USA Official State Tree of Texas


(Juglandaceae Carya illinoinensis )
Adopted in 1919.

The pecan, Juglandaceae Carya illinoinensis, is a large tree native to North America. It bears sweet edible nuts, deep brown in color, that range from 1 to 2 inches in length.

The mature pecan tree is usually 70 to 100 feet tall, as shown above, but can grow as tall as 150 feet and higher. The native pecan trees shown are estimated to be over 150 years old. Their trunks are more than three feet in diameter.

Texas is the largest producer of native pecans, and is second only to Georgia in the production of hybrid (orchard grown) varieties. The pecan became the Texas state tree by act of the Texas Legislature in 1919. Governor James Hogg favored the tree so much that he requested that one be planted at his gravesite.

Pecan is one of the better-known pecan hickories. It is also called sweet pecan and in its range where Spanish is spoken, nogal morado or nuez encarcelada. The early settlers who came to America found pecans growing over wide areas. These native pecans were and continue to be highly valued as sources of new varieties and as stock for selected clones. Besides the commercial edible nut that it produces, the pecan provides food for wildlife. Pecans are an excellent multipurpose tree for the home landscape by providing a source of nuts, furniture-grade wood, and esthetic value.

Chapter 97 (Senate Bill No. 317), 36th Legislature, Regular Session (1919) p. 234

  • Leaf: Alternate, pinnately compound with 9 to 15 finely serrate and often curved leaflets, 12 to 18 inches long.
  • Flower: Male flowers in hanging, yellow-green catkins, often in pairs of three (4 to 5 inches long). Females are small and yellowish green, 4-angled.
  • Fruit: Large, oblong, brown, splotched with black, thin shelled nuts, 1 to 2 inches long, husks are thin, usually occur in clusters on trees. Mature in September and October.
  • Twig: Moderately stout, light brown, fuzzy particularly, when young; leaf scars large and three lobed; buds are yellowish brown to brown, hairy, terminal buds to inch long.
  • Bark: Smooth when young, becoming narrowly fissured into thin broken strips, often scaly.
  • Form: A large tree (can reach heights well over 100 feet) with spreading crown when in the open.

Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom Plantae -- Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta -- Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta -- Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta -- Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida -- Dicotyledons
Subclass Hamamelidae
Order Juglandales
Family Juglandaceae Walnut family
Genus Carya Nutt. hickory
Species Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch pecan

Dendrology at Virginia Tech
U.S. Department of Agriculture