walnuts though. πŸ™‚

    The Pecan Tree likes to reprout all over my yard too Frances. Everytime the squirrels bury the nuts I have baby trees everywhere. πŸ™‚ If you catch them early they are easy to pull out (nut and all). I heard Black Walnuts are a pain to plant around. Glad my post brought back some memories for you. πŸ™‚


  18. Posted by Susie on September 9, 2008 at 12:01 am

    Those paper shell pecans are the best! They are so much easier to shell and I like the longer nuts than other pecan shells.

    I am confused about one thing. On my blog roll under your blog it shows a post titled “New Blog Address”. But I don’t see that post anywhere. Are you changing your address?


  19. Posted by Laurie and Chris on September 9, 2008 at 12:11 am

    I have never seen a pecan tree. It looks very neat. I bet it is a fight to get the nuts before the other critters do.


  20. Posted by marmee on September 9, 2008 at 12:19 am

    well once you harvest these coveted nuts you better make all kinds of goodies. i send you my address so you know just where to ship them to, lol. i am glad your tree survived and now is bearing fruit, enjoy/


  21. Yes they are a much nicer pecan with those softer shells & the longer nuts. Sorry about that Susie, it's a glitch. I started to change my blog over to wordpress this morning & changed my mind. πŸ™‚

    Laurie & Chris -Yeah the squirrels are kind of piggy about taking the nuts.

    Marmee- Last year we got enough to enjoy just munching on during the holidays. You sound like my Mom, lol.


  22. Posted by Sara G on September 9, 2008 at 12:59 am

    Great post and beautiful pecan tree!! I LOVE pecan’s!!
    We have some crab apples trees, two sweet gums, two pin oaks, three japanese maples and some pine trees! And different trees in the woods behind the house. I know there are some maples and cotton woods back there!!
    Take care and thanks for the nice comments on my blog!!


  23. Posted by PGL on September 9, 2008 at 3:10 am

    I’m glad you enjoyed the post today Sara. Sounds like you a miniature forest in your back yard.


  24. Posted by Carla on September 9, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    When my kids were little, we had two heavy producing trees, a papershell, and one that had died back to the native tree. The kids were able to eat all they wanted-I concidered it a free high protein snack. I miss those trees! I’m glad yours is doing well for you!


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