Carya illinoinensis

pecan, nuez encarcelada, nogal morada, pecanier


Leaf Arrangement


Leaf Type

compound, pinnate

Leaf Shape

oblong, lanceolate, ovate

Growth Form


Flower Color


Flower Month

March - May

Height (meters)

15.0 - 50.0

Milky Sap








Growing Season

Warm season

Leaf Retention


Wetland Class


Prairie Coefficient of Conservatism


Field Characters

11-23 leaflets; falcate. Brown hairs where veins meet on leaflets. Look alike: walnut- has a chambered pith. Buds less than 3/4".

Cultural Information

The nuts ripens from September-October and average 100 per pound. When planted in fall, no treatment is required although scarification with acid is sometimes used. When planted in spring, the seeds should be stratified in sand, peat, or soil for 30-90 days at 35-45 degrees F. (Vines 1960).

Animal Use

The following information applies to family Juglandaceae: Animals that eat its nuts: Wood duck, Bobwhite quail, Wild turkey. Animals that eat its nuts and flowers: Crow, Blue jay, White-breasted nuthatch, Yellow-bellied sapsucker (sap), Red bellied woodpecker. Animals that eat its nuts and bark: Black bear, Grey fox, Eastern cottontail, Racoon, Grey squirrel, Red squirrel. Animals that eat its nuts and leaves: White-footed mouse, Attwater's wood rat. Animals that eat its foliage, twigs, and nuts: White-tailed deer (Martin et al. 1951).

Natural History

The state tree of Texas. In Louisiana the Acadians call it "pacanier" and the nuts are called "pacane". Wild pecans are called "le pacanier sauvage" and the cultivated pecan is called "le pacanier greffe" (Holmes 1990). The pecan is widely distributed, occurring primarily on alluvial soils. The tree is grown commercially for its edible nut and was reportedly used for barter with whites by the Tonkawas Indians. The nuts were eaten by the Comanches of Texas (Newcomb 1961). The bark and nut hulls are used to make a brown or tan dye. The wood has little commercial value but can be used to make furniture and tool handles. The wood of pecan, as well as hickory, is used to smoke meat and makes excellent fire wood. Cajun tradition holds that winter is not over until the leaves of pecan trees emerge.


Low woods, along streams, bottomlands, and moist woodlands.

Plant Uses

Pecan finds its chief value as a source of nuts rather than wood, but forest grown pecan is now prized as furniture stock.