The pecan is one of the most important native nut trees in North America. It is a large, straight-trunked tree native to river bottoms and rich fertile soils. The nut, a beloved pie ingredient, ripens in the fall.
All Common Names:
- Residential and parks,
- City parkway,
- Wide median
Tree or Plant Type:
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- North America
- Shade tree,
- Large tree (more than 40 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7,
- Zone 8,
- Zone 9
- Moist, well-drained soil,
- Wet soil
- Wet sites,
- Occasional flooding,
- Alkaline soil
- Moderately Tolerant
- May be difficult to find in nurseries,
- Messy fruit/plant parts
- Edible fruit
Season of Interest:
- Early fall,
- Mid fall
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
- Cavity-nesting birds,
- Game birds,
- Small mammals,
- Water birds
photo: John Hagstrom
Tree & Plant Care
Prefers moist, deeply rich, well-drained soils. Develops a long taproot, making it difficult to transplant. The wide, weeping canopy of branches and leaves creates filtered shade.
Disease, pests and problems
No serious problems.
Disease, pest and problem resistance
Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.
Native geographic location and habitat
Native to the southern United States, northward into Indiana and Illinois.
Found commonly in low, wet areas.
Bark color and texture
Brownish-black bark becomes somewhat scaly with age.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Large, alternate, compound leaves often 18 to 24 inches in length, with 9 to 17 leaflets. The leaflets are narrowly elongated with a slight, sickle-shaped hook near the tip. Leaves are yellow-green and turn yellow in fall.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Flowers relatively inconspicuous; tiny male flowers in catkins; small female flowers in terminal spikes.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
Cylindrical, thin-winged husks reveal 2 inch long edible pecans.
The sweetest of the hickories, ripening in the fall.