We need to raise £10,000 from user donations to get our finances in balance. More >>>

Follow Us:


Carya illinoinensis - (Wangenh.)K.Koch.

Common Name Pecan
Family Juglandaceae
USDA hardiness 5-9
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Rich moist soils of bottomlands[229], especially along the sides of streams[235].
Range Southern N. America - mainly along the Mississippi river valley.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full sun
Carya illinoinensis Pecan

Carya illinoinensis Pecan


Translate this page:

You can translate the content of this page by selecting a language in the select box.


Bloom Color: Yellow. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Oval, Rounded. Note. Sometimes misspelt as: Carya illinoiensis

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Carya illinoinensis is a deciduous Tree growing to 50 m (164ft 1in) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5. It is in leaf from June to October, in flower from April to May, and the seeds ripen in October. The species is monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and is pollinated by Wind. The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid and very alkaline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.


C. pecan. Juglans illinoensis.


Woodland Garden Canopy;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Oil;  Seed.
Edible Uses: Milk;  Oil;  Tea.

Seed - raw or cooked[46, 82]. Sweet and delicious, they make an excellent dessert and are also often added to ice cream, used in cakes, bread etc[149, 183]. A milk can be made from the seed and is used to thicken soups, season corn cakes, hominy etc[183]. The seed is up to 4cm long and is produced in clusters of 3 -11[82, 229]. The seed ripens in late autumn and, when stored in its shell in a cool place, will keep for at least 6 months[K]. An edible oil is obtained from the seed[177, 183]. The leaves are said to be used as a tea[177, 183]. Carbon farming - Staple Crop: oil.

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Astringent;  Parasiticide;  TB.

The bark and leaves are astringent[227]. A decoction of the bark has been used to treat TB[257]. The pulverized leaves have been rubbed on the skin to treat ringworm[257].

Other Uses

Fuel;  Oil;  Parasiticide;  Wood.

Wood - coarse-grained, hard, heavy, brittle, not strong. It weighs 45 lb. per cubic foot. It is not as valuable a timber as other members of this genus and is used mainly for fuel and occasionally to make wagons and agricultural implements[46, 82, 227, 235].

Cultivation details

Global Crop;  Management: Standard;  Other Systems: Strip intercrop;  Staple Crop: Oil.

Landscape Uses:Aggressive surface roots possible. Prefers a deep moisture-retentive loam in a sunny sheltered position, requiring a good summer for best development[1, 63, 137, 200]. Tolerates a pH in the range 4.5 to 8.3. Trees are fairly fast growing[200]. Trees do not grow very well in Britain, requiring hotter summers than are normally experienced here in order to fruit and fully ripen their wood[200]. However, a tree at Cambridge botanical gardens was 20 metres tall in 1985. Trees are said to be hardy to about -12°c, the same report also says that they are hardy to zone 5[200], which would experience considerably lower temperatures than this. Trees are probably much hardier when grown in areas with hot summers. In the wild, trees grow best in areas where summer temperatures average 24 - 30°c and the humidity is high[229]. Often cultivated for its edible seed, there are some named varieties[183]. Trees come into bearing when about 20 years old, the best period of production being between the ages of 75 to 225 years old[229]. Mature trees regularly give yields of 225 kilos, whilst yields of 450 kilos have been recorded[229]. A number of cultivars have been developed in N. America that succeed quite far north in that country[200]. These cultivars include:- 'Carlson 3'. Early maturing, it is being trialled in Canada[183]. 'Devore'. An early fruiting form with small nuts that have an excellent flavour[183]. 'Gibson'. Precocious, protandrous, the nuts are of medium size with a good flavour[183]. 'Green Island'. Amongst the hardiest of cultivars, it has been selected for nut size, flavour and productivity[183]. 'Mullahy'. Hardy, precocious and very productive, it has ripened in Ontario[183]. Nuts are fairly large with an excellent flavour. 'Voiles 2'. Usually ripens as far north as Ontario and New York[183]. The wind-blown pollen is a significant cause of hay fever in the Unitd States[274]. This species is the State Tree of Texas[274]. Plants are strongly tap-rooted and should be planted in their permanent positions as soon as possible[1, 137]. Sowing in situ would be the best method so long as the seed could be protected from mice[1, 200]. Trees are late coming into leaf (usually late May to June) and lose their leaves early in the autumn (usually in October)[137]. During this time they cast a heavy shade. These factors combine to make the trees eminently suitable for a mixed woodland planting with shrubs and other trees beneath them[137]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200]. Most species in this genus have quite a wide range of distribution and, in order to find trees more suited to this country, seed from the most appropriate provenances should be sought[137]. Most trees growing in Britain at present tend to only produce good seed after hot summers[137]. Trees are self-fertile but larger crops of better quality seeds are produced if cross-pollination takes place[229]. Special Features:North American native, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms. Carbon Farming - Climate: cold temperate subtropical, tropical highlands. Humidity: humid. Cultivation: global crop. Management: standard. Other Systems: strip intercrop.


The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees, and Woodland Gardening. Our new book to be released soon is Edible Shrubs.

Shop Now


Seed - requires a period of cold stratification. It is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe[78]. Stored seed should be kept moist (but not wet) prior to sowing and should be sown in a cold frame as soon as possible[78]. Where possible, sow 1 or 2 seeds only in each deep pot and thin to the best seedling. If you need to transplant the seedlings, then do this as soon as they are large enough to handle, once more using deep pots to accommodate the tap root. Put the plants into their permanent positions as soon as possible, preferably in their first summer, and give them some protection from the cold for at least the first winter[78, K]. Seed can also be sown in situ so long as protection is given from mice etc and the seed is given some protection from cold[200] (a plastic bottle with the top and bottom removed and a wire mesh top fitted to keep the mice out is ideal)

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.


Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Carya aquaticaWater Hickory10
Carya buckleyiBlack hickory20
Carya carolinae-septentrionalisSouthern Shagbark, Southern shagbark hickory20
Carya cathayensisChinese Hickory30
Carya cordiformisBitternut, Bitternut hickory, Swamp Hickory31
Carya floridanaScrub Hickory20
Carya glabraSweet Pignut, Pignut hickory, Broom Hickory, Pignut Hickory30
Carya glabra megacarpaCoastal Pignut Hickory30
Carya laciniosaShellbark Hickory31
Carya myristiciformisNutmeg Hickory20
Carya ovalisSweet Pignut30
Carya ovataShagbark Hickory31
Carya pallidaSand Hickory31
Carya texanaBlack Hickory20
Carya tomentosaMockernut,White Heart Hickory, Mockernut Hickory31
Carya x laneyi 30
Platycarya strobilacea 10
Pterocarya fraxinifoliaCaucasian Wingnut11
Pterocarya rhoifoliaJapanese Wingnut10
Pterocarya stenopteraChinese wingnut02
Sclerocarya birreaMarula33


Print Friendly and PDF

Expert comment



Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

jerry l justice   Mon Jul 9 2007

is this tree self pollunate ---do i need another carya illinoinensis

Michelle H.   Tue Sep 18 2007

I have a pecan in my backyard...it's a very nice tree. Though I don't like the nuts.

ann   Sun Jan 6 2008

now, where can I find some for sale, is the question

Alex   Fri Jan 4 2008

A lot of Carya illinoensis (syn. C. illinoiensis?) cultivars are described here :

Pecan cultivars Pecan cultivars full description

Ken Fern, Plants for a Future   Tue Jan 8 2008

There are several nurseries that supply this plant. If you live in Britain or mainland Europe you could try visiting the Plantfinder site at http://www.rhs.org.uk/RHSPlantFinder/plantfinder.asp If you live elsewhere in the world then there are probably other websites that detail nurseries that sell the plant. In America, for example, you could visit http://plants.usda.gov/

QR Code

What's this?

This is a QR code (short for Quick Response) which gives fast-track access to our website pages. QR Codes are barcodes that can be read by mobile phone (smartphone) cameras. This QR Code is unique to this page. All plant pages have their own unique code. For more information about QR Codes click here.

1. Copy and print the QR code to a plant label, poster, book, website, magazines, newspaper etc and even t-shirts.

2. Smartphone users scan the QR Code which automatically takes them to the webpage the QR Code came from.

3. Smartphone users quickly have information on a plant directly for the pfaf.org website on their phone.

Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at admin@pfaf.org. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Carya illinoinensis  
All the information contained in these pages is Copyright (C) Plants For A Future, 1996-2012.
Plants For A Future is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. Charity No. 1057719, Company No. 3204567,
Web Design & Management
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Some information cannot be used for commercial reasons or be modified (but some can). Please view the copyright link for more information.