Carya illinoinensis

Plant for large rich nut meats, for woodworking, for shady yards or riparian orchards, and for the power of its propagated story!

Hardy from Zones 5-9. 70-100 feet, 60-80 feet wide. Needs a different cultivar for best pollination.

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Pecan is probably the most famous of all Hickories, so much so that many people don’t seem to know it’s a family member (or, more accurately, a genus member). The name descends from Algonquin terms (from Ojibwe, Miami-Illinois, and Abenaki) meaning “nut so hard needs a stone to crack.” Native to the rich Mississippi bottomlands, Pecan is the fastest and tallest-growing Hickory and some trees down South might be a thousand years old. The Comanche used leaves to treat ringworm and the Kiowa made a bark decoction (medicinal concentrate from boiling) for tuberculosis. Pecan has been bred to produce nuts at a very young age so they can be easily crossed with one another.

Commercial Pecan orchards began in 19th-century Louisiana because of this breeding, and Pecan specialist Lenny Wells tells us that this was due to the work of an enslaved gardener known as Antoine. Mr. Wells writes that the only written information we have about Antoine comes from slaveowner notations that stated he was “a Creole Negro gardener and expert grafter of pecan trees.” But Antoine, says Wells, “like so many enslaved individuals hidden from the world, was much more. His skill ultimately made possible the propagation of more than 1,000 different pecan varieties, which today are planted commercially in 14 states and on every continent except Antarctica. Our nation’s history of slavery cannot be glossed over—but within that tragedy are countless examples of courage, perseverance, and contribution which have made America what it is today. Antoine’s story is but one of these.”

We have Kanza Northern Hardy Pecans that we grow from seed. Kanza is a cross of other Pecan cultivars for improved production, disease-resistance, and cold-tolerance of early spring frosts. The nuts aren’t as big as other Pecan cultivars but very flavorful. All our trees are now 2 years old!