Pecan trees are deciduous and vast. The trees are known scientifically as Carya illinoinensis. The trees are a hickory species and originate in North America, in the Mississippi floodplain. Pecan trees are also common in northern Mexico and Texas. They are part of the Juglandacae family, along with the black walnut and English walnut.
Pecan trees are big and can reach heights of 70 feet and higher. Their trunk diameters are generally around 6 feet. The leaves are odd pinnate and alternate and are comprised of between nine and 15 leaflets each. The pecan tree produces unisexual flowers, which means that the female and male flowers are apart. The tree has monoecious and wind-pollinated flowers.
Pecan trees bear pecans, which are oblong or oval-shaped nut fruits. Pecans are deep brown in color and are not technically considered to be nuts, but rather drupes. Pecan nuts are edible and are notable for their buttery and rich taste. Pecans can be cooked or consumed fresh. They are often used to produce sweet desserts such as pies, but also can be used in savory meals. Pecans are well-known for the classic southern dessert, pecan pie.
Pecan trees grow rapidly and are adapted well for subtropical regions. They also grow well in regions that have cold, brief winters and particularly hot and long summers. Between the summer months of June and August, low temperatures are necessary for the trees to achieve proper flower formation and budding. The trees prefer soil that is well-drained, deep and fertile. The soil's texture should be loose to medium. The trees thrive when grown under full sun.
Diseases and Pests
The most common problem that pecan trees experience is a disease that is known as pecan scab. Pecan scab is characterized by the development of black and sooty patches all over the tree's foliage. It is also characterized by pecan nut malformation. Oftentimes, the pecans are also covered by the patches. Common insect issues for pecan trees include stinkbugs, which cause the appearance of tiny, bitter, dark spots over the flesh of the pecan, as well as the pecan casebearer. This results in small worms invading the nuts. The trees should be sprayed between 10 and 15 times annually to prevent these problems from occurring.
Many different varieties of pecan trees are in existence. Some particularly popular and common species of pecan trees include Gloria Grande, Cape Fear, Elliot and Mahan-Stuart.