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Pecan

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Pecan
PecanGrove2.jpg
Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Carya illinoinensis

Pecan.JPG

The Pecan is the Texas state tree. It is also known as the sweet pecan. Early settlers who came to America discovered pecans growing over a wide range of areas and put the nuts to use in a variety of ways. The pecan tree has many benefits such as in cuisine, furniture, and nourishment for wildlife.

Anatomy

Pecan nuts before and after shelling

Pecans are deciduous trees that usually grow 25 to 40 meters tall. The leaves range from 40 to 70 cm long, and pinnate with 9 to 14 leaflets. The flowers on a Pecan are wind-pollinated. They are mostly self compatible due to cultivars (clones derived from wild trees) that have incompatible dichogamy (the separation in time of gender expression in a hermaphroditic organism, a characteristic of some fishes, gastropods, and most flowering plants). The fruit a Pecan tree bears is most times and oval nut, sometimes forming in an oblong shape. The nuts are 2 to 6 cm in length and 1 to 3 cm in width. They are dark brown with a rough husk that is 3 to 4 mm thick. This husk splits off when the nut matures, and subsequently releases the nut. [1]

Reproduction

The pecan flowering stage takes place from April through May. Flowers are born in staminate and pistallare catkins on the same tree (monoecious species). The calix is two or three loved, with a center lobe that is longer than lateral ones. Pistillate catkins are a hairy, yellow, and not as numerous as staminates. The buds of a pecan develop during late summer. In September and October fruits ripen and are dispersed during September and on through December. The fruits are usually ovoid, pear, or globose shaped nuts that are enclosed in husks. The husks begin green and turn brown to black as they ripen. As the husks fully mature they split apart from the nut. The minimum seed-bearing age is 2 to 4 in some cultivars and up to as much as twenty years in others. Good crops are produced at intervals of 1 to 3 years. The seeds are dispersed by animals (mainly squirrels) and by water. During natural conditions, pecan nuts remain dormant up until spring. Germination occurs in early April and extends to up until the beginning part of June. [2]

Ecology

Pecan Grove

The Pecan is a species of hickory that is found in southeastern North America. It is specifically found from southern Iowa and Indiana, to Texas and Mississippi. They grow wild in Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina, northeast Mexico, and other southeastern states. Pecans are usually harvested in mid October. Pecan trees can live up to 300 years while still bearing nuts. [3] The Pecan grows in a humid climate. The minimum annual rainfall measurements in pecan growing areas is 30 inches, while the maximum reaches 79 inches.

Popular Pecan Uses

Pecan nuts are edible and are used in many varieties of food. The nuts themselves have a rich, buttery flavor. Pecans are often used in desserts such as pecan pie and also some candies. Pecans contain fat, but a healthy, unsaturated fat. Pecans are also an excellent source of protein and have many antioxidants, which helps greatly in preventing heart disease. [4] Aside from the nuts of a pecan, the tree's wood is often used in furniture and hardwood flooring. [5] Pecans are available year round.

Pecan Gallery

Related References

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