Pecan (Carya illinoinensis)

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Pecan (Carya illinoinensis)

The Pecan is a very large hickory tree native to the south-central U.S.

Menard, TX 4/24/2011.

Pecan (Carya illinoinensis)

Pecans are fairly easy to identify because of the large number of leaflets per leaf (11-17) and the pale, scaly bark on smaller trees. The leaves have a distinctive aroma when rubbed.

Menard, TX 4/24/2011.

Pecan (Carya illinoinensis)

Flowering is in mid to late spring. These are staminate (male) catkins.

Menard, TX 4/24/2011.

Pecan (Carya illinoinensis)

Menard, TX 4/27/2011.

Pecan (Carya illinoinensis)

Pecan is frequently cultivated in North Carolina for its nuts. It escapes from cultivation only on occasion.

The most similar native species are Water Hickory (Carya aquatica), which has 9-11 very narrow leaflets and slightly shaggy bark, and Black Walnut (Juglans nigra), which has a similar number of leaflets (15-19), but tight, darker bark. The distinctive vase-like shape of mature Pecan trees is another good clue.

View from beneath the canopy of a large tree.

Hillsborough, Orange Co., NC 6/1/08.

Pecan (Carya illinoinensis)

Flowering is in late spring.

Hillsborough, Orange Co., NC 6/1/08.

Pecan (Carya illinoinensis)

Some older references, such as the Radford manual, spell the species name Carya illinoensis.

Hillsborough, Orange Co., NC 6/1/08.

Pecan (Carya illinoinensis)

Hillsborough, Orange Co., NC 6/1/08.

Pecan (Carya illinoinensis)

Bark of a large tree. The bark is pale tan and scaly. One of the favorite trees of the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, on most trees (not pictured here) there are lines of regularly-spaced holes drilled into the bark.

Hillsborough, Orange Co., NC 6/1/08.

Pecan (Carya illinoinensis)

Bark of a large tree.

Menard, TX 4/24/2011.

Pecan (Carya illinoinensis)

Menard, TX 4/24/2011.

Pecan (Carya illinoinensis)

Menard, TX 4/24/2011.

Pecan (Carya illinoinensis)

Menard, TX 4/24/2011.

More information:
Bioimages
Floridata
US Forest Service Silvics Manual Virginia Tech Dendrology

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Revised 6/1/08 cwcook@duke.edu

All photographs and text ©2012 by Will Cook unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.