How Did Pecans Get Their Name?
The name “pecan” is a Native American word of Algonquin origin that was used to describe “all nuts requiring a stone to crack.” Originating in central and eastern North America and the river valleys of Mexico, pecans were widely used by pre-colonial residents.
Pecans were favored because they were accessible to waterways, easier to shell than other North American nut species and of course, for their great taste! Because wild pecans were readily available, many Native American tribes in the U.S. and Mexico used the wild pecan as a major food source during autumn.
It is speculated that pecans were used to produce a fermented intoxicating drink called “Powcohicora” (where the word “hickory” comes from). It also is said that Native Americans first cultivated the pecan tree.
The pecan is a species of hickory tree cultivated for its seed. The seed is an edible nut used as a snack and in various recipes, such as praline candy and pecan pie. The price of pecans is going up, which may mean that if you’re planning a pecan pie for Thanksgiving, the time to buy them is now. The reasons behind that escalating price all come down to natural forces: supply and demand and weather.
Pecan Timeline (At-a-Glance)
1500’s: Native Americans utilized and cultivated wild pecans
1600’s – 1700’s: Spanish colonists cultivated orchards (late 1600’s – early 1700’s) English settlers planted pecan trees (1700’s) George Washington planted pecan trees (1775) Thomas Jefferson planted pecan trees (1779) Economic potential for pecans realized (late 1700’s)
1800’s: Pecans exported by French to the West Indies (1802) Pecan budding technique discovered (1822) Successful grafting of the pecan tree (1846) First planting of improved pecans (1876) Commercial propagation of pecans begins (1880’s)