Carya illinoinensis
Juglandaceae (walnuts)

A large tree with a narrow, pyramid-shaped crown in the forest, a broad and rounded crown in the open; largest of all the hickory trees.

Leaves alternate, compound, 9–20 inches long, with 9–17 leaflets; leaflets 4–8 inches long, 1–3 inches wide, lance-shaped, curved; margins toothed; upper surface dark green; lower surface paler, smooth to hairy.

Bark grayish-brown to light brown when young, becoming dark reddish-brown with age, ridges long, flat, loose.

Twigs stout, reddish-brown, hairy, with numerous elongated orange-brown pores; bud on end of twig yellow-brown.

Flowers April-May, male catkins and female clusters separate on the same tree.

Fruits September–October, in clusters of 3–10; husk thin, aromatic, reddish-brown, winged, splitting along 4 ridges at maturity to expose the nut. Nut thin, 1–3 inches long, 2–4 times longer than broad, cylindrical, pointed at the tip, light brown to reddish-brown, with irregular black markings on the shell; kernel sweet and edible.

Height: to 130 feet.
Habitat and conservation: 
Occurs naturally in rich, moist bottomland soils; widely planted elsewhere. Commonly associated in the wild with green ash, sycamore, pin oak, sweet gum and cottonwood. Typically a southern species, pecan once grew only in the southeastern part of the state. It is thought that Native Americans cultivated this tree farther north and helped spread it. Pecans with large, thin-shelled nuts are now grown in commercial orchards.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Statewide except for northwestern counties.
Human connections: 
Cultivated since 1766, with over 500 horticultural selections made since then to improve hardiness, productivity and the nuts’ size, flavor and ease of shelling. One of the most important cultivated nuts of North America. The wood is used occasionally for furniture, flooring, tools and more.
Ecosystem connections: 
The nuts are eaten by a variety of wildlife—larger birds, squirrels, other small rodents, opossums, raccoons and deer. The trees also provide cover and denning areas for wildlife.
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