Content Detail

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.

  • Family (English) Walnut
  • Family (botanic) Juglandaceae
  • Planting site City parkway, Residential and parks, Wide median
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Illinois, North America
  • Size range Large tree (more than 40 feet)
  • Mature height 70-100 feet
  • Mature width 40-75 feet
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil, Wet soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Occasional flooding, Wet sites
  • Season of interest early fall, mid fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous
  • Shape or form Oval
  • Growth rate Moderate
  • Transplants well No
  • Planting considerations May be difficult to find in nurseries, Messy fruit/plant parts
  • Wildlife Cavity-nesting birds, Game birds, Small mammals, Songbirds, Water birds
  • Has cultivars Yes

Native geographic location and habitat:

Pecan is native to the southern United States and northward into Indiana and Illinois. Commonly found in low, wet areas.

Bark color and texture:

Brownish-black bark becomes somewhat scaly with age.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

Leaves are large, alternate, compound and often 18 to 24 inches in length, with nine 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:

The flowers are relatively inconspicuous. Tiny male flowers are contained in catkins and small, female flowers in terminal spikes.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

Cylindrical, thin-winged husks reveal 2 inch long edible pecans. This is the sweetest of the hickories, ripening in the fall.

Plant care:

The pecan tree prefers moist, deeply rich, well-drained soils. It develops a long taproot, making it difficult to transplant. The wide, weeping canopy of branches and leaves creates filtered shade.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

No serious problems. Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.


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