chapter  16
26 Pages

Compositional Characteristics and Health Effects of Pecan (Carya illinoinensis [Wangenh.] K. Koch)

References ...................................................................................................................................... 278

Pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch] is a monoecious, heterodichogamous, deciduous nut tree that is indigenous to the United States [1]. The native range follows the river bottoms of the Mississippi River and its many tributaries as well as the rivers of central and eastern Texas and their tributaries. The pecan is a member of the Juglandaceae family [2] and can grow 33 to 60 m in height, possess massive trunks up to 3.5 m in diameter, and live for a very long time. In fact, native trees are known to be 1000 years old, and some plantings are now ∼120 years of age [3]. Although walnut, hickory nut, heartnut, and butternut also belong to the Juglandaceae family, the pecan is considered

to be the traditional tree nut in the United States [4]. The word “pecan” comes from the Algonquin Indian term “pacaan,” meaning “all nuts requiring a stone to crack” [5,6]. The pecan was an important food in the diet of Native American tribes of the central and southern regions of the United States long before the arrival of European settlers. These days they are distributed over an area extending from northern Illinois and southeastern Iowa to the gulf coast of the United States [7].