A member of the Hickory family, and the largest and most familiar in the south, the pecan tree is a stately, almost imposing figure in the rich open lowlands. Deciduous, the Pecan Tree can grow to 130 feet in height, and can live, bearing nuts, for up to 300 years. Homeowners commonly plant the pecan tree to use for shade in their landscaping.
According to Sibley's new Guide to Trees, it is one of the last trees to leaf out in the spring, and the leaves stay green into late fall, and is monoecious. As you can surmise by its massive size, a single tree can produce more than 1,000 pounds of nuts in one season. It's wide spreading branches invite various visitors, including this ladder-backed woodpecker!
Pecans are a good source of protein and unsaturated fats, and like the walnut, are rich in Omega 6 - fatty acids. They are featured in many traditional, sweet, southern desserts, such as pecan pie.
The word pecan is from an Algonquian word meaning a 'nut requiring a stone to crack'. The early settlers found these native trees growing in a large region from the Mississippi Valley to central Texas and to this day, they continue to be valuable sources for cultivars. Aside from nut production, pecan trees provide furniture-grade wood.