The Story Behind the Pecan
Pecans are a much loved nut, but I think Texas loves them more than anyone. In 1906, Texas Governor James Hogg told family members, “I don’t want when I die any cold marble placed at the head of my grave. I want a soft-shell Texas pecan tree planted there and at the foot, a regular walnut, and when they bear fruit I want the nuts sent out to the farmers of Texas that they may plant.” The day after he said that, Governor James Hogg passed away. Not long after his death representatives of the State Horticultural Society planted a pecan tree at the head of his grave. A black walnut tree was placed at the foot of his plot. Later, when the trees bore fruit, the nuts were collected and given out to Texans and organizations around the state.
In 1908 Katie Daffan published the textbook, “Texas Heroes,” reminding people that Governor James Hogg had wanted a pecan planted at his grave so “the children of Texas might gather the nuts and plant them near their homes. Thus, in time, Texas soil might bring forth rich harvests …”. In February 1919, Katie Daffan suggested that Governor James Hogg beloved pecan tree be designated the official state tree. On March 20 1919, the Texas Legislature unanimously approved a bill making the pecan tree be designated the official state tree.
Pecan nuts are the product of the hickory tree. The pecan tree is a large deciduous tree, growing to 66–130 feet in height and typically has a spread of 39–75 feet with a trunk up to 6.6 feet in diameter. A 10-year-old sapling will stand about 5 m (16 ft) tall.
A pecan, like the fruit of all other members of the hickory genus, is not truly a nut, but is technically a drupe, a fruit with a single stone or pit, surrounded by a husk. The husks are produced from the exocarp tissue of the flower, while the part known as the nut develops from the endocarp and contains the seed.
The trees can live and produce nuts for hundreds of years, if they are in a favorably temperate climate and they are well cared for. Many old pecan orchards have been continuously producing nuts through several generations of cultivation. The trees are deciduous, dropping their leaves in the winter to conserve energy and putting out fresh growth in the spring.
How do you say pecan? I am a P’Con girl myself.