USING THIS PLANT
- Nut – Raw. Excellent taste in both Pecans and selected Hickories.
- Nut – Cooked. Used in desserts, breads, baking, etc.
- Nut – “Milk” can be made from Pecan nuts
- Nut – Oil. An edible oil can be pressed from Pecans
- General insect pollen plant – attracts beneficial insects which feed on the pollen of these trees
- Wildlife food
- Wildlife shelter
- Windbreak plant
- Sap is edible (Hickories) – can be tapped like Maples and reduced (with heat) to make syrup. I have yet to try this syrup, but the reports on flavor I have found range from very good to fair and slightly bitter. Interesting.
- Coppice Plant
- Wood used for poles, posts, fence posts, stakes, tool handles (axes!).
- Wood used for fuel (firewood), charcoal.
- Wood is a great wood for smoking meats.
- Dynamic Accumulator – Potassium and Calcium for all species; Phosphorus in Shagbark Hickory (C. ovata)
- Biomass Plant – large tree with lots of leaf-fall every Autumn that can be left to decompose and build the forest soil, or it can be moved and used in other places or composted.
Highly variable on species and size of the tree. Hickories produce less than Pecans; Improved varieties often produce more than unimproved and wild species, although the hybrid Hican will produce less (but larger) nuts than the Pecan. 50 lbs (23 kg) is not uncommon for a 10-20 year old tree. Pecans can produce up to 100 lbs (46 kg) when they are 20-25 years old. A mature Pecan that is 75 years old or older can produce close to 500 lbs (225 kg) of nuts. There are some Pecans that have yielded over 1,000 lbs (450 kg) of nuts in a season!
Harvesting: Autumn. Although if you have Pecans in more warm locations, you may harvest all the way through January. Pecans and Hickory are typically harvested after they have fallen from the tree; however, some people (and commercial operations) use nets to catch the nuts during harvest season.
Storage: Can be used right away, but if the nuts are dried, they can store for a few years.
DESIGNING WITH THIS PLANT
USDA Hardiness Zone:
- Pecan (Carya illinoinensis) – Zone 6-9
- Shellbark Hickory (Carya laciniosa) – Zone 6
- Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata) – Zone 4-7
- Hican (Carya x hybrids) – Zone 5
- Pecan (Carya illinoinensis) – Zone 9-1
- Shellbark Hickory (Carya laciniosa) – Zone 8-1
- Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata) – Zone 8-1
Chill Requirement: 650-1,550 hours/units depending on the species/variety.
Plant Type: Large to very-large Trees
Leaf Type: Deciduous
Forest Garden Use: Canopy Layer
Cultivars/Varieties: A few very worthwhile species. There are quite a few cultivars and hybrids available.
Pollination: Self-Sterile (although a few varieties are self-fertile). Requires cross-pollination by other cultivars for the nuts to be produced. Pollinated by the wind. Trees can be pollinated by the wind carrying pollen from other trees up to 10 miles away!
Flowering: Late Spring to Early Summer.
Years to Begin Bearing: 3-10 years for Pecans (sooner in the south); 40 years for wild Hickories (only 3-7 years if the tree was grafted)
Years Between Major Cropping: 1-2 years
Years of Useful Life: minimim of 100 years, but most will be productive for at least 200 years. It is not uncommon for trees over 400 years old to still produce large yields.