Benefits Of: PECAN NUT

Juglandaceae (Walnut family)

Fruits are oval to oblong drupes with a thin but hard woody shell that splits open when ripe.

Description. Large deciduous tree, 30-45 m (100150 ft) tall. Alternate compound leaves with 9-17 leaflets, each 6-13 cm (2.4-5 in) long. Flowers monoecious with small male flowers in pendulous catkins. Inconspicuous female flowers are clustered in groups of 4-6. Fruits are oval to oblong drupes with a thin but hard woody shell that splits open when ripe. The walnutlike seed is irregularly formed, 3-6 cm (1.2-2.4 in) long, and brown.

Origin and Distribution. Native to northwestern Mexico and southern and central United States north to Illinois and Iowa. The seeds were commonly consumed by indigenous tribes of North America in precolonial times. Today the tree is widely cultivated in subtropical regions of South America, Africa, Israel, China, and Australia. It requires warm, humid summers but can withstand cold winters with frost.

Food uses. The seeds are consumed raw as snacks or used in bakery goods and sweets and as garnish on desserts. They are also used in savory dishes. A traditional recipe of the southern United States is pecan pie, made from corn syrup and pecan nuts.

Comments. Pecan nuts are very nutritious as they are high in protein and unsaturated fats as well as the minerals manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, and zinc. The United States is the largest producer of pecan nuts, providing 80-90% of world production. Pecan trees are very long lived and produce a valuable timber for use in furniture making and construction.

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