How Did The Pecan Get Its Name? FAQ

Pecan Orchards

Pecan is one of the top-tier nuts in the world, widely popular for its distinct rich nutty and buttery flavor. Texas declared pecan as its official health nut and why should they not, considering the rich nutritional profile and health benefits that come with the pecan. One of the favorite dishes made with pecans is classic pecan pie. But you can also eat them raw or mixed with other nuts for maximum health benefits.

While pecans are all the rage, have you ever wondered where the word ‘pecan’ comes from? Is it an old historical name given by the early pecan growers, or is it a modern name that directly routes from the English language? Let us dig a little into the history of pecans and learn about the origins of the name of this amazing nut fruit.

Where Does The Name ‘Pecan’ Come From?

The name pecans come from the Algonquin language of the Native Americans. The word pecan translates to something which requires a stone to crack. On the contrary to its literal meaning, the pecan shell is very thin and you can easily crack it with a light snap of your finger.

The Native Americans had been growing and consuming pecans for centuries before the Europeans started growing them commercially. Pecans were one of their staple foods during pre-agricultural times. It was not before the 16th century when some Spanish explorers residing in the Southern parts of the US came in contact with the pecans. They called the pecans nuez de la arruga, which translated to a wrinkled nut. This name was obviously given due to the wrinkled walnut-like appearance of the pecans.

Pecans share a lot of similarities with the genus Juglans of the walnut. So after some time, these nuts were called nogales and nueces which are the Spanish terms for ‘walnut tree’ and ‘fruit of the walnut’ respectively.

The Spanish took the pecans to different regions of Europe, Asia, and Africa in the 1790s. And that is how the trade and demand of the pecans gradually began to grow.

The Scientific Name Of Pecan

Like every other fruit, pecan also has its genetic name. Pecan comes from the genus Carya. The most popular species of pecan is known as Carya Illinoinensis. The genus Carya is a group of the hickory plant. The hickory nuts include pecans, walnuts and other similar types. Hickory is also a word from the Algonquin language given to the groups of certain nut-bearing trees.

How Do You Say Pecan In Other Languages?

Pecans are worldwide popular and so have their own name in the other language although pecans do not have separate names in the Asian language, they have their own name in European languages. Here are the pecan names in different European languages:

  • Albanian- arrë amerikane
  • Bosnian- pekan oraščić
  • Czech- pekanový ořech
  • Danish- pecan
  • Dutch- pecannoot
  • French- noix de pécan
  • German- pecan
  • Greek- pecan
  • Hungarian- pekandió
  • Polish- pecan
  • Spanish- pecana
  • Swedish- pekannöt

Pecans in a nutshell

Pecans get its name from the Algonquin language of the Native Americans. When the pecans became popular in the 16th century, it had few other Spanish names as well.

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