Discover Nature: Pecans

Nov 22, 2016

Pecan trees (Carya illinoinensis) are common in Missouri. Their nuts are popular in holiday baking. Learn more on this week's Discover Nature.
Credit Missouri Department of Conservation

This week, in the United States, we give thanks.  For many of us, that involves a feast with friends and family. While the turkey may take center stage on the table this year, there’s often another seasonal delicacy nearby.

Whether you call them “pick-AHNS,” or “PEE-cans,” both the bird and we would agree – they taste delicious.

Wild turkeys (and other woodland wildlife) depend on the nuts from pecan trees.  What they don’t eat, humans can turn into pies, cobblers, cookies, and countless other culinary treats.

Pecan wood is sometimes used in making furniture, flooring, tools, and more.

Pecans are large trees, closely related to hickories, and grow naturally in rich bottomland soils. Typically a southern species, we likely have Native Americans to thank for cultivating these trees across Missouri.

So this Thanksgiving, whether on a walk in the woods, or a warm seat at the dinner table, take a moment to appreciate these gifts from nature that nourish us all.

The Missouri Department of Conservation offers opportunities to learn more about pecan trees with their MDC Online Field Guide, and ways to prepare pecans in the kitchen with recipes for wild edibles like blackberry-pecan squares.

Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.