AZ Arboretums

Carya illinoensis (Carya pecan)


Common: Pecan
Family: Juglandaceae
Origin: Native to southern and central United States
Zones: 4-10, 12-16, 18-23 as ornamental; 8-10, 12-14, 18-20 for good nut crop.
Light: Full sun
Soil: Needs well drained deep soils. Won't stand salinity.
Water: Needs occasional deep waterings in hot summers. Irrigate every 1-2 weeks the first year.

Graceful, shapely tree growing to 70 feet tall and equally wide. Trunk diameter 3-4 feet. Foliage like that of English walnut, but prettier, with more leaflets that are narrower and longer.

Foliage pattern is finer textured, shade lighter.

Resistant to oak root fungus.

Flowering takes place from April through May. Fruits ripen in September and October and as dispersed from September through December. The green husks turn brown to black as they ripen. Minimum seed-bearing age is 2-4 years in some cultivars, and up to 209 years for individuals in natural stands. Good crops are produced at intervals from 1-3 years. Seed dispersal is principally by water and animals. Floating nuts can be carried considerable distances by flood water. Aerial dispersion is mainly by squirrels.

Pecan is in the walnut family; its closest relative is the shagbark hickory. Prior to the ice age, the pecan tree spanned all of Europe and the Mediterranean, as well as North America. Today it is native only to the United States. It is most commonly found in the floor plains of the Mississippi River and other low-lying wet terrain. Thought to be the only tree cultivated in orchards by the pre-Colonial Native Americans. Because it was an important food source, the Algonquins chose not to rely soley on the nut harvest from the wild forest pecan tree. This remains true with growers today as well.