Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Carya illinoinensis


SPECIES: Carya illinoinensis
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Coladonato, Milo. 1992. Carya illinoinensis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].
ABBREVIATION : CARILL SYNONYMS : Carya illinoensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch [18] SCS PLANT CODE : CAIL2 COMMON NAMES : pecan pecan hickory sweet pecan Illinois nut soft-shelled hickory TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name for pecan is Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch [14]. There are no recognized subspecies, varieties, or forms. Pecan hybrid products are [23]: Carya illinoinensis x C. aquatica = C. X lecontei Little Carya illinoinensis x C. laciniosa = C. X nussbaumeri Sarg. Carya illinoinensis x C. tomentosa = C. X schnecki Sarg. Carya illinoinensis x C. cordiformis = C. X brownii Sarg. LIFE FORM : Tree FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Carya illinoinensis
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Pecan grows principally in the bottomlands of the Mississippi River valley. Its range extends westard from southern Indiana through Illinois, southeastern Iowa, and eastern Kansas, south to central Texas, and eastward to western Mississippi and western Tennessee. Pecan occurs locally in southwestern Ohio, Kentucky, Alabama, and central Mexico. Its best commercial development is on river-front lands of the Mississippi Delta and along major rivers west of the Delta to Texas [2,18]. Pecan is cultivated in Hawaii [25]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES12 Longleaf - slash pine FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine FRES14 Oak - pine FRES15 Oak - hickory FRES16 Oak - gum - cypress FRES17 Elm - ash - cottonwood STATES : AL AR IL HI IN IA KS KY LA MS MO OH OK TN TX MEXICO BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : NO-ENTRY KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K089 Black Belt K100 Oak - hickory forest K101 Elm - ash forest K111 Oak - hickory - pine forest K112 Southern mixed forest K113 Southern floodplain forest SAF COVER TYPES : 40 Post oak - blackjack oak 61 River birch - sycamore 63 Cottonwood 65 Pin oak - sweetgum 73 Southern redcedar 75 Shortleaf pine 76 Shortleaf pine - oak 78 Virginia pine - oak 79 Virginia pine 80 Loblolly pine - shortleaf 81 Loblolly pine 82 Loblolly pine - hardwood 83 Longleaf pine - slash pine 88 Willow oak - water oak - diamondleaf oak 89 Live oak 91 Swamp chestnut oak - cherrybark oak 92 Sweetgum - willow oak 93 Sugarberry - American elm - green ash 94 Sycamore - sweetgum - American elm 95 Black willow 96 Overcup oak - water hickory 101 Baldcypress - tupelo 103 Water tupelo - swamp tupelo SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Carya illinoinensis
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE : Pecan wood is inferior to that of other hickories and is not important commercially. It is occasionally used for furniture, flooring, agricultural implements, tool handles, and fuel [21,23]. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Pecan nuts are eaten by a number of bird species, fox and gray squirrels, opposums, racoons, and peccaries [10,18]. White-tailed deer sometimes heavily browse older pecan trees [19]. PALATABILITY : NO-ENTRY NUTRITIONAL VALUE : NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE : Pecan provides cover for a variety of birds and mammals in the oak-hickory forests of southeastern United States [10]. VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Pecan has been successfully planted on surface-mined lands of Indiana, Oklahoma, and Missouri [3]. The deep, lateral roots can provide excellent watershed protection [24]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : Pecan is widely planted as an ornamental, and for its sweet edible nuts. The nuts have a high percentage of fat and are used extensively in candies and cookies [20]. The leaves and bark are sometimes used as an astringent [23]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Pecan seedling establishment is difficult due to small mammals pilfering seed and girdling seedlings [24]. A number of small insects attack pecan but rarely become epidemic [18].


SPECIES: Carya illinoinensis
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Pecan is a long-lived, medium to large, native, deciduous tree ranging from 100 to 150 feet (30-45 m) in height and 6 to 7 feet (1.8-2.1 m) in diameter [5]. The gray trunk is shallowly furrowed and flat-ridged with ascending branches forming an irregular, rounded crown. The twigs are gray brown and hairy when young but become rough and furrowed on mature trees. Flowers are borne in staminate and pistillate catkins. Staminate catkins are in threes and bear small green flowers; seed-bearing flowers occur singly or a few at the end of new growth. The leaves are narrow, pointed, and curved at the tip with tooth margins yellow-green above and paler below. The nut is brown, cylindric, thin-shelled, and enveloped in a four-winged husk [7,9]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Seed production and dissemination: Seed production starts when the trees are about 20 years old, but optimum seed-bearing age is 75 to 225 years. The trees bear fair to good crops almost every year. A mature tree yields about 100 pounds (40 kg) of nuts per year. The seed is disseminated by water, squirrels, and birds [12,18]. Seedling development: Under normal conditions, pecan nuts remain dormant until germination starts in early April. Exceptionally dry weather or heavy competition greatly reduces seedling survival. Under favorable condition, pecan seedlings grow 3 feet (0.9 m) per year after they have been established for several years [18]. Vegetative reproduction: Small stumps and fire-girdled seedlings and saplings sprout very rapidly. Horticultural varieties of pecan are propagated by budding and stem grafting [18]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Pecan is most common on well-drained loamy soils not subjected to prolonged flooding. Throughout its range it is largely limited to bottom alluvial soils of relatively recent origin. Its best development is on riverfront ridges and well-drained flats [18]. It rarely grows on low and poorly drained clay flats; it is usually replaced by water hickory (Carya aquatica) on these sites [1]. In addition to the species listed in the SAF cover types, common tree associates of pecan include slippery elm (Ulmus rubra), sugarberry (Celtis laevigata), box elder (Acer negundo), silver maple (A. saccharinum), roughleaf dogwood (Cornus drummondii), and swamp-privet (Forestiera acuminata). Common understory components include pawpaw (Asimina triloba), giant cane (Arundinaria gigantea), and pokeweed (Phytolacca americana). Vines often present are poison-ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), grape (Vitis spp.), Alabama supplejack (Berchemia scandens), greenbriers (Smilax spp.), and Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) [4,17,18]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Pecan is classified as shade intolerant but is more shade tolerant than cottonwood or willow. It responds well to release in all age groups, provided that the trees have good vigor. Pecan is a subclimax species [11,18]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Pecan flowers from March to May about a week after the leaves have started to open. The nuts mature from September to October; seedfall begins in September and ends in December [2,11].


SPECIES: Carya illinoinensis
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Pecan is susceptible to fire damage at all ages because of the low insulating capacity of the bark [18,24]. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : survivor species; on-site surviving root crown or caudex off-site colonizer; seed carried by animals or water; postfire yr 1&2


SPECIES: Carya illinoinensis
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Light fires will kill the tops of small pecan trees and saplings. Heavy burns may kill trees 10 to 12 inches (25-30 cm) d.b.h. and wound others, providing entries for serious butt-rotting fungi. Particularly hot fires may kill mature pecan trees [18]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Pecan will sprout from the stump after aboveground portions are killed by fire [18,24]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Periodic fires in late spring and early summer effectively controlled pecan growth in the Mississippi River Basin, killing most of the seedling reproduction [24].

References: Carya illinoinensis

1. Allen, James A.; Kennedy, Harvey E., Jr. 1989. Bottomland hardwood reforestation in the lower Mississippi Valley. Slidell, LA: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Wetlands Research Center; Stoneville, MS: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experimental Station. 28 p. [15293]
2. Bonner, F. T.; Maisenhelder, L. C. 1974. Carya Nutt. hickory. In: Schopmeyer, C. S., technical coordinator. Seeds of woody plants in the United States. Agric. Handb. 450. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 269-272. [7571]
3. Brothers, Timothy S. 1988. Indiana surface-mine forests: historical development and composition of a human-created vegetation complex. Southeastern Geographer. 28(1): 19-33. [8787]
4. Dooley, Karen L.; Collins, Scott L. 1984. Ordination and classification of western oak forests in Oklahoma. American Journal of Botany. 71(9): 1221-1227. [11543]
5. Duncan, Wilbur H.; Duncan, Marion B. 1988. Trees of the southeastern United States. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 322 p. [12764]
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7. Fernald, Merritt Lyndon. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. [Corrections supplied by R. C. Rollins]. Portland, OR: Dioscorides Press. 1632 p. (Dudley, Theodore R., gen. ed.; Biosystematics, Floristic & Phylogeny Series; vol. 2) [14935]
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11. Hodges, John D.; Switzer, George L. 1979. Some aspects of the ecology of southern bottomland hardwoods. In: North America's forests: gateway to opportunity: Proceedings, 1978 joint convention of the Society of American Foresters and the Canadian Institute of Forestry. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters: 360-365. [10028]
12. Knapp, Eric E.; Rice, Kevin J. 1998. Genetic structure and gene flow in Elymus glaucus (blue rye): implications for native grassland retoration. Restoration Ecology. 4(1): 1-10. [11875]
13. Kuchler, A. W. 1964. Manual to accompany the map of potential vegetation of the conterminous United States. Special Publication No. 36. New York: American Geographical Society. 77 p. [1384]
14. Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). Agric. Handb. 541. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 375 p. [2952]
15. Lyon, L. Jack; Stickney, Peter F. 1976. Early vegetal succession following large northern Rocky Mountain wildfires. In: Proceedings, Tall Timbers fire ecology conference and Intermountain Fire Research Council fire and land management symposium; 1974 October 8-10; Missoula, MT. No. 14. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 355-373. [1496]
16. McCarthy, Brian C.; Quinn, James A. 1989. Within- and among-tree variation in flower and fruit production in two species of Carya (Juglandaceae). American Journal of Botany. 76(7): 1015-1023. [13449]
17. Nixon, E. S.; Ward, J. R.; Fountain, E. A.; Neck, J. S. 1991. Woody vegetation of an old-growth creekbottom forest in north-central Texas. Texas Journal of Science. 43(2): 157-164. [15407]
18. Peterson, J. K. 1990. Carya illinoensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch pecan. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 205-210. [17398]
19. Quinton, Dee A.; Horejsi, Ronald G. 1977. Diets of white-tailed deer on the Rolling Plains of Texas. The Southwestern Naturalist. 22(4): 505-509. [12220]
20. Stephens, H. A. 1973. Woody plants of the North Central Plains. Lawrence, KS: The University Press of Kansas. 530 p. [3804]
21. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory. 1974. Wood handbook: wood as an engineering material. Agric. Handb. No. 72. Washington, DC. 415 p. [16826]
22. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service. 1982. National list of scientific plant names. Vol. 1. List of plant names. SCS-TP-159. Washington, DC. 416 p. [11573]
23. Vines, Robert A. 1960. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of the Southwest. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. 1104 p. [7707]
24. Wasser, Clinton H. 1982. Ecology and culture of selected species useful in revegetating disturbed lands in the West. FWS/OBS-82/56. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 347 p. [15400]
25. St. John, Harold. 1973. List and summary of the flowering plants in the Hawaiian islands. Hong Kong: Cathay Press Limited. 519 p. [25354]