Originating from central and southern United States, Pecan nut trees were first introduced to South Africa around the turn of the 19th/20th century. Initially planted in the subtropical regions of eastern South Africa, distribution has spread to the more arid areas of the Northern Cape with the Vaalharts region having the most plantings.
A deciduous tree, the Pecan nut tree can grow to a height of 10 m and much higher under favourable conditions. Although well-adapted to subtropical areas, the tree also flourishes in regions where there are short, cold winters and long, very hot summers. When planted in fertile, well-drained soil in full sun, the tree will grow at a fast rate.
Leaves are pinnately compound, typically with 9 – 13 leaflets, and have a bright green colour. Male and female flowers appear on the same tree during spring and have a greenish tone. Fruit, in the form of nuts, are formed during the summer and start to ripen from March to April. As soon as the nuts are fully ripe, it falls from the tree and can then be harvested.
Pecan nuts resemble walnuts, but are oval in shape as well as smaller and smoother. Pecan nut production is a lucrative industry in areas where the tree thrives.
In a domestic situation, the Pecan nut tree should ideally be planted where there are lots of space available, due to the size of the tree. This imposing tree with its striking foliage will be a welcome addition to any large garden.