The name ‘pecan’ stems from Native American and means ‘a nut that requires a stone to crack.’ However, over the years pecan developers, like E.E. Risien, grafted and developed pecan varieties that now have a very thin shell. The shells are so thin, or "paper shell" as they are referred to, that you can easily crack many pecans between your fingers.
We know that Texas has declared the pecan as its official health nut. But so has Alabama, Arkansas, California, and Oklahoma. Alabama named the pecan its official nut in 1982 and Arkansas in 2009. California has pecans, walnuts, pistachios, and almonds as its four-state nuts. And Oklahoma has an official state meal that includes pecan pie. The symbolism of pecan is important to several states. To answer which state or country pecans are native to can be a little complex. There are several regions that started selling, cultivating, or both of the pecan nuts a few centuries ago. So we have to dig up a little history of Pecans.
Later in the 16 century, Europeans who came in contact with pecans were early Spanish explorers residing in regions we now call Louisiana, Texas, and Mexico. The Spanish then took pecans to trade in Europe, Asia, and Africa.
The early Spanish explorers referred to pecans as Nueces and Nogales, which translates to ‘fruit of the walnut’ and ‘walnut tree respectively,’ as the shape and texture are similar to a walnut. They then named the pecan as nuez de la arruga which translates as ‘wrinkled nut.’
Pecan Cultivation Today
The popularity of pecans has continued through the centuries, and today the US is the largest producer of pecans. In fact, 80% of pecan cultivation is done in the US, mainly in Georgia and Texas. There are several pecan farms and pecan companies all across the United States. Most pecans farms are found in the South Central part of the US.
Hi! My name is Kristen Millican and I am so glad you have stopped by! Our family has been harvesting and selling pecans since 1888. I love sharing various pecan recipes, stories about life on our pecan farm, and so much more!